Posts Tagged ‘ Restaurant ’

Indian Buffet

I am so excited, my son is home and we’re going to the Indian buffet for lunch!  After much deliberation my son decided not to extend his summer excursion backpacking through Europe and he came home on his originally scheduled date.  Much of this is due to the airline giving him wrong information about the ease and cost of changing his ticket.  Apparently it isn’t as inexpensive or easy as they originally made it sound, that part just stinks!

I have been craving Indian food for quite awhile.  I haven’t had it for several months and the last time we went for dinner which is sit-down service instead of buffet.  Usually I don’t care for buffets, feeling that if I’m eating out and paying for it I want  to be served.  However, with Indian food there are too many choices and I love them all!  The buffet we enjoy is predominantly vegetarian with a few meat dishes at the end of the buffet line.

I’ve happily called out for the first 1/2 of my work day for this.  I feel a little guilty about losing some of my saved time off, but hanging out with my kids is always first choice.  The hubby comes a close second…  There are so many great selections, the hard part will be not eating nan, their delicious flat bread that is great to sop up the rich spicy sauces many dishes come with.

If you haven’t had Indian food out you are missing a great treat.  As many ethnic restaurants they are extremely vegetarian friendly, the number of selections is fabulous.  It is definitely a bit on the spicy side but they are usually willing to adjust the heat for a milder palate.  If you’re in Florida my favorite place has several locations.  If not just take a look at their menu to see what you might be missing out on.  http://www.tasteofindiafl.us/

Last, is anyone else hooked on The Next Food Network Star? It’s not the most veg friendly show to say the least but I love watching it.  This year I am cheering on Aarti Sequeira who I just think is adorable, full of personality.  She cooks a lot of traditional Indian food which all looks delicious.  I watch her cook and mentally turn her dishes into veg dishes.  With her style of cooking it should be pretty easy.  Maybe I’ll check out her blog and convert a recipe later this week.  If you’re interested her blog is: http://www.aartipaarti.com/

Have a peaceful day!  Lin

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Joia Fabulous Pizza & Martini Bar

There’s a small group of friends from a previous job that I meet for dinner every couple of months.  We take turns picking places, ususally no where too original.  I was glad when my friend Laura suggested Joia’s in Riverview Fl because it’s nearby and I actually was unaware of it’s existence.

With that said, I am usually very skeptical of any business that boasts the word “fabulous” in it’s name.  The term “fabulous pizza” makes me almost  cringe.  I”m a New Yorker and am pretty fussy about what is considered good much less fabulous pizza.

For a local restaurant it’s decor was pretty upscale with dark woods and red tones, fun chandeliers, and high backed booths.  It definately had the feel of both a festive or romantic setting which isn’t easy to do.

Now I’m not much of a drinker, I hardly ever drink at all.  Apparently my friends also are not impressed with martini’s because we drank water, tea and cola, so I can’t say anything about the martini selection.

We did not order pizza but I hear it is made with a thin crisp crust and is quite tasty.  The pizza selections looked interesting so I’ll have to go back for that.  Ultimately I ordered a NY favorite of mine Rigatoni ala Vodka.  My pasta arrived al dente, not at all overcooked which I liked.  The sauce was a light pink sauce with a hint of vodka and was quite good.  The serving size was not ridiculously huge but I have enough for today’s lunch.  I would not say their recipe is as appealing as my favorite Italian restaurant “The Laughing Cat” but very good and about 10 miles closer to home.

My friend Laura ordered the Egglant Parmesan which was a large portion served with spagetti and looked quite good.  It’s a selection that I will consider in the future.  Another friend had the Chicken Caesar Salad which minus the chicken looked very tasty although I always assume the dressing has anchovies in it.  Yet another friend ordered the Manicotti which actually looked pretty average but how much can you dress that particular dish up?  I’m not sure.

We did not order dessert but a couple of us walked past a table where people were enjoying some sweet concoction that looked wonderful.  We were instantly regretful that we hadn’t indulged.  Again, something to look forward to in the future.

While the overall service was a little slow, our wait staff was quite friendly and willing to help.  Personally, if I’m enjoying good company I don’t mind waiting a few extra minutes for my food.  Perhaps the extra wait is a sign that food is actually being cooked fresh rather than thawed and reheated.  Overall, I had a very enjoyable meal and will return again in the future.

Meatless Monday Rant

I am really tired of going to restaurants and having them look at me like I’m a freak when I ask for a vegetarian option.  It seems like it would be a no brainer to put one or two vegetarian selections on a menu or even have a meat dish with an advertised available meatless version.  My husband occasionally mentions that we never go to a steakhouse which he would enjoy.  As much as I’m opposed to the idea I would be glad to accommodate him if the restaurant was willing to accommodate me.  Having to order a couple of side dishes and a salad is not a nice dinner out to me.

With that said I would like to thank a few Tampa area establishments that do offer vegetarian selections and happily offer vegetarian options to their typical meat entrees.  The first is The Laughing Cat and is located in Ybor City, a favorite area of mine. Laughing Cat offers up rich, hearty Italian food with several great options.  On my last visit I ordered sweet potato gnocchi in a creamy wine sauce with a nice selection of vegetables.  I am not a huge fan of eggplant and they were very gracious in offering to substitute broccoli which I love.  The gnocchi were tender, the vegetables cooked perfectly and the sauce was somehow light and rich.  They served it covered in provolone cheese which I will skip in the future.  My first trip to Laughing Cat I ordered the Rigatoni ala Vodka minus the procuitto which was rivaled any version I’ve eaten in NY.  Which makes sense because the chef is from well known restaurant in Smithtown NY.  http://thelaughingcat.com/ http://thelaughingcat.com/

Another favorite is a Greek establishment with locations in Ybor City, Riverview and New Tampa called Acropolis.  They offer fabulous falafel, dolmades which are stuffed grape leaves, spanokopita, and a wonderful Greek salad.  Also, many of their appetizers are veg friendly.  I can easily go there and enjoy their stuffed mushrooms and a Greek salad although my favorite is the falafel which ends up with a crisp crunchy outer layer that is just delicious.  http://www.acropolistaverna.com/

Last I’m surprising myself by mentioning Chili’s a national chain.  Their regular menu has a spicy black bean burger which is actually very good.  They are very willing to work with me at any location I’ve been to and will accommodate salads with a grilled Portobello mushroom in place of the chicken.  Personally I enjoy the fajita explosion salad.  It would be nice if these options were listed on their menu but I give them credit for offering their veg selections on their website, even notating what has eggs, dairy or honey allowing people to make educated choices.  I think tonight will be a Chili’s night, if my husband ever wakes up!  http://www.chilis.com/EN/Vegetarian%20Menu/Chilis_Vegetarian_Menu_Generic.pdf