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 trip to florida

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seafarer john

trip to florida Mon, 02/28/11 11:03 PM (permalink)
We arrived home yesterday after six weeks to and from Florida. 
On our way south we stopped at the Amwell Diner on Rt 31 in NJ and had a very nice chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese for lunch. Drove thru Philadelphia n I-95 and managed to resist diverting to the  Reading Terminal for their goodies. In Kent Island Md we had dinner at the Fisherman's Inn ( handy, just across the road from our motel) and enjoyed a dozen fat salty oysters, a delicious creamy crab bisque, warm rolls, and all washed down with a bottle of inexpensive but tasty chardonnay, and finished off with coffee and a very nice coconut cream pie.
The next day we awoke to icy, but salted roads and headed south on 301 and 50. About 1pm we arrived at a favorite stop, the Houndstooth Cafe, in Hanover, VA. , where we had their smoked pork shoulder, sweet tea and a triple chocolate cake - too too much, but guarantee to keep one awake for the next six hours on the road.  Trees and roads covered with ice and snow, but the road crews have done their job, the going was OK.
Stayed that night in Smithfield , NC - in our experience a dining desert...
Lunch on the 13th at Don's Lexington Style BBQ, in Pooler, GA - excellent 
BBQ sandwich and sweet tea - always a favorite stop. That evening we had dinner at Lyon's in St Mary's GA where we pigged out on shrimp - Rock Shrimp salad with apples and oranges, peel- your-own shrimp, and shrimp chowder - all excellent with good service and a pleasant room.
Awoke the next morning to warm sunshine - no more socks for the next five weeks!
Arrived in St Petersburg, Fl. at about 2pm and headed straight for El Cap on 4th St for a hamburger and glass of beer - a tradition in St Pete...
We stayed that night at my old college room mates house - he is ailing a bit, so we bought lamb chops and a bottle of pinot noire and cooked up a very nice dinner form him and us ( he doesn't cook, but last year installed a zillion dollar kitchen in his house which goes nearly unused).
The next day, saturday, we moved into our condo on Treasure Island (ST Pete) after a stop at the best hot dog joint in all of Florida, Dixies Little Hot Dog House, on the Treasure Island causeway where we had Vienna Beef hotdogs with great toppings and friendly efficient service all the while sitting in the Florida sunshine out front. That evening our friends arrived and we shared a takeout of fried chicken from Publix ( a pretty good, not Wegman's, supermarket chain), while we watched Green Bay wipe out whoever...
On Sundays there is a Corey Avenue street market with BBQ ribs, produce, cheeses, Greek specialities, etc., I bought some delicious "winter' honey and a box of strawberries ( the famous Plant City stuff - can't nearly compare with northeast strawberries in season) , but they are still good on cereal in the morning and on ice cream in the evening. We had breakfast at The Frog Pond on Corey Ave  (BTW, run by Bosnian refugees) - corned beef hash and poached eggs- very nice. That evening we went to Woody's Waterfront, a joint, for shrimp and chicken wings - too cool to sit out on their deck on the water. Their food is OK, but it is sitting on their deck, on the inlet, right by the water, with gulls flying all around, porpoise jumping in the water, zillion dollar boats driving by, and a sub-tropic breeze wafting by , drinking beer and eating is what it's all about - usually, the music is pretty good too, 
Monday we went to Mazzaro's Italian Deli at lunch time - a big mistake, the place is a madhouse from 11 to 1. Bought some cheap chianti, a stick of salami, a piece of provolone, and some eclairs and fled the madhouse ( never-the-less it is a great Deli). Watched a magnificent sunset over the gulf from the balcony on our (rented) condo.
Tuesday we were back at "Little Dixies"for a brat - very nice.
Wednesday we went back to Woodys for more shrimp and wings - the sun was shining, the breeze was nice...
Went to the Middle Grounds ( Treasure Island)  for dinner. A big disappointment mediocre food, dull decor, not worth a return - I think this joint is aimed at the Europeans who frequent that section of Treasure Island.
Friday, weather wise was like Nova Scotia south - foggy rainy chilly. Went to a movie up town - the new True Grit - excellent. Went way out of our way to The Butlers, a BBQ joint way up on MLK blvd. and bought takeout ribs  for dinner - very good eastern NC type ribs and sauce. Also picked up fresh shrimp from Grahams on 54th Ave - boiled them for a snack before the ribs - excellent!
Sunday we went back to the Corey Ave street market and bought  super rich cupcakes -  home-made by a lovely lady from the area. Breakfast at Beverley's (diagonally across the street from Frog Pond), 
very nice omelets and the croissants are as good as they get - melt in your mouth delicious. I also had the pancake  - one tender rich tasty pancake the size of a 10 inch dinner plate. Their coffee is also very good for what's usual in St Pete. 
Tuesday we went to Dockside Dave's, their location is awful, all you can see and hear is traffic roaring by, but their grouper sandwich is one of the best on the beach (about $12) and they did not disappoint.
Enjoyed an afternoon Wednesday at the dog track sitting in the sun and losing a few bucks for the betterment of the breed. Never buy a hot dog at the dog track!!
Sunday we had dinner at the Slat Rock Grill in Indian Shores - an upscale joint with a terrific grill - advertise at 1200 degrees- on which they do great steaks and seafood. We were seated in a tiny noisy room by a surly Maitre'd, and when we asked for a better site he refused - we should have left right then and there. We were served by a totally spaced out inept waitress. The food was very good, but we'll never go back. I should mention here that our star-crossed day began with sighting a cross in the sky written by a sky-writing plane at sunrise - apparently an ad for some kind of church.
On Tuesday we went to the Floridian on the Treasure Island Causeway and enjoyed the best Cuban Sandwich available in St Petersburg. 
Wednesday we drove up the Central Avenue and had a very nice corned beef sandwich at the Lucky Dill - thick and on a sturdy rye bread with strong deli mustard. After that we went to see the new Dali Museum - spectacular architecture with much more of the collection on permanent view.
Thursday we went to Mid Peninsula Seafood - always one of our favorites in St Pete. It is  a fish market and restaurant located in a slightly run down neighborhood, but  great choice for lunch for seafood lovers. One orders whatever one wants at the counter- cooked any style - and goes to take a seat at one of their indoor piknik tables where the orders are rapidly delivered. They do a great job on every dish I've ever ordered, it's inexpensive, and it's fun.
Saturday we left the condo and moved across town to visit with my old college roommate  who lives in the northeast section of St Pete. On the way we had breakfast at Skyway Jack's  on 34th St s. - brains and eggs this time around for me very good! We were lucky this year and got to eat there twice without a long wait - usually it is a long wait for a table for breakfast and I'm not one to stand in line for anything. 
A few days later we had a very good hamburger at the St Pete Ale House on MLK blvd, along with with some nice fresh beer on tap - they move a lot of beer in this place , so it's always fresh - pretty good place for a corporate type sports bar. 
Had lunch on Friday at the Spice Routes Cafe in the Unity church off 4th St between 45th and 46th aves n.  A neat concept to bring revenue to the church ( which appeared to be non-sectarian) in a
friendly warm atmosphere. The food is basic (although sometimes they offer spicy eastern dishes) and well prepared. I has a very nice fish chowder, my wife had a beautiful greek style omelet - three of us ate for $25.
We bought three dozen oyster and some fresh shrimp from Grahams (54th St N.)  for dinner. I opened the oysters, made up a mignonette sauce, boiled the shrimp in beer and we enjoyed agreat meal with lots of beer...
Went to the Outback for steaks - what can one say?
One day we went to the wonderful Cafe Mozart on 4t St N. for coffee and Danish for breakfast - the coffee is strong and hot and the Danish  melt in your mouth - freshly made every morning .
A few days later we went to Chattaway, a old "50 style place way downtown with a nice shady patio
on which to enjoy ones lunch. We had piled high rare roast beef sandwiches on a sturdy roll with horse radish sauce - very good along with a raspberry drink instead of sweet tea.
Sunday we had breakfast at the 62nd St. Family Garden restaurant  - always a good place for breakfast - good pancakes, good omeletes, good coffee. Very busy with church-goers on Sunday morning - have to get there before 9am when the first services let out...
Dinner that night at Crabby Bill's on 4th St. OK, not worth a detour, but the oysters , Appalachiacolas, were excellent, especially at only $7.50 dozen!
If you ever find yourself in Largo, Fl and are hungry - don't order a meatball sub at Three Coins - it was the worst meatball I've ever experienced!!
Made our obligatory visit to the 4th Street Shrimp Store, a St Pete institution  on Wednesday. Actually, it was pretty good, no tourist busses, and I had a very nice little filet of cod along with a unique specialty of that place, a couple of boiled new potatoes swimming in butter - and a Yingling to wash it all down.
Left for home on Thursday, had lunch at Woody's BBQ in Palatka Fl. Very nice pulled pork, with lots of outside brown  washed down with sweet tea.
Stayed in Brunswick Ga on Thursday night. for the first time ever we got a great dinner suggestion form a motel clerk. He directed us to Zachary's ( exit 29 , I-95) a quite new, very large, family owned and operated restaurant. the place was crowded so we sat at the bar, enjoyed a couple of beers, two dozen oysters ($8.50/doz) and a very well made oyster stew. Also had a sample of a very nice ale made in Atlanta - Sweetwater Ale.
The next night we were in Roanoke Rapids, NC  where we drove another two miles to visit Ralph's BBQ in Weldon and had some very good, falling-off-the-bone tender juicy ribs with an eastern NC type sauce, and served with a sweet cole slaw and apple suce.
The next day we drove out of our way to have lunch at the Hound's Tooth Cafe in Hanover, VA. Can you believe? closed on Saturdays!!! So, we drove another 20 miles to Bowling Green, VA, terra incognito to us, and lucked upon the Cafe On Main Street.  A plain little unpretentious storefront serving excellent food. I had as good a crab cake as I've ever eaten (different from, but at least as good as G&Ms) - pure crab meat, I don't know what held it together, nicely sauted, and needing no sauce whatsoever - although a red sauce was offered. But that's not all. They make their own potato chips - delicious crispy dark brown paper thin slices of goodness. This place is worth a detour if you ever find yourself anyplace within 50 miles and its lunchtime.
We stayed in Kent Island , MD that night nd wound up having a light dinner at a joint we hadn't visited for at least 10 years - The Jetty, the reason we went to the Jetty was that Fisherman's Inn and The Narrows  had long waits for a table - and I'm not one to stand in line for anything. So we had a couple of dozen oysters and some very nice crab soup and a couple of National Bohemians  and were very happy. BTW: they were setting up for their  usual Saturday night music and dance bash - four NFL linebacker guys for security, a gantlet / maze to run to get in or out, tight scrutiny of IDs - the whole bit spelling out trouble. However, we said we might want to come back for the fun, so we got our hands stamped  - for those who don't know us here on Roadfood we're senior citizens and we were tucked into our beds  minutes after leaving the joint. 
Sunday afternoon we were back home in New Paltz - seven weeks and 3500 miles later.
Cheers, John 
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