Saturday, June 25, 2016

Earl's Rib Palace, Edmond, OK

The first thing you have to know about Earl's Rib Palace is that Earl's most famous admirer was Elvis Presley! Earl traveled with the King as his personal chef for several years. Earl's food was so good that Elvis gained a whopping 50 pounds during that time. I'd say that was a pretty good endorsement. We took a lunch break after getting the three penny tour of OKC and I threw down on the chopped brisket sandwich smothered with some real good barbecue sauce and balanced it out with a side salad. I cleaned my plate.....no dieting this week. Tara went for the sliced brisket and loved it (she's been here before!) Now hubby had the same thing but he thought it was dry. The perfect brisket would have some of that luscious fat along the edge and so he missed that.
It's a charming place with a friendly, casual atmosphere and kitchy bbq design. Earl's has six locations in Oklahoma and prides itself on knowing how the Okies like their barbecue. Judging by the lunch time crowd I'd say they're right about that.
Under the heading "it's a small world" Tara was approached by a nice young man who recognized that some six years previously she'd been his teacher at Taft Middle School. Hugs all around and even his parents came forward to meet the teach. We're so proud she's remembered so fondly by her students. Obviously she's an awesome teacher. Emails were exchanged and he shared his plans for college. It was a lovely chance meeting.
2121 S Broadway, Edmond, OK 73013
http://www.earlsribpalace.com/
Earl's Rib Palace Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Boulevard Steak House, Edmond, OK

Who doesn't love a good steak? Dining in a real "Steak House" is always a treat and given it's price point, we reserve these nights out for special occasions. We were visiting newly found sister Tara & Warren in Oklahoma for the first time and they treated us for hubby's birthday to her favorite Steak House - Boulevard. The really good steak houses all have that same atmosphere of rich dark old world mahogany and wood paneling, low lights, waiters dressed in formal black & white that offer impeccable service. There's always a fabulous bar serving martinis. Boulevard hits all the points and more.
We started with a delicious 2014 Bodega Norton Malbec that was the perfect accompaniment to our Filet Mignon. Being a purist, I had mine plain - no steak sauce, no toppings - when I get a good expensive steak that's all I want to taste. And boy was it good. Tender, juicy and flavorful. Tara ordered hers rare and I ordered mine medium rare. Our waitress did something I've never seen done before (and I've eaten at quite a few good steak houses). She served our plates and asked us to please slice into the middle and confirm that they were the correct doneness. Turns out they had been flipped so a quick swap of plates delivered to us our perfect steaks. Hubby had the 12 oz. Rib Eye and it was perfection. All the steaks they serve are PRIME and you really can tell the difference.
Apologies for the dark pictures but the restaurant was very dimly lit. Frankly I'm all for atmosphere but would prefer a little more light when I'm eating. While there was just no room for dessert, Tara went for the Crème Brulee and devoured it while I indulged in a Cappuccino and hubby had an Espresso. We left quite satisfied and added this to our list of great Steak Houses to frequent.
505 South Boulevard, Edmond, OK 73034, 405-715-2333
http://boulevardsteakhouse.com/
Boulevard Steakhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, June 10, 2016

Captain Brian's, Sarasota

Sometimes just the girls have to 'escape' on their own for the day - away from housework and husbands and the routine. Today Cheryl kidnapped me and we escaped for a day of lunch and market shopping. First stop was Captain Brian's in Sarasota. It's a rather large space and we hit it just before the lunch crowd piled in. We were handed a lot of menus (three I think) which always drives me crazy. We ladies ordered variations of the same thing. I had Manhattan Clam Chowder and she opted for New England. Both were delicious, chunky, flavorful. Cheryl had the shrimp salad platter and I chose the Crab Salad platter. We enjoyed this light fare and it was a perfect portion.
Captain Brian's also has a market at one end of the restaurant featuring showcases brimming with mounds of luscious seafood options you can take home and cook. Everything looks fresh and inviting, and the trophy shark hanging overhead lets you know there are some real fishermen running this establishment.
The restaurant is participating in the yearly "Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week" which runs from June 1-14th. During Savor Sarasota you can enjoy 3-course meals from about fifty of the finest Sarasota eateries for just $15 per person for lunch and $29 per person for dinner. It's a great deal and a chance to sample some of the more expensive restaurants that may not fit your budget.
Our next stop was Jessica's Stand, an Organic Farm Stand located near the Desoto subdivision (GPS it).....and they are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The first thing we noticed when we parked was the plot of land adjacent to the farm stand - it was notable for having such a dark rich earthiness to it, attesting to its organic integrity (or at least that's what came to mind, but frankly we're city girls and easily impressed).
I was wowed (and wooed) by some absolutely beautiful fruits and vegetables and they were in such a colorful array they fairly begged to be picked up and squeezed and sniffed and enjoyed for their wholesomeness.
I prepared a salad of organic tomato and arugula tonight drizzled with olive oil and red wine vinegar and it was the perfect accompaniment to the shrimp & pasta hubby prepared. Tomorrow I have great plans for the Escarole in an effort to impress hubby and remind him of his childhood dinner table. Wish me luck as I search for an old Italian recipe.
http://www.savorsarasota.com
http://www.captainbriansseafood.com
8421 N Tamiami Trail Sarasota, Fl 34243
jessicasorganicfarm.com
Captain Brian's Seafood Market & Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

TOP GOLF, TAMPA

Last night hubby picked me up at the office and we decided to have a bite to eat in Brandon and wait for the rainy traffic to subside a little. Here's how the conversation went....Me: "what do you feel like eating?" He: "I don't know, what are you in the mood for?" Me: "I asked you first cause you care more and when I make a suggestion you make a face, so just tell me where you want to eat...etc." How many times have y'all had that exchange? More often than you'd like to admit, right? So I came up with a brainstorm on the spur of the moment as we were driving along Falkenburg - let's go to Top Golf!
We've been here before a couple of years ago with friends to hit some balls and were surprised with how much we enjoyed their restaurant. But this venue is a very nice option even if you don't play golf. It's a slick operation (one of dozens around the US), beautifully decorated and designed for lively fun for all ages. Don't try going on a weekend evening or you'll be met with long lines. But we were there for the food and it was as good as we remembered.
I had a Turkey and Avocado Wrap with oven-roasted turkey, avocado, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, tomato and a chipotle aoili that gave it just the right 'kick' to spark my taste buds. I upgraded to a side of fruit salad. The sandwich was so large that I took half home to enjoy for lunch the next day. The fruit salad was also a generous portion and I shared it. Hubby had a Fried Chicken Sandwich on a brioche bun and opted for the Tater Tots. Both dishes were very good and we left very satisfied.
The staff is young, energetic and very friendly and we enjoyed our banter as they took good care of us, even agreeing to pose for a photo.
We managed to resist ordering dessert but I'm including a photo here of the ultimate indulgence which we had last time. Donut holes served with an injector filled with your choice of: raspberry, chocolate or Bavarian cream. OMG get one to share with friends and worry about dieting some other time!
www.topgolf.com/us/tampa
10690 Palm River Rd, Tampa, FL 33619
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Topgolf Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, June 6, 2016

Acropolis, Ybor

Last night was a particularly fun 'escape' that started with dinner at The Acropolis in Ybor City and ended with opening night at the Straz for Jersey Boys. In a word.....WOW. We selected the Ybor Acropolis for its good food and also its close proximity to the Straz, a mere ten minute drive. The restaurant was very quiet at this midweek point which meant quick service. Our waitress was dressed in the cutest 60's retro style, sporting a black and white polka dot head scarf and matching nail polish. I know it's not the 'Greek' styling you'd expect from the Acropolis, but her style seemed perfect for Ybor City's trendy atmosphere, and besides - she was an excellent waitress in every way. I love the ambiance at Acropolis and the Ybor City location differs slightly from the Riverview one but they both appeal.
I had a Greek Burger sans bun with sauteed mushrooms and onions and topped with feta cheese served with lettuce, tomato and red onion. It was absolutely delicious, juicy and flavorful and I'd definitely order it again. Hubby had the seafood pasta and as is typical when he orders pasta, it didn't measure up. The sauce was a bit to creamy for his taste but he ate all the clams and scallops.
The real star was his appetizer of Roasted Red Pepper Hummus served with Pita Bread. We all scooped that up eagerly and enjoyed it immensely.
Marianne had the Spanakopita and loved its flaky pastry dough and the side of Tzatziki. Phil had the Blackened Shrimp Wrap with olives, sun dried tomatoes, avocado, spinach, feta...yum, in a Spinach Tortilla.
We finished up quickly and headed over to the Straz for what was the most wonderful show - I've seen the Jersey Boys before and enjoyed it, but this production was exciting and joyful. The crowd roared with applause each time they sang one of their hits, sustained applause that filled the room and gladdened the hearts of the singers. It was a wonderful opening night and I'm glad we were there to see it.
http://www.acropolistaverna.com/
1833 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605 Acropolis Greek Taverna Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato View my food journey on Zomato!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Cedar Reef Fish Camp, Bradenton

Our gang headed south to Bradenton this weekend to check out Cedar Reef Fish Camp. First impressions count, right? And so when I hear a reference to "Fish Camp" I imagine being on the water somewhere, not in a shopping plaza. However, once you walk through the doors you are surrounded by that casual dive by the bay atmosphere and I liked it!
We were seated at a long table with half of us sitting in chairs and the others against a lovely high backed banquette. My only complaint for the evening was that our very nice waitress served the whole meal by passing plates down to us instead of coming around behind our chairs to set the plates down. It may seem like a small thing but when you're in the middle of a bite with your fork in mid air and you have to stop and lean back because there's a plate being passed under your nose to the person next to you - well, that's just bad form. That may have been forgiven for those seated at the banquette side, but there was plenty of walking around room behind my side of the table to serve and bus properly.
Cheryl & Ken started with a crab dip surrounded by tri-color chips and they found it good but not great as it seemed to have too much of a cheese flavor. And my hubby started with the charmingly named "Bubba's Wedgie" which he rather enjoyed opting for Ranch vs. Blue Cheese dressing.
Five out of eight of us went for the Blackened Redfish served over rice and black beans. Here's something neat.....while trying to figure out if any of us had ever had Redfish, I stumbled upon a handy "Fish Dictionary" in the back of the menu that explained all the different types of fish.
FUN FISH FACT: Redfish are one of many game fish to catch along the Tampa, Clearwater, and West Coast areas of Florida. Reds can be found along the whole Gulf Coast and also up the Atlantic Coast, as far north as North Carolina.
Ken ordered Shrimp & Grits with the heat turned up "New Orleans Style" adding Andouille sausage, smoked bacon, and caramelized onions. Hubby went for the Garlic Mussels and upped the ante by having it served over linguini. Of course it came with garlic bread to sop up the luscious garlicky goodness. Smiles all around the table. All of this was washed down with some Happy Hour priced beer and wine (yes, we're senior citizens) and we left satisfied and happy with our meals. Back to the Fox Hole for Peach Kuchen, Hollie's Nana's recipe using peaches freshly picked that morning at the U-Pick Farm out at Fort Lonesome. Nana's recipe is generously shared below courtesy of Hollie:
Peach Kuchen
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup sugar (separate out 2 T.)
½ cup butter
6 - 8 peaches (fresh is best!)
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 egg yolks
1 c. heavy (or sour) cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and 2 T sugar in mixing bowl. Cut in butter until texture resembles coarse cornmeal. Pat over bottom and half way up sides of 8 x 8 baking dish. Skin peaches by cutting a small X in the base, then place in boiling water for 30 seconds, followed by ice water for 10 seconds - the skins should slip off easily. Slice (or drain canned peaches or thaw frozen peaches) and arrange over pastry. Sprinkle with remaining sugar & cinnamon. Bake 15 minutes, then pour mixture of slightly beaten egg yolks and cream over top. Bake 30 minutes more. Best served warm or at room temperature. Serves 9.
We'll definitely be back to Cedar Reef some time to sample the rest of their menu.
http://www.cedarreef.com
7240 55th Avenue East, Bradenton, FL 34203
Cedar Reef Fish Camp Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Friday, May 27, 2016

Frescos, St. Petersburgh

This week our good friends invited us on a boating excursion of Tampa Bay. What a treat! The day was picture perfect, the Bay was relatively calm, and we were wise enough to go midweek and avoid the crowds. We ended up in St. Pete at Frescos and if you've never docked at a marina and hopped out of the boat onto the pier you are definitely missing something. I felt positively jaunty. There's even a special boat parking meter - who knew?
We found a table on the patio and enjoyed the balmy breeze and the view of a variety of very cool looking yachts and boats. It really is a whole way of life, this boating thing.
Hollie and I both ordered the Portabella Salad: a beautiful presentation of Yellow Squash, Zucchini, Roasted Red Peppers and Feta with a Balsamic glaze. It was almost too pretty to eat but I tucked in and finished half of the very large portion with an eye toward bringing the other half home for later. Too bad for me that while we were talking and looking around hubby stole my reserved Portabella Mushroom and gobbled it up. Harumph....oh well.
Hubby had the Steak Portabella Wrap: Sliced sirloin, portabella mushrooms, spinach, sautéed onions, roasted red pepper, provolone and horseradish sauce with a side of Bowtie Pasta. He reports that the steak was very tender and he enjoyed it immensely (and then stole my Portabella Mushroom....no I'm not letting it go). Service was quick and efficient and we thought at first that our young waitress was taking a personal phone call while servicing her tables only to learn that her phone was a mini POS system. Marvelous. Some time back I wrote a review of a restaurant where instead of menus we were given a bunch of iPads on which to place our orders directly with the kitchen. I didn't like it at all, but I do applaud the use of iPhones as POS systems.
Mike opted for the Steak Sandwich topped with mushrooms & caramelized onions served on a hoagie with French Fries. Yum.
This part of St. Pete is so charming with museums and restaurants and shops and parks. Whether by boat or by car I've put this lovely part of town on my List of Places to Go as there's lots to explore.
http://www.frescoswaterfront.com
Located in Downtown St. Petersburg at the foot of the Pier
Fresco's Waterfront Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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