SO and I went to Florida over the weekend as a surprise to our granddaughter on the occasion of her graduation from high school. We had a good time with family and their friends and ate at a variety of different places.
A local joint called Wings and Things (a common name for wing restaurants but this is a local spot) sounded really good to me as I love wings. They had lots of different beers to go with their huge variety of wing flavors - there had to be over 100! Some are better than others. They don't use the term Buffalo wings anywhere. They are just listed as wings-mild, medium, hot. All told, some of the flavors were not so great.
One day we went out on SIL's boat down the Crystal River to a place on the water called Freezer. Pull up in your boat, place an order and the food is delivered. The primary dish is a spicy seasoned shrimp that is really good. We at a lot of shrimp that day! I'll try to duplicate it.
Another evening we went to a pizza and Italian food restaurant owned by friends of the family. This was the best so far. We I asked the pizza guy if he could make us a Margarita pizza and he was thrilled someone even asked. It was a great pizza. We also shared fettuccine Alfredo and an antipasto that were all good. SO suggested to the owner that she put the Margarita on the menu because it was so good but she replied that it would be wasted on the locals as all they wanted was the basics. The owners are transplanted New Yorkers - that explains a lot.
The biggest surprise came on Monday night. Our daughter took us to a motel we had booked near the Tampa airport so we could grab our early flight Tuesday morning. Across the street was a huge mall with a major selection of restaurants including the Cheesecake Factory as the big name.
The motel (LaQuinta) provided free shuttle service back and forth to the mall (as well as the airport Tuesday morning). All for $90 a night.
We walked around and checked out all the restaurant menus before settling on Brio Tuscan Grill
. Like most mall restaurants, this is a chain. But I have not been to a chain this good. This restaurant was so particular about everything's being just right. The manager was checking the dishes as the kitchen put them up to make sure each was perfect. The waitstaff used free moments to make sure the tables were set right with each sugar bowl holding ten each of Splenda, Equal, Sweet&Low and sugar. People were checking the empty tables to ensure the tablecloths were clean and straight.
But that's all beside the point. It's about the food and that was also tops. We shared an appy of calamari with both marinara and horseradish dipping sauces. It was cisp and tender. SO had a salad topped with a sliced piece of filet mignon that she thought was great.
I had the best grilled pork chops I've ever had. Perfect. The garlic mashed and roasted veggies were also great.
We need one of these near home.
Alas, now we are home and SO is whining we need to have something light for dinner tomorrow...
Life goes on.