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Restaurant lunch highlights:

To get directions enter your address and right click on the desired marker.

Applebee's Grill & Bar, Newberry Rd.

Applebee's opens 2nd location on Newberry Rd.

FOLLOW THIS LINK for  a Gainesville Lunch Out Blog Applebee's Gril & Bar review.

May 4, 2015 - Applebee's Gril & Bar has branced out with a new lunch stop heading West on Newberry rd. just past Iintersate 75.   With eight new entrees, and a completely new Bar Menu touting 19 news appetizxers, this big box lunch stop is serious about being your mid-day meal house.  FOLLOW THIS LINK for more Applebee's information.

 

The Pluses and Minuses of Applebee's Grill & Bar:

The Applebee's Grill & Bar + indicators:

The Applebee's Grill & Bar -

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Applebee's Grill & Bar. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

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Fork & Pasta: CLOSED, July, 2017

Fresh pasta every way you can imagine

By Mike sanford, GLOB Editor,  and Lynn Dirk, GLOB Content Editor

ForkPastaSFThe Fork & Pasta Simple & Fresh is spinning out Italian cuisine into a lunch line of 5 pastas, 6 sauces, 6 cheeses, 4 meats, and 6 vegetables ingredients.  By my calculation that's more than 5000 possible combinations of pasta (can some math major check that for me?).  Momma Mia!  Not that simple.

FPmenuNestled into the corner of the Robert's Stadium Club apartments across the street from St. Augustine Catholic Church, Fork & Pasta is spooning a have-it-your-way, fast-casual sauce on an Italian classic.

The GLOB Master was excited about the choosing a sauce for his paisano lunch. Many of these sauces might be available in other Italian restaurants, but no one ever told this good 'ol Southern boy there are so many options for what you can ladle onto your noodles. And since I am playing stupid today, you might as well know it never occurred to me that noodles could have different shapes.  As far as I ever knew, it was spaghetti or noodles.

 

ForkPastaTEAMaFinally, gosh Pee-Wee! How smart is it that you can select different ingredients to be added to your pasta as if it were a pizza?  

It was an exciting start for this GLOBer, feeling very much like a newbie lunch outer heading into a strange Frederico Fellini-like scene of odd shapes and new flavor combinations.  Kudos to owners Jonathan Hazan (in the middle at right) and Jennifer Kaiden (far right) for the, big, bold, dramatic images lining the wall of this relatively small dining room. The clean lines of the abstract artwork give a feeling of closeness in the dining room while, at the same time, the large windows make it feel spacious.

 

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Gainesville Lunch Out Blog Content Editor Lynn Dirk and I decided to share a F&P Mediterranean Salad that was very good and topped with a small portion of pasta, large pieces of shaved mozzarella cheese, and tart house dressing.  More kudos to Jonathan and Jennifer for getting their bread from Gainesville's Flour Pot Bakery.  The fresh baguettes of Italian bread were so delicious I was compelled to ask for more.

We were then ready to give this fresh made pasta a try and were excited about trying the Sweet Potato & Goat Cheese Ravioli, only like on the Jerry Seinfeld show, there was no ravioli for us this day.

 

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Captain Dirk opted for the Classic Rose Sauce on Fettucine with Baked Eggplant, Roasted Zucchini, and Carmelized Onions.  

 

FPflowerBoxALynn thought her homemade pasta did indeed taste very fresh and she's a dried pasta officianado. We were both somewhat surprised at the dicing and mincing of the ingredients, which made it difficult to recognize in the entrée. F&P owner Jonathan came by our table to inquire about our lunch. When Lynn mentioned the 'scrimping' of ingredients, he said he was catering to the college customers across the street.

 

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For my Italian have-it-my-way lunch I selected the Dreamy Cream Sauce with multiple Italian spices including garlic, and oregano, on radiatore pasta.  I included prosciutto ham as an additional ingredient. Unfortunately, like Lynn's ingredients, the special think sliced ham was cut into very tiny pieces. Being a large GLOB Master with a large mouth and used to taking large bites, at 75 cents an ingredient topping, I would have enjoyed more 'flavor bang" for my three quarters of a dollar.  Also, radiatore is very dense.  Neither Lynn or I would get that one again.

 

ForkPastaArIimageThere is a complete Fork and Pasta menu at the restaurant link below.

Overall, we had a good lunch experience. The Fork & Pasta will do well in the middle of Midtown. I am going back for a different noodle and sauce lunch. I liked the way F&P Staffer Chris Robles (left in image at top) made the dining room comfortable. The art, plants, symmetry of the design enhanced the ambience and the tables actually have quotes on them, all giving me much to think about while waiting for my lunch.

Plus, I still have the homemade ravioli to look forward too.

The Pluses and Minuses of Fork & Pasta

Fork & Pasta + indicators : Sauce choices availability a nice change

Fork & Pasta - indicators:  Could be a little more generous with added ingredients.

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

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Sal's Place Sports Bar & Billiards

Breaking my food rules, and liking it

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

SalsSFTalking about a perfect Saturday for lunch. I woke up with excellent blood sugar numbers in the range a non-diabetic person would be happy with. The Florida gator basketball team was playing a mid-day game on television, and I decided to walk to Sal's Place just off of NW 39th Ave. to catch the game with lunch and get my exercise miles in at the same time.

Back in the day I usually plugged in some headphones and listened to my current favorite tunes as I walk. 30 minutes out, 30 minutes back was my rule for a good hour of calorie burning.

These days walking is where I do my best thinking, and lunch at Sal's place had my brain working out in high gear:

This is amazing February weather. Not a cloud in the sky... and a strong wind in my face walking down 43rd St. What a warm Saturday morning for mid-winter.

I think I will take the long way home after lunch to maximize a good hour of blood sugar reduction.
Ya know, with such good BS numbers and exercise today, maybe I will treat myself to hamburger and fries at Sal's Place.

I deserve it!

Yeah, a hamburger bun. Picking up a sandwich and eating it with two hands.

FRENCH FRIES! Me, eating potatoes, no one watching me, without guilt about 'breaking the rules."

Those Sal's big, fat, French Fries I saw the last time I was there looked really good . . . .

Sal's is a sports bar. A zillion TVs, pool tables, children happily allowed.

Interesting how sports bars have become the acceptable, Americanized family pub experience.

I noticed before they had an inviting, friendly looking bar.

The bar is the place to sit.

Nothing in front of me but food, and a television screen. . .

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There were a few people already in position for the Florida Gator basketball game. But I did have my choice of perfect bar seating.

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The Sal's bar is comfortable and seats a lot of sports fans. The spacious dining area is broken into two areas and can easily handle large groups and private, intimate lunch meetings. Sal is a working kind of guy generally spending a lot of time in the kitchen. He does make time to come out and to check on customers and to talk food.

This is a sports bar where appetizers are in a large demand, and Sal has them all including oysters, alligator, poppers, quesadillas, mountains of French fries, nachos, and giant chicken wings served in 13 varieties including hot garlic, sweet Thai, and dry rubbed.

You will find 10 different hot sandwiches available including a Southern po' boy, a pan fried Italian sausage on a torpedo roll, and a blackened prime rib sandwich.

There are five different salads on the menu and a Soup and Salad Bar is available. Be sure to check the menu for salad bar rules, regulations.

There are four burgers on the Sal's menu including the Sal's House Burger, the Tex Mex burger with fried banana peppers, and the Mario Veggie Burger with a Portobello mushroom cap and a balsamic reduction. Sal will be happy to create you a custom hamburger at your request.

 

SalsBURGER

My lunch selection was the Black & Bleu burger that included bleu cheese, fried onion straws, lettuce, tomatoes, and the Sal's Secret Sauce that I found to be really close to a Thousand Island dressing.

The hamburger was delicious. With a plump hamburger patty very juicy and adding an additional carnivore-like flavor to this two-handed lunch time joy. The crisp lettuce and juicy tomato complemented the crisp fried onions. I savored, gleefully enjoyed every bite of my hamburger. Then my lunch time culinary experience WITHOUT constraints struck me like a ton of all beef patties:

THE GLOBE MASTER WAS EATING A HAMBURGER LIKE REGULAR PEOPLE!

The thick, cooked perfectly-to-a-golden-brown French fries were the coup d'etat to my DBOL ( Diabetes Break Out Lunch.)

I picked up on my pace on what became my 40-minute walk back home.

That was a really good hamburger.

Who would think eating a hamburger and fried potatoes would be so monumental.

SUCCESS! My lunch only bumped my blood sugar up 38 points

Let's see, I walked for an hour, spent 30 minutes eating my hamburger, and sat and watched the Gators for two hours.

I spent three hours on a hamburger lunch . . . ? ! ?! FYI GLOBers, I LIVE my diabetes EVERY DAY.

The Pluses and Minuses of Sal's Place Sprts Bar & Billiards

Chomps Sports Grill + indicators : Sal's Place has the ambience of a great sports bar convenient to the NW 39th Ave neighborhoods. The food was good..

Chomps Sports Grill - indicators:  The family-style sports fanatic pub crawlers are an interesting sort . . .

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

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Francesca's Trattoria

Style, class, really good homemade sausage

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

FrancescasWINEglassIn the GLOB Master's opinion, Francesca's Trattoria, off of NW 43rd St., is one of the nicer lunch stops in the Urban GLOB. Five star style, attentive servers, fresh made and home style fabulously delicious Italian cuisine:

STYLE: As the doors open into Francesca's, you are swept into a world of white table cloths, cloth napkins, and water in glass stemware that has me thinking, "I'm not in Gainesville anymore."

PROFESSIONAL SERVICE/ATTENTION: The quick-to-attend-to-your-needs wait staff is always smiling, ready to make your lunch special.

JUST LIKE MOMMA'S: With homemade sauces, breads, and incredible sausage, the Francesca's kitchen staffers works make the lunch hour a piesano, Italian-style, homemade experience.

Do I sound excited about having lunch with good friend and SweetBerries Eatery and Frozen Custard co-owner, Jane Osmond, and GLOB Content Editor, Lynn Dirk?

I was excited even though I'm not the biggest fan of Italian cuisine. When the idea of pasta, marinara sauce, and parmesan cheese comes up in relation to lunch, I always remind myself that there are a lot of Italian dishes that don't include pasta and tomato sauce.

The Francesca's lunch menu lists salads, paninis, pasta, and specialties. There is even a lunch Wine Special of a glass of Chardonnay, Cabernet or Chianti for $5. There is a note on the summer menu that you can get 15% off individual carryout orders, which expires 9-30-17. There is a lunch menu link at the bottom of this page.

Jane and Lynn were both considering sandwiches with Francesca's home baked bread that had me pining for the good ol' days of eating all the bread I wanted.:(  The Francesca's lunch paninis are served on artisan bread with a choice of Italian fries, homemade soup, or salad.

 

FranscescasJANE480

Jane quickly selected the Panini Caprese for her Italian mid-day meal. This veggie sandwich sounded exquisite being served toasted with melted buffalo mozzarella, local vine-ripened tomatoes, and fresh basil leaves ($10.25).

 

FranscescSAMMYflopped

Captain Dirk went the route of the Francesca's Sausage Parmesan Panini with homemade sausage baked with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella ($10.50). I suggest you be sure to add grilled onions and peppers to your sub for $2 to make it special.

Francesca's homemade sausage is unique with a generous addition of fennel and when I got to taste some of Lynn's sandwich, it elicited memories of the last time I enjoyed this most excellent, glorious homemade bread submarine sandwich.

 

FranscescasPESTO600

The Pesto Grilled Chicken was my red sauce- and pasta-less lunch. The chicken breast was tasty and special being grilled and treated with basil, pine nut, Parmesan cheese, and extra virgin olive oil pesto. My lunch was served with a side of sautéed seasonal vegetables ($13,95).

The flavors of the chicken breast seasoning were bold and rich. I was pleased the chef had not gone the current route of bigger portions are better portions. My lunch portion was the perfect size for this used-to-be extra-large all-you- can eat diner.

Lynn enjoyed her sausage sub and side salad, which was a very generous portion. She was surprised that the sausage was very soft and it reminded her of meatloaf, which she loves.

"You have taken this new diabetes diet seriously haven't you," Jane said noticing the left over sausage sandwich bread on my plate.

"It's been 13 months since my diagnosis," I said thinking about the question.

"Any more, ignoring all the amazingly tasty carbohydrates every day is almost automatic. It is longingly painful at times and I do feel like a food martyr wondering if it's better to be the food hammer or the noodle nail."

The Pluses and Minuses of Francesca's Trattoria:

The Francesca's + Indicators: Very special lunch ambience, they serve brunch on weekends, authentic Italian cuisine.

The Francesca's - Indicators: A lbit pricey for an everyday lunch

 

 

FrancescasTOPPer

Panini featured in fine dining lunch

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

FrancescasI just had a Northern Italy home cooked lunch of a sausage, peppers and onion panini made with homemade ciabatta bread, homemade tomato sauce with tons of halved cherry tomatoes, and some of the best Italian sausage packed with spicy fennel seed I have ever eaten.

This five-star sandwich wasn't served to me on plastic plates or wrapped in paper with somefranchise logo stamped all over it.

I was enjoying my lunch time surprise at the fine dining restaurant Francesca's Trattoria off of NW 43rd St, behind the Zaxby's fried chicken shack.

Excuse me for sounding excited, but this lunch was unexpectedly remarkable.  Plus they have an unbelievable Sunday Brunch!

 

FransDiningRoom

Walking into Francesca's from the noon day heat, I was pleased with the subdued setting that lay before me. The darker than normal lighting combined with rows of tastefully appointed tables ready for lunch time guests and with starched yellow tables cloths and burgundy napkins. The several rows of geometrically aligned dining tables in front of me gave the impression of lunch time elegance.

My friendly waiter expertly assisted me with my lunch time dilemma of whether I should have the lasagna or the sausage panini. A knowing glance from my server made it clear that the panini was the better choice. And was he ever correct.

The Francesca's Trattoria lunch special is a free salad included with any Panini sandwich choice. I chose the house salad of mixed greens lightly tossed with tomatoes, olives, red onions, and pepperoncini and a side of creamy Italian dressing. The salad delivered an excellent assortment of flavors and textures.

 

FransPaniniA

My panini was served in halves with tomato sauce, peppers, onions and sausage overflowing the sides of very softly toasted, freshly baked ciabatta. After picking up this juicy, fennel-laden sausage concoction, I realized that eating an open face approach was a better idea if I didn't want to wear tomato sauce the remainder of the day.

The abundance of flavors heightened by perfect amounts of spices in my sausage sandwich made me eat slower than usual so I could enjoy this culinary experience to the max.

Francesca's Italian sausage is the best sausage I have eaten in quite some time.

There isn't a lot of heat in this protein. However, with the dominant presence of fennel seed, I wanted to eat more, and more, and more of this delightful other white meat.

Did I say this was an excellent lunch?

I'm going back to Francesca's Trattoria soon. I make an excellent lasagna that includes sausage and ground beef. I'm eager to try FT's lasagna and see how it compares with mine.

Francesca's also has a brick oven pizza that I plan to try.

So let's see. I invite two friends for lunch and I order the lasagna. I talk my two friends into ordering pizza and a Sausage sandwich. Then we can have a sharing party.

Yeah, that's the ticket. Paninis, pizzas, and lasagna for lunch. That sounds like an extended lunch hour that will be elegant and remarkable.

The Pluses and Minuses of Francesca's Trattoria:

The Francesca's + Indicators: Five star lunch with authentic homemade ingredients

The Francesca's - Indicators: A little pricier than some places, but worth every penny of your lunch money.

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

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Blue Gill Quality Food

'Old Florida Café' perfect afternoon interlude

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

KSmeSMOOCHMy friendship with UF/Shands Research Coordinator, Ms. Kristina Steinfeldt, has pleasantly opened a lot of doors for the GLOB Master in the areas of the arts and entertainment. Kristina is a big music lover with a Texas flavor and we have spent many conversations on the topic of Joe Ely, Robert Earle Keen, and Lucinda Williams.

An interesting benefit for me is I have had the pleasure of Ms. Steinfeldt's lunch time company in places in Southwest Gainesville that have been off the GLOB Master's radar screen.

Blue Gill's Quality Food is one of those places. I was excited waiting for Kristina in the Shands lobby seriously thinking about a BG Fried Pig Sandwich and the gooey, cheesy pleasure awaiting there.

 

BlueGillSF

It was a good, quick walk to lunch in spite of all the hospital construction work, noise, and pedestrian barricades positioned between us and the SW 13th St. building that housed our destination. The good news is we made it safely around they obstacles.

Entering the dimly lit café absent the loud, abrasive tractor, loader, heavy equipment noises was a wonderful, immediate confirmation of our intentions for a good lunch and even better conversation.

Many of the Blue Gill favorites were still on the lunch menu from past visits including the Tuna Melt ($8.00), Club Sandwich ($9.00), and the yummy sounding B.L.T.P. ($7.50). The B.L.T.P. is all about bacon, lettuce, tomato, and pimento on whole wheat. Come on GLOBers. You have to smile, smack your lips about any sammie with a dose of pimento cheese.

An interesting new entree that caught my attention was the Country Fried Chicken Sandwich with a saltine crusted chicken breast and a side item ($8.00).

Sandwiches and tacos at Blue Gills are served with sides of homemade potato chips or house salad.

There is a complete Blue Gills menu below for your eatification.

 

BGQFlogo

The Blue Gill's Quality Seafood Fried Pig Sandwich was no longer on the menu.

Now don't get me wrong. I was excited about lunch with Kristina. Perhaps I was a little overboard in my adjective-filled description of what I was thinking was one of the better sandwiches I have ever eaten.

 

BGflaFINAL

I must admit a slight frown covered my face when the server very nicely said, "That sandwich has been replaced with the Country Fried Chicken Sandwich which is really good," with a re-assuring smile.

"It all looks good GLOB Master, and I'm not really that hungry," Kristina interjected.

I seem to be fixating on giant portion entrée sizes these days so rather than planning to take leftovers home we decide to share the Country Fried Chicken Sandwich entrée.

 

potatoCHIPS

"Will you be adding homemade potato chips to your lunch," The server asked with a knowing smile.

I looked at Kristina. She looked back at me with a blank, indifferent look to what sounded like prized lunch time delicacies.

"I think we will go with the side salad,' I said wistfully dreaming of crisp, golden brown, deep fried potatoes I no longer get to enjoy.

I like this SW 13th St. Café. I grew up in Brevard county not far from U.S. Highway #1 and Chef Bert Gill has done a excellent job of insinuating memories of old Florida highways going south all the way to the tropical palm trees, old Florida orange crates, and mason jar drink glasses.

 

BertGill480

Thanks to the impeccable service I have come to expect at a Bert Gill restaurant, our shared chicken sandwich was halved and presented very nicely to Kristina and me.

 

KSsandwich480

The chicken was fried perfectly. The white meat was juicy and tender with a ton of flavor. The saltines added an interesting crumble texture that created a crunch.

The tart, crisp, flavors of the house side salad with pickled onions, cucumbers, carrots and greens were a perfect, light complement to the fried chicken.

The company was fantastic. The setting was very special to this old born and bred Floridian. I could have easily spent the entire afternoon in Blue Gill's Quality Café enjoying the company, reminiscing about the good old days, and contemplating a fried pig sandwich never to be seen, eaten again.

The Pluses and Minuses of Blue Gill Quality Food:

Blue Gill Quality Food (+) indicators: Excellent lunch! Saltine fried chicken coating is a unique idea. pickled onions made hte salad.

Blue Gill Quality Food (-) indicators: Construction work around Shands hopsital is getting very old . . .

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

 

TABLEtopper

'Foodie' GLOBers rejoice in holiday dinner

By Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

BlueGillSFGLOB gatherings are the perfect opportunity to talk shop and catch-up on the happenings of fellow staffers. I look forward to the periodic meet-ups and the prospect of dining out and enjoying each other's food, er, company. I will admit, half the fun of GLOB dinners is the communal dining experience. Even new GLOBer, Michelle Cardel, PhD, RD, right in image below, who we are pleased to welcome onto the GLOB team to contribute a regular nutrition column, says she will try just about anything. It seemed like Michelle would be a seamless fit to our food-happy bunch.

 

GIRLSphones

Speaking of food-happy people, it truly is amazing how food can be discussed in such depth, critiqued, and picked apart, literally and figuratively. You know who those people are because when they get around food of all kinds, they won't shut up about it (in the best way of course). When it comes to food-happy folks talking about really great food, brace yourself for a whirlwind of elaborate sighs and an endless stream of alluring adjectives.

 

CHOPSburger

To my delight, Blue Gill (BG) Quality Foods was the chosen spot for a GLOB get-together before the holidays, and for a few members to meet Michelle. In a previous GLOB article, I gave the BG burger a slot on my top-five Burgers in Gainesville list. To that I add that I have nothing negative to say about any of BG's other menu items either. The best part is that, despite each dish being of such consistent high quality, every menu item, including the items on the constantly-rotating specials board, sounds so great, I try something new every time I dine in there. Luckily, with four food enthusiasts looking to sample as many different things as possible comes four different opportunities for tasting.

 

BURGER

I must have gushed about the Blue Gill Burger, $10.25, for so long that Michelle felt obligated to order it. I didn't fight her. For those who have never had this delectable creation, a marriage of pork and beef in a juicy, thick patty that rests on a soft bun smothered with pimento cheese. Of course, what is a burger without a little bacon? Not a single bite was left on anyone's plates, and I was informed that I didn't oversell it.

 

CHOP

Mike had his heart set on a meat-lover's dish fit for a die-hard carnivore, so he landed on the pork chop special. This bone-in chop would have been a substantial size for one person and easily shareable. To our delight, The GLOB Master was happy to share -- the chop was lightly breaded with the chestnut-laden brown sauce, which was very satisfying. The true star on that plate, though, was the whipped, smooth-as-silk sweet potatoes that, given the chance, the lot of us would have licked the plate clean for.

 

FriedChicken

GLOB Content Editor Lynn Dirk was leaning toward a vegetarian dish, the Fiesta Mac and Cheese, until she happened to mention the Pork Rind Fried Chicken, $15, under the "Bird" section of the menu, and the rest of us insisted on ordering such a masterful-sounding creation. I was sold on its Southern-style sides, which I am always partial to in any setting – cornbread, collards, and mac and cheese are all golden in my book. Blue Gill did an exceptional job executing all three, actually. I was particularly glad the mac wasn't swimming in a cheap-tasting cheese concoction, but seemed to be baked with higher quality cheese. I could eat cornbread by the loaf, so I was in a love-hate relationship with the cornbread, which is one of the better versions in Hogtown. All sides aside, the chicken was cooked to perfection. As strong a statement as that is, I cannot get over the crispiness of the fried coating. It was so good I couldn't stop devouring it, especially when dipped in the most addicting honey mustard-esque sauce. Who would have known pork rinds make the most sinfully amazing crumb coating for chicken?

 

Grouper

My meal addition to round out the array of dishes was fish: the grouper special, $27, and was the unanimous choice. Compared with the other outstanding dishes, it paled a little in comparison. It was prepared very well, though, and the veggies with butternut squash risotto were very tasty, but I think everyone agreed the fried chicken and burger were the winners. Considering the cost difference between the burger and the fish entrée, that also speaks volumes.

 

Dessert

If for some reason you have another stomach reserved for dessert, as I do, the rotating dessert specials at Blue Gill are not to be missed. From fried pie to ice cream made in house, any choice is a sinfully decadent one. The four of us split one generously-sized slab of cheesecake that night, and let's just say we were glad we didn't order any more considering the number of entrees we had already devoured. It had a great balance of that density from the cream cheese while still having that whipped texture. Mike and Michelle used it as an opportunity to compare their respective cheesecake recipes, so I am hoping more cheesecake will be in our future very soon.

 

TEANphoto

GLOB Staffer selfie shows off their holiday gift clocks,
from left Mike Sanford, Lynn Dirk, Melissa Kahan, Michelle Cardel

There was nary a bite consumed between the four of us that didn't merit a "yum" or "mmmm" reaction. You would think with everyone ravenously devouring each morsel of food that there would be a silence that would fall over the table. It was quite the opposite: We all could not commenting on how great everything tasted and reiterating our favorites. For any non-enthusiast, we all might have sounded like we had too much good food and it went to our heads. Blue Gill is one of my favorite local spots not only because of the quality and consistency, but it doesn't try to be something it's not, and it excels at what it does. There doesn't need to be a fancy gastrique or impressively expensive exotic ingredients to make a memorable dish. Everything Blue Gill did, they did it right, and I was happy to share the experience with my band of food-happy GLOBers.

The Pluses and Minuses of Blue Gill Quality Food:

Blue Gill Quality Food (+) indicators: Consistent quality; good price for value; varied menu options; extremely tasty; sizeable portions; always friendly staff; excellent cocktails 

Blue Gill Quality Food (-) indicators: That they only serve biscuits on Sundays

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

 

BGtopperJUNE2014

A couple of months ago, I created my GLOB best burger list with five of Gainesville's best burger choices, from the quality patties at Copper Monkey to the late night, greasy creations at Relish. However, upon a recent visit to Blue Gill, I feel it would be an injustice not to amend my best burger list and include the Blue Gill Quality Food Burger.

Complete with ground beef AND shredded pork, all melded into one succulent, thick patty, this burger was enjoyable from first to last bite. Perhaps it was the pimento cheese sauce smothered over the delicious patty, or perhaps it was the perfectly-crisped bacon that rested atop it, but I cannot even describe the enjoyment I had eating that burger. Admittedly, I did have great company, which always enhances a dining out experience. Further contributing to my enjoyment of the burger, however, was the lack of onion as a burger topping – it only including tomato and lettuce, which is exactly how I like my burgers. It seemed that this burger was made for me.

The side salad, also, was extremely enjoyable, as it was the same one served at another favored burger joint that did make the best burger list, New Deal Café. I just felt it would be a tragedy to not include a burger that truly merits a top five Gainesville burger spot. If you dine in at this establishment, it seems tempting to go for one of their seafood specials, which are very good as well, but the burger, for under $10, is an amazing meal choice.

- Melissa Kahan

Cafe takes lunch to another dimension

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor  

So let me get this right. I am sitting in a parking garage on SW 13th St. I feel like I'm sitting an in old Florida diner over on US Highway 1 just off of the Indian River in a grove of orange trees. There is a Stuckey's-like Florida map painted on the wall. Looking out the front window of this café, cars are racing by in both directions, going north and south, oblivious to me and my lunch time diversion.

BlueGillSFI grew up in Brevard County just off US Highway 1. Seeing the old-time tourist map of Florida on Blue Gill's wall and the menu with items like boiled peanuts, pimento cheese sandwiches, corn fritters, and sardines quickly sent me to another dimension.

In reality I am sitting in the cool, relaxed confines of Blue Gill Quality Foods in the new Shands parking garage on SW 13th St., and I am munching down on a most excellent ham and turkey club sandwich.

Excuse the big word but this is quite a juxtaposition. Me sitting in a parking garage on SW 13th St. imagining I am lunching in a quaint, old style, Florida diner with breezes blowing and a river flowing by.

BlueGwindowBlue Gill Chef/Owner Bert Gill has that lunch time warp working here in BGQF. I was making my first trip to Blue Gill's with lunch partner, and VA Hospital staffer, Lynn Dirk, eager to find out if this lunch spot had enough intrigue, ambience, pizzazz to lure the multitude of health center employees outside their medicinal confines for a little lunch, relaxation and decompression in an alternative dimension to their work world.

I think Blue Gill's is going to work. The Chef has created a lunch menu of snacks, seafood, sandwiches, and salad entrees that should bring health center GLOBers back for second and third visits.

Quality Food is the perfect moniker for this diner, er, uh, restaurant. Chef Gil knows what's cooking in the kitchen, and it's great lunch choices.

The Blue Gill menu includes a wide spectrum of lunch options from fried fish to sloppy Joe tempeh. You can check the BGQF menu at the restaurant link below this feature.

If you noticed the pimento cheese feature story on the GLOB's home page today, you will know pimento cheese is chefs' designer food' for the month of July.

A GLOBer needs to try the Blue Gil pimento cheese sandwich and report back on how it compares to your momma's PC sandwich.

BlueGtomatosLynn and I took the sharing route for lunch. Lynn chose the Fried Green Tomatoes and I picked the Blue Gill Club Sandwich. The fried tomatoes were prepared just right. Large slices of tomato battered and deep fried in Panko bread crumbs creating a very crisp, crusty shell that housed a juicy, flavorful, thick slice of green tomato. The thin crust was fried just right and didn't over power the tomato inside.

This appetizer was perfect for the two of us to share. I will do a Food Network Chopped judge imitation here: "The fried green tomato was excellently prepared and very well thought out. However I was disappointed that I didn't get any of the smoked bacon dressing mentioned on the menu."

The tomatoes would have been the lunch winner with the dressing. But Lynn and I didn't notice the dressing was essentially missing until the dish was almost gone, so it was still good if incomplete.

BlueGsandwichThe smoked turkey, ham and cheddar club sandwich on whole wheat bread was the grand prize winner. This sandwich also sent me to another place and time where sandwiches are always made with thick slices of bread enveloping layers of bountiful ingredients waiting to make your mouth smile.

My sandwich included a side order of homemade potato chips. These fried potato delights were crisp, crunchy perfections loaded with potato flavor.

My club sandwich was stacked high with thinly sliced ham and large chunks of white turkey breast melded together with slices of white cheddar cheese. Each sandwich ingredient held its own in the melting pot of taste in my mouth. This club sandwich was an excellent lunch entrée that was also large enough to share.

I can see Blue Gill Quality Food acquiring a nice list of lunch time regulars. The unique and convenient location to the G'ville medical world will create a whole new group of lunchouters seeking this new dimension of good food in a place that will seem much further away than a 10-minute walk.

BLUEgillTOPPERaprilGIF

The sparse, South Florida-accented space with pieces of fruit crates, tin roofs, and unfinished wood framing inside Blue Gill's Quality Food always takes me back to several of the Dixie Highway diners of days gone by. That said, I have never experienced a sandwich like the Fried Pig smothered in cheese that Blue Gill serves. I admit the idea fried pig gave me cause to pause. And my only question when it appeared on the table in front of me was if the sandwich was of the open BlueG1face variety. The waitress said it wasn't. My thought was, no matter what she said, I wasn't about to wear that cheese sauce the rest of the day. I think I say "This is the best" a lot. So let me say the deep fried, thick chunks of . . . pig coated in a very crunchy crust and THEN immersed in a glorious cheddar cheese sauce made for a prize winning-sandwich. The portion was big enough to share. For the record, I will never be sharing my BG's Fried Pig Sandwich. You can order chips or a salad with the sandwich. Need more convincing? The fried pig sandwich is the cheapest sandwich on the Blue Gill lunch menu. I'm going back for another pig sandwich. Heck I could go back every day for this other white meat wonder.
 

You unlock this door with a key of imagination, beyond
it is another dimension. A dimension of sound, a dimension of sight,
a dimension of mind . . . Welcome to the twilight zone"

The Pluses and Minuses of Blue Gill Quality Food:

Blue Gill Quality Food (+) indicators: Excellent sandwiches choices, salads and unique snacks/appetizers. Plenty of Parking available, However if you have time, this lunch spot is made for a nice walk to and from lunch.

Blue Gill Quality Food (-) indicators: None noted

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

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Bistro 1245

BISTROeggplantChoosing the lunch entrée image above for this review was easy with M.K.’s spectacular looking lunch of the Bistro 1245 Mixed greens salad ($7.96) with radish, pear slices, with a house made balsamic vinaigrette. A Salmon Filet topped MK’s salad for an additional $4.50. The salad was large enough to share and the salmon was cooked perfectly  Melissa raved about the creamy goat cheese combining with the crunchy pear slices. The olives , and balsamic dressing complimented the salmon, and goat cheese with flavor spikes of tangy flavor. You know GLOBers with lunches like this the idea of giving up meat seems more, and more like a very doable proposition.

When Bistro 1245 was the suggested lunch spot I immediately had visions of one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches in Gainesville. But alas fellow GLOBers I have already written about their most excellent grilled cheese. It is Meatless Monday so I opted for the Grilled Eggplant, Parmesan Cheese with grilled eggplant, fresh mozzarella, spinach, marinara and pesto on a baguette, image at top of this review. The $9.50 pricing also includes soup of a side salad.   The blending of the eggplant flavor and the marinara sauce creates a hearty, home cooked feeling that directed me to an internal warm and cozy place. The spinach in the sandwich was a pronounced taste surprise with both texture and flavor.

- GLOB Master

 

bistroTOPPER

Menu, appetizer, reasons for return visits

By Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

BistroSFTypically when you find a restaurant that you enjoy dining at, you would think it would be only natural to consider it in your mealtime restaurant rotation. I have dined at Bistro 1245 a handful of times over the years, and every time it has been an amazing experience: the food consistently tasty, the menu items varied yet all extremely appealing, and the service friendly and attentive. For some reason, I let the small café next to sister restaurant, Leonardo's Pizza By the Slice, on University Ave. fall off the radar, and it seems that I am not alone in this. After a couple of recent visits, I will certainly not make that mistake again.

Yes, the parking has always been problematic for these cafes--the small, cramped lot adjacent to them creates traffic flow issues at peak times. It's no secret, though, that the results are worth the effort. Although small, Bistro 1245 presents its own charm, complete with a small, dimly-lit indoor dining space of about a dozen tables and an outdoor patio area with a handful of small tables shared by the pizza side. Another aspect they share: serving the infamous Leo's garlic knots, which could be my meal in and of themselves.

BISTROquoteBOXaThe variety of Bistro's café-style menu is a large draw. With everything from soups, salads, and sandwiches to pastas and a sirloin entrée that would satisfy the pickiest of carnivores, the menu teeters between sophisticatedand casual, and it absolutely works. I showed up in the most casual of attire and was seated outside with my dining companion, Greg, for his first, and I don't think last, experience. I had yet to order the Bruschetta appetizer, $6.95, and after little debate or time, Greg agreed it was the right choice.

 

bistroCROSTINI

"Three crostini appetizer was filled to the brim with a thick layer of creamy goat cheese, chickpeas, tomatoes, and shredded basil balanced atop one another was as visually appealing as it was appetizing." It was the perfect portion size and had the ideal balance of savory from the cheese, refreshing from the produce, and slightly tart from the balsamic reduction drizzled across the dish.

Next time, I will try it with the optional prosciutto for even more flavor diversity.

bistro2ferThis explosion of prominent, yet cohesive flavors was a theme of each dish presented. The list of sandwiches offered takes up half of the menu, but these are not your mother's ordinary sandwiches packed in your lunchbox; the list is the perfect example of the café ambiance – casual kicked up a few notches.

With multiple protein options, including salmon, seared tuna, chicken, duck, and tofu, there is a sandwich combination that would appeal to any hungry diner. In our case, they all sounded amazing. Having already tried and loved the Tuna Club, Greg and I decided to split the Seared Tofu Melt, $8.95, and the Sesame Ginger Duck, $13.95.

There is a Bistro1245 menu link at the bottom of this page.

The word 'satisfying' is an understatement to describe these selections. Curry is typically a very strong flavor, but the tofu had a slightly subdued, yet still notable curry flavor that enhanced the punch from the smoked gouda and the red pepper aioli. I was skeptical of this array of flavors, but it worked, especially on the sourdough bread. The duck sandwich, while a tad milder, image at top of this review, was actually the ideal accompaniment to the other sandwich: The richness of the duck played the star against the base of greens, tomato, and the garlic aioli, which I was pleasantly surprised wasn't more potent.

 

bistroSALAD

The butternut squash soup Greg ordered on the side was every bit as creamy as I had remembered, Greg noting fondly the hint of nutmeg. I always get the side Caesar salad because it is a very generous portion.

The value per meal always exceeds expectation. I cannot say anything poor about this establishment. They are even open until 10 pm daily.

The Bistro 1245 Three-Herbed Pesto pasta with chicken is calling my name.

The Pluses and Minuses of Bistro1245:

Bistro1245 (+) indicators: High value of price to quantity, friendly service, diverse menu, casual yet high quality, intimate and sophisticated while still casual ambiance, outdoor patio

Bistro1245 (-) indicators: Limited parking

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Bistro1245. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

 

BISTRO1245TOPPER

Forgotten bistro produces lunch surprises

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

You know how some things reside out there in the world but remain completely off your daily radar screen? My kids are grown, and so I have no interest what-so-ever in Gainesville city recreation team sports. The National Hockey League Championship is happening right now and I could care less. There are a host of reasons why the Bistro1245 never made my radar screen.

BistroSFBoy, I have been wrong for a lot of years about café adjacent to Leonardo's on the corner of University Ave and 13th St as a lunch time option.

Lunch pal Lynn D. and I shared our lunches at the Bistro yesterday, and we both agreed we had two of the best sandwiches we have enjoyed in a long time.

Bistro1254 is a contemporarily cool, popular place for lunch B1245Dining11right across from the UF campus. As soon as we were seated, we immediately had questions, which were readily accepted by the servers in this nook of food lovers:

> "Is the Bistro/Leonardo owner also own 706?" (Yes, he is one of the owners along with Mark Newman.)

> "Does the Bistro1245 bake its own bread? (Just the rolls, which they actually get from next door at Leonardo's by the slice)

> "If you hated zucchini as a child, do you like zucchini today?" (No.)

During much discussion with the 1245 staff around these questions and about related food things, Lynn and I were deciding what to share for lunch.

Do we order a pasta dish and a sandwich? Bistro has a nicely described meat loaf sandwich. How do I ignore that choice? The chicken sandwich with basil aioli, onion jam, and melted gruyere really sounded good to both Lynn and I.

B1245ROLLSWe decided on a 50/50 lunch swap and shared the Meat Loaf Sandwich and the Roasted Chicken Sandwich. Lynn added a garden salad as her side dish, and I added a Caesar salad to my lunch.

Waiting for our lunch we shared some fresh baked garlic rolls that made everything in the world seem OK.

Our sandwiches were served amid oohs and aaahhhs as we directed our attention to the beautifully stacked sandwiches before us.

Lynn and I must've been using the same radar because after we exchanged sandwich halves, I started eating that half I got from her instead of the one that I ordered, and Lynn started on my half. Taking our first bites in unison we looked at each other with looks of astonishment. These were really good sandwiches.

The Meat Loaf Sandwich consisted of homemade meat loaf, dijon mustard -- extra stars awarded for this ingredient -- red onion, greens and tomato on what they call farm bread.

B1245SANDWICHThe flavors of the basil aioli, onion jam and the thick chunks of chicken breast on the Roasted Chicken Sandwich blended together for a beautiful three part harmony of flavor. The gruyere cheese melted into the other sandwich elements and create toasted sandwich bliss.

As the staff had been so friendly and willing to answer questions, I asked what was in the meatloaf as it had a very rich flavor. I was told that it has everything in it. You can't tell by looking at it, but you can sure tell by tasting it that it's a special recipe.

Lynn and I both cleaned our plates.

The B1245 has some other intriguing lunch entrees, including a sirloin steak sandwich, some interesting sounding pasta dishes, and a Grilled Three Cheese made with the same yummy bread the meatloaf was served on.

Lynn wants to come back and try the Sesame Ginger Duck Sandwich.

Shame on me for ignoring this lunch time hot spot for so long. That won't happen again. There are still numerous new taste adventures waiting at the B-1245.

The Pluses and Minuses of Bistro1245:

Bistro1245 (+) indicators: Baked bread, integration of sauces, spices and flavors make the Bistro1245 a five star lunch.

Bistro1245 (-) indicators: Parking, congestion, parking congestion.

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Bistro1245. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

SoupSammie

It was a perfect, cool Friday, and I was thinking soup and a sandwich. Hmmm . . . a multitude of choices race across my brain, and the spinning wheel landed on the Grilled Three Cheese at Bistro 1245. Yum!  It is one of the better grilled cheese sandwiches in Hogtown, or so the GLOB Master thinks. I didn't remember this from the last time I ordered the sandwich, but the menu now says along with provolone, smoked gouda, gruyere cheese, and a slice of tomato, pesto can be added to this lunchtime bliss bomb for an additional $1.50.  Gosh Pee-Wee, if you're feeling like a carnivore, you can add some bacon to the Grilled Three Cheese for yet another $2.00. That turns your GTC sammie into an $11.00 lunch. I was feeling smart about being meatless today. Unsure about the pesto, I took my attractive servers advice and had the green goo added on, and boy was I glad I did. Feeling smart and sophisticated, I selected the Butternut Squash Bisque to compliment my my mid-day sammie. Once again the unique farm bread makes this a wonderful sandwich. Toasted and grilled to perfection, the thin farm bread slices encased a melted cauldron of flavors and textures that screamed out individually: "Can you taste that tomato?" "That's the pesto mingling in that gooey bite of provolone." "Oh man, that bite had toasted bread AND three cheeses plus the pesto in one bite!" The soup was an excellent palette cleanser with a marvelous lightness of squash flavor.  This lunch had me thinking, "It's good to be alive!"

- GLOB Master

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Jason's Deli

jason3I was counting on Jason's Deli in the Oaks Mall Plaza to have an interesting meatless entrée for the GLOB Master. It was like the meatless lunch gods had a meeting and decided to send me a message -- there my lunch was on a giant sign just as you enter Jason's Deli: ZUCHINI GRILLINI ON 9-GRAIN ARTISAN BREAD. The picture of the sandwich on the poster looked good. I like zucchini, but I've never had a zucchini sandwich. The idea of toasted bread and Muenster cheese had me smiling. Along with the gooey cheese were sliced grilled zucchini, organic spinach, red onions, roma tomatoes, kalamata olives, and roasted red pepper hummus – this sandwich has it all!  The meatless lunch gods did their job. Not only that, this sandwich is worth a try, GLOBers (above). The olives added a little punch to the mix. This sandwich would have been spectacular, however, with a little horseradish or some other spicy sauce. For the side that comes with the sandwich, the GLOB Master ordered fruit medley. The lunch was satisfying and tasty -- and I felt so darn healthy I could hardly stand myself. GLOB Emeritus Lynn Dirk joined me for lunch and she was raving about JD's very impressive salad bar – several times she said "It has EVERYthing – even artichokes!" There is a vegetarian section of the menu available on the web with 12 items listed: 2 sides, 5 kids items, 3 soups one of which is organic "vegetarian vegetable" (assurance there is no meat broth in the mix!), and 2 sandwiches – a Spinach Veggie Wrap and the Zucchini Grillini. I'm going back to Jason's Deli for another Zuchini Grillini but not for another seven days . . .

- Mike Sanford

Big box deli fulfills expectations

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

I was excited about my Monday lunch plans to go to the Jason's Deli (JD) in the Oaks Mall Plaza off of Newberry Rd.

Before lunch, I had reviewed the Jason's Deli website and was aware that JD wants to break the everyday deli mode with a new, contemporary, gluten-free, no trans fats, no fructose, calorie-counting, healthy, somewhat organic place to feed your lunch habit.

In fact Jason's Deli must be succeeding at that since it was recently recognized by Parenting Magazine as the Best Restaurant in America.

So why wouldn't I be expecting the best deli lunch I have ever had?

 

JDsaladBar

Jason's has earned a reputation for many good qualities including healthy food awareness, a good menu for families and children and a very impressive salad bar.  The salad bar can be included at half price when ordered with a meal.

SaladLINEatmThis big box deli does have a nice touch for those in a hurry -- an express pay "kiost" where you can swipe a credit card to skip the lunch line cashier and go straight to the salad bar to create your lunch.

Walking into JDs a little after 11:30, I realized this lunch stop was going to be busy as customers were already lining up at the door from all directions.

A Jason's Deli host standing outside the deli was distributing menus to customers much the same way you would receive orders before going into battle.

Walking inside the deli, it was quickly apparent that the lunch line started right inside the front door. Yep, I was standing in a lunch line.

It appears that if you are in the mood to go for a healthy lunch, you better plan ahead and have your healthy diet data handy.

The menu issued to me outside did not have all the healthy, smart-to- eat lunch information I saw on the Jason's Deli web site.  You can find that information on the restaurant web link below this feature

JasonsDeliSince I had no earlier experience by which to assess the 50-plus entree choices listed in front of me, I quickly focused on a Specialty Sandwich that sounded like my kind of lunch grub: "The Big Joe," which is named for the father of the Jason's Deli founder. This sandwich contained turkey breast, asiago cheese, roasted tomatoes, basil-pesto with pine nuts, and mayo sandwiched between toasted herb focaccia bread slices. When it was my turn to order, I was ready.

The lunch line I was standing in looked like it was as long as a bowling alley. However since I ordered from the menu and didn't choose the salad bar or build-my-own sandwich lunch special, I was able to quickly move past all the stops necessary in the "building" process.

I found a nice table at the back of the dining room and placed my ORDER NUMBER 56 card high off the table where it would be noticed.

There were a lot of North Florida Regional Hospital )NFRH) staffers in the dining room. This looks like a handy, obvious alternative to NFRH cafeteria food.

 

042912JasonsSANDWICH

My Big Joe sandwich appeared at my table in a reasonable amount of time, and it was a good sandwich. The creamy asiago cheese melded very nicely with the herb focaccia bread. The roasted turkey breast was, well, unremarkable and thinly sliced. I couldn't spot any roasted tomatoes in my sandwich, but the flavor of the basil pesto was pronounced and enjoyable.

The Jason Deli potato chips were an ordinary crinkle-cut variety. I'm betting they have a scale somewhere to make sure I got just the right number of potato chips on my plate.

All that said, the sandwich was pretty good. However I'm not really sure what made my Big Joe a Specialty Sandwich.

Thinking about it -- I received two sandwich triangles of the Big Joe sandwich. Three sandwich triangles would have been better. That would have at least made my sandwich appear special.

Maybe they were thinking Specialty Math Problem, not Specialty Sandwich:

"The GLOB Master orders the 'The Big Joe' Specialty Sandwich, which is comprised of three tasty sandwich triangles. Unfortunately the Professional Eater only received two sandwich triangles on his plate. Using only fractions -- no whole numbers allowed -- how much of the GLOB Master's sandwich was missing?"

The Pluses and Minuses of Jason's Deli:

Jason's Deli PLUS (+) indicators: Handy location, a ton of food choices.

Jason's Deli MINUS (-) indicators: I'm sorry, these franchise deli food lunch stops are unremarkable in my opinion.

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

jason3
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Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille

070117HARRYSnapoleanThe GLOB Master has a new friend that is the perfect theater partner. Ms. Kristina Steinfeldt is a research coordinator and has the note taking, recording of information down to a science GLOBers. (Eat your heart out, Ron Cunningham.) More importantly we have now established a routine of after show eats and discussion at Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille. It might be hard to believe, but I'm thinking Kristina could be a bigger fan of Harry's than the GLOB Master. While I'm not really sure that's true, I do know she is seriously in love with the Harry's Crab & Eggplant Napoleon appetizer ($9.99). And what's not to like about that? You have panko-crusted eggplant stacked with layers of crab meat topped with parmesan basil cream sauce. (Psst: That sauce would make a plate of neck bones delicious.) I'm thinking if parents would introduce their children to this eggplant entrée, there would never be a problem with the "EAT YOUR VEGETABLES" routine. This amazingly scrumptious Harry's Starter is big enough to share, which makes the extra large price more palatable. Plus the plump pieces of fresh crab and tender morsels of eggplant immersed in the parmesan basil cream sauce create a meal fit for the last day on earth

- GLOB Master

 

Harry’s: A long time personal favorite

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille has been one of my favorite restaurants for a very long time.

There I've said it.  I'm staring at the horns of a dilemma here.

Dilemma

When I started this blog idea, my objective was to be journalistically correct by being impartial, fair, and objective about the restaurants I write about.

I can't do that in this GLOB entry -- I enjoy Harry's and the zillion of memories floating around the great old historic building in downtown Gainesville where Harry's lives.

All right, so I go to Harry's a lot. I go so often I'm surprised there isn't a seat emblazoned with 'Mike Sanford, Favorite Customer'. And there are many good reasons why Harry's is at the top of my list.

 

OsandwichHoriz

At Harry's they fry their seafood just like my daddy did -- using an egg wash so the cracker meal and spices create a light coating on the shrimp, oysters and fish. The result is a lightly crusted, golden brown, supremely tasty morsel from the sea that makes me smile just thinking about it.

For the late lunch GLOBers there is a Happy Hour special every day from 2:00-7:00 p.m. with drink specials and an early bird menu. In this professional's eaters point-of-view, there are no better chicken wings in town. 

When you order their chicken wings, tell them you want them the Mike Sanford way: blackened, extra crispy, tossed in hot sauce. You can't beat 'em.

 

harrysstorefront

An important plus at Harry's is a staff of customer friendly folks that make you feel special. They are attentive, and supremely professional. Jessica, Collin, Kelly and Ami always make me feel welcome.

Remember the TV theme song that had the line, 'Every one knows your name?' Well people are not just names at Harry's. Long time patrons Bob and Jane, The two Pams -- either one of them --, the Alachua County government I T guys, a professor here, professional there, are all nice people with interesting opinions they like to share.

So do you see my dilemma?

Everything about Harry's makes me smile. How do I hide that glee in a shroud of objectivity and impartiality when I'm trying to convey to you what I think is a very special place for lunch?

 

HarrysDglobBURGER 

The Harry's Seafood Bar and Grille 'Harry's Style' burger with bacon, caramelized onions, mushrooms, jack & cheddar cheeses is a really good hamburger. Nestled next to French fries the Harry's Burger fills your lunch plate with an extra large patty of excellent ground chuck is strategically embedded in the organized chaos of the juicy, savory flavors of bacon, onions, pickles, tomato, lettuce, mustard and catsup. This burger is so good that you don't mind the burger's juices and gooey goodness dripping onto your fingers. However I do try to remember, from time to time, to make sure I'm not wearing burger condiments on my shirt after lunch. One of the GLOB Master's better after lunch lines is pointing at the giant mustard stain on my shirt and remark, "I am saving that for a snack later . . ."

- Mike Sanford, GLOB Edior

The Pluses and Minuses of Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille:

The Harry's + indicators: Did I mention the great blues and Cajun music that adds to Harry's New Orleans ambiance? It makes a trip to the rest room feel like walking into the largest set of walk-in head phones around. It's a perfect Harry's moment for me when I go to the restroom only to hear 'I love you baby, like my dog loves meat' is playing. Yep, that's one more thing that makes me smile about Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille.

The Harry's -  indicators:  Like all of the down town restaurants and shops there aren't any parking spaces available because all the worker ants fill the parking spaces up at 8:00 in the morning and never give them up . . .

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

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Ballyhoo Grill

BHgumboI was ready for a seafood taco lunch when long time pal Jon Roosenraad suggested we give the Ballyhoo Grill a lunch try. We arrived ahead of the lunch crowd and had chance for some good conversation with restaurant owner Bob D'Alessio. Bob had a lot of restaurant news to share, but of course it was all confidential, and I had to promise to keep it to myself. "I can't believe I'm sitting here talking to 2 journalists asking them to keep a secret . . .," Bobby D. said rolling his eyes. He's right. We will talk more about his REAL NEWS at a later date GLOBers. The real news at this lunch was some amazingly delicious Fire Cracker Tacos. This was the perfect recipe for the oft used "popcorn shrimp" that have very little flavor. These little buds of flavorful, sweet tasting shrimp were coated in what appears to be a very light panko bread crunch that crisped up to a very light and tasty crunch. The menu item brags a spicy Thai sauce but it was missing on my tacos. However I do enjoy my proteins more on the hotter side of spicy. The shrimp were complemented by a nice mixture of jack & cheddar cheese, lettuce, Sriracha sauce and scallions. Mu buddy Jon R bought me a cup of gumbo wanted to get my opinion on the seafood nectar of the ocean gods. The gumbo was excellent. The tomato base wasn't quite as thick as other gumbos, however this might have allowed many of the other flavors to come alive resulting in a delicious cup of coup. These crunch white ocean proteins were really good, and could make me go right back to the Ballyoo Grill. But I'm gonna make sure my lunchtime info source has some new restaurant dirt to share.

- GLOB Master

Seafood, black beans & rice get high marks

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

ballyhoosSFThe Ballyhoo Grill on Newberry Rd. is a popular lunch spot that I should have featured before now for many reasons:

zzGLOBbullet  Ballyhoo's has an excellent patio for dining, music, conversation and lunch outings when the climate gets cooler.

zzGLOBbullet  They have a varied menu of seafood, sandwiches, hamburgers and pasta entrees.

zzGLOBbullet  Ballyhoo's has the only Tim TREEbow ever created.

Ballyhoo's island get away theme works throughout this friendly, fun restaurant.

I have spent most off my adult life thinking tacos are those crispy, crunchy, deep fried corn meal shells that contain ground beef, lettuce, cheese, onions and Mexican hot sauce. YUM!!

BallyHooTacosJANUARYI recently discovered the wonders of what tacos can really be.

Shrimp. Fish. Duck. My Latin American food pyramid foundation has been shaken with the discovery of the wonderful proteins that a corn tortilla can be wrapped around.

Ballyhoo's shrimp tacos are very good, very large, and very flavorful.

You know about the good angel and the bad devil that sit on your shoulders when its time to make a decision? These lunch partners show up when the server asks, "And what will your side dish be?"

In my case, the devil screams "FRENCH FRIES" and usually wins the debate.

Like my mother used to do, the angel looks at me, hands on her hips, tapping her toe, expecting the correct answer.

"I think I want to try the black beans and yellow rice today," I tell Courtney, our server.

TimTreebow"Good choice," Courtney says nodding her head in agreement with my selection as I sit up straighter enjoying doing the right thing.

Ballyhoo's blackened shrimp tacos were top shelf, prize-winning lunch time entrees. I will be back to order those beauties again.

The best thing I ate at Ballyhoo's this lunch time, however, was the black beans and yellow rice.

There's a Maria Muldaur tune titled, 'It Ain't the Meat, It's the Motion', that I will paraphrase when I say, "It ain't the beans, it's what you cook them in" that makes them wonderful.

Ballyhoo's black beans are some of the tastiest beans I have had in some time. The island spices included in the cooking broth create a fresh, bright, flavorful back drop to these yummy black pods of protein.

ALL RIGHT! Do you disagree GLOBers?  Add a comment below telling the GLOB Master where your favorite black beans can be found.

There is a birthday club at Ballyhoo's that you should join -- Members receive a free lobster on their birthday.

Not to be outdone by all the deals and offers of the Archer Rd. franchise restaurant establishments, Ballyhoo's has four different food challenges: fish, pork, hamburger, and hot dogs. Click the restaurant web link below this feature for more food challenge information.

Ballyhoo's was a great lunch stop. I became an unofficial Red Hat BhoosPatioSociety member. I reaffirmed my love for fish and shrimp tacos. I have discovered what I think might be some of the best black beans in the Urban GLOB.

I'm going back to Ballyhoos!

 

 

BallyHTOPPER

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I was meeting good friendKate Valdovinos for lunch at Ballyhoo Grill.  I was excited about ordering the Ballyhoo guacamole that is made at your lunch table.   You can't get any fresher than that. Courtney, our server, was adept at combining the cilantro, onions, herbs, garlic, lime juice and tomatoes into a BallyhooSaladcreamy, chunky, very tasty green conglomeration of goodness.  Avocados are one of the GLOB Master's favorite food and this guac was delicious.  Since this was my first face-to-face meeting with Kate I applaud myself for not eating all of the guacamole.  The guac was very good, and made a very nice additional topping to the shrimp tacos mentioned below.  BTW Kate V. is the Editor of Kate's Salad Blog, and you can read her assessment of her Ballyhoo lunch salad on her blog.

The Pluses and Minuses of Ballyhoo Grill:

Ballyhoo Grill + indicators: Excellent seafood, extraordinary black bean.

Ballyhoo Grill - indicators: I was disappointed it was too hot to sit outside on the patio.

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

TimTreebow

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Perkins Restaurant & Bakery

TV families would understand 'Timeless Favorites'

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

PerkinsI haven't been to Perkins Bakery and Restaurant in the Oaks Mall Plaza in a long time.

Way back when, I drove south to Ocala and then to Wildwood for my employment, and I would often start my day off with a quick Perkins breakfast. Frequently I was the hero at work

because I would bring a dozen Perkins Mammoth Muffins to the office to treat my workmates.

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Yep, Perkins was a good way to start my work day as I, "head out on the highway," driving South in the early morning.

Entering Perkins for lunch, I quickly noticed there wasn't a lot of change since the last time I was at this stalwart, long-time Oaks Mall neighbor.

Success also comes from the predictability and sameness the Perkins customer will find regardless what shopping mall s/he happens to be in. People, eaters like routine. Perkins is routine driven. Another way to describe thePperkins charm is consistency. That is probably the major factor in the success of chain restaurants. It may not be great, but it is probably consistently good and if you order the same thing every time you go, it will be very similar if not exactly the same as the last time you had it.

 

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The PB&R franchise modus operandi must work for the approximately 440 restaurants they have presently open for business nationwide. That number of restaurants, fellow GLOBers, has success written all over it: Founded in 1958, Perkins Restaurants offer consumers in 34 states and five Canadian provinces a full menu of over 90 assorted breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and dessert items. All that and they serve breakfast all day.

For this lunch time visit, I was essentially a Perkins lunch time newbie. That's OK, I've seen this menu before, many times before, this lunch stop.

Shakespeare always says it best: "A rose by any other name . . ." Well, let me update the expression: "A Club Sandwich named differently by any other chain restaurant would taste as good." Thus, the menu items may have had a little different name, but the lunch items did not surprise this lunchouter.

There I was getting ready to munch down on a lunch that would have made the Beaver Cleaver TV family unhappy to eat at home, the Brady Bunch munch in unison, and the Full House family tone deaf with jealousy.

I'm talking about lunch items every GLOBer should know and love: On the Perkins menu under the Timeless Favorites category, they are Top Sirloin Steak, Harvest Salads, Better Burgers, Sandwich Board, Roast Beef Dinner, Grilled Pork Chops, Country Fried Steak, and Butterball Turkey Dressing.

Come on, what more could America ask for than, no matter where in the world you are, than a consistent, same-old-entree Perkins lunch?

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I was feeling red, white, and blue sitting in America's lunch stop, so I selected the Butterball Turkey and Dressing for lunch. The menu let me know that my lunch consisted of "Oven-roasted and hand-carved slices of turkey breast, served on home style sage dressing with hearty turkey gravy and cranberry sauce."

I'm paraphrasing an epicurious-type response here: "The turkey dressing was good. What I would've done was add some onion, Anaheim peppers, pieces of dark turkey meat, and gobs of celery. My family would have loved this dressing and asked me to make it again."

 

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The turkey breast was good, although a little dry, but isn't that why someone discovered gravy? The gravy enhanced the meat and accentuated the dressing. I even gave serious consideration to trying the gravy on my ho-hum cranberry relish. Yes relish; it was not the jellied-jelloed cranberry.

Do you think the turkey gravy comes to 'Perkins Store #27' in 5-gallon cans, or 25-gallon drums?

Lucky for the GLOB Master, the turkey dinner pictured on the Perkins website looked just like mine. In fact their picture is better than mine so I am using their photo.

I don't mean to sound critical. Perkins Bakery & Restaurant obviously serves a purpose that makes a lot of customers very happy. And the TFBT&D (Timeless Favorite Butterball Turkey & Dressing) worked for me.

When I paid for my lunch, I picked up a dozen of the Perkins Mammoth Muffins for old time's sake. I thanked the friendly server and as I left the dining room I told no one in particular, "I'm coming back!"

The Pluses and Minuses of Perkins Bakery and Restaurant:

Perkins Bakery and Restaurant + indicators: In know this is the a LUNCH blog, but I just have to say that a Perkins breakfast and a stop at the Perkins Bakery is an excellent way to start your day.

Perkins Bakery and Restaurant - indicators: I drove around the parking lot more than once for that lunch.

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Perkins Restaurant & Bakery.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

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