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16th Ave. Diner

You're going to love Chef JP's lunch

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

16thAveDinerAI was out purchasing a Gainesville Sun paper, when I decied it was time to give the 16th Ave Diner a try. The ghosts of Karol and Bill, the former owners of this lunch stop on NE 16th Ave, could very well be floating around in another dimension inside the diner, but make no mistake GLOBers, 16th Ave. Diner Chef JP is now in charge of this lunch counter.

Chef JP is an Xtra-large individual with a tell-it-like-it-is, matter-of-fact attitude, and he takes extreme pride in the NE 16th Ave. Diner Daily Specials surprisingly called, "Chef JP's Daily Specials -- $8.99."

With true diner authenticity these mid-day gems never change, so you might want to make a copy of these five luncth time prizes:

DINERcounter

MONDAY - Meatloaf
TUESDAY - Chopped Steak
WEDNESDAY - Open-Faced Roast Beef Sandwich
THURSDAY - Country Fried Steak and Gravy
FRIDAY - Fried Cod, Fries, Hush Puppies, Coleslaw ($9.99)

The Daily Specials are served from 11-2 with two sides and a biscuit or cornbread. There are 8 side orders to choose from for your JPDS: Coleslaw, corn, fried okra, green beans, lima beans, potato salad, and mashed potatoes and gravy.

Since it was Country Fried Steak and Gravy day I was thinking a side of lima beans would be a perfect complement to the crunchy steak crust and creamy gravy.

 

DINERbeans

"Are the lima beans really good?" I asked JP, who was towering over the lunch counter looking a lot like Mr. Clean with his shiny bald dome.

The Chef leaned over closer to me with a fierce look of consternation, and with the sound of utter conviction in his voice, he said, "They're the best you've ever had."

That was good enough for me. I like this Chef JP. The 16th Ave. Diner was bustling with serious homecooked- lunchtime lovers appreciating hearty, stick to your ribs lunch entrees, and i was feeling right at home enjoying my paper and hearing JP orchestrate breakfast among this clan of hungry eaters.

I was grooving to the fact that the oldies station on the sound system was playing Elvis singing Blue Hawaii right after John Lennon's Instant Karma tune. I was enjoying a very good piece of crispy fried steak with some most excellent brown gravy when JP saunters over to make sure I was a happy customer.

"So whaddya think of the limas?" he asked.

"They are really good," I said. "I love the pinch of sweeteness the baby limas possess, and the tender texture along wihth the fresh, green crunch shows me you obviously know your lima beans Chef."

The 16th Ave. Diner is a good, fast, quick 'n tasty lunch for lunchouters in a hurry. I'm going back to the 16th Ave. Diner. That Wednesday Open-Faced Roast Beef Sandwich Special is screaming out my name. The 16th Ave. Diner also serves breakfast starting at 7:00

AAsmallknifefork0311

16DINERbreakfast

CH-CH-CHANGES:  A few days later, I stopped at the 16th Ave. Diner for breakfast hoping to get a better image of JP for this feature and I couldn't resist the Uot-Mex 3 Egg Omlette on their breakfast menu.  The cholesterol delight included onions, ham, cheese, jalapeno peppers and a very spiccy salsa topping.  My breakfast plate was beautiful, suitable for framing.  16TH Ave. Diner waitress Chelsea checked to see if I was a happy customer when I asked if JP had the day off.  "JP doesn't work here any more. He's moved on to other things," she said indifferently. And so it goes Grasshoppers, in the fluid world of the restaurant/food service industry the only thing that remains the same is constant changes.

The Pluses and Minuses of the 16th Ave. Diner:

16th Ave. Diner + indicators:  Serious home cooked goodness, never changing lunch specials.

16th Ave. Diner -  indicators:  Perhaps a few knicks knacks, images for the walls, and/or a giant photo of former 16th Ave. Diner Chef PJ could add to the curret limited ambience.

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about the 16th Ave. Diner. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

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Metro Diner

MD surprise: Breakfast Pizza, Pumpkin Waffle

By Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

MetroDinerLOGODiner restaurants have certain stereotypical characteristics that I have found to be true: large, hearty portions, bustling servers, and busy booths, but the atmosphere has to be the defining feature, and I have been in diners from Orlando, FL, to New York City. Gainesville's Metro Diner is no exception--many booths and standalone tables with a casual, comfy décor.

 112015METROmark

With 17 Florida locations, Metro Diner, a Jacksonville-based regional chain that started in a 1938 building transformed in 1990, has made quite the name for itself. In addition to being a family-owned restaurant started by Chef Mark Davoli and family with 80 years in the food industry, Metro Diner is famous for its appearance on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on Food Network. Fieri dubbed the meatloaf one from which "diners need to take a lesson." I was mainly excited about the all day breakfast menu, which adds another spot to my brunch rotation that is close to home.

At 7 am on a Thursday morning, Metro Diner was almost vacant. I have scooped up a breakfast sandwich or two at that time at other places, and I can say that going to breakfast early is the way to ensure immediate service. The John Sr. breakfast sammie was large and in charge, two runny eggs coating Swiss cheese, bacon, and tomato. It may be sizeable, but don't wait too long to devour it, as the 8-grain toast quickly got soggy.

 

SpecialBOARD

Conversely at 9:30 am on a Saturday morning, empty tables were harder to come by; thus, for the brunch crowd, a.k.a. my usual compadres at the usual time--after 11 am, there will likely be wait. At 9:30 am on Saturday, however, a 20-minute wait was not too painful, and it gave my dining companion, Greg, and I a chance to peruse the menu for efficient ordering. The daily rotating-specials chalkboard proudly displayed on the back wall and on the web added three very tempting options to the already abundant menu of delicious breakfast goodies. This would be a complicated decision.

 

112015Rancheggs

After two very sad cups of coffee were ordered--why most breakfast places don't serve local coffee is beyond me, Greg, who is health-conscious, decided to try Metro Diner's Huevos Rancheros, $11.49: Scrambled eggs cooked well and topped with salsa and green onion slivers laid over a huge colorful plateful of black beans and chorizo under melted cheese and jalapenos. The "fried tortilla shells" were like a cross between crunchy pita chip and tortilla chip, essentially the best of both addicting worlds. Greg ordered sour cream on the side, which the server had to be reminded about. Despite his cleaned plate, Greg felt it was average for this dish he typically orders at breakfast. The couple of bites I had were very flavorful, the thick chunks of chorizo and jalapeno slices packing an enjoyable punch for a dish I am not usually inclined to order myself.

I was sold on the Breakfast Pizza, $10.99 image at the top of this review, the moment I laid eyes on the two words placed together. It's as if the brunch heavens opened and placed two of the best food items together in succession for one harmonious, epic brunch option. It had a little of everything I would want to order... in pizza form, down to the "crust" being made from biscuit dough. That aspect almost made me do a happy dance it was so good. Piled on this delicious biscuit bed, was a thick layer of mozzarella cheese blanketing flavorful chunks of bacon, ham, AND, if that weren't enough meat, some Italian sausage. I opted out of the onions, but the peppers and jalapenos provided a texture that tossed my taste buds around. I also love eggs Benedict, so the layer of Hollandaise sauce was a welcome addition, which, alongside two runny eggs, made for a sop-off-the-plate eating experience. The biscuit, under all those ingredients, did not get soggy. That is impressive.

 

dessert

I almost chose the Southern Benedict daily special, since it is a favorite of biscuits and gravy in addition to eggs and hollandaise, but I could not pass up the Biscuit Pizza. I also wanted to order a sweeter entrée for contrast: The Pumpkin-Stuffed Waffle. I think I speak for Greg when I say it was worth the food coma that followed: Each fourth of the waffle was used to make a sweet breakfast sandwich of sorts, complete with a marshmallow drizzle and cinnamon butter.

True to name, the sandwich filling was none other than copious amounts of pumpkin-flavored fluff. It was almost a combination of fluffy icing, cream cheese, and some kind of aerating agent. Whatever that pumpkin-flavored confection was, it played into the crisp, light waffle perfectly. I almost thought the cinnamon butter would be overkill, but then I tasted it, and it was too good not to use despite all the other flavors going on.

 

metrodinerHORIZ

The breakfast menu includes everything from omelets and steak and eggs to Benedicts and breakfast sandwiches to a variety of French toast and pancake options. The Yo Hala on the Square French Toast is highlighted on the menu for a reason: It is stuffed with bananas, brown sugar, cream cheese, and Hazelnut sauce (!) and smothered with fruit compote. I am very intrigued by the Monte Cristo, a sandwich I have yet to experience, and by the Spicy Honey Chicken Biscuit, mainly because I heard Metro's fried chicken is very tasty and because it includes a biscuit. Oh, I can't forget about the grits.

The Diner has an extensive lunch/dinner menu as well, considering it is open from 6:30 am until 8 pm Sunday through Thursday and 6:30 am to 8:30 pm Friday and Saturday. Judging by Guy Fieri's review of the meatloaf, I'd say that is a priority item, but the wide array of sandwiches and burgers provides something for everyone. The Charleston Shrimp and Grits looks like a solid rendition of the classic Southern dish. There is a complete Metro Diner menu at the web link below this review.

The restaurant was busy, and servers forgot things in the hustle and bustle, but overall the Metro Diner did exactly what it should: Provide a hearty, yummy meal to satiate the taste buds and fill the belly. Health-conscious Greg was less a fan because of the lack of healthier options, but you go to diners for the hearty, comfort-food, and Metro delivered.

The Pluses and Minuses of the Metro Diner:

The Metro Diner + indicators: Good value to portion size, large servings, varied menu, cozy diner atmosphere, friendly service, plaza parking leaves options.

The Metro Diner - indicators: Long wait time on weekends

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about the Metro Diner. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

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Soul Shack

 

 

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about the Soul Shack below. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

The Pluses and Minuses of Soul Shack:

Soul Shack + indicators

Soul Shack - indicators:

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Road Trip: Reddick, MJ's Country Cafe & Buffet

Southern style cookin', Deep South love

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

102113MJsfI need to start with the GLOB Master's signature line, "I'm coming back" to MJ's Country Cafe and Buffet in Reddick just south of McIntosh. There is an Eating Professional's objective staring me down, challenging every heart healthy promise I have ever made.

I am talking about MJ's Favorite Cowboy Burger (image at top).  This protein explosion consists of a half–pound of hamburger sandwiched between TWO grilled cheese sandwiches, bacon, lettuce, and tomato. This lunch time belly bomb is served with your choice of French fries, onion rings, sweet potato fries, or fried okra.

102113MJsignIf my daddy were alive I would take him to Reddick to treat him to this hamburger. If any GLOBers have eaten this big-boy burger and lived to talk about, please identify yourself!  What do YOU think about the MJ Favority Cowboy Burger stomach stuffer?

MJ's is the perfect weekend diversion get-away-- a short drive 'back to a slower time in old Florida." This 30- minute destination south of the Urban GLOB "out on highway #441 where the cars sound like waves crashing down on the beach" is the ideal foodie get-away.

The GLOB Master is talking serious, home style, southern cooking with stick-to-your-ribs meat loaf, fried chicken, pot roast, baked chicken, fried okra, okra and tomatoes, greens, mac 'n cheese, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn bread, biscuits, white bread . . .  have I made you hungry yet?

Click here for the complete MJ's Menu.

102113MJbuffetROSIEThe GLOB Historian, Jon Roosenraad, was my lunch partner on this trip and we decided he would order from the menu and I would experience the N. Florida Famous MJ lunch buffet since Rosey typically shows more restraint in his lunch time caloric intake than the GLOB Master.  Rosey didn't even LOOK at the MJ's Favorite Cowboy Burger! Instead he ordered the Sandy's Southern Sandwich, which was a piece of very nice looking fried chicken exploding out of all sides of the S S S Roll. The fried green tomato was equally beautiful, fried to a crispy brown delight, The professor liked his sandwich, even though it was just a little more Southern fried heaven than this Michigan born transplant normally consumes.

When our very friendly server brought our lunches to the table, I asked if they got a lot of orders for the MJ's Favorite Cowboy Burger.

"Not really," she said and added, "Most of the lunch crowd are serious, hard working folk, coming in for MJ's Lunch Buffet."

Boy was she correct. By noon, the tables were full of lunch outers waiting their turn at the chow line. I think of my ex-wife here because, if she had seen the six sheriff's office employees sitting across the aisle from Dr. Jon and me, she would have wanted to know why they were all bigger than me.

102113MJbuffetPLATESince I am an eating professional, I thought it was incumbent upon me to 'fit in' so I made me a good looking plate of meat loaf, green beans, corn bread stuffing, and coleslaw -- a plate that had me smiling like a lunch time Cheshire cat.

I swear all the eyes in the diner were on me to see if I was going to get the obligatory second plate of lunch.

"So I did.'

102113MJbuffetPLATE2To be honest, I felt bad about not giving Mike and Jana's fresh fried chicken and fried pork loin serious consideration. I know I heard the lima beans and Mac & Cheese , and a very fresh-looking and tasty chopped broccoli salad in a pleading voice say, "Eat me Mikee!"

The entire lunch was exactly what this Southern boy needed in the way of deep south culinary affirmation.

I chanced upon MJ's when I met the owners Mike and Jana one afternoon in Harry's Seafood Bar and Grille.  Much to my surpise I realized that Mike Sanford, me, and Jana Sanford-Heller, my daughter weren't the only Mike and Jana's in this part of the world.

MJ's Country Cafe and Buffet is southern food and attitude personified. Gosh, GLOBers, it says so on the MJ's Country Cafe & Buffet website: "MJ's is just an extension of our home. We want our guests to feel at home here. We want to know you, visit with you, and send you away with a full belly."

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Southern Charm Kitchen

SC: Consistent, fantastic every time

By: Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

SCKsfThere is little doubt in my mind that I was born in the wrong region of the south. Yes, technically, Florida is one of the southern-most states in the U.S., but I would not consider the majority of Florida, especially the southeastern region where I grew up, to be "southern." There is a southern lifestyle I'm talking about; it is certainly found in southern states like Tennessee, Georgia, and Louisiana. I do love southern hospitality and charm, but the biggest thing I love is southern food. I cannot get enough of all types of southern food, from okra and cornbread to collard greens and fried chicken. I may even have an actual food addiction to southern biscuits.

When Southern Charm sprang to life in Gainesville, I was thrilled, yet skeptical. Despite the name and the menu, would this be an enjoyable southern food experience? I have since been a few times and I can say with confidence that southern consistency is certainly their thing: The food is fantastic every single time.

 

SC7.Dessert

My mom and her boyfriend were in Gainesville one Sunday, and I could think of nowhere better to take them than for some cozy comfort food with a twist. Southern Charm is off of Hawthorne Road, so just a few minutes drive from downtown Gainesville, which may not be particularly close for all the uptown residents. On arrival, the small building with about a dozen tables has a cozy, yet airy feel due to all the windows. This past visit there was an unfortunate dirty dish rag smell that seemed to stick to the walls and was perpetuated by a lack of air conditioning, as it was extremely warm for an indoor dining establishment. Nonetheless, I knew I was in for a memorable food experience, so it was hard to complain.

 

SCSandwich

After ordering a round of the raspberry hibiscus iced tea, which, after being diluted with some unsweetened tea, was very refreshing, and a creamy coconut mint julep, the three of us split an order of the Black-Eyed Pea Fritters. My mom is pretty picky, but even she commented how easily these fried balls of pureed black-eyed peas were quite moist and flavorful, especially when dipped in a ketchup-hot sauce mixture that gave an extra kick. My mom's boyfriend settled on the Cheatin Pig sandwich, complete with a blend of corned beef and pulled pork for a very tender BBQ creation with a pulled meat texture. The green fruit coleslaw provided a slightly refreshing contrast to the smoky, bold flavor of the BBQ sauce and was a very tasty rendition. The Sweet N Cajun Fries were heavily seasoned and I was surprised how well the sugar and spice worked together.

 

SCjohn

My mom and I decided to split the Pentacostal Fried Chicken white meat plate, $11.59 (as I have yet to dine in and not order it for myself or eat it from someone else's plate because it is that good) and also try the Hopping John entree, $8.75. Consistency is absolutely a sign of a good restaurant, and the fried chicken was just as juicy and perfectly breaded as ever. A new favorite for me is the Hopping John; after one bite I was hooked. The blend of black-eyed peas and soy bean tempeh were so ridiculously flavorful that I wish I had asked what each square of vegetarian heaven was cooked in. The tomatoes, bell peppers, and extra black-eyed peas were a great addition. Each entree also came with two sides, so I ordered my favorite cornbread with this amazing glaze that makes the bread so moist, and the okra with sherry tomatoes and bacon, which was just as tasty as ever (although I actually could have done without the bacon in it, which is an option). My mom's two sides of mac and cheese and corn succotash were actually her favorite parts of the meal, although this picky eater claimed that everything was extremely satisfying. My mom is an excellent cook, so this is quite a compliment.  Therre is a Southern Charm Kitchen menu at the restaurant weblink below.

 

SCtrio

I cannot wait to return for round two of that Hopping John, although I may still need to get my fix of Pentacostal Fried Chicken because, again, it is that good. I still have yet to try one of the cornbread waffles with chicken...I should just make a pact to eat my way through the menu. I am determined to wake up in time to enjoy a Southern Charm breakfast one Saturday or Sunday, because . . . . fried chicken AND biscuits. Need I say more?

The Pluses and Minuses of the Southern Charm Kitchen

 Southern Charm Kitchen + indicators: Friendly service, consistently tasty food, good quality, great value for large quantity of food, diverse selection with plenty of meat/vegetarian options

 Southern Charm Kitchen - indicators: Slightly out of the way location-wise, the smell and lack of AC was a bit uncomfortable

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Southern Charm Kitchen.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

SCKfishLunch

 

Lunch spot hopes to defy longevity odds

By Jon Roosenraad, GLOB Historian

EDITOR'S NOTE: Dr. Jon Roosenraad is a University of Florida Professor Emeritus of Journalism. Dr. Jon loves sports, a good cigar, and the smart economy of a cheap, tasty lunch special.

Back in the day - as in way back when - Hawthorne Road meant four likely destinations - Hawthorne, Forest Meadows Cemetery, the Suburbia Drive In (remember where the other local drive in was?) and, perhaps the best Italian food in town and worth the drive, Manaro's Italian Restaurant.

Other than that, Hawthorne Road has never had much in the way of eating places. Oh there was an In and Out (now the Crab House), and maybe count the original Skeeters that really was on East University Avenue before the road split.

SCKsfSo what is on that road now?  It still goes to Hawthorne and the cemetery is doing fine (you know what they say about death and taxes), but until about a week ago, there was no place for a good meal. But then Southern Charm Kitchen  opened with hopes of changing that.

Make sure you know what city you are in, as there are restaurants with the same name in such places as Corpus Christi, Chicago, Thomasville (GA), Lebanon (KY), and Shelby (NC). Heck there even is one in Redmond (WA)!

Located in a new structure on the north side of the road just a few blocks from the Williston/Waldo crossroad, Southern Charm has an inviting appearance and a nice down-home feel inside. Joining me was the GLOB Master Mike and former Gainesville Sun Managing Editor, Rob Oglesby. We were warmly greeted by our server Matthew as we were the first customers there at 11:30.  Make a note of that time.

The menu reflects basic Southern/soul food dishes, which again raises the question - just what is the difference between Southern food and soul food?  I considered the Primrose Inn as a Southern and Mama Lo's as a soul food lunch stop. The Southern Charm (SC) Kitchen menu listed such classics as fried catfish, smothered pork chops, meatloaf, chicken & waffles and shrimp & grits along with BBQ fish, oxtail and BBQ goat. Prices range from $9.59 to $12.50 and come with two unremarkable side dishes.  There is a link to the SC Kitchen menu below.

SCKporkChopMike was impressed with his one-inch thick pork chop (right), and my catfish (pic at top) was nice and fresh, although buried in a little too much cornmeal batter. On the light side of lunch, Rob ordered an excellent smoked SCKsoupturkey and sweet corn chowder with a side order of sweet potato hush puppies. 

Mike and I got our food 50 minutes after we arrived -- at 12:20, but the restaurant has been open only a few days and hopefully that delay will change.

Sandwiches are served with Cajun fries and the menu includes burgers (for $10.59?), fish, chicken and an unusual combination of corned beef and pulled pork. There are several vegetarian entries also.

So the questions are: Is the food really charming and can it help revive Hawthorne Road?

The food is good, make no mistake about that, but a little overpriced and definitely not worth a 50-minute wait. As Mike said afterwards, it was basic diner food.

The location? Hawthorne Road is like 13th Street, both the Northwest and Southwest versions -- not much in the way of eating places.  So history is against the Southern Charm Kitchen having much success.

Would we go there again and is it worth the drive from other parts of Gainesville? Maybe in a couple of months after a few kinks are worked out. Gainesville may have nearly 30 Mexican and Southwest places to eat, but it is real short on Southern/soul food lunch stops. Bring back the two mentioned above!

(The Gainesville Drive In was where Sam's Club is now located on NW 13th Street.)

The Pluses and Minuses of the Southern Charm Kitchen

 Southern Charm Kitchen + indicators: Classic dishes on menu, nice variety, easy to find, good parking, friendly staff.

 Southern Charm Kitchen - indicators: Slow service, somewhat overpriced.

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Southern Charm Kitchen.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

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Jones Eatery, Taiko Sol's view

Delicious, healthy food highlights Jones lunch visit

Super Yummy!

Definitely my favorite place in Gainesville to eat... or at least up there with Satchel's and Civilization. :)

A quaint & unlikely place to find such delicious and healthy comfort food. Every time we have gone in, the faces of the wait staff & cooks are familiar. It is clear from listening to the friendly chatter that fills this small place that there are "regulars" who have a great relationship with the staff, who seem to know just what they want.

My husband Paul and I went there yesterday for lunch, and he got the special: Grass-fed Buffalo Burger with Avacado & Bacon with Home Fries. It was so big that he couldn't finish it. Photo top right.

I had a little taste and the meat was so fresh - you could tell that it was grass/grain-fed.

I opted for the Chicken Pesto Panini and Salad (including arugula & spinach) with Ginger Dressing. Photo top left.

The sandwich was filled with fresh grilled chicken, roasted red & yellow peppers, basil pesto, & melted provolone with sprouts I asked them to add.

It was more food than I could... or should eat; but I ate it all anyway. It was a warm, messy and absolutely soul-warming sandwich.

After stuffing ourselves with a hearty meal we didn't have room for desert, but since theirs taste like it came from Grandma's kitchen, we got the chocolate cupcake & lemon tart to go.

We just can't go there without getting one of their deserts. SO... if you find yourself super full - just grab it to go - you will be glad you did. :)

Blue Skies & Happy Eating!.

- Taiko Sol

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Jones Eastside Eatery.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS! 

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Clock Restaurant

Liver, onions big feature at this lunch stop

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

CLOCKsf I am here to inform you that The Clock also satisfies any lunch cravings you might have for Homestyle Favorites (as it's called on their menu), including Hearty Homemade Meatloaf, Liver & Onions with Bacon(!), Grilled Pork Chops, and Spaghetti & Meatballs.

Liver and onions! I was sure that the only place I could find L&Os in GLOBland was the Picadilly Cafeteria on NW 13th St.

I had to have it. Like all the Clock's Home Style Favorites, my liver and onions was accompanied by a choice of soup or salad; potato, onion rings or rice pilaf; vegetable of the day; and a buttermilk biscuit or dinner roll. These menu items can also be found under Senior Specials at reduced prices and without the carb.

Swimming in memories of liver and onion dinners of the past while I was enjoying this nice lunch, I am sure my eyes glazed over and anyone who had noticed might have thought I was deep in thought rather than lost in nostalgia.

The Clock is a special place if you are into memories, times gone by such as the experience of how lunch used to served. Nothing fancy here. You will find friendly servers who I found were calling many of their customers by their first name.

This old fashioned lunch stop has it all. This could be why they call this place Clock Family Restaurants – something for anyone at anytime. That means breakfast all day, including Belgian waffles or steak and eggs because sometimes you just gotta have breakfast for lunch.

I don't think the Clock is trying to be a five star restaurant. I do know this long-time, established restaurant has a lot of faithful followers for a number of reasons -- like a complete separate section of senior specials for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; basic meals like chopped sirloin steak, meatloaf, seafood, country fried steak and "Classic Steaks"; and, more to the point here, a substantial list of various burgers, salads, regular sandwiches, open faced sandwiches, melts, and soup. Plus, might I suggest you give the liver and onions a try?  This old fashioned restaurant deserved a try if home sttye cooking is on your lunch agenda.

As my cardiologist would tell me, "Mike, all of these dishes are loaded with cholesterol," or as I like to call it, heart stopping good.

The Pluses and Minuses of The Clock Restaurant:

The Clock's (+) indicators: A nice trip into a time forgotten for a unique, tasty homestyle lunch. After four or five visits I bet they know your name.

The Clock's (-) indicators: Nothing fancy here if you are into ambience, designer food, or notoriety this might not be the place for you.

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about the Clock restaurant. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

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ROAD TRIP: Pearl Country Store BBQ

Comments, BBQ compels GLOB to Micanopy

By Bubba Scott, GLOB Correspondent

Editors Note: Farmer Bubba Scott is a container vegetable farmer. To help support the farm, he is a P.H.D., Professional Home Developer, AKA The House Doctor.

After receiving several comments about how good the barbecue is at Pearl Country Store and Barbecue in Micanopy on US 441, GLOB Editor Mike Sanford and I decided to visit Micanopy and see for ourselves how good this 'cued meat really is.

Our journey took us to Pearl's in front of a looming rain storm as we discussed what exactly makes good BBQ. I explained to Mike it's plain and simple: Good BBQ is meat cooked on an open pit without the sauce. If you have to add sauce to make it moist or kill the taste, it's not BBQ.

 

PearlesDiningPearl's brings back memories of country stores from the last generation. The dining area in this 'one stop buys everything' store is in the back of the shopping area with neat and tidy tables. There is also a great looking wooden lunch counter that allows excellent conversation on any topic you want to bring up with anyone who will listen. We made the conversation about how a seasoned pit master creates BBQ.

Of course we chose the counter, which gives a great view of food in motion. Prep Cook, Pit Boss Lee White was working on the next day's cooking, which starts for him around 4:00 in the morning. Pit Bull (not the dog) Sharon Hope, the cook, was busy preparing the lunch items for the day's meals, and Sharon the Pit Server made sure we were happy with our lunch.

GLOBers are correct--this is excellent barbecue.

I wanted to give their 'cue a fair assessment so I asked for a sample of what they have for lunch everyday. I'm feeling very smart because I was rewarded with an amazing array of tasty 'cue meat products.

 

PsRIBS

Pearl's served me up some excellent tender, moist, and very tasty ribs. On the side of the ribs I found a nice surprise in the pulled chicken and very good beef brisket piled high begging for barbecue sauce to join their party.

While enjoying my lunch I noticed Sharon putting a now ready-to-eat brisket into the cooler for later. I should've taken that home with me. Pit Boss Lee said Pearl's would be happy to cook your 'cue meat for you, along with their daily meat products, for a small fee.

 

PearlsBeansExcellent baked beans and creamy, sharp flavored mac 'n cheese rounded out a pefect barbecue lunch. A very special thank you to Janet Tibbits (photo at top), our most knowledgeable server with a very friendly demeanor.

THIS ROAD TRIP WAS AN EXCELLENT IDEA!

Pearl's has been in business since 2001 and is owned by David and Peggy Carr. If you want to experience good BBQ in a country setting, Pearl Country Store and Barbecue is the place to go. This is real pit BBQ. Not only does Pearl's have great BBQ, but also the atmosphere of a country store and friendly service makes a repeat trip a must.

See you there!

The Pluses and Minuses of Pearl's Country Store and BBQ:

Pearl's Country Store and BBQ + indicators: Authentic, home style, very tasty BBQ in a good 'ol country store setting.

Pearl's Country Store and BBQ - indicators: none noted. I'm going back!

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Pearl's Country Store & Barbecue. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

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Country Foodly

Korea, America mix in a foodly way

By James Michael Polk, GLOB Guest Contributor

EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks to James for supplying GLOBers with his opinion on the lunch fare at Country Foodly.

CfoodlySFOne of my favorite things about eating out is trying a new place and, by the end of the meal, realizing that I have a new favorite restaurant. This happened to me recently when my wife and I parked in a strip mall on 34th St. just across from the YMCA. We were in search of a new brunch spot, so after a little research we decided on Country Foodly. This gem is nestled between a dry cleaner and a salon product store. You probably have driven by it a hundred times, which means you've been missing out. I learned that just like its unique name, Country Foodly serves some unique and delicious fare.

KFbulgogiOmelet

It was a little after 1 pm, about an hour before they closed, when we pulled into the parking lot. We sat at one of the booths and looked over the menu. One thing was very clear: This restaurant was having an identity crisis. Side by side with typical diner style breakfast and lunch dishes were a number of Korean inspired meals. Country fried steak shared the same page as a beef bulgogi omelet?!

CfoodlyRAMENMy mind swirled with possibilities. Which style should I choose? Should I get breakfast or lunch? After much internal debating, two contestants emerged from a slurry of corned beef hash, fried dumplings, and korean tacos (all menu items). It was between the gourmet Korean Shin Ramen and one of my all-time weaknesses, chicken and waffles. Who am I kidding? It wasn't a hard call. I went with the chicken and waffles. Fortunately, my wife got the Shin Ramen (right).  There is a complete Country Foodly menu at the restaurant link below this feature.

While we waited for our food, I took a better look around the room. Booths ringed the entire dining area, and the center was taken up with a table big enough to seat 24 people. The decor was "HomeGoods" kitsch, but not over the top, and a windo in the back wall gave us a view of the cooks making orders as they came in. I noticed that the walls were adorned with pictures of the food they served. Also, the noise volume wasn't overly loud, and my wife and I could converse without a problem. The waitress checked in regularly to fill our drinks, and in quick order our meals were served.

CFoodlyWAFFLESbThe portion size for my chicken and waffles was impressive to say the least (pic at top). The waffle was practically the size of the plate! Two pieces of perfectly golden fried boneless chicken breasts sat atop it, and a sweet smelling, honey-colored gravy was drizzled over the top. The first bite was spectacular. The chicken was crispy on the outside and juicy and moist on the inside. From the taste I would guess that it was hand battered. The crust was slightly airy, with mouth watering spices mixed in. The fresh made waffle complemented the chicken nicely. Light, fluffy with a good crunch on the outside. While eating I found the honey-colored gravy tasted of honey mustard. Strange, but it worked well!

I was able to steal a bite of the ramen from my wife to see how they fared with the Korean side of their menu. That one bite made me reconsider everything I thought about ramen being only a college dorm room dish. Fresh broccoli and spinach floated in a warm spicy broth supported by a cleaner tasting version of the grocery store ramen noodle. It was so good, I tried to duplicate it with partial success for dinner the rest of the week.

Overall, Country Foodly impressed me. I couldn't think of two food types that would be more opposite, but the Korean and diner foods cohabited the restaurant like roommates that were old friends. I look forward to returning and trying their Korean tacos, or corned beef hash, or maybe get a bowl of the shin ramen for myself........

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Country Foodly.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

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