Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Visitor from Afar

Deirdre, my good friend from Philadelphia, has been visiting here the past few days. I know, Philadelphia isn't THAT far, only a 2 hour, 20 minute flight. It was really nice to see her and show her a little more of my city. We decided that we were mimicking my cats, eat, nap,  eat, nap again, etc. And eat we did. The first night I fixed pasta bolognese with a caprese salad. 

Lunch the next day was at the nice MFA Cafe, at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. I really like the cafe. It has a nice variety of lunch entrees, salads, and sandwiches. And their soup of the day is always good. We both had the "Demi" a half Turkey and Cold Slaw sandwich and a bowl of soup. I had the Creamy Leek soup while Deirdre had the Creamy Tomato soup. This was followed by a visit to the Chihuly Collection, which is always a fun visit. Dinner this day was at St.Pete Brasserie on Central Avenue. This is my favorite French restaurant downtown. We started with a very tasty Alsacien Onion Tart. For my entree I ordered the Grilled Tuna Provencal with Tomato, Olive & Fennel Sauce and a side of Haricot Vert. (Bob, those would be small green beans).  Unfortunately I do not remember what Deirdre ordered. Maybe she will refresh my memory by adding a comment. One of the nice features at St. Pete Brasserie is that many of their entrees are offered in small or full portions. 

The Looper... St. Petersburg has a couple of trolley lines serving the downtown and Central Avenue area. Since I moved here I have talked about ridding the Downtown Looper from the stop closest to me and stay on for the entire loop. Well, that is how Deirdre and I got around town on Friday, but we got off to have lunch at The Moon Under Water. The driver provides commentary throughout the ride, and the best part is the cost, only 25 cents every time you board. It was a fun little excursion on a beautiful day.

Hoping off the Looper on Beach Drive, we were at The Moon Under Water. This is a English-style pub with curries and typical pub fare (Fish and Chips, Sheppard's Pie, etc). While not a "wow" place, it has served consistently good food and if dining outside you overlook the lovely Straub Park. I enjoyed the Curried Chicken Salad Sandwich, although I personally found it to be more food than I needed (with an side of French Fries) so I skipped much of the bread. The chicken curry was good. Deirdre enjoyed the batter fried cod fingers (who knew they had fingers?). A friend of mine recommended the Chicken Pot Pie as being exceptionally good, and nicely presented, but I failed to remember this until tonight as I was reviewing the menu. Also, while we had good service, there were a couple of indicators that they may have occasional service problems. We walked by the outdoor seating the day before and heard a couple comment, "She doesn't deserve a tip". Then as we were being seated, two women at a nearby table were getting up and leaving with a comment to the hostess that "No one ever came over to take our order." This brought no reaction from the hostess. Our experience was much better.

Frank, Biff (my nephew) and Butch joined us for dinner at Ceviche, a wonderful tapas restaurant on Beach Drive at Central. Each of us ordered a separate item and then shared around the table. Their Sangria is great, and we consumed our fare share.

More food was on tap for Saturday, but this time we traveled to Mount Dora to visit with our friend Carol and show Deirdre this northern-looking central Florida town. Lunch was a One Flight Up followed by a walk around town. For dinner, Carol had booked us at Saucy Bistro, previously reviewed in this blog. Our prior visit was on their opening day when there were a couple of minor, but not unexpected for opening day, glitches. This visit was much smoother, and the food was just as good. The bistro is owned by the Beth Lee who also runs the highly respected Saucy Spoon Catering. The restaurant is only open on Friday (for light bites) and Saturday (full blown menu) and Sunday brunch. The "help yourself" appetizer, cheese and salad table had a nice selection of great cheeses. For dinner we were joined by Shirley and John (from Worthing, England and Mount Dora FL) and another good Mount Dora friend, June. Our entrees included chicken breast in pastry, bone-in hand cut pork loin chop with a lovely onion sauce, and salmon in papillote (baked in parchment paper). The side dishes are served family-style and included a huge platter of roasted vegetables, and great mashed potatoes. Everyone was very pleased with their meal. I think this is one of the best restaurants in Mount Dora.

It has been a very busy four days, but highly enjoyable. Now it is time to get ready for our Thanksgiving Eve dinner. More on that later.


Liz said...

You are clearly the "TOUR LEADER" extraordinaire. I will be visiting St. Pete soon!

racewalker said...

Ineresting note...yesterday the food editor, Heather McPherson reviewed Saucy Spoon and gave it a great review. Beth and her staff do a great job and yes, I would agree it is the best and most innovative in Mount Dora.