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Found 22 results

  1. Nothing too fancy, though, my Armani ensemble is still at the cleaners.
  2. Alright, so it's not paradise, chock full of sandals + socks wearing tourists disgorged from cruise ships who don't make it 2 blocks inland before succumbing to the siren song of 2-for-1 fruity drinks (which are 200% more expensive than they should be, natch) and "Hemingway Did X Here" taverns providing the the minimum of quality for maximum profit. However, we love it there. It's cheap to get to (relatively, for the semi-tropics) and actually cheap to stay (if you know where, mostly B&Bs with real character). But we are exhausting our decent possibilities and the island is changing, seemingly forever (see the most recent NYTimes travel section on the increasing cost of paradise ... and homgeneity). Who can dish on the last little nook of good eats and drinks that we've not discovered? We're going again 3rd week in December. Territory already covered: 1) 7Fish: By far my favorite place to eat down there. Simple seafood done extremely well for a relative bargain in a converted laundromat. Plop this place down in D.C. and they would mop the floor with most seafood-centric-upscale-but-not-stuffy eateries (and, yes, I'm including Hank's and Johnny's here). I could feast on the grouper roll app (always on "special") for months on end and not grow tired of it. The local stuff is ridiculously fresh and refreshingly un-tampered with. 2) Half Shell Raw Bar: Stone crabs. In season. Never cheap, anywhere. Always the best seafood I will put in my mouth. And this is a born and bred Bawlmer boy raised on Chesapeake blues speaking. Honestly, you really can't go wrong with stone crabs anywhere in the Keys, but it just feels right eating them at the Half Shell. Rest of the raw bar is good, too. We only ever go for stones n' beer, though, at the bar. For hours on end. 3) Blue Heaven: Did somebody say lobster benedict for brunch while a momma chicken and her brood peck away underfoot? Ummmm, OK. Just an awesome place to hang out and eat. Food (always brunch, never stopped in for dinner) is spot on. Drinks under the treehouse ain't bad neither. I hear it's under new management and they've bricked over the outdoor seating courtyard. We'll investiagate in a month or so. Would be sad if true. Heard they lost a large portion of said tree to Wilma. Crap. 4) Back bar at Virgilio's. Not a place I would have imagined in Key West. Martini bar? Meh. But good jazz. Surprisingly excellent Belgian beer selection. Always a post-dinner place (the Italian joint that fronts the place isn't great shakes). Sprayed liberally with cruise-tourist-B-gone. 5) El Siboney: Cuban, greasy, cheap, ridiculous. Probably not as good as the best Miami joints, but a hop, skip, and two jumps ahead of what I can get in D.C.. Worth seeking out, wweelllll off the tourist path. Treat you like family. 6) B.O.'s Fish Wagon: To be honest, I haven't actually eaten here. One time we went by it was closed at some random time, other times the Half Shell beckoned (a few steps away). No way in hell I'm missing it next trip. Literally a shack (no wall, corrugated roof, etc. etc) with supposedly the best grouper sandwich this side of the ocean. Tough comparison in the Keys, but I'd believe it. 7) Pepe's: Can't really explain this place. Claims to be the oldest continually operating restaurant in Key West. Decent food. Every Thursday is Thanksgiving (turkey et al. on special). Bizarre. Great owners and bartenders. Stumbled on it the first time we were there. $1 Yeungling specials just after they had opened their Florida brewery. Had to stay for a few hours after that discovery. We like to fly into Miami or Ft. Lauderdale and drive down. Kind of eases you into the Keys mood. Here are a couple places worth mentioning to stop for lunch, or drinks. Mile markers where I remember them: 8) Alabama Jacks: If you take the bypass, this is right before the bridge. Don't eat here, but mingle with the crowd for drinks. Real biker bar. Watch out for the 'gators. 9) Islamorada Fish Company, MM81ish: Huge fishing store (think Cabela's or that Bass Outlet place) with floating docks for dining and tarpon to feed. Not the best by any imagination, but a great place to get into the Keys mood. Grouper or stone crab in season. Some fruity concoction at our elbow. 10) Manny and Isa's, MM80ish, near the above: Mom n' pop Cuban, but the real draw is the Key lime pie. Have it here and skip the other (mostly) imposters, especially the joints near Duval in Key West. Ok, the Blonde Giraffe is decent, but otherwise ... 11) Keys Fisheries, Marathon somewhere: This place apparently is owned by Joe's in Miami for supply purposes. Stone crabs? Fresh off the boat. Literally. You can even get them hot if you get there at the right time (stone crab claws are steamed on the boat by law due to their perishibility). Why pay Joe's prices for some penguin in a nice suit to serve them to you? This is the same thing, only fresher and 1/4 the price. 12) Mango Mama's: MM21ish. Can't say why we love the place. Service is slapdash, setting is kinda weird (garden grotto meets crab shack), but folks are friendly and the seafood is spectacular. And a good deal cheaper than what you will get 20 miles to the SW. Anybody else have experiences they'd like to share? There are other places we'd like to spend our big-dinner money on (La Te Da, Louie's, etc) but can't seem to justify it having never bitten the bullet (money on food takes away dollars from drinks and fishing charters ). Anyway, I'd encourage anybody to head down to the Keys if they've never been; PM for recs. It's not for everybody, but I suspect that most folks here would get a kick out of 3-4 days there.
  3. impressions can get a bit skewed when you're on the road, especially in orlando, but seasons 52 had really good food when i ate there in january. have yet to check out rock creek restaurant. by the way, how is thyme square doing these days? our last meal there a few years was a shambles, but i assume that somebody would have turned out the lights by now if they had not made substantial improvements.
  4. Do you watch college football? I do. Not voraciously but sporadically. Its somewhat like watching college basketball vs the pros. One phenomena is that when a player sticks out and is so remarkably more talented than everyone else he creates memorable unmatched plays and generates astonishing displays of athleticism. Over the past quarter century or so probably the single most exciting player in college football was Michael Vick. Vick; pretty interesting career and life. He was a combination running/throwing quarterback at Virginia Tech, probably led them to their best records, and made remarkable play after play. He was the fastest quarterback in memory, was a shifty runner, had a cannon of an arm. He could create excitement with his arm or his legs. In college, his dominance was transcendent. Often he would step back to pass, the defense would spread to cover receivers, the defensive line would open up and Vick would take off on amazing runs. Left, right, shifting and faking out tacklers then turn on the super speed. Vick was a first draft choice around the turn of the century and was so athletically gifted he was often able to replicate those exciting plays in the pros. He was quite good his first 6 years...and then his own personal tragedy struck. But enough about Vick. Currently and last year there is a successor to Michael Vick. His name is Lamar Jackson and he is the quarterback at University of Louisville. Jackson is in his second year and is simply shredding defenses. He simply is the most talented player on the field. He may not be as fast as Vick but he is similarly shifty and every so often simply leaps over tacklers. He flicks passes. It seems effortless. He is rolling up astounding plays and scoring touchdowns either by running them in or passing for them at an amazing clip. ....and he looks like a man against boys. Here is a clip of some of his amazing plays.
  5. Wendy Chioji was a hero of mine. She said "no" when I asked her to homecoming in 1978, because she knew she could do better (she was right, though I do pat myself on the back for having taken a week to work up the courage to ask her). "Wendy Chioji, Legendary Central Florida News Anchor, Has Died" by Dave Plotkin on orlandoweekly.com We'll all miss you, Wendy. 😢 Thank you for all you've done, both to live an inspired life, and to help inspire others. God, this girl was a cancer warrior, like you have no idea. She literally had chemo, then went out and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for a film. --- Here's the story on WESH.
  6. Ted Williams is the only person who can claim - along with Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb - to be the greatest hitter who ever lived. Here are some statistics which are so mind-boggling that they simply do not compute: * Williams had a lifetime batting average of .344 - the highest of any player with more than 302 home runs. * Williams had 521 home runs. * Williams missed 3 seasons in the prime of his career due to WWII. The three years before, he batted .344, .406 and .356; the three years after, he batted .342, .343, and .369. * Missing those 3 seasons cost him at least 100 home runs - he would have hit 625 for his career. * Even more remarkable than the above? His *career* on-base percentage was .482. That is not a misprint. * Perhaps even *more* remarkable? Not once did he ever have 200 hits in a season. See for yourselves. How can that be? I guess it's because he walked so much (he had 20-12 vision). There are *three people* on that list of *525-different 200-hit seasons* named Williams, none of which is Ted. * If Williams had played 20 years earlier, I might be able to comprehend these numbers, but he was a *generation* after the big-numbers hitters of the 1920s. * His batting average, his home runs, and his walks - in my mind - make him a perfectly legitimate choice for the moniker: Greatest Hitter of All-Time.
  7. Had a very enjoayble meal last night at Seasons 52 on Sunrise Blvd in Ft. Lauderdale (at the Galleria Mall). There are a cluster of restaurants that were slammed at 8:45 -- Blue Martini, Capitol Grille, and PF Changs in addition to Seasons 52. Walking past the line of Bentley's waiting for the valet, I began to feel more then a little grubby having spent the better part of the day on a boat looking at potential new bridge sites tog gauge environmental impact. The restaurant has an upscale woodsy lodge feel to it which seemed out of place in South Florida when I first walked in, but I really warmed up to it over the course of the meal. My brother and I were seated in a large booth next to the open kitchen. The waiter walked us through the concept -- regular size portions, no butter, and seasonal food in an effort to cook healthy and still provide tasty meals. The portions were much larger then I expected, but still smaller then many places that seem to serve double portions, and I think they have ditched the original concept of calorie caps for the dishes. We started with a tomato basil flatbread that had paper-thin crispy crust, a line of equally thin tomato slices that allowed them to dry out a little while cooking to have a not-quite sun-dried tomato feel to it, generous amount of basil, and an almost negligible amount of parmesan. Very tasty and much lighter then I expected it to be. I had the pork tenderloin over polenta with spinach and mushrooms. The end pieces of pork were beyond dry but the middle pieces were juicy, well seasoned, and just wonderful. The pan sauce over the polenta was a great savory-creamy blend. My brother had the ruby red trout with potatos and the night's veggie special -- pan roasted brussel spouts. Dessert service is geared to letting you indulge without overindulging. Individual portions are served in basically tall shot glasses. The waiter brought over what to me resembled a test-tube rack with an assortment of 8 dessert options including boston cream pie, tiramisu, apple pie, chocolate mousse, cobbler, others I can't remember, and key lime pie -- my brother's choice. I had a taste and it was more lime pudding then key lime pie. The wine list included an extensive by-the-glass list with a broad range of prices. I had a lovely rioja that I enjoyed so much I wrote down the name and then promptly lost the slip of paper. I'm going to call them tomorrow. My only real gripe with this place is how hard the push the seasonality angle when they are in a place with almost no seasonal differences and the 80 degree weather just wasn't right for rich autumn foods.
  8. The JPW family will soon be making our annual trek down I95 to Pawleys Island. We'll stop somewhere in NC for some BBQ. Any thoughts on other good places to stop that are not too far from the highway? Mrs JPW was especially interested in some ice cream along the way.
  9. Marco Island; Naples Mrs. M and I will be traveling to Marco Island, Florida soon and are planning to enjoy one special meal. In past visits, my experience with dining in the Marco Island/Naples area has not been great. Indeed, the only exception to this is when we stumble upon real dives -- these have been, thus far, the culinary high (and this is certainly relative) points of our trips. So, I thought I'd throw it out to this esteemed bunch: does anyone have any dining recommendations in the Marco Island/Naples area? Say $75 to $125 a head? Thus far, I've come up with one contender that seems promising, but I have yet to find anyone whose ever been to Sale e Pepe. The menu intrigues me, and the chef's background (Turin native, Galileo sous chef, and part of the crew that was there at the opening of Laboratorio de Galileo) really piques my interest.
  10. If you want to pay a brief tribute to Burt Reynolds, watch "The Bard," (<--- Hulu link here) where he forever-angered Marlon Brando. (Really, how many people know that Reynolds got decked by William Shakespeare?) I watched "Deliverance" last night for about the fifth time, and loved it just as much as ever.
  11. I'm writing this for my mom, who enjoyed listening to Mel Tillis (among many other country-music singers). From what little I knew of him, he seemed like a really nice person. "Longtime Country Singer, Songwriter Mel Tillis Dies" on abcnews.go.com
  12. For anyone dining in the Tampa region, I would recommend Bern's Steak House. Opened in 1956, it's quite an institution. The beef is well-aged, and while there are lots of appetizers and starters to choose from, my dining companions and I selected the regular menu. You order an entree and it comes with a side salad, baked potato, delicate onion rings and a vegetable. Our vegetable choice was sweet and gingery shredded carrots, which even my carnivore boyfriend wolfed down. All the vegetables are organically grown on Bern's own farm. I've posted some pictures below. If you go, request a tour of the kitchen and wine cellar after your meal. And definitely make reservations in the upstairs dessert room. Here's a picture of my Chateaubriand....
  13. On a recent trip to Sarasota, my friend and I stumbled across Lila, a delightful, downtown lunch spot featuring fresh, healthy and delicious food. I have relatives who live in Sarasota, and my parents bought a tiny winter home in nearby Venice when I was in high school (many years ago!) so I am familiar with the area. But my 90-year-old dad's idea of a perfect meal is anyplace that serves fried shrimp, so most of my restaurant meals here have been repeat visits to his two favorite spots near the Englewood beaches. I enjoy a fried grouper sandwich as much as anyone, but on this particular day, I had had my fill of fried anything and just wanted something light, fresh and satisfying. Lila was the perfect spot for this. I ordered the Macro Bowl: chickpeas, sweet potatoes, avocado, seaweed and brown rice with a turmeric-tahini vinaigrette. It was delicious, and the colors were beautiful, served in a large, white bowl. It came with a side of carrot and ginger mash, which, when added to the bowl, enhanced the color and flavor. Main dishes were divided on the menu into Cool/Cold and Warm/Hot categories. My friend ordered the Winter Bowl from the Warm/Hot section. His bowl contained roasted root vegetables, potatoes, kale, falafel and pistachios, with a tahini-lemon sauce. The menu is mostly vegan, but non-vegetable sides were offered, including house-made bacon, a smoked poached egg and sausage. Salmon cake or chicken could be added to any main plate for an additional charge of $5 or $6. My friend opted for the poached egg, and had it served on top of his bowl. His dish was exceptional. As much as I loved mine, I think his was even better. The egg tasted great with the roasted vegetables, and the fresh tahini-lemon sauce tied all of the flavors together. A quick Google search revealed that this is a new restaurant, and that the chef proprietors own another place called Pomona Bistro in nearby Citrus Square. If you are looking for something fresh and filling in downtown Sarasota, I recommend Lila. I plan to go back and see what they offer for dinner, and I would like to try Pomona Bistro as well. Pictured here, is the Macro Bowl.
  14. Location and Rates for Tonight - Website The Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay is just a few miles from the airport, but it's also right on Tampa Bay, overlooking the Courtney Campbell Causeway going to Clearwater. This hotel is seemingly part of a larger complex - the grounds are enormous - but I'm still not quite sure of what all is on the property. Regardless, hotel guests have access to everything. Rates were relatively low, so I sprung for a Grand Club Room on the Concierge Level which cost $157 (AAA rate), plus state sales tax and occupancy tax, for a total of $175.96. Granted, that's not inexpensive, but it was a very good value for this hotel, and the weather was 75 degrees and sunny - warm enough to use the outdoor pool if you wanted. The next morning, 12 noon was inching ever-closer, so I called down and asked if the room was available for a second night, and it was only $4 more expensive, so I opted for a two-night stay. Incidentally, while writing this review, I checked the same rates for tonight, and the website listed the room as being $329, so keep that in mind if you can find this same room for something in the $160 range - this is what I was referring to about our room being a "good value" even though it isn't cheap - it really does feel like it "should" cost more than we paid for it. Because the room was on the Concierge Level (a separate floor on the top level), there was a lounge that was open for much of the day, with free breakfast from 6:30-9:30 AM - worth getting up for (Starbucks coffee, bacon, scrambled eggs, bacon, sliced fruit, cereal, bacon, coffee, bagels with a little toaster and *all the smoked salmon you wanted*, bacon, and coffee). This lounge, which was much like an airport lounge, also had free beverages starting at around 3 PM, and running up until 9 PM - the beers were of the Miller Lite and Heineken variety, but they had passable liquors if you wanted a cocktail, Badoit water, and in the evenings, there were ample-enough snacks where I made a dinner out of it: so-so charcuterie, chicken quesadillas (which were surprisingly not that bad), shrimp cocktail (also surprisingly not bad) - enough to cobble together a full meal, albeit not the healthiest food in the world; still, the total food bill was $0 for two people on night number one, with all the middling alcohol you cared to imbibe. In all honesty, the lounge wasn't good enough for two consecutive nights of dinner, so night two was Restaurant Night. However, on night two, Hyatt displayed an act of hospitality that I shall not soon forget: I went downstairs to the bar at 11:45 PM - the two bartenders were cleaning up the empty bar, and told me they had closed, but I could call room service (for a $3 delivery charge and a 22% service charge) and get anything on the bar menu. I wanted a Macallan 12, so I went back upstairs, and called room service - a very gentle, congenial Latina woman fielded my phone call asking for a glass of Macallan 12, then called me back in about one minute. "We don't have Macallan 12-year-old," she said " - we only have Macallan 18-year-old." I replied, "That's an expensive drink." She: "Yes, it is $40." Me: "Would you please pick me out a Whiskey in the same price range as the Macallan 12-year-old?" She: "Certainly, sir." And we hung up. About five minutes later, there was a knock at the door. It was the same lady who had talked to me on the telephone - an older woman, perhaps in her fifties or sixties, even more kindly and gentle in person than she was on the phone. "I brought you a present for your last night with us," she said " - here's a glass of the Macallan's 18-year-old, and it's on me." I looked down and saw the check, and the only thing on it was the $3 delivery charge. I asked her if the bar would be ringing up the drink as a separate item, and she sort-of, kind-of implied that they would be, so I expected to see a $12-15 charge on my bill when I checked out. I tipped her well, but not extravagantly: $8 on top of the $3 delivery charge, basically a "thank you" for the free upgrade from Macallan's 12 to Macallan's 18 (which is a considerable amount of money); what I didn't realize is that, between her and the bartenders (whose register was almost surely closed), they had comped the drink entirely, and I was given a glass of Macallan's 18 Scotch for all of $3, total. Had I known this, I would have given her a $20 tip, and I feel guilty about it even as I type this note. Nevertheless, if anyone from the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay ever sees this review, please thank the kindly woman who was working room service at 12:15 AM this morning (November 29, 2016), and do whatever you must do to keep her happy, because she defines what good hospitality is supposed to be. Kudos to your hotel and your management for having the foresight and intelligence to hire and employ this wonderful ambassador of goodwill. It should say something that fully half of my review of this $367, 2-night stay, is about this one act of kindness. It probably goes without saying that this is a solid, four-star hotel - there isn't anything else you could possibly rate it: If I could use just one example to demonstrate what a "business-oriented" four-star hotel would be like, it would be this. Here are some photos of the hotel: The Room Itself - It may not look like much, but it was a top-floor King overlooking Tampa Bay, and the bathroom was marble, with a great shower: The View from the bed: The View out our window which includes magnificent sunsets:
  15. I'll be spending a couple of days in Tampa and vicinity, so please nominate some restaurants you'd like reviewed. I've been to Bern's a couple of times, but I'd be happy to review it - that, or anywhere else. Just go ahead and throw out some names, and at Friday 5 PM, we'll open up a poll for about a week to vote on them. So there's no rush, but don't wait forever.
  16. I've searched the forum and haven't found a thread for Pensacola. Wondering if anyone has any suggestions for decent places to eat in Pensacola? Asking for my husband, who has a business trip there in a couple of weeks. Thanks for any information.
  17. Note: HC means "will make House Calls."
  18. Dr. Rockwell speaks about this year's flu outbreak in Florida. Some backstory about the name Hilleary Cleveland Rockwell, III: When my grandfather, Hilleary Cleveland Rockwell, was born (in the mid-1890s), the President of the United States was Grover Cleveland, hence the middle name. The physician who delivered him at birth was a gentleman named Dr. Hilleary, hence the first name. What used to be the nerdiest name in the history of the world turns out to be cool, but it shouldn't be any surprise that my brother is named "Rocky." (And that would be our own NiceDocter.) Don Rockwell
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