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Friday, June 1, 2012

Where Have I Been Eating?

I haven't written restaurant reviews in a while, so I'm going to summarize a few of my most recent visits.  In a small town, and on a small island, locals find themselves going to their favorites... so I make myself try out new spots instead of getting into the rut of the old favorites, whenever I can (I know, hard job, right?).  However, I've noticed that as Summer approaches, my restaurant reviews are, once again, being viewed regularly and visitors to the blog like to know the current status of my favorites.  So, here are the most recent outings for the past 4 weeks or so... and I'll apologize in advance for the lack of photos.  If I'm not going with the intent of reviewing, I don't drag the camera along.  I tend to snap with the cell phone if I think I might want to write about it later.  I hesitate to do that because quality and lighting are so poor...but, at least there are a few.  The other "bad thing" I do is forgetting and then taking photos of half eaten plates of food...but I reckon something is better than nothing.  Scroll on by if it grosses you out.

Ted's Restaurant - May 31, 2012
Ted's on Urbanspoon

Breakfast at a great locals favorite.  We really enjoy this spot where locals and tourists alike flock on week-ends (less crowded week-days) - good basic food, at a reasonable price - only open for breakfast and lunch.  Mr. Flip Flop is watching his carbs so this was a big splurge for him to add hash browns and toast to the day's offering!  He had a Western Omelet and by the way he inhaled it, I assume he thought it was quite good.  Don't laugh...we were so hungry our photos didn't happen until we'd both chowed down on our breakfast!

I had Migas with two corn tortillas, salsa, and refried beans with some chips.  It was not the best plate of migas I've ever had, but the salsa helped it become a very good breakfast.  Again, half eaten photo.  So, sorry!

Manuel's Restaurant - May 29, 2012
Manuel's on Urbanspoon

Brunch today - which means Mr. Flip Flop had breakfast and I had lunch.  One of the great things about Manuel's is that they cross-over on the meals...I'd been up since 6:30 and already had breakfast...the hubs got up in the 10:00 time frame and was ready for breakfast.  We knew, so long as we had cash (no checks or credit cards accepted), it wasn't Monday (they are closed on Monday), and it was before 2:00....we could make both of us happy going to Manuel's.  I went for the Mexican food - two cheese enchiladas, one taco, beans and rice...and lots of chips and salsa while I waited.  It was yummy...and I didn't think to take photos.

My husband had a low-carb omelet which was quite large - filled with mushrooms, cheese, and other low-carb goodies.  He got a side of bacon to go with it.  He said it was very good and filled him up.  The prices are quite moderate and the food is generous.

Pirate's Landing - May 31, 2012
Pirate's Landing on Urbanspoon

My big boys arrived in town for the teen's graduation.  They don't think a vacation has begun if they don't stop at Pirate's Landing before heading to the island.  Their goal?  Shrimp Po-boys and Fish Po-boys.  They LOVE them...especially the homemade buns and generous waffle fries.  I had a Shrimp Louie Salad - much like a shrimp cocktail hanging on the edge of a small half head of lettuce and drizzled with Louie Dressing.  Black olives, capers, and way too much pepper topped it off.  There were big pieces of avocado and boiled egg on the side...again, so coated with cracked pepper that I couldn't handle it.  It wasn't what I was expecting and someone had a heavy hand with the pepper mill!  I ate the shrimp, some of the lettuce and scraped off enough pepper from one of the hunks of avocado to enjoy it.  If it hadn't had the heavy dose of pepper, it would have been outstanding.  The teen had a burger with cheddar cheese and bacon...with waffle fries.  No surprises there!  Our service was really outstanding.  I was telling my son's girlfriend, the wait staff at Pirate's Landing are faces I've seen as long as I've been going there.  It is rare we have bad service.  If I do - I know I can talk to someone and they will respect my complaints.  No complaints today!  Six people having sandwiches or salad though, with only one having a bar drink  ($7) and another having a beer...the rest with tea or soda... ended up being an $89 bill before the $16 tip.  So, it's not ultra cheap...but also not ultra expensive.  It used to be a cheap place to eat...maybe not so much anymore.  Still - the portions were so gigantic no one finished their meal.  I'd like to see a smaller lunch portion, or a half sandwich offering, and a lower price.  They used to do that :-(

PadreRitaGrill - May 25, 2012
PadreRitaVille on Urbanspoon

I stopped in at PadreRitaGrill (and no, I didn't mis-spell - they are changing the name after a run-in with JB's practice...PadreRitaGrill!)  after getting my nails and toes done at Venus (on Amberjack - tell Jenny that Debbi sent you).  I've been a fan of PadreRitaGrill since they opened.  I had really good service and decided to avail myself of their really low cost lunch buffet.  I would have been better served to have stopped at the salad bar for $7 - but no, I had to be a piggy.  I added the Friday Fish lunch buffet for $1.88 more.  I love their salad bar.

Their pasta salad is outstanding and I love their soups.  That day, cute little seashell soup bowls were ladled up with a brothy seafood soup - filled with chunks of white fish and shrimp and calamari.

I will admit the calamari doesn't work very well on a buffet - it got a bit rubbery.  However, the taste of the soup in general was outstanding. They also served a meatball soup which I didn't try because I got full so fast.  I also enjoyed the very lightly battered popcorn shrimp as well as the rice with vegetables in it.  The fried fish did not do well on a covered dish buffet - it made the crust soft...and I like crisp. I didn't try the broiled fish, but it was a buffet option as well.  Those 4 things were it for the hot portion of the buffet.

Like I said, though, it was $1.88...and the soup and salad were worth much more than the $7.00 they charge.  Fresh and with a good selection of salad ingredients make me enjoy stopping in for their lunch buffets. Here are a few cell phone photos (sorry about the quality).  We are looking forward to the teen's after graduation dinner at PadreRitaGrill...with the music of the always enjoyable J. Micheal Laferty!

Padre Island Brewing Company - May 30, 2012
Padre Island Brewing Co. on Urbanspoon

We stopped in for a late lunch at Padre Island Brewing Company.  We both ordered the Pesto Chicken Salad over a bed of Spring mix with a balsamic vinaigrette and fresh flat bread  OMG - it was awesome.  I'd eaten there before and seen someone else get it...and they said they always asked for the dressing on the side, so we did the same.  It was just outstandingly delicious.  The chicken salad was not heavy with pesto - mild but well-seasoned - a shredded style chicken salad.  A huge mound of it too!  The best thing, though, was the dressing.  It was an unusually viscous thick saucy consistency.  I don't know how to describe it.  My husband felt sure it had applesauce in it.  It had the best flavor - I could have eaten it by the spoonful.  I dipped my bread, I spooned it over the greens, and I spooned it over the chicken salad.  I begged the waiter to find out what made it thick.  He came back and said the chef refused to give up her secrets.  She said all she would say is that it had Worcestershire Sauce in it.  WHAT?  I would never have guessed that ingredient.  I wonder if the people at Bon Appetit Magazine's RSVP column could wheedle it out of her?  It was just awesome - the entire plate was.  I was so full for the rest of the day, I skipped dinner.  The best thing I ate all week!  Wish I'd taken pictures!  Here's a photo of my friend's dish from a previous visit...looked the same this time!

Windy City - May 25, 2012 (OUT OF BUSINESS 9/2012)
Windy City on Urbanspoon

The teen had lunch there while out on a field trip - he had a good lunch - he said "you should go there".  He apparently had the same thing he had the first time we I'll just refer you to the review I did last time... the link is here.  Also, have heard they have a new Beer Garden there...haven't been, but will go soon!  Reported to have a view of the bay...always a favorite for me :-)

Blackbeard's - April 28, 2012
Blackbeard's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I really didn't want to write this review and almost didn't...but, in the interest of fair reporting I am.
We had the worst service EVER on this visit.  I don't know if it was that it was really crowded...or if it was a server issue, or a hostess issue, or what.  All I know is that the teen and I popped in for a quick bite to eat before going to an event at Paragraph's.  Service was soooo slow, no refills on our drinks (which were nearly empty by the time the food arrived) and I couldn't get any dressing for my main meal salad. I also couldn't get anyone (the hostess) to find my server, and finally I was so mad (and hungry and had drank all my drink and waited endlessly while the teen completely finished his meal and I had no dressing for my salad and didn't do more than nibble a bit of lettuce and a few bites of very dry tuna)...that I hunted down the waiter, asked for the check, got it really quickly, with no inquiry of why I hadn't eaten my meal.  I wrote a lengthy explanation on my credit card bill and didn't leave a tip.  I put my phone number on it, in case anyone had any questions.  No contact.  I won't be going back any time soon, that's for sure.  Sad, because I had just gotten over a bad experience that kept me out of there for several years.  The last two times we ate there both food and service were excellent.  I don't know what the problem was ...they are an island favorite and always crowded during high season.  Maybe the lesson I've learned is "don't go when the parking lot is full"!  Also on the side of fairness, the teen said his burger was excellent despite it having been eaten without any liquid accompaniment...his soda was empty and we tried to flag down numerous people for eye contact, no response.  (huge sigh)

Wow, didn't realize how much we had eaten out these past few weeks!  Glad I finally had a few minutes to sit down and write it up before it became lost in the haze of Summer! 

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!


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