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Bizarre Experience at Michael's (Sarasota)

I agree it's weird. You'd think they'd clean at the end of the night, in case there was a real mess that needed tending to...I don't think it would be enough to stop me from going back, but a high end restaurant (or fast food for that matter) should know better than to clean during the open hours.

Feb 20, 2014
joan in Florida

English Breakfast?

Haven't been, but Madeleina Cottage in St. Pete Beach is British all the way:


Feb 17, 2014
joan in Florida

Beach town with best food?

Well, the tough part is, you will encounter many many spring breakers in April. I would switch it a little south, to my neck of the woods - Treasure Island. Less built up, less breakers, and there is everything you need. Also, nearby (a couple miles inland) is the very cool town of St. Pete. On TI there is Middle Grounds (high end seafood), the Pearl (good Moroccan and continental), the Floridian (best Cuban sandwich), Waltz (low end seafood), Riviera and 1200 Steak Houses (St. Pete Beach, about 1 mile south)many beach bars within walking distance, Beverly's Le Croisette (breakfast heaven), and a few others. Go to VRBO and check out the offerings - especially Sunset Beach, the southern end of TI. Houses are more fun than hotels anyway! Have fun. Clearwater Beach has the Sand Pearl beachfront resort, with very high end (good) restaurants inside. TI Hotels don't have great restos in them....

Feb 03, 2014
joan in Florida

Sumptuous brunch in Sarasota, St. Pete or Tampa

I have been twice to the Sunday brunch across the street from the Vinoy, at 400 Beach Seafood and Tap House. The price is lower, and perhaps not quite as sumptuous, but the service was excellent and the people watching first rate. You can sit outside or in, and yes they have unlimited champagne!

Nov 19, 2013
joan in Florida

Downtown St Pete's with a group

You have lots of choices and depending on where you're from, well you could be from anywhere - dining outdoors could be wonderful this time of year. My fave is Cassis (since the boss is paying), but Bella Brava is fun too. More of a walk, but lots of Greek fun, is Acropolis. They have sidewalk seating and an upstairs balcony.

I also like Cafe Alma, but indoors only. If weather does not cooperate, that could be a good destination. Oops, just checked and they are closed on Mondays.

Monday is usually very quiet downtown.
Have fun!

Nov 15, 2013
joan in Florida

Bern's Booked - Where to go?

I would suggest the original Columbia restaurant in Ybor. I think the kids would enjoy the flamenco shows, which are daily except Sunday (I cheated and checked the website). More fun than a boring old adult chain steakhouse...

You do need reservations, but it would be a great destination with very good food. A real classic!


Nov 12, 2013
joan in Florida

St. Pete Beach breakfast/dinner/dessert recommendations?

Best breakfast places on SPB are across the street from one another, at the intersection of Corey and Gulf blvd: Beverly's and Frog Pond. I like Beverly's better - FP is more expensive and the portions are ridiculously huge, and they charge to share. But food is excellent at both. Chill and Steam are on the same corner - after you eat walk east on Corey and window shop a bit.

Best dinner place is Middlegrounds Grill on TI just a couple miles north - better than all the others recommended here, in my opinion. Sit at the bar, people watch, and order the fresh fish Oscar of the day - it will be topped with soft shell crab, asparagus, and hollandaise. Live music on weekends. Mmmmm...

I must warn you about the CW Aquarium. We found it awful - concrete tanks with sad looking creatures. They are planning a complete upgrade, but until then it's not worth the price of admission (and someone with us googled and found buy one get one coupon online, so we only paid $10 each - still not worth it). Unless you're a Winter The Dolphin fanatic, then it might be worthwhile...

May 13, 2013
joan in Florida

Need a recommendation for a celebratory restaurant near Tampa

For some reason your reply did not show up until after I posted my rec. Agree with rhnault again! Armani's would be really special, and their service is beyond wonderful.

Mar 22, 2013
joan in Florida

Need a recommendation for a celebratory restaurant near Tampa

I agree with rhnault, especially about brunch. This works well for older folks, who generally like to eat their large meal early in the day. I live on the other side of the bay, Pinellas, and we recently took our 80 yo mother-in-law for brunch to 400 Beach Seafood - great food, lots of toddlers running around, and the service was very attentive, they don't just abandon you. We sprung for a helicopter ride at the nearby Albert Whitted airport for her and one grandchild too - she loved it.
Champagne included too :)
Unless she's a steak and wine lover, I'd skip Bern's - you're looking for service here. Another great service restaurant in Tampa is Capitol Grille, but not sure about their acceptance of children...I bet they do it well though. Have fun!

Mar 22, 2013
joan in Florida

Florida restaurant reviews and Trip advisor

" I feel those who could be on here helping with that have moved more into the blogging sphere"

I loved your post, and agree with everything except the above statement. I think you missed Facebook: some posters in my area (Tampa Bay) have formed a group on facebook that is great for reporting local finds, what you ate today, what we made at home, where can I get equipment, etc, complete with photos and a great back-and-forth. No advertising, just great discussions. The heavy handed moderation here has been quite a turnoff. (I'm shocked this thread has survived this long in fact, as it does not meet the (too) strict guidelines for the Florida message board: must be about food, not the discussion of other boards).

Mar 04, 2013
joan in Florida

Florida restaurant reviews and Trip advisor

I agree with the TA ranking being way off. Kind of weird, the order does not reflect reality - but the verbiage in the reviews can be quite helpful.

I also think TA comes from the world of tourism - you have reviews from all over the world for a particular area, whereas Chowhound message board format is a better way - tourists pose the questions and mostly locals respond. A great back-and-forth that is quite helpful.

With the advent of Facebook, combined with the (in my opinion) extreme heavy-handed moderating going on here, folks cannot express themselves freely. In fact, because this thread is not about actual chow, I'm pretty sure it will be either deleted or moved to the food media page, where it will wither and die...

I have heard that Yelp charges restaurant owners to delete bad reviews and/or ads from competitors appearing on their page.

Mar 03, 2013
joan in Florida

St. Pete

MUST go to the Floridian on Treasure Island for cuban sandwiches. Also agree with Middlegrounds, but sit at the bar, they usually have a live singer and the people watching is fun. Also the restaurant owner is into exotic cars, so check out the parking lot on the way in. Also, you might try the Pearl - they have tapas (bar only) and Moroccan food as well as the usual date night food.
I like VIP for Margaritas and their wet burrito. I have been treated rudely at Agave, but their food is delicious.

Yay O'maddy's!!! Sit outside no matter what.

Cocktails and bar food at Sea Hag's (on the bridge at the south end of Treasure Island) - they often have fantastic bands. And for a sip (no food) of gritty local yokel, hit up Katiki on Sunset Beach. You should be able to walk there - if you can't walk home, call Jimmie's Free Beach Rides for an open air tip-only ride home. Have fun!

Feb 03, 2013
joan in Florida

2 days and 2 nights in Tampa – Suggestions Please!

I agree with Andy, don't know if kvilla is being sarcastic, but Bern's is not pretentious, it's the real deal. Sidebern's is $$$, true, but quality all the way. And when was the last time kvilla ate at Columbia? They have improved greatly and they also are "the real deal".

I guess it doesn't matter anyway since the OP visited three months ago....

Jan 08, 2013
joan in Florida

Indian Shores Area

Here's a great discussion, pretty current info: Have fun!


Jan 06, 2013
joan in Florida

The Palm in Tampa, a review

I have not eaten at the Palms, but dined twice at the Capital Grille, and it seems similar. The food was excellent, but the service was a combination of dreamy and impeccable - they even choose napkin color based on what the lady is wearing, so no lint. Now who woulda thought of that?

Have you eaten there and how do they compare? Just curious (budget no longer allows for $$$$, but maybe someday again!).

Dec 30, 2012
joan in Florida

Great seafood recommendations in Tampa or nearby places?

Since you mentioned a long drive to Frenchy's, for stone crabs, be sure to call first. Stone crabs are very hard to get right now, and they may be out.

Gotta laugh at your screen name!

Dec 21, 2012
joan in Florida

St Pete Locally Grown Market

Your photos are beautiful, and they make me hungry!
My paleo daughter will love this. Am curious to know how you liked the products...and if you felt it was a good value. Thanks for posting.

Dec 07, 2012
joan in Florida

Used the great sugg here for trip to Tampa this week ...

I enjoyed your report, and thanks for reporting back on your finds. Although I live on the other side of the bay, so did not contribute to the suggestions, I smiled because you're right, Mis En Place has a weird entrance. It's actually on the back side of the building, but you'd never know that, especially if you go after the office is closed, as you probably did.

So next time, go around the block and check it out, because it's a don't miss.

Gotta get to Pach's, sounds delicious.

Dec 03, 2012
joan in Florida

Downtown St Petersburg - Mahaffey Theater dinner recs needed ASAP

I agree with all of Rib Dog's recs, and especially Cassis (my favorite). Also, check out BellaBrava. What you could do is just walk the sidewalk (Beach Drive north of theMahaffey) and check out the outdoor scene at Cassis, Bella Brava, Parkshore, and even go as far as 400 Beach Seafood. All have outdoor seating and ya can't go wrong!

Nov 08, 2012
joan in Florida

Can anyone beat a Publix Sub?

Hi floridaeater - I can see why, without the tomato relish, you'd be underwhelmed - especially with the bread situation. I'm sure you're right about that. As for Original, I haven't had their pizza in years so I cannot say. Next door is VIP - if you like Mexican they have a great "Chicago Wet Burrito" and their gold margaritas...well don't plan on driving after one of those! By the way, since you'll be in TI, you could also check out the cuban sandwiches at the Floridian (on 107th on the right on the way towards the beach). My favorite Cuban around, and be sure to get the black beans and rice cup to go with. Have fun!

Oct 19, 2012
joan in Florida

Can anyone beat a Publix Sub?

I have to strongly disagree with your opinion of Williams Subs. I love their spicy tomato relish, and the bread is fresh fresh. It ain't Amoroso's, but what is? That reminds me, next time you're nearby, there is a vegetable stand in the parking lot of the Walmart adjacent to Williams Subs. They have a section of Greek foods, and occasionally they have these wonderful loaves of Italian bread for $1.99. Do yourself a favor and pick one to take home.
I live on Treasure Island, and there is an Original Pizza, located across the street from the Bilmar. Their subs are very good (I get the cheesesteak usually but hubby gets the Italian - loves it!). You may want to check them out also.

Oct 17, 2012
joan in Florida

St Pete Butcher Shop

Wow, I checked out the photo gallery on their website. Never been, but this place looks like the real deal. I was looking for seafood pics but couldn't find any, but that meat case and homemade goodie cases looked enticing! Also, one of the pics shows "dry aged beef" available. Let us know how you like it, floridaeater.

Sep 16, 2012
joan in Florida

Best Tampa restaurant to propose or place that can do private beach dinners.

Two places come to mind:
The Maritana Grill, inside the Don Cesar resort on St. Pete Beach, very classy and they know how to treat their guests. I'd give them a call and tell them what you have in mind, I bet they'll accommodate your great idea.
Also, although it's in Tampa - not at the beach, on the top floor of the Grand Hyatt (near the Tampa airport) is Armani's. Years ago my hubby took me here for our anniversary, and it was extremely romantic - rose petals on the table, a suggestion by our waitress to take our time and check out the view from the outside patio during our dinner (now what restaurant wants you to wander away from your table during dinner?), even a signed card from the staff. And the food was wonderful (although the chef has changed since) - I still remember the antipasta case - a round showcase where you just pointed and they put it all together and brought it to your table.

Good luck, you are very romantic, I'm sure she'll say YES!

Aug 26, 2012
joan in Florida

Jeannie Pierola and Kitchenbar

I noticed that too...wondering how she can do a popup and a grand opening of a permanent restaurant at the same time? She must be a true "genie"!

Jul 30, 2012
joan in Florida

Base Camp: The Don (St. Pete Beach)

Hi Miss E!
You are going to have a wonderful weekend. I live on Treasure Island so here are my favorite local recs:
Walk to the beach bar at the BonAire for cheeseburgers. Can be hard to find a place to sit, and the service ain't all that, but the burgers are worth it.
Breakfast at Beverly's. Across the street is the Frog Pond, which also has a great rep, but the quantity there is way too huge, and the Benedicts and croissants at Beverly's beat out FP in my opinion.
Best seafood and fine dining is at Middlegrounds on Treasure Island. They have a good wine selection, and get their fish of the day, no matter what it is you cannot go wrong. Also, sit in the bar instead of the restaurant, for great people watching and live music.

Some of my other go to places:
Cuban sandwiches at the Floridian on TI.
Italian at Verducci's, pizza at Vito & Michael's. These two are next door to each other on Blind Pass Road, on the northern end of SPB.
Bar hopping at the bridge between TI & SPB: Salty Rim and Sea Hags. Both have good food and live music.
If you're in the mood, take in a movie on Corey Ave (down the street from Beverly's) at the old time movie theatre. Bonus: they sell beer and wine!

Other folks here like the Pearl, Mad Fish, Snappers. I haven't been in a long time to these, so you're on your own. But remember Mem Day will be busy busy so make reservations first if you can.

P.S. Any of the dining at the Don will be great. We don't do brunch anymore, too much food,(but of course if you could go upstairs and collapse afterwards that might be the way to go!) but we've had memorable dinners at both the Maritana (up up upscale) and the Sea Porch (their poolside resto).

Have a great weekend!

May 04, 2012
joan in Florida

seeking recs for in and around Treasure Island, Florida

Jeff, excellent choices - so glad you digested all the ideas and acted on them!

As for the cocktails, there are two basic types of licenses in Florida: a beer and wine, which is cheap, easy to get, easy to insure. Full liquor, which is difficult and extremely expensive to get (several hundred thousand dollars vs under $1K for the beer and wine), and also expensive to maintain. So that is why you see the fake cocktails.


Apr 17, 2012
joan in Florida

Live Blue Crabs served up in Tampa Bay Area restaurants?

The only place I know of is the Crab Shack, on Gandy Blvd on the St. Pete side of the bay.

Apr 09, 2012
joan in Florida

seeking recs for in and around Treasure Island, Florida

Hi Jeff! Another TI resident here. Yes, stone crabs are in season til May 15th, and widely available. I agree with most of the recs above, too, especially the Floridian for Cuban Sandwiches, VIP for margaritas and Tex Mex (order the top shelf margarita and plan on walking home - or you can take the "free" (meaning tip only) Jimmie's beach taxi), and Middle Grounds Grill for fancy (sit at the bar for people watching and live music). However, for pizza I'd skip Gigi's and go to Original Pizza instead. Have fun!

Mar 05, 2012
joan in Florida

Recommendations for St. Pete Beach

Agree 100% with debbed. Only thought I 'd add would be that you could also barhop on Treasure Island, a mile or so north. First you could hit Sea Hags and Salty Rim, both at the foot of the bridge between SPB and TI. Then a bit further north, at the intersection of 107th Ave and Gulf Blvd (the "heart" of TI), there's at least four bars worth stopping at: Ricky T's, the VIP (beware the killer Margaritas), Sloppy Joe's and Tiki Woo Woo behind the Bilmar and the Thunderbird, Duke's etc. All have decent food and lots of good people watching.

Have fun and enjoy the beach!
P.S. There are several "tip only" open air taxi services in the area, that specialize in taking folks from bar to bar from St. Pete beach thru Treasure Island. Google "free beach taxi treasure island" and you will find a couple. Although I have not personally used them, friends have...just not on a Saturday night. Better off with Bats Taxi service on high volume times...

Feb 03, 2012
joan in Florida

Tampa recommendatons please (Researched!!)

Re smoked fish: probably not the same. A quick google of Russ and Daughters website shows what is commonly called "cold smoked" fish, usually salmon, which has a texture close to that of raw fish. Ted Peters sells "hot smoked" fish which has a delicious smoky flavor and the flaky texture of cooked fish. However, I just noticed that R&D also sells "kippered" fish, which is the same as the hot smoked...hope this is not too confusing!

Jan 05, 2012
joan in Florida