Archive for the ‘RESTAURANTS’ Category

Getting back to ‘normal’!   1 comment


Little by little ‘normal’ is coming back in my life though at the same time it can be shocking as in this case eating out in restaurants. Prices have almost doubled in most places and even lunch is now getting into the $25-$30 per person.

After not accomplishing anything at the hospital and Rion having to sit around for 5 hours I took him for lunch and we went to the new Tacocraft without knowing it was Taco Tuesday (all tacos $3) or that Margaritas were $5. We both had 2 tacos (I had the shrimp–and it lived up to its name!) and he had a Margarita. The check was around $20 plus a tip based on what it would have cost. I was very disappointed for a couple of reasons, such as not being given napkins, but the main reason was that the tacos were so small I hope they don’t have these servings when at regular price. Were they good? I am serious when I say that they weren’t big enough to get any taste! Oh, did I mention they serve water at room temperature?

For a late lunch one afternoon Allen and I went to JMarks where they have a special lunch menu but we were too late for that and ordered off the regular menu. He usually has the 10 ounce NY Strip steak which costs $19 at lunch and $24 at dinner. I have been looking for a good ‘old-fashioned’ Shrimp Scampi and so far haven’t had any luck though this was close. So far in the restaurants I have tried it they have either breaded the Shrimp or cooked it in a heavy sauce if they even sauteed it! Though this one wasn’t cooked in JUST garlic and oil (had a light lemon cream sauce) it did taste okay. The price was $26 so with tax and tip it was a fairly expensive lunch.

Last, but not least, we went to Big Louie’s after the Friday movie to have pizza and, as always, didn’t disappoint. We had the medium—yes, medium, not large!–12 inches with 5 toppings for $15.99 plus tip and tax and a soda we got away for less than $20 each and with 4 slices of pizza each more than satisfied—though I can remember back in the ‘old days’ I could eat a large one all by myself and have dessert after. LOLOh, yes, the first picture is of Jordan, Becky’s great-grandchild, and one of the very few times he wasn’t smiling. Next time I will catch his priceless smile which makes everyone who looks at him smile back!By the way, the other baby is me—smiling and not!

Posted June 17, 2021 by greatmartin in RESTAURANTS

15 months later finall 2 NORMAL Days!!   1 comment


As a creature of habit, for 20 years of Thursdays, I would go to The Dollar Tree, CVS, Winn-Dixie,  and, sometimes if I needed things, also Office Depot and Home Depot topping it all off with a late lunch at Big Louie’s, Quarterdeck or Cafe Vico!On Fridays, it was an early movie, usually at The Gateway Theatre, and then Subways or Arbys for a ‘snack’.

Also about 16 times a year we went to either the Adrienne Arsht Theatre in Miami or the Broward Performing Arts Center on Tuesdays to see touring Broadway shows which abruptly stopped in March 2020 as did dinners at many different places before the shows!

Then the epidemic came!!!  ARGH!! No movie theatres, no touring Broadway shows for 15 months and no restaurants, old or new for about 13 months.

About 2 months ago, and a vaccine, we started to tiptoe back into restaurants for lunch, generally going to those we were familiar with, knew would be following the rules, such as the new 17th Street Quarterdeck, IHOP, Arbey’s, Big Louie’s and after our second vaccine started to try new ones like the Brazilian steakhouse Rio Minas.

Then the good news came–The AMC and Regal chains were reopening but the best news of all was The Gateway Theatre, under new owners, was opening up!NORMAL came back this week!! Did the old routine of shopping on Thursday and WENT FOR LUNCH at Big Louie’s and yesterday, Friday, WENT TO THE REOPENED GATEWAY THEATRE TO SEE A MOVIE ON THE BIG SCREEN AND THEN A SNACK AT SUBWAYS! Okay so it wasn’t a good movie but next week it will be official when “In The Heights” opens up–a show I loved when the Broadway touring company appeared here and the coming attraction trailers really have me excited!! (Ironically, I will be using the gift certificate I got on my 21st Leap Year birthday, Saturday, February 29, 2020, at the Nabu American Fusion Buffet restaurant–which didn’t survive the epidemic!)

Now just waiting for the touring Broadway shows to return to Miami and Broward and my life will be normal plus I can start looking for a new, good restaurant to plan my 22nd Leap Year birthday on Thursday, February 29, 2024!

Posted May 29, 2021 by greatmartin in LIFE, LIFE EVENTS, MOVIES, RESTAURANTS

Back to Big Louie’s!   Leave a comment

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I don’t know exactly how long it has been since I was last at Big Louie’s but it was before February as I remember being surprised that Chuck and Terry picked the Thai place instead to have dinner and then COVID-19 came to town when they left (not that I am inferring anything!)

In any case, after shopping at Dollar Tree and Winn-Dixie I suggested we go and have a pizza so we did. This has been the 4th restaurant we have been to since we had lunch at the Outback on March 12 and the restaurants were shut down. I was hesitant about eating out when they reopened but eventually, in August we went to Cafe Vico and though I wasn’t 100% comfortable Marco follows all the regulations and the food, as always, was excellent.

A week or 2 later, having gift cards, we went to The Cheesecake Factory and though they offer outside dining in August in Fort Lauderdale you don’t eat outside. The dining room was spacious so distances between tables wasn’t a problem and all the staff wore masks.

The following week we went to The Quarterdeck and it being a ‘feel like’ temperature of 101 degrees we ate inside. In addition to spacing tables and staff wearing masks they also took customer’s temperatures when they came in.

We immediately saw a few changes at Big Louie’s including a ‘chef’ statue outside with a sign saying “We are open”. The front dining room was completely redone not only regarding tables but with the decoration also. I loved the woodwork and sign that Marcello’s wife made–look at the bottom left picture. Also, it was great seeing Sheila was still working as a server. She had been the server/assistant manager when I worked there in 1999. We had a pizza which was g-o-o-o-o-o-o-d!

Looks like we will be getting back to having lunch out on Thursdays which I missed!

Posted September 13, 2020 by greatmartin in RESTAURANTS

The Cheesecake Factory VS. the COVID-19 Virus!!   1 comment

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Last Thursday we went for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory and the Godiva cheesecake is as smooth as ever but now I understand why I have money!! Just by not eating out every Thursday for 6 months and/or paying $35 per person, including tip, for a lunch, even just once a week, plus not going to the movies, legit theatre, in other words enjoying life, saves money BUT it is not living!

It’s summer so even normally Los Olas is on the quiet side but with the virus it is dead as was The Cheesecake Factory. There were maybe about 4 tables taken inside and 2 outside so I am sure the servers weren’t making a living but the service was not the best. As a used to be server I can understand this because when a place is busy you get a rhythm going and work faster/better while when it is slow, and you aren’t making money, right or wrong a ‘so what’ attitude takes over.

This is the second time I have eaten out since the COVID-19 virus hit the Fort Lauderdale area in April and, in both cases, the restaurants seem to be following the ‘new rules’ but one never knows what is going on behind the scenes.

Mmmmmm–was the cheesecake worth the gamble? I’ll let you know in a few weeks!

Posted August 11, 2020 by greatmartin in RESTAURANTS, Virus

No movie?? Okay, then Cabo Blanco & Dairy Queen!!   1 comment

Cabo Blanco and Diary Queen Oct 11 2019
“Gemimi”–no thank you! “Lucy In The Sky”–I am not a fan of Natalie Portman and word of mouth hasn’t been too good. “The Addams Family”? PUHLEEZE! “Jexi”? Sounds like a TV rom/com, maybe Tuesday. Okay, I have found out that if I don’t go to a movie on Friday the world doesn’t come to an end. Allen wasn’t in any particular mood to see a movie so I suggested–sometimes I am brilliant!–that we go have lunch at Cabo Blanco for which I had a groupon for and we hadn’t been there in awhile.
 
 Cabo Blanco is one of my favorite restaurants and the best of the dozen or so Peruvian restaurants that have opened in the past decade. When we first went I tried all 29 lunch specials they had (no, not at one time!!) and there wasn’t a bad one in the group but there was definitely a standout dish: Camarones Saltados, about 12 sauteed shrimp with onions and tomatoes on a pasta in a dark sauce, which I think is soy based but not sure. I do know it is delicious and the price, $11.99, ridiculously low for such a meticulous made dish plus they serve a freshly made chicken soup and a side of various sauces. They use to serve bread with the latter which they no longer do so I don’t know what the sauces are for because the shrimp sauce is great as is! I have had this dish about 20 times and LOVE it!
 
Afterwards I was moaning that they don’t have plain vanilla ice cream which is something I like to have after a slightly spicy meal and Allen came up with a brilliant idea of going to Dairy Queen in Wilton Manors for dessert! He had a chocolate and I had a vanilla Blizzard! Now that’s what friends are for!
 
Trust me, the lunch and dessert was better than any movie I could have seen!

Eating out!   Leave a comment

Eating out Sept 2019 Part 1

It is no secret that I love to eat out but, unfortunately, my budget constantly says “NO!” I sort of have it under control in keeping it to Thursdays and Fridays while during ‘theatre season’ Tuesday is added to the list.
 
On Thursdays, after shopping at the $ Tree and before going to Winn-Dixie, plus the Tuesday nights when we go the theatre in Broward, we sort of eat at a ‘better’ restaurant such as the Outback, Big Louie’s and La Bonne Crepe, while theatre nights it is either the Quarterdeck or Cafe Vico.
 
Fridays, after the movies, and Tuesdays when we go to the theatre in Miami it is Denny’s at the latter and Subways or Arby’s after the former.
 
From a dessert crepe made of strawberries, bananas, vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate syrup to a turkey foot-long on herb-garlic cheese and adding cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and onions plus mustard, plus a pizza at Big Louie’s to steak and all the shrimp you can eat at Outback and a Rueban at  Arby’s I do have a varied menu of meals.
 
Oh, yes, I gave up carbonated sodas about 7 months ago so now I have lemonade at fast food places and late dinners while real coffee at lunch meals at full service restaurants.
 
The other 4-5 days I am a pretty good boy when I eat at home–well, most times!! I do make my dinners in advance on Saturdays with a basic fish or chicken dish with 2 veggies, a salad, 2 cups of yogurt and an apple. (No, we won’t talk about the carrots cakes, etc.)

Posted September 26, 2019 by greatmartin in DINING REVIEW, FOOD, RESTAURANTS

I know YOU are a BIG tipper but…   1 comment

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Please read this first (in today’s Sun-Sentinel) https://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/fl-bz-ways-that-restaurants-cheat-their-workers-20190816-aiooy2g7gnb3rmog2yjir6bemq-story.html

I was in the restaurant business for 38 years of my 50 working years, 30 of them in South Florida from 5 star restaurants to joints and I loved being a server turning down many manager offers or opening my own place.

This article makes it seems like this is a new part of restaurant business–it isn’t–going back to 1956 I can name names of where these practices took place and some not even mentioned like ‘paying’ servers to come in and clean the restaurant from top to bottom and being paid with a ‘meal’.

“If you don’t like the job, leave” is easier said than done.

Posted August 18, 2019 by greatmartin in RESTAURANTS

Longhorn Steakhouse–restaurant review   1 comment

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I hadn’t been to a Longhorn since the one on Federal Highway (I think between Sunrise & Oakland–been a long time!) and since we were going to the Regal and I had a coupon for the Longhorn I decided instead of the usual good Sweet Tomatoes and the great Cabo Blanco we would give it a try.

Started off bad with waiting 5 minutes to be seated and even though 3 employees saw us none acknowledged us let alone say something to the effect that they would be right with us. After finally getting seated we once again had to wait about 5 minutes to be greeted by our server. Is it asking too much to at least let us know you are aware we are sitting on your station? After that the service was fine but wish we could say the same thing about the food.

We had a Firecracker Appetizer($9.99)  which was pre-made and probably had been frozen but was okay. Allen had the 12-ounce strip with a salad ($21.49) and a side of Cauliflower Au Gratin ($1.99) which I don’t think he knew was extra but thought counted as one of the sides with the steak. I had the BBQ Bacon Cheddar Burger ($14.49) with the seasoned fries (which were not seasoned as I had requested). We both had water to drink.

Allen didn’t say anything about the steak but thought the cauliflower could have used a little seasoning. The burger I had a  bun that tasted stale and was stacked on one side instead of the middle. Possibly there was a mistake either on my or the server’s part but I am sure I ordered the “$12.99 830 cal , Steakhouse Bacon Cheeseburger* Thick, juicy and expertly grilled, topped with applewood smoked bacon and your choice of cheese on a toasted potato bun.”  but I don’t see the BBQ Bacon on the web menu nor do I see a $14.49 burger! Also, mine came with fried breaded onion strips which I would never order ON a burger. Though I don’t think so I’ll take the blame for the order, something I would never order again.

For dessert Allen had the Chocolate Stampede ($9.49) and the server did say it served two but I decided not to have dessert (see the halo over my head?) even when she brought 2 plates and silverware! He didn’t make any comment good or bad about it.

With 2 discounts our check came to $45.44 including tax plus we left a $12 tip.

Next time we go to the Regal movie theatre we will go to Cabo Blanco or Sweet Tomatoes afterward. Also, comparing chain steak restaurants I would rather go to the Outback for a burger or steak when cost enters the equation.

Posted May 18, 2019 by greatmartin in RESTAURANTS, REVIEWS, Uncategorized

Croissant Time French Bakery   1 comment

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I have a ‘thing’–well a few things–when it comes to restaurants such as I like a scoop of vanilla ice cream after spicy foods or  if I find a restaurant I like I will continue going even if, for whatever reasons, something goes wrong ONCE, twice I won’t go back. I, also, will tell an owner or manager, in a place I am familiar with what went wrong and in many cases, they want to pick up the check or take the item off the menu but I won’t allow it if I ate the food or accidents–like a drink spilled on clothes–didn’t happen.
 
Just as an aside: if anyone went out of their way I will also tell the manager/owner that as they like to hear the good things along with the bad especially they usually get a lot more of the latter.
 
Okay, what’s this all about? After eating at Fat Boyz BBQ I wanted something sweet, preferably ice cream. By the way, the last 4 restaurants we ate in the area didn’t have ice cream(!) and between where we were and the Broward Performing Arts Center except for a DD and Baskin Robbins store there isn’t an ‘ice cream’ store unless you want to fight the hassle of going, parking and enjoying Kilwin’s before going to the theatre and even at the BPAC they serve all kinds of snacks in lobby but no ice cream! We decided to go to Croissant Time though it isn’t the easiest place to get to from the BBQ restaurant. 
 
Walking in the center part of the store you can be overwhelmed by the sights of French pastry in all sizes, colors and aromas but to the left is a small ice cream section. Allen headed to the pastries and I headed for the ice creams. It turned out there were 6 flavors of sorbet (makes sense in a French place) and 2 ice creams. The ice cream choice was easy for me as 1 was coffee and as much coffee every day I don’t like coffee ice cream. As it is I don’t even remember the flavor though looking at the picture I want to say that is butter pecan under the wild black currant sorbet. Allen had 2 pastries with his sorbet.
 
Two things made my order a disaster! The first was how hard the ice cream and sorbet was and I mean HARD!! I seriously thought the poor guy scooping it out would not only break the scoop but his wrist also. It was understandable that the scoops were very small but the butter pecan was like ice–not ice cream–and the sorbet was gritty.
 
I will definitely go back to Croissant Time but will stay in the center of the store!
 
Any easy to get to places in the downtown area for a good ice cream treat?


Posted April 30, 2019 by greatmartin in FOOD, FORT LAUDERDALE, RESTAURANTS, Uncategorized

Another one of my favorite things!   1 comment

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When I was able to afford it I ate out a minimum of 14 meals. As much as I use to love to cook, and did, I love eating out more. Unfortunately, restaurant prices have gone up way more than my income has so I usually am confined to 2 meals a week dining out, except when I have a show to go to and then it is an extra, usually at the Quarterdeck in Fort Lauderdale for their great Jambalaya and Denny’s in Miami because of time and I-95! There are very few foods I won’t eat so I can be as happy in a 5-star restaurant as I can in a fast food place though I admit I prefer a full-service place after 38 years as a waiter.
 
Of the 5 places above my favorite is the Peruvian Cabo Blanco that has an excellent Shrimp with onions and peppers over noodles made in a soya sauce for $11.95 at lunch and they are not stingy with the shrimp! Plus they serve some homemade soup as part of the meal. Groupon and/or localflavor usually have a 2-4-1 coupon. By the way, they have about 30 specials for lunch of which I have tried 20 and  have not had a bad yet.
 
For Mexican food I will either go to Tequila Sunrise or Tipico, both having very good Fajitas at reasonable prices, and this past week we went to the former where I had their lunch special of Seafood Medley with Mahi, shrimp, scallops calamari on rice which was more than tasty.
 
Though a chain I do enjoy Outback for their steak, ribs and bread. Then there is IHOP which I have been going to for decades for their cheese omelet with a short stack of pancakes if not one of their ‘breakfast’ combinations or sometimes a cheeseburger.
 
I, also, enjoy trying new places and not knowing the owners of the Quarterdeck were branching out and started the Good Spirits I did get a 2-4-1 coupon so we tried it. I would rather go to Quarterdeck!
 
Due to the fact that restaurants are too expensive, I usually look for coupons for those I go to and new ones. Of the 5 above I had coupons for 3 of them and regarding the Quarterdeck though I didn’t have a coupon I do have one of their reward cards and we will get a free dinner after buying a certain amount, which we would have done anyway (but don’t tell them!)
 
Will be going to see “Anastasia” on Tuesday and where we would normally go to the Quarterdeck we won’t this time as they are building a new restaurant and their old one will be closed. All I can hope is that their prices don’t jump up because of the new location and what it costs them to build it!
 
Might try a new bbq place that is opening this weekend though if a place is jinxed it might be that location where they have had 5 restaurants that failed and that plaza has had a few more failures but, being an optimist, this one will prove to be an exception!
 

Posted April 21, 2019 by greatmartin in FOOD, RESTAURANTS, Uncategorized

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