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Old 05-29-2012, 10:19 PM   #1
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Road Trip to Homosassa and Tampa FL.

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.
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:27 PM   #2
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Oh, I so love trip reports! Thanks, Andy!
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Old 05-30-2012, 05:56 AM   #3
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I'm glad you had a good time, Andy. Welcome home!
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Old 05-30-2012, 07:23 AM   #4
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Hey Andy,

You were in our neck of the woods, Citrus County. At least for the Homosassa and Crystal River part. Sounds like you had a good time. The Freezer is pretty famous around here. Lots of controversy....neighbors wanted it shut down, but so far they are hanging in there.
You left just in time, we had torrential storms here yesterday and overnight, particularly in the area you visited. Need the rain badly, though, so no complaints.
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Old 05-30-2012, 07:39 AM   #5
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We've stayed in the Embassy Suites across from that mall.

We have a Brio Tuscan Grill at the mall not too far from here, even some anti chain people said that it was good, we'll have to try it out!
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Old 05-30-2012, 09:58 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lyndalou View Post
Hey Andy,

You were in our neck of the woods, Citrus County. At least for the Homosassa and Crystal River part. Sounds like you had a good time. The Freezer is pretty famous around here. Lots of controversy....neighbors wanted it shut down, but so far they are hanging in there.
You left just in time, we had torrential storms here yesterday and overnight, particularly in the area you visited. Need the rain badly, though, so no complaints.
I didn't know you were in the area. It's a nice area and we met a lot of good people there.
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:01 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by bakechef View Post
We've stayed in the Embassy Suites across from that mall.

We have a Brio Tuscan Grill at the mall not too far from here, even some anti chain people said that it was good, we'll have to try it out!
We were looking for a cheap place for one night. the LaQuinta there had been remodeled and the room was clean, bright and comfortable. The free shuttle service to and from the mall were a pleasant surprise. We thought we'd have to take a cab. I booked through Hotels.com and read good reviews.
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Old 05-30-2012, 05:25 PM   #8
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We stayed at Embassy with a great deal when we were there. We were taking a cruise and they had a package where you could leave your car there for a week and they would take you to the pier. Parking at the pier would have cost more than the hotel! We were happy with the location.

I'll keep LaQuinta in mind if we are in the area again, when we only need to crash for a night, cheap and clean fits the bill!
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Old 05-30-2012, 06:12 PM   #9
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Nice report. And interesting tidbit on them not using the descriptive word Buffalo. Must be a throwback response to when Buffalo had good football teams.
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Old 05-30-2012, 06:14 PM   #10
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Nice report. And interesting tidbit on them not using the descriptive word Buffalo. Must be a throwback response to when Buffalo had good football teams.
In a couple of different places we were warned, "Take it easy, that sauce is really hot. I mean REALLY hot!!!" It wasn't. I don't get it. The sauce was barely hot at all.
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