Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Broken Egg: 6115 Exchange Way, Lakewood Ranch, FL

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Today was Gabriel’s and my 2nd Saturday morning since moving to Lakewood Ranch and the first one that was free to go out for breakfast. We live a mile from the Broken Egg and had noticed the cute outdoor dining section when we drove past every day. We decided we’d try it today and got there around 9:30 to see plenty of open tables. We sat right away and our waitress brought over menus and took our orders for coffee with skim milk & honey (which they actually had- both seem to be fairly hard to get around here), and ice water. I noticed on yelp.com that there was a check-in deal for $5 off a $25 check. I showed it to the waitress who checked with her boss and confirmed that it would be honored. We actually doubted we’d spend enough to use it, but then we saw the prices…

Our waitress came back a few minutes later with our coffee, skim and honey, but no water so we asked again. The coffee, I’m sorry to say, left a lot to be desired. Although it was hot and topped off frequently by a team of staff, it was so weak and flavorless that it really needed the skim and honey even more than it normally would.

For my breakfast, I ordered the Ken’s Bella Veggie Skillet: 2 Eggs ‘your way’ (I had them poached), sautéed Portabella Mushrooms, Spinach, Sun-dried Tomatoes & Swiss Cheese over potatoes with a side of fruit salad and rye toast. I asked for my toast dry with butter on the side.

My meal came out lightening fast and looked great with lots of veggies and 2 perfectly poached eggs. I dug right in and was pleased with the combo of flavors and textures. The only thing that wasn’t great was the soggy/cheesy potatoes that the whole thing sat atop. I was hoping they’d have some crispy edges, but no, not even a little. The fruit salad was a nice refreshing side, full of fresh melons, berries and apples. Unfortunately, the waitress had forgotten my butter for my toast so I reminded her again. I’d finished about 3/4 of my meal before she finally came around again and I asked for a 3rd time. When she finally brought it out I was just about done eating my meal. Well, better late than never I guess.

Our check was brought over and our ‘pretty good’ food quickly turned into ‘totally not worth it’. Even WITH our $5 credit, the total plus tip came to $30. That’s just ridiculous. We are NOT in NYC anymore and charging more than double what a breakfast at a great NY diner would charge is insane. Yes, the setting is cute. Yes, the menu had great choices and the food was tasty…but NO, not worth $30 at all. I will not be going back.

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MacAllisters Grill & Tavern: 8110 Lakewood Main St. Lakewood Ranch, FL

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Gabriel was teaching yoga until pretty late last night so we’d decided to go out for dinner when he got back. We had a $10 coupon to MacAllisters since we’d moved to Lakewood about a week ago and the info/welcome center gave us our choice of restaurant gift certificates. We’d heard it was one of the only places close by that serves dinner until 10pm, so this was the perfect opportunity to try it.

We were seated right away and were surprised to see that it was fairly crowded. Apparently, Tuesday night is trivia night and a bunch of people were there to play and drink $1.99 beers.

We noticed right away that they also offer $3.99 martinis (!!!) so we decided to have a toast to our new Florida Driver’s Licenses and our 11 month-i-versary. I ordered a dirty martini with extra olives and I must say, it was excellent. The olives were gigantic and delicious and the martini was super dirty, just like I like it.

Our waiter Chris was extremely personable and friendly and we enjoyed chatting with him throughout the meal. He made some recommendations and took our orders and then our rolls and salads were brought out quickly.

I ordered the chicken marsala which came with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli and a side salad with blue cheese to start with. The dressing was SO good with a little spicy kick to it that’s unusual in blue cheese. The rolls were warm and fresh- but we found it odd that they only brought 3 of them for the 2 of us.

I asked for more broccoli and less mashed potatoes so as not to have the carb-loaded side tempting me. He happily took care of that for me and the portions were perfect. The chicken was cooked nicely, tender and very flavorful in it’s marsala sauce, but I would have like a few more mushrooms.

Overall, for about $15 I had a hearty and filling meal and a great cocktail. Add that to the friendly service and late hours and we will surely be back soon.

Lucky Pelican: 6239 Lake Osprey Dr. Sarasota, FL

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Last night, Gabriel and I joined 2 other couples for dinner at the Lucky Pelican. I’d heard about this restaurant a bunch of times already from my parents and their friends. Apparently, it’s one of the best seafood places around and people will gladly wait up to an hour for a table. The woman who organized the dinner was smart enough to call ahead (they do not take reservations but you can call to get on the list) to tell them the 6 of us would be there at 6:30 when our meeting time was really 7, so we only had to wait a few minutes before being seated. Awesome.

Our menus and drink orders were taken right away by our waiter, who seemed a bit ‘off’. Perhaps tired, perhaps overworked, perhaps completely and totally drunk. Hmmm.

I ordered a mojito and a water with lemon, both of which were brought out shortly and the waiter asked us if we wanted to order any apps. We hadn’t really looked over the menu yet, so we asked for a few more minutes to decide. He came back about 1 minute later and we still weren’t ready so when he left, I commented that since we’d just turned him away twice, he probably wouldn’t be back for 20 minutes the next time. Unfortunately, I was correct. When he did finally come back, we ordered the calamari and shrimp starters and happily received the bread and butter he’d brought with him. We also put in our entree orders at this time, during which, it became rather clear that he was in fact, drunkity drunk drunk. “I’d like the seared scallop salad please”, “ok, one ceasar salad”. Ummm no.

About 10 minutes later a busboy brought us our entrees. Huh? What happened to our apps? “Oh, you ordered apps?”

Oh boy. He also forgot 2 of the women’s sodas and Gabriel’s avocado. Ooookay. Maybe a pen and a pad of paper would be a good investment for this guy.

So, our entrees (and my mojito) were REALLY excellent. My scallops were cooked to perfection with a golden sear and light seasoning. The arugula, mangos and toasted almonds made a great combination with the scallops. The dressing was a  light, sweet vinaigrette and it was summery and delicious. I totally cleaned my plate. My friends, who eat here frequently, said they’d NEVER had a problem like this with the service and we all actually found it quite laughable….plus we saved money on the apps that never came.

We decided to skip dessert, although the choices sounded great. I will definitely be back since the menu had tons of appealing options, reasonable prices, excellent food and it’s about 3 minutes from my house…I’ll just be sure to sit in a different section next time in hopes of having a sober person to take our order.

 

 

 

 

Fast N Fresh: 8138 Main Street, Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202

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My mom, Gabriel and I stopped here for lunch today. They opened fairly recently and it looks clean and cute with it’s bright green chairs at the outside tables. There was no line and we took our time looking over the menu. There are so many great options, from create-your-own salads to panini, sandwiches, soups and wraps. I decided on the you-pick-2 with a Market salad (mandarin oranges, almonds, cranberries, raisins, apples and baby greens) with the raspberry vinaigrette  and the half sandwich (Turkey & Pear – Roasted turkey, cheddar, sliced pear, honey mustard on multigrain). The service was fast but pretty much forgot half of the ingredients for my salad so I had to go back and ask for the almonds, cranberries and raisins. I assume that the employee was new so I guess I can forgive that- but it was a pretty stupid error. The dressing was so-so, but since it’s fat-free, that explains that. I enjoyed my sandwich quite a bit, especially the grainy, thick toast it came on.  Overall, for under $10 to have a healthy and tasty lunch is reasonable in my book. The convenient Main st location and outdoor seating is an added bonus. I’m sure I’ll be back.

Miss JC Garden: 8310 Market St. Lakewood Ranch, FL

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Gabriel and I moved into our new condo in Lakewood Ranch today! We were so excited to finally get here and settled in right away. Around 9:30, we realized we hadn’t eaten dinner yet and didn’t have any groceries so we decided to see what our options near Publix were. Publix is an awesome grocery store, but we NYers aren’t used to supermarkets that close at 10pm and we had to rush to pick up some things we needed for the next day.

A few doors away from Publix, we found Miss JC Garden. In the window, we saw the sign that they serve Chinese, Thai and Malaysian food with a healthy spin. Wow, what luck! Totally our kind of place.

We were welcomed warmly and seated right away in the empty restaurant. Light, airy  crunchy noodles, mustard and duck sauce were brought out along with ice water and menus. The menus are extensive, and it took us a bit to look through and decide what to order.

We eventually settled on healthy steamed chicken and vegetables with szechuan sauce on the side. We were happy to find out that they don’t use any MSG or chemicals here in their preparation. We also ordered Moo shu vegetables that came with 4 thin pancakes.

Everything that we ordered was piping hot, fresh, full of veggies and high quality ingredients. Our 2 entrees were the perfect amount of food and we quickly ate everything in front of us. Our total came to just over $20, a very reasonable price for the amount of food we were served.

We will absolutely be back…not only because it’s 3 minutes from where we live, but also because the service was friendly and personal, the food was awesome and healthy, and the options are endless.

Bravo Miss JC Garden. You’ve impressed 2 NYers who were worried we’d never find decent Chinese food around here…We are VERY happy to be wrong about that assumption.

How to find my recipes….

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For my recipes, just put “chez carey” into the search engine on my blog…or click here!

https://bigforkinmouth.wordpress.com/?s=chez+carey

Salute!: 23 N Lemon Ave, Sarasota, FL

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My family and I went here for dinner tonight after our first attempt had an hour long wait and our 2nd attempt was closed. Salute has a great outdoor eating area with available tables and we were seated right away. Our waiter came over with menus and went over the specials. None of us wanted to order cocktails so we just asked for flat water. I also asked if, when he had a moment, he’d bring over some lemon for the water. When he came back to take our orders and to bring us bread and dipping olive oil, I again reminded him that I wanted some lemon. When he came back a third time to bring us our appetizers, I asked him for a third time for some lemon. Finally, he came back with 3 slices of lemon (for our table of 4. Hmmm) and my water glass was, by then, empty. Big fail. The bus boy overheard me complaining about the timing of this and re-filled my glass. Ok. Better late than never.

For my app, I shared an arugula, endive, radicchio salad with Gabriel. It came with a creamy balsamic dressing and shaved parmesan. Very nice and fresh, but kind of on the boring side.

For my entree, at the suggestion of our waiter, I ordered the chicken parmesan with penne. It was a great portion sized- very manageable and not overwhelmingly large which I appreciated. The chicken, however was totally overcooked, stringy, dry and unimpressive. The sauce and cheese on top were mediocre at best. I’ve had better chicken parm at a diner.

For the prices here, I would not return. Just a few nights earlier, we went to Cafe Baci for the same price and MUCH better food. I guess you’re really just paying for the lovely outdoor seating here and not much more.

Oh well, they can’t all be winners.