Restaurants: Dinner in America


Dinner in America is typically a choice between Asian, Barbeque, Chicken, Fish, Greek, Italian, Mexican, or a Steakhouse.

ASIAN: American Asian, whether Chinese, Japanese, Thai, or Vietnamese, is almost always served with rice. A Vietnamese place in Pinellas Park, FL, named Pho Quyen, served a very tasty chicken stir fry with ginger. I just can’t seem to find it anywhere else. I noted Japanese restaurants are more expensive. I gave the best restaurant name award to a Chinese place called Hu Hot.

BARBEQUE: Ribs can be great if the meat is thoroughly cooked and falls off the bone. Most barbeque places add carbohydrate loads, by serving baked beans, potato salad, corn bread, and Texas Toast. I like the beans, as long as the sauce is not sweet. Potato salad has to have a kick. The toast and corn bread must be fresh.

CHICKEN: Like ribs, a chicken has to be in the oven long enough to separate the meat from the bone. Pollo Tropical Chicken sells a descent chicken dinner, with bread, beans, rice, and mashed potatoes. At Boston Market, you can pick up turkey, or a tasty chicken pot pie. I gobbled up a turkey served with gravy, mashed potatoes, dressing, and corn bread. A pumpkin pie slice was thrown in to complete the picture. I don’t care for chicken wings.

FISH: If the smell of fish is in the air when you walk in, you’re probably in a proper seafood restaurant. Fish is one of those dishes I don’t know how to prepare, so I want it done right. Although deep frying is unhealthy, it can really hit the spot, like it often did at the St. Petersburg Ale House, where I would order the 36-piece shrimp dinner. It was large enough to feed two people, and cost just over $10. At the Cajun Café on the Bayou in Pinellas Park, FL, I had a good Catfish dinner, with bread and butter, and a superb dirty rice, which was actually white rice, laced with beef. Blackened salmon with garlic mashed and rice can be surprisingly good. Though Long John Silver is a catchy name, don’t go there, as they serve a horrible frozen batter-fried thing dipped in grease.

GREEK: I love gyros made with warmed pita bread, covered with the perfect sauce, and then loaded with meat, lettuce, onions, and tomatoes, to a point where napkins are needed, because the bread is too hard to hold. Greek salads are also a great choice, if they have ricotta cheese, and are served with fresh bread and butter. Athenian Gardens on 9th in St. Pete had a tasty potato salad and a superb Gyro Platter, with pita bread, onions, and sauce.

ITALIAN: The Italians load up on pastas, breads, and other carbs. I usually ordered lasagna, or a cheese manicotti, but I didn’t care for the manicotti, if the correct sauce was not used. The problem was I didn’t know what sauce was correct. All I know is most in St. Pete didn’t have it. Also, the garlic bread has to be fresh, and served with butter, not olive oil. Can we stop the olive oil trend?

MEXICAN: Someone once told me Mexican food is always some sort of bean and rice combination. I like burritos, but I won’t go to Taco Bell, where they serve a wrap that has no food in it. On the other hand, the Chipotle Mexican chain is serving a filling burrito.

PIZZA: I want a thin crust, with as little bread as possible. Please, no deep dish, which is 90% bread. I generally do not care for chain portions or prices. I stay away from Pizza Hut, where the toppings are invisible. Toppings should include at least sausage, cheese, onions and peppers. Do pizzas need mushrooms or olives? All pizzas need a tasty kick, but please, no greasy puddles.

STEAK: A good steakhouse for a formal dinner needs a relaxed atmosphere and soft lighting. Outback is not bad for a chain, but I don’t like low-hanging bright lights in my eyes. Start with a crisp lettuce salad, with cheese and ranch dressing. Add fresh soft bread with butter. Follow up with a soft baked potato, and a medium-cooked, but juicy, sirloin steak. That is about as good as it gets. The Longhorn Steakhouse in Largo, FL perhaps did it best. A Brazilian Steakhouse in Pinellas Park, FL let the customers eat all they wanted for $15. After doing the salad bar for a lettuce salad, potatoes, and other tasty stuff, the chef keeps touring each table, and continues slicing off excellent cuts of meat.

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2 Comments to “Restaurants: Dinner in America”

  1. I now know we had more in common than just our politics! I agreed with all your food choices, as to where to dine. Jeff, I think you’re gonna miss Florida after all.
    kathie

    • I went to a Longhorn Steakhouse in Madison tonight and it was just as good as the one in Largo.

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