A place where I can share interesting ideas and maybe get a few things off my chest

Posts tagged ‘dining’

Casa Tina

Menu Salsa Chips 2014-09-06 14.52.27

This afternoon I found myself in Dunedin well after lunch time, but before I had had a chance to eat lunch. I drove down Main Street looking for something interesting and found an open parking spot near Casa Tina’s. I hadn’t had real Mexican food in quite awhile and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. As I approached, I realized that, in Florida, I wasn’t going to find the kind of Mexican food I’m used to – Tex-Mex – but figured it would still be at least somewhat familiar.

The interior was dimly lit, a nice break for my eyes from the bright afternoon sunshine. I was immediately seated and very shortly received a basket of light, very fresh, tortilla chips and a bowl of chunky, freshly-made salsa. And shortly after that, a tall glass of freshly-brewed iced tea. (Only available unsweetened, but then, I’m not in Texas.) I was pleased to find that the lunch menu lasted until 3:00 pm, and I had arrived just in time to choose a cup-of-soup-and-half-a-cheese-quesadilla combo, to which I added a small side order of guacamole. They had several soups listed; I chose posole, described as chicken stew with hominy and ancho chiles.

Soup n Quesadilla 2014-09-06 15.04.16

It arrived steaming hot, with a plate of fresh garnish and small warmer filled with three hand-made corn tortillas. (Yes, that’s only two – I had already eaten one before I remembered to take a picture.)

Hand-made corn tortillas 2014-09-06 15.14.36

It was all very flavorful and the only thing that was a little spicy for me was the guacomole. But it was a nice, familiar kind of spicy that made the whole inside of my mouth tingle with the heat, and made me sweat just a little on my upper lip. And there was so much, I have soup and tortillas waiting in the kitchen for my dinner.

Colorful decor 2014-09-06 14.49.15

The decor was colorful and definitely Mexican. And since we’re near the sea, there had to be mermaids, right?

Tin Mermaids 2014-09-06 15.25.30

Casa Tina also has a full bar and quite a few specialty drinks, one of which is a coffee with Mexican cocoa, cinnamon and other spices. It’s called “Cafe de Olla”. The drink they call “Cafe Mexicana” is coffee served with kahlua and tequila, topped with whipped cream. When I made the mistake of simply asking for the “Mexican coffee” and was brought the high-octane version, the server very graciously replaced it with the beverage I had actually *meant* to order.

Cafe de Olla 2014-09-06 15.34.15

It was a quite wonderful ending to my solo lunch. I will definitely be going there again, next time with a designated driver.


Casa Tina on Urbanspoon

City Fish Grill – Oldsmar, FL

We recently went to a to-remain-unnamed Italian restaurant near our home. The waitress was pleasant and the food was adequate to the task of making us no longer hungry, but that’s about all I can say to recommend it. As I thought about what kind of review I might give it, I realized that I don’t have the streak of meanness necessary to be a good food critic, or really a critic of anything. It was not horrible, there might be other things to recommend the restaurant that we didn’t sample (although we did have the night’s specials – one would think they would have something to recommend them, but I digress), and it is someone’s livelihood and perhaps even pride and joy. So, I’ve decided that unless a restaurant is truly horrible in some way, I will not post negative reviews of merely disappointing dining experiences.

Which brings me 180 degrees to City Fish Grill in Oldsmar. A co-worker recommended this restaurant almost two years ago, and even though it’s only a few blocks from our home, we had never been, mostly because it’s packed on Friday and Saturday nights and we never plan ahead well enough to remember to make reservations. Last weekend, though, we were at a nearby hotel attending a conference and knew in advance we’d want to eat somewhere very nearby. We reserved a table for 10 early in the evening and when we arrived were greeted by very friendly staff and shown immediately to our table even though our party was incomplete.

I wish I had thought to photograph everyone’s dinners, especially the Seafood Tower, an appetizer one of our group ordered as his main meal. The first thing on our table was the hot bread served with dishes of olive oil swirled with a balsamic reduction and a little shredded parmesan. I had a cup of she-crab bisque (served in a good-sized bowl – I don’t know how big the bowl of soup would have been) that was delicious. I guess the bisque satisfied my craving for seafood, because I then ordered their special filet mignon topped with a blueberry/balsamic reduction glaze. The feta au gratin potatoes were not as tasty as I might have liked, but then I had already had she-crab soup and a 9-oz filet to tackle.

The finishing touch, though, was the vanilla crème brûlée. I love crème brûlée. And although I am always on the quest for the perfect crème brûlée, I have only a vague memory of perhaps having once had a mediocre crème brûlée – never a bad one. City Fish’s crème brûlée, though, definitely falls into the delicious category. A generous portion of wonderfully rich and creamy vanilla custard topped with beautiful, crisp caramel that made a delightful crunch as I broke through it with my spoon (fans of Amelie will appreciate that reference), and garnished with blueberries and whipped cream. It was beautiful and delicious.



We will definitely be going there again. It’s good enough to remember to make reservations for.

Lunch With Mom




Me: Okay, Mom! We’re through with our Saturday errands. What do you want to have for lunch? Mexican? Chinese? A sandwich?

Mom: I’ll just decided when I look at the menu.

Me: But if we want Mexican or Chinese we have to decide to go to that restaurant.

Mom: I don’t care. Anything’s fine.

(After our arrival at Daddy’s Grill)

Me: Oh, good – we can choose between the breakfast or lunch menus. I think I’m going to have breakfast. What about you?

Mom: Do they have Mexican food?

New Rules for Tipping?

Photo linked from Yahoo’s article


A Yahoo article referencing a Payscale study (how circular could I get with this if I really tried?) says that if you’re still tipping your restaurant server 15%, then you’re below the norm and too darned cheap. I posit that this could be an example of declining math skills in the U.S. populace. It’s much easier to mentally double your bill and move the decimal point over than it is to actually attempt to calculate 15% of your bill. And on larger parties, the house will often add a gratuity of 18% onto the bill, which some patrons don’t notice and then tip again, thus driving the average tipping amounts even higher.

I normally tip about 20% when the service is anything better than adequate. Part of this is the laziness of not wanting to try to do math in my head (but I could if I wanted to -really!) and part is due to the fact that my mother and sister spent a good deal of the their adult work lives waitressing. I know how hard restaurant servers work and just how much that extra bit of income can mean to someone on the lower levels of the working class.

So, okay, maybe I should give my fellow diners the benefit of the doubt and agree that we have become more generous on the whole. But I still think that math thing has a lot to do with it.



I recently tried a new cafe’ in Oldsmar, Nosh!, where I got a breakfast sandwich pressed on Cuban bread. It was really yummy and I can’t wait to get back to try some of their specialty coffee drinks and other breakfast and lunch items.


I also got one of their crumb cakes to go. It’s hard to tell in this picture, but it’s 2/3 “crumb” and 1/3 “cake”. It was pretty tasty, but I would have preferred less crumb and more cake, myself.

It wasn’t too crowded mid-morning, but did have a steady flow of traffic. It seems like a good place for future morning writing sessions.

Nosh Cafe on Urbanspoon

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