Friday, April 21, 2017

Farm House Restaurant

It was time for lunch and since we generally don’t eat breakfast when we have a longish drive ahead of us, we were getting hungry.  We’d just crossed the Florida/Georgia State line so we checked out the exits and what they might have to offer hungry travelers…


This is the Farm House Restaurant in Lake Park Georgia.  We could see from I-75 that this restaurant was popular…  We decided to give it a try.


The interior of the Farm House Restaurant was spacious and the main dining area was packed.  Given the “farm house” connotation, we figured that the menu would consist of down home comfort food.  FYI, there is a small gift shop at the front of this restaurant as well.


We ended up in this side dining area.  Even this room was almost full… FYI, the art along the walls is for sale.


Our waitress started us out with this basket of corn muffins.  They were average at best…a bit too dry for our taste.


The menu is expansive but we both went for one of the Farm House Specials.  Laurie ordered fried chicken with stuffing, green beans and mashed potatoes with gravy.  She thought that her meal was OK but the green beans seemed like they came from a can.


I also went for the fried chicken.  It was good but not great.  My sides were greens, stuffing and dumplings.  (Classic southern meat and 3) The greens and dumplings were average but I didn’t care for the stuffing… The pimentos in it ruined the stuffing for me. (Of course, pimentos are a southern standard!) 

Our waitress was not the greatest… She was friendly enough but she wasn’t very efficient.  It took forever to get our check so we could get back on the road.  Still, it’s hard to beat the price for our meals. (Only $8.49 each!)

We would term Farm House Restaurant as a safe and clean ‘fuel’ stop.  This restaurant is located at 5123 Mill Store Road (Exit 5) off of I-75 in Lake Park Georgia.  Phone: 229-559-5445.  They are open daily from 7 AM to 7 PM.  I couldn’t find a website or Facebook page for this restaurant.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!


Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Revisiting a Favorite – The Lucky Dill Deli

Time for another Tampa/Clearwater dining favorite… I don’t think that we’d ever visit the area without a stop here for deli delights!  Our good friends Bob and Nona from Clearwater were with us for this dining treat.


This is the Lucky Dill Deli and Brooklyn Bakery in Palm Harbor Florida.  A ‘real’ quality deli is impossible to find where we live in East Tennessee.  The tendency here is that any place that makes a sandwich calls itself a ‘deli’.  There are a couple of restaurants where the menu resembles a true deli but they fall short from a quality standpoint… (We keep looking around the area though!) 



The Lucky Dill Deli is a big restaurant.  That’s a good thing because you can still end up waiting for a table during peak meal times.  We were a bit ‘off peak’ when we visited this time so we didn’t have a problem getting a table.


The waiter or waitress starts the table out with a basket of fresh baked rolls. Given the amount of food one receives here, it's really overkill but its a nice touch in any case.

About a year and a half ago, we stopped here for breakfast.  While it was good, let’s face it, a good deli is all about sandwiches and other deli type specialties.  It had been about 3 years since we’d been here for lunch…


How about a nice little Hot Corned Beef Sandwich!?  ($12.99) This was Nona’s luncheon choice.  She loves corned beef and she loves the Lucky Dill Deli!  Please note that all sandwiches also come with a choice of Coleslaw, Potato Salad, Pasta Salad or Chips and Pickle. 


This grouping of beautiful ‘sliders’ is Bob’s favorite at Lucky Dill Deli.  The Lucky Deal ($14.99) includes 3 freshly baked rolls with a choice of deli meats.  I personally would have a hard time deciding which meats I would select if I was to order this platter of goodness.  

Meat choices include hot corned beef, hot pastrami, hot beef brisket, oven roasted turkey breast, roast beef, honey baked ham, salami, liverwurst and chopped liver.  You could also choose beef tongue for one of them for an additional $2.00.


When dining at a quality deli and given the fact that it's a rare experience for Laurie and me, our ‘go to’ choice is always a Hot Pastrami Sandwich!  We both ordered the same thing. ($12.99) We were very, very happy!

Note that all sandwiches are served on your choice of bread.  Choices include: New York Rye, Pumpernickel, White, Wheat, Kaiser Roll, Sesame Roll, Onion Roll, Marble Rye and a Bagel.  




  
Then there is the Brooklyn Bakery side of Lucky Dill Deli!  WOW!  What a selection.  It’s too bad that we were already stuffed after finishing our huge and delicious sandwiches…

Any normal (or intelligent) human would have just bypassed these bakery cases, but then again, I’m not normal.  We picked up a large black and white cookie, some Tiramisu, a muffin, and 2 small éclairs. ($17.42 with tax) What the heck, we wanted a treat for later that evening…

Note to Lucky Dill Deli… You would rule the market and we would dine at your establishment at least once a week if you located a restaurant here in the Knoxville area!  Palm Harbor Florida’s Lucky Dill Deli/Brooklyn Bakery is located at 33180 US Hwy. 19 North.  Phone: 727-789-5574.  Their website can be found at: http://luckydilldeli.com/.

Just click on any of the photos…especially that hot pastrami sandwich…to enlarge them for drooling purposes.

Thanks for stopping by for a ‘light’ lunch!


Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, April 17, 2017

La Trattoria Da Gaetano

We were down in the Tampa/Clearwater Florida area visiting our long-time friends Nona and Bob.  It had been about a year and a half since our last visit… While Lenny’s in Clearwater was a new dining experience for us, we also decided to reprise a couple of favorites as well…a popular deli and an unusual Italian restaurant.


We started with the Italian favorite, locally known as the “No Name Italian Restaurant”.  However, as you can see it does have a name.  La Trattoria da Gaetano is located in the corner of a strip shopping center in Dunedin Florida.  It would be easy to miss when driving by…


The interior of Gaetano’s is definitely ‘old school’ with wood paneling, checkered tablecloths, a mix of different chairs, a mirrored wall, etc.  As far as I could see, there weren’t any changes since we’d last dined here September of 2015.  

  
This table in one corner of the restaurant is crowded with wine as well as some ingredients for appetizers and entrees.



The fact is that La Trattoria da Gaetano doesn’t have a written/printed menu…or even a chalkboard with special listed.  Instead, Gaetano himself brings a cart around and he describes the appetizers and entrees that he can prepare.  The trick for old folks like me is trying to remember what the heck all the choices are!

You also have to be willing to gamble a little bit as you won’t discover what your meals will cost until you get the bill…and this restaurant is not inexpensive.


One big disappointment for us was that Gaetano himself was out of town on a trip.  He’s such a character that his presentation of the various food items is partly informative and part entertainment.  His son (in the back right) went over the items with us on this occasion.  The advantage was that son doesn’t have an accent so it’s easier to follow what he’s saying…even if I still can’t remember all of the options.

Our waiter took a photo of our little group… From the left, Laurie, me, Nona and Bob…  We did encounter one problem this evening that you might notice if you study the photo.   Three of us had our food but Laurie’s entrée arrived late.  The problem was that they brought her the wrong entrée in the first place.


Since I don’t have a written record of what we had to eat…just a receipt…it’s a challenge to recall which entrees were which.  I am sure that this veal dish was Nona’s entrée.  It’s a dish that Bob and Nona have had on several previous occasions and they really enjoy it. 


This was Bob’s entrée…Lobster ravioli with shrimp in a tomato vodka sauce.  Winner, winner!   Those shrimp look good to me!


This was the side of spaghetti and meat sauce that accompanied Nona and my entrees.  While I’m sure that it is very popular, it just had too many vegetables in it for my taste. 


My main dish was this stuffed pork chop!  It was very good…large too!  Laurie got a few mushrooms and a taste of the pork chop.  There was nothing left on my plate when I finished…


Laurie finally got her entrée.  She also ordered the lobster ravioli but in her case it was topped with artichokes and a few pieces of lobster.  This was not her favorite iteration of lobster ravioli… It was too sweet for her taste and this offering just didn’t ‘pop’ for her.

So on this occasion at La Trattoria Da Gaetano we had some hits and some misses.  Despite this experience and taking our first visit back in 2015 in account, this is a dining experience that is worth a try.  It’s definitely an old style Italian restaurant with a character of its own.   Note that this restaurant scores 4.5 stars out of 5 on both Yelp.com and TripAdvisor.com!

La Trattoria Da Gaetano is located at 2152 Main Street in Dunedin Florida.  Phone: 727-733-5664.  This restaurant doesn’t have a website but you can find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/La-Trattoria-Restaurant-Da-Gaetano/115780801784827.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Lenny’s – Clearwater

Laurie and I were down in Clearwater Florida visiting our good friends Bob and Nona.  Laurie and I have been married/together for almost 39 years and we’ve been friends with Bob and Nona the entire time.  I worked with Bob many, many years ago at the Venture Stores division of May Department Stores in St. Louis Missouri.

In any case, they have a favorite local restaurant that they love to visit when they want to go out for breakfast…and since that’s our favorite meal out we were happy to give it a try!


This is Lenny’s in Clearwater Florida…or as their menu states…”Lenny’s – The Legend Lives On!”  Lenny’s has been serving breakfast here since about 1980.  This restaurant is right up our alley as they serve breakfast any time during open hours and they’re open 7 days a week from 6 AM to 3 PM.  



  
Lenny’s has that northeastern USA ‘diner’ look even though it is large as compared to the usual diner.  It could be a retro looking New York Jewish diner for that matter.  That’s appropriate since the menu features bagels with nova and cream cheese, knishes, blintzes, Matzo and potato pancakes as well as chopped liver and a hot ‘Roumanian’ pastrami sandwich.


We’d already attacked this complimentary basket of Danish goodies before we remembered to take a photo.  This basket of sweet treats comes with almost all the breakfast items!  Before the meal was over, the basket was empty…


Nona went for the bacon and egg breakfast. ($8.99) Her 2 over-easy eggs and 4 slices of bacon were accompanied by home fries without onions. 

For their sides, diners can choose between 4 silver dollar pancakes or 2 of the following: home fries, grits, toast, hot fresh baked biscuit, slices of tomatoes or fresh fruit garnish.


Laurie went for the same breakfast as Nona did only she added onions to her home fries!  She loved the fact that this standard breakfast comes with 4 slices of bacon… They also cooked the bacon crispy, the way she likes it.


What can I say…Traditional meat and egg breakfasts were ‘in’ for most of our group!  Bob’s breakfast was a bit different in that he got bacon, a sausage link and a sausage patty.

FYI... The deli side of the menu appealed to me almost as much as the breakfast portion did.  Hot corned beef, a corned beef or pastrami or turkey ‘Knish-Wich’, tongue, roast beef, salami, burgers, wraps, chicken noodle soup, sweet and sour cabbage soup, etc., round out the luncheon menu.


Well what the heck… Someone had to break the mold and order something other than a standard breakfast!  I went for something with a ‘southern touch’, the Redneck Benedict. ($9.99) Yes, there are 2 sausage patties and 2 poached eggs on 2 biscuit halves buried in that load of sausage gravy… I added Tabasco of course.  That sausage gravy mixed in very nicely with the meat, eggs and a nice biscuit. 

Lenny’s offers 8 different benedicts, including a chicken waffle version.  The menu also includes no less than 20 different omelettes!  Yes, French toast, pancakes and waffles are also available. 


These are our friends Nona and Bob… Good food and good friends make everyone happy!  It’s a great combination.  We ate very well at their home as well.  Bob is a good prep assistant and Nona can really deliver on the Italian dishes!

Lenny’s was definitely a winner!  The food is top notch and the pricing is hard to beat in a metro area.  We wish that we had a place like this anywhere within driving range from our home in East Tennessee!  Lenny’s is located at 21220 US Hwy. 19 North in Clearwater Florida.  Phone: 727-799-0402.  Website:  http://www.lennysfood.com/.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for breakfast!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Last Stops Before Clearwater

We were headed south to Tampa/Clearwater on the last day of our drive before we arrived at our friends Bob and Nona’s house.  We took in a couple more historic places along the way. 


The first spot we stopped to photograph was in Cross City Florida.  This is the old Atlantic Coast Line Depot.  It was built ca. 1910.  At one point in more recent days it apparently was occupied by a local business.  These days it’s not in use…but I noted that they’d boarded in the old freight dock for this combination passenger and freight depot.

The asphalt path in the foreground is part of the 32 mile long Nature Coast State Trail… The former rail right of way has been converted to what is popularly called a “rail trail”.  At one point, this paved trail crosses over the Suwannee River.

Historical Note:

·       During the Second Seminole War (1835-1842) Federal forces engaged the Seminoles in this area near the Suwannee River, across from Ft. Fanning.  The engagement is known as the "Battle of Old Town."


This Spanish Mission style building in Crystal River Florida was built with native limestone in 1939 under the auspices of the Work Project Administration…part of Roosevelt’s New Deal program.  It was originally designed to house the police and fire departments, (with a 3-cell jail) and it served as City Hall until 1972. 

The building now houses the Coastal Heritage Museum, which is operated by the Citrus County Historical Society.  Exhibits focus on the early history of the west side of Citrus County Florida and include a 1929 diorama of downtown Crystal Springs, a fish house facade, and one of the an original jail cells. Admission is free.  You can check it out at: http://www.coastalheritagemuseum.org/.

Notes:

·       Both Art Fleming, the original host of “Jeopardy!” and baseball hall of fame member Ted Williams, lived in Crystal River at the time of their deaths. 

·       Crystal River is situated around Kings Bay, which is spring-fed and so keeps a constant 72 °F temperature year around.  A cluster of 50 springs designated as a first-magnitude system feeds Kings Bay.  This discharge equals about 64 million gallons of water per day!   Kings Bay can be home to over 400 manatees during the winter when the water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico cools and this fact is a major draw for tourists in the area.


Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park is a Florida State Park located in Homosassa Florida, just a couple of miles west of US Hwy 19.  In addition to the historic ruins, the park has a picnic pavilion, restrooms, picnic tables and grills…as well as the ruins of the historic old sugar mill.

David Levy Yulee was a delegate in the Florida Territorial Legislative Council and when Florida became a state, he became the first US Senator from the state as well as the first American of Jewish heritage to serve in the Senate.  Yulee is also credited as being responsible for the development of a network of railroads that tremendously boosted the state's economy.


The large mill (which was steam-driven) operated from 1851 to 1864.  It produced sugar, syrup and molasses.  FYI, the molasses was used in making rum.  At the park, the stonework (foundation, well and 40-foot chimney) of the mill, iron gears, a cane press, and some of the other machinery remain.

The mill was just part of Yulee’s huge enterprise in the Homosassa area.  His plantation covered more than 5,100 acres and was worked by approximately 1,000 slaves.  They raised sugarcane, citrus, and cotton.  Yulee made the plantation the base for all of his businesses and land holdings, building his home on Tiger Tail Island in the Homosassa River just a few miles from the mill.


David Yulee had a much larger empire than just this 5,100 acre plantation and mill.  Yulee also owned vast lands across North Central Florida and maintained other homes in Fernandina and what is now the town of Yulee.  (When his father Moses, first emigrated to Florida from the island of St. Thomas in what is now the US Virgin Islands, he purchased 50,000 acres in that are now occupied by Jacksonville Florida)

Using the labors of 69 slaves, Yulee built the mill of hewn Florida limestone, brick and wood.  In addition to the steam-operated grinding or pressing rollers, the operation also included large kettles for cooking down the juice squeezed from the sugar cane.  By the time of the Civil War, when it was in full operation the Yulee Sugar Mill used more than 100 slaves to process the sugar cane.  Sugar was exported from the Homosassa River to ports all along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts. 


  
Elected to the U.S. Senate again in 1855, Yulee was still serving in Washington when the obvious threat of Civil War loomed over the horizon.  Resigning his post in the U.S. Senate, Yulee went home to Florida.  Although he served for a time in the Confederate Congress, his primary role during the Civil War was as a businessman and industrialist.  His railroad was brought into operation in March of 1861 and the sugar mill on the Homosassa was devoted to the production of sugar for the Confederate armies.

In May of 1864, the Union navy made a raid up the Homosassa River to Tiger Tail Island.  A building containing Southern military supplies was set on fire and the flames spread to Yulee's home.  In their reports of the affair, U.S. Navy officers claimed that burning Yulee’s home was "accidental". 

To learn more about David Levy Yulee, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Levy_Yulee.

FYI…Homosassa Florida is the home of the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, where visitors can observe manatees close up and personal.  To learn about this park, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosassa_Springs_Wildlife_State_Park.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


Monday, April 10, 2017

Cypress Inn Restaurant

From Apalachicola Florida, we headed south via the only highway along the west side of northern Florida that leads down to Tampa/Clearwater.  We were concerned about finding a decent place for lunch early enough in the day so that we wouldn’t compromise our appetite for dinner at our friend’s house in Clearwater. 

While there aren’t a lot of reputable choices along US Hwy. 19 north of Crystal River/Homosassa Springs, we stumbled across a busy local restaurant along the way.  While busy doesn’t always equal “good”, we decided it was worth a try…

You might note that this photo was taken just a bit before 2017!  This photo I 'borrowed' from Facebook was taken in 1936 and it depicts the restaurant where we stopped for lunch…only about 81 years earlier… 


This is the Cypress Inn…with the gas station appendage removed.  They claim to have started serving hungry passerby’s since 1928.  The Cypress Inn was once an actual inn for truckers in the 1920’s.  Depending on whom you talk to, it or part of it supposedly served a house of ill repute despite its very obvious Christian identity today.  There may have also been a funeral parlor here too…

As you could see, the original style of the building is still recognizable on the outside.  It resembles the look of many early roadside inns and restaurants.


The inside is definitely unique!  Note the unusual cypress paneling, even on the ceiling, the cross beams, the mix of tables and chairs and the trophy taxidermy deer mounted on the walls.  This is definitely a casual roadside stop for the weary traveler…


While customers can order off the menu, the big draw is the buffet, either at lunch or dinner.  This is the salad bar with a nice variety of basics for the healthy diner…


Dessert…Yup!  The luncheon options included brownies and red velvet cake.  FYI, I skipped both the salad bar and the dessert despite the fact that both looked good.  I had other goals in mind!


This is the hot food buffet bar.  More about this option below as we share our luncheon plates with you!


Laurie went for a ‘balanced’ meal.  She had a nice hunk of corn bread, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy and a ‘real’ hunk of fried chicken.  By ‘real’, I mean it isn’t a chicken ‘nugget’, ‘strip’ or ‘finger’.  It is a real piece of bone-in fried chicken, something that’s getting harder and harder to find.


This was my lunch…well…at least it was my first plate from the buffet!  I grabbed 2 pieces of fried chicken and a hunk of chicken fried steak.  The chicken fried steak was good but the chicken was excellent!  Laurie agreed 100%! 


Well, we both did end up eating dessert but we justified it as it was on the ‘hot’ buffet table with the meat and potatoes.  These glazed warm ‘donut hole’ creations were perfect…melt in your mouth!

So…how much did this luncheon feast cost these weary travelers?


I took a photo of our luncheon buffet guest check… Can you believe it?!  This little feast with that terrific chicken only cost $8.00 each before tax and tip!  Laurie and I are just lucky, at least from a health and weight standpoint, that the Cypress Inn isn’t located near us in East Tennessee…

The Cypress Inn is located at 15568 US Hwy. NW in Cross City Florida.  They offer a seafood buffet on Friday nights.  Phone: 352-498-7211.   They are on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CypressInnRestaurant

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for lunch!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave