Sunday, November 30, 2014

Monty’s Restaurant & Pizzeria

Monty's Restaurant & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon We are full-timers here in Punta Gorda, and eat out about 50% of our meals.  We really liked the old location in the strip-mall.  In fact, we gave a good review back in summer of 2013.   However, we tried the new Monty's location a while back and were really disappointed.  We decided to go back today with an open mind, since they've had a year to work the kinks out.

I'll give the salad bar 3 stars.  It's average, and the greens were fresh.  Basically, no comment good or bad.  Likewise the sodas were wet and cold and tasted fine.  However, the entire restaurant still has a weird off-putting smell.  They need to change mop water or something.

We ordered a steak medium rare.  It arrived about 15 seconds shy of well-done.  Ok, that sort of stuff happens, I get it.  We showed it to the manager, and his comment was "There's a little pink in there."  Ok, buddy - I'll grant you, there was a paper-thin area right in the middle that was light grey, and with the proper lighting and some scientific apparatus you might have detected a warmer hue.  But seriously - we aren't blind.  It's a well-done steak.

We ordered a "Monty's Hero" which is described as having bread "...delivered fresh daily from a local baker and exclusively made for our restaurant."  Ummm... no.  It was quite stale.  I'm a bread guy, I love the stuff.  I took one bite and that was it.  I threw all the bread away and ended up just eating cold-cuts with a knife and fork.  I pointed that out to the manager as well.  Again, he insisted the bread was fresh, just as advertised.  Again - I'm looking right at it.  I can crack it in half.

There were a couple rounds of discussion back and forth.  It's clear that we live in two completely different realities.  I'm sorry, but you can't convince me that stale bread is fresh and a well-done steak is medium rare.  This is a restaurant, not a Scientology convention.  The conversation was over when I told him directly that he could go blow his smoke up somebody elses... and then he spun on his heel and left without comment.  We didn't see him again.

In summary, the manager is delusional.  We paid full price, and I tipped 50% to make the point - we are locals, we tip well, and we aren't coming back.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sandra's Restaurant

Sandra's Restaurant on UrbanspoonSometimes a place is so straightforward and obvious that it's easy to overlook.  Sandra's Restaurant is a good example.  It's completely German.  German food, German atmosphere, German beer and wine, and very delicious.  It's a plain building on a one-way street with a small sign.  Blink and you'll miss it.

My advice is: don't blink.  Stop in and check it out.  It's excellent.

Ok, enough platitudes...  On with the review.

We were greeted warmly and shown to a comfortable table.  Iggy, our server, asked if we'd been here before.  We had not, so he explained the menu items to us.  One good thing: the menu is just the right size.  It's short enough that clearly everything is freshly cooked.  I'm suspect of restaurants that have 40 or 50 items on the menu.  It's long enough so anyone can find something they like here.


We checked out the buffet, it looked good.  We were exploring, so decided to order off the menu.

Iggy asked for our drink order, and I selected the Hofbräu Dark, and Gayle picked the extra dry Riesling.  To my surprise, Iggy came back with not one beer, but three different samples of Hofbräu they have on tap.  Bonus!  I got a small tasting flight, ranging from extra light, medium and dark.  Totally unexpected, but very welcome.  We tried all three, all were excellent.  I went with my first instinct and selected the dark, and then discovered it comes in four sizes: 12, 16, 24 and 32 oz.  That's Germans for you.... ;)

I picked the 16 oz beer. By now, Gayle is becoming envious as she sipped her wine.  Sorry Dear, at least we now have an extra reason to come back.  She ordered the Rouladen special, I ordered the European sampler plate.

The food was excellent.  I liked the Goulash, but the spices seemed to clash with my beer.  Both were very good, but didn't work well together.  I would have picked a lighter beer for that dish.  The brats were perfectly flavorful, not greasy at all, and paired with a stout mustard.  The schnitzel was tender, moist and the breading was impossibly crispy.  It was a real treat.  Gayle's Rouladen was pounded wafer-thin, rolled in spices and tasty filling and a real treat.

We had the chocolate mousse for dessert.  It was flavored as a German Chocolate cake, with nuts and coconut.  Just right, a perfect ending.

The atmosphere was really nice.  It wasn't loud, there was nice music in the background (mostly German marching songs, go figure) and we were able to have a normal conversation over dinner.  I'll give it a provisional 4 stars, and if it's just as good next time, we'll add a star for consistency.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Playing Horseshoes

Horseshoe crabs mating on Florida Beach.

04/04/2014 @

Monday, February 17, 2014

Fresh Lunch

Gotta tell ya, life is good.  I got up early this morning, brewed some coffee from the beans I roasted yesterday (33% Brazil / 66% Guatemala blend), checked my e-mail and got a few housekeeping chores done.  

I decided to wander out back, grabbed a fishing rod and chunked a rubber shrimp in the creek.  A couple casts later, I had a some tentative strikes, so I set my mind to working the creek over.  The spotted trout were sluggish and tentative when they would hit, and they were quick to spit the lure back out.
I worked the creek over, moving up about 100 yards and slowly working back down the bank, retrieving slow, bumping on the bottom, giving the lure little twitches to get some attention from the trout.  A couple times I'd spot one stalking the lure, but not quite interested enough to hit it.  It was challenging - but that's why they call it "fishing" and not "catching". 

I managed to pull in a couple keepers during the next hour.  Just in time!  As I was bringing them in Gayle asked if I'd like a grilled cheese for lunch.  I told her no, I'd much prefer fried trout for lunch. ;)

A couple minutes with a fillet knife, a quick dredge through some seasoned flour and about 4 minutes a side in the frying pan - it's lunchtime.  

Now I guess it's time to get back to work.  These websites won't write themselves.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


Well, I pulled some of the ladyfish cut bait out of the freezer, threw it on a circle hook and tossed it out in Alligator Creek.  Not much action today, got a couple catfish.  Just as it was getting dark and I was about to give up, I got a strong hit that stripped off about 20 yards of my spool before I knew what happened.  I fought him in, and fortunately Gayle was handy with the net.  We got a nice bluefish, about 2 feet long, probably 3 to 4 pounds.  I wasn't sure if they were good eating or not, I had to look it up.  I read some complaints about them being an "oily" fish, and I found one recipe that recommended lots of lemon juice and white wine.

I did the typical for a gamefish like this - I put him in an ice-water bath to draw the blood into the organs, slashed the gills to bleed him out, and waited about 10 minutes.  Then I filleted it out.  My impression was a nice firm flesh, lighter than tuna, but darker than trout or snook.  Slapped each fillet on a piece of foil, drizzled lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning, some lemon pepper, a few bay leaves and a couple pats of butter.  Folded up the foil into a packet, tossed them into the oven at 350 and waited 20 minutes.

The result was awesome.  If I had to describe it, I'd call it "white salmon".  It actually tasted a lot like a nice salmon, but a bit lighter and the meat was nice and white.  If I manage to catch one of these again, I'd grill 'em on a plank, just like salmon.  Serve with lemon and dill sauce.

Of course, it's hard to beat fish when it's less than an hour from the water to the plate.  That's fresh.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Caught a few of these today.  They fight like mad - really fun.  Not much good eating, but I was told they make good bait.  So I took them home, cleaned and cut into chunks.  I put a good-size chunk on a #1 circle-hook, tossed it in and WHAM.  30 seconds later I've got a monster on the hook.  Bummer - he ran and got wrapped around a dock piling.  I don't have a boat or any way to get out to the piling and it's getting dark.  I worked it as long as I could, but the no-see-ums were killing me.  So I cut the line.  Hopefully he'll throw the hook and get caught another day.  Tomorrow I'll try again with the ladyfish cut bait.  Should be fun.

They 'aint Right.

As seen on Craigslist.  Ok, so not everything in Florida is romantic.


  • Location: CALLAWAY
  • do NOT contact me with unsolicited services or offers

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Mi Mo To

A Mi Mo To by david.finster
A Mi Mo To, a photo by david.finster on Flickr.
Another reason I love Punta Gorda - the freshest sushi I've had is just down the street.  Amimoto Japanese Restaurant has a peaceful decor and we felt like a guest, not a customer.

The miso soup was better than I've had before and the salad dressing was crisp, clean and not too sweet.  Here are some photos we took.  Highly recommended, please check it out.

Amimoto Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Wildflower Cafe

Wildflower Cafe on Urbanspoon I woke up early this morning, roasted about 2 pounds of coffee, then decided I was hungry.  I was looking for a good place to have my "after my birthday" breakfast.  I jumped in the truck with gayle and started driving north, with no plan except to follow my nose.

We scored.  BIG TIME.

We found this place right on A1A, called Wildflower Cafe.  Turns out, the owner is a chef.  And it shows.  BIG TIME.

I typically don't order pancakes - they usually suck.  I took a risk and asked if I could order a single.  It was freaking fantastic.  I don't know how to describe a perfect pancake, except to tell you what it wasn't.  It wasn't mushy.  It wasn't mealy.  It was light, but didn't fall apart on the fork.  Just right.  The hostess asked if it was OK if the chef put powered sugar on my pancake.  (Are you kidding?  When someone asks if they can put powered sugar on anything, the answer is YES.)

Better than that, I love poached eggs.  I love crab cakes.  I love english muffins.   This place serves - wait for it - Crab Cake Eggs Benedict.

Not only that, but it's awesome.  These are fresh blue crab cakes, underneath perfectly poached eggs on top of a crunchy english muffin, and the whole works is drenched in hollandaise sauce.

DUDE.  Stop whatever you are doing, right now.  Get on a plane and fly yer butt out here.  Don't stop till you get to the Wildflower Cafe and EAT THESE CRAB CAKES.

Gayle ordered the Broccoli quiche.  I don't know how he kept the broccoli looking so fresh and tasty, while cooking it inside a quiche - but he did.  I tried a bite and it was awesome.  It looked to me like the quiche had a crust.  I asked Gayle and she reported it did have a top crust - made of bacon strips and cheese. 

Are you kidding?  I didn't want to leave - I wanted to just stay there until I got hungry again.  It's that good.

I don't always score when I take off without a plan, but when I do - it's sweet.  This was a great find, completely by accident.

Aki Sushi

Aki Sushi on Urbanspoon Great little hole in the wall sushi place.  Everything was fresh, the salad was really delicious, crisp and cold - the ginger dressing was plentiful and really tasty.

We ordered a combo sushi / sashimi plate and a couple special rolls.  No complaints.  The spicy tuna was very good and the salmon was super.  I was very impressed with the quality of the green tea - it was almost buttery.

If you are near Ocala, be sure to stop in.  It's worth a drive.