Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Banh Mi

Vietnamese restaurants are not as prevalent in Pinellas County as they were in Tampa, but a new restaurant opened last November not too far from my apartment, (OK, not walking distance for me - about 35 blocks). The restaurant is Alesia on Central Avenue almost to the intracoastal waterway. We enjoyed lunch there last Saturday when we both had their traditional Banh Mi sandwich (made with pâté, salami, jambon de paris (ham), pickled carrot, cucumber, cilantro, jalapeño, house spread, served on fresh toasted baguette) They were very good with an unusual, but a tasty mix of flavors. And the price is very reasonable at $7.00. They also offer the Banh Mi with grilled pork at $8.50.

Alesia is owned by three partners with French, Vietnamese and Chinese background. The menu reflects the varied culinary cultures. We want to return to try some of the other items from their menu, especially the Pho. The space is very simple but cute with indoor and outdoor seating

Dennis, a friend of ours found another Vietnamese restaurant on US 19 north of St. Petersburg called Thuy. It is on our "places to try" list.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day Dinner

Frank and I celebrated Valentine's Day with a outstanding dinner last Saturday at Cafe Ponte near Clearwater. I think this is the 3rd time I have posted about meals at Cafe Ponte, which I consider one of the best restaurants in the area. Since this was a special occasion and another excellent meal I opted for another post on Cafe Ponte.

We picked Saturday since Frank had to be out of town this week on business and we wanted a special dinner for an early Valentine's Day. Cafe Ponte delivered with their always good service, great food, and a nice decor. 

Our dinners included:

Amuse Bouche (Chris Ponte always opens the meal with a tasty amuse bouche, which was tasty but I can't remember what was included - oh well, we both enjoyed it).

Roasted Beet Salad (Frank) with Goat Cheese Mousse 
Traditional Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail (Dick) with a trio of dipping sauces

Main Course:
Seared salmon (F) with a Bearnaise foam served over sauteed mushrooms and warm potato-bacon salad. I got to taste it and thought it was wonderful with the salmon cooked to a perfect medium rare.

Bouillabaisse  (D) which included shrimp, mussels, fish, calamari, scallops and potatoes in a Provencal style broth, with garlic aioli, and garlic and olive oil-saturated croustini on which to slather the tasty aioli for dipping in the broth.

Chocolate Souffle  (F) - intense chocolate flavor, warm and very moist.

Tarte Tatin (D) on a flaky pastry round covered in sliced baked apples served with Vanilla ice cream.

As usual, Cafe Ponte did not disappoint - a lovely meal all around.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thai in Clearwater Area.

My friend, Bob, commented that I have not blogged about any restaurants lately (OK, not since Jan 15th anyway). Today, when the topic came up we were enjoying a lovely Thai lunch at a Clearwater area restaurant, Ban Thai, on Enterprise Road, at the Northeast corner with McMullin-Booth road. I have eaten at Ban Thai a number of times but never thought to blog about it although I always enjoy the food and the setting. Today I had the Crispy Duck Panang served with assorted vegetables and rice. The panang sauce was very good. The lunch specials (all reasonably priced) come with an egg roll, soup, and Thai donuts for dessert. All was yummy. Today we ate with a large group of 15 or so people. The majority of the table  (at least the end of the table around me), raved about the food.
So if you are ever in the area craving some good Thai, stop by Ban Thai.