That Food Guy
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
  The Pub Waterfront Restaurant - Indian Shores, Florida
Click to enlarge - The Pub has two entries – one for the open air patios and one here for the regular dining room.
The Pub Waterfront Restaurant
20025 Gulf Blvd.
Indian Shores, FL (727) 595-3172

In the warm waters of mid-Florida’s Gulf Coast are a chain of barrier islands. Hardly more than speed bumps to a hurricane’s tidal surge, the keys do provide, however, white sand beaches, beach front property, a playground for more inland communities and a protected Intercoastal Waterway. Once mostly accessible by boat, their isolation helped the islands take on unique and individual characteristics. Now most are connected by causeways and an extensive road system, but they all seem to have their own aura. Some of the islands host large homes, mansions by any standard. Others have condominiums, motels and apartments. In some places there are still cottages left over from the early settlement of Gulf Coast Florida. In places the islands are wide enough to host small communities. In other places the spine road has small beach front lots on both sides of the road.

It was in this sub-tropical archipelago we found ourselves Tuesday last. For her Uncle Gilbert’s birthday, my wife, Janis, wanted to take her aunt and uncle out to lunch. Gilbert and Effie had been to a Sand Key restaurant on the Intercoastal Waterway. They had liked it and that is why we were returning to The Pub Waterfront Restaurant in Indian Shores.

An eclectic building, one of many expansions, features shaded open air terrace and a Tiki bar on one side, and conventional dining room and cocktail lounge accommodations on the other. We chose indoor seating. The dining room is carpeted but there wasn’t the usual mustiness of a carpeted room on the waterfront. The carpet and the wall paneling are in darker colors that help to mute the bright sunlight that spills in through the wall of glass windows that overlooks the Intercoastal Waterway.

There were few customers in the dining room. From the happy-sounding commotion, I’d say most of the midday patrons were clustered on the patio desks and around the Tiki bar. The hostess seated us quickly and our server, Shanisty, was quickly there with menus and took our orders for beverages. The menu features seafood, much of it local, as well as beef and chicken dishes. There is also a large selection of pasta dishes. Being that it was lunch, we ordered off the Sandwich and Early Bird Specials (11Am to 6PM) page on the back of the menu.

The napkins: The napkins are remarkable for restaurant paper napkins. They are large, eight-inches square when folded four-ply, thinner than but stronger than a paper towel. You can wipe and sop to your heart’s content.

Click to enlarge – Janis and her Aunt Effie and Uncle Gilbert.Sandwiches come with a choice of pasta salad, French fries, or coleslaw. Gilbert and Effie both ordered the Fish Sandwich ($8.49). You have your choice of either fried or broiled. They chose fries and French fries as their side order. Both only wanted water as a beverage and it was served with a slice of lemon. I chose the Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich ($8.49). I also chose the French fries. Janis ordered from the Early Bird Menu. The early bird selection, “comes with a fresh house salad or a cup of chowder and your choice of baked potato, garlic mashed potatoes, yellow rice and beans, fresh veggies, pasta or French fries.” She chose the Jumbo Shrimp Click to enlarge - White fish, breaded and fried in a sandwich.($12.95) with clam chowder and French fries. The Pub features Coca Cola products and Janis and I ordered Coca Colas.

The sandwiches are not just served on any old hamburger bun. They use large sandwich buns. Gilbert and Effie’s sandwiches were both with very large, breaded and fried golden brown white fish. They were apparently cooked just about right ; I could see they had that nice flakiness when Gilbert took a bite. Both commented that the sandwiches tasted good and were satisfying just as their last visit to The Pub. It was a large serving of fish and there were abundant lettuce, tomato and onion as well as the large bun. I was Click to enlarge - Clam chowder with a bag of oyster crackers.surprised, but they both finished all their meal.

Janis’ clam chowder arrived first; a nice serving size with a bag of oyster crackers. It was a nice thick and creamy sauce with lots of clam chunks. She said it was very good. Her entrée was a serving of five large shrimp, cooked well to a nice golden brown and a side of French fries. When I asked her about only five, she said they were very large shrimp, very tasty, and the serving was more than adequate for a lunch meal.

My teriyaki chicken sandwich was served open-faced. A nice portion of boneless, skinless chicken breast, grilled, with a topping of grilled pineapple and a nice reduction teriyaki sauce, was served Click to enlarge - Shrimp and French fries.with lettuce, tomato, slices of red onion on a large sandwich bun. Put it all together and at first you wonder how you will fit it into your mouth. The teriyaki sauce was thick, not runny and that was nice because the bread did not get soggy. However, it was sticky; more on that later. The sandwich had excellent flavor and it was a very ample serving.

All around the table, we had French fries. They were oaky as French fries go but they were not great. I think they need to put a little more effort into what constitutes about half of the food on a dinner plate. The fries were cooked, they had a nice color but they were not really hot nor did Click to enlarge - Teriyaki Chicken Sandwichthey have that crispy texture we have come to expect of French fries.

When the food arrived, the fish sandwiches had a side of tartar sauce and the shrimp a side of cocktail sauce. We looked around. No ketchup to be seen for the fries. It took a moment to catch the server’s eye as she was delivering food to some other customers. Approaching our table, we could see that she had anticipated our request and brought a ketchup bottle and a big stack of those big napkins.

When I finished my teriyaki chicken sandwich, I had teriyaki sauce all over my fingers. Even with the big napkins, rub as I might, I could not get all the sticky off. I excused myself and went to the rest room. “Oh, well,” I thought, “I’ll do something I haven’t done before and check out the bathroom for the blog.” Small, it could accommodate two people at a time, it was clean and odor free. There was a big functioning soap dispenser and lots of hot water. It passed my casual inspection.

It was a pleasant lunch with good company celebrating a gala occasion, an eighty-third birthday. The food was good, and we had a nice table at the window overlooking the Intercoastal Waterway. We watched the manatees swimming in the channel. We had good, prompt and courteous service; Shanisty kept our glasses full.

It is an interesting place with outdoor and indoor dining at your choosing, a dock and slips to tie up your boat if you arrive by sea. They have been in business for about fifty years and it would seem that they have the right formula to bring back the regulars and add first timers to their return customer list. I think you will enjoy a visit.

You can get more information about The Pub or peruse their online menu at their web site http://www.thepubwaterfrontrestaurant.com/

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Saturday, November 06, 2010
  Steak and Shake - Revisited
A Steak and Shake party of four.

Steak and Shake,
St. Petersburg, Florida – Revisited
November 6, 2010

I last wrote about Steak and Shake back in December of 2006. In the interim I have been back to Steak and Shake several times as well as use their drive-thru for a quick milkshake to help ward off the Florida heat. On this day, a family friend, Martha, wanted to take us out to eat. We had not seen each other since going on vacation. And, as always, Martha, with coupons in hand, wanted to go to her favorite place, Steak and Shake.
Steak and Shake had been a presence in the St. Petersburg area in the late1960’s and early 1970’s. When the restaurant chain changed hands, distant stores were closed including the St. Petersburg facilities. If memory serves me correctly, it was in the late 1990’s that Steak and Shake made a comeback in the St. Petersburg, Florida area and opened the store we visited today. Although the store is about fifteen years old, it has received careful cleaning and maintenance. The outside of the store is clean, neat, no significant signs of wear. The inside is bright and sparkling clean. The tile is immaculate, the floor clean, mopped and polished. If I had not known and I was told it was the grand opening, I would have accepted that as fact. The store just looks new.
Entering the store, a sign ask you to wait to be seated. We had only just entered when the closest server noted our presence, picked up some menus and escorted us to the booth of our choice. Within moments Scott was there, place mats and silverware in hand, introduced himself as out server and took our beverage requests. We still needed some time to read over the menu.
Steak and shake has added many items to the menu recently. There are breakfast items including eggs, bacon, sausage and hash browns. There are salads, Chicago-style franks and melts. There are chicken, club and BLT sandwiches. As well, like many of the other burger chains, they have added some specialty versions of their signature Steakburger such as guacamole, chipotle, and Portobello n’ Swiss cheese to name a few. All very intriguing and calling for further investigation. But this was Martha’s treat and she had her coupons.
The mail and the local paper frequently have coupons for Steak and Shake. Per visit they will accept a single coupon but they honor that price on all of the same items. So, as long as we all ordered the same thing, it was covered by the coupon. The classic Steak and Shake dinner it was. The menus of long ago listed it as a Steakburger and milkshake, with two sides of your choice. I don’t find it on the menu that way anymore but the Steakburger combo (Steakburger, fries and shake) plus a side order comes out the same. The sides include onion rings, soup, chili, Mandarin orange slices, coleslaw, baked beans (in their distinctive little bean pot), garden salad, cottage cheese or apple slices and grapes. The coupons are a really good deal if everyone orders the same thing. If you are local to a Steak and Shake, watch the mail and paper for those coupons – get some good food at a low price.
Steak and Shake Steakburger, French fries, vanilla milkshake, onion rings and coleslaw.The milkshakes a diner classic; tall frosty glasses of thick milk shake topped with whipped cream and a cherry. You can drink it through a straw but a long handled spoon makes it so much easier. For Martha and my wife the big draw to Steak and Shake are the banana milkshakes. They were not disappointed.
It was Steakburgers all around. The nice thing about ordering a Steakburger is that every order is a special order. You have your choice of condiments (lettuce, onion, tomato, pickles, mustard relish, Frisco sauce, yellow mustard, mayonnaise and ketchup). They are not frugal with their condiments and if you like a dryer burger, you may want to ask for the mustard, mayo or ketchup on the side.
While waiting for our order, I looked over at the grill where all the burgers are cooked. It is open to view and is a relic of the original Steak and Shake’s founder, Gus Belt, who coined the slogan, “If it’s in sight it must be right.” It is a curiosity of Steak and Shake, neither good nor bad, but the way they do it. The fresh ground meat is in balls. The griddle man flattens out the balls on the griddle with his spatula to make the round patty shape. I would suppose that is also a holdover from Gus who ground fresh steaks and roasts in front of the customers so they could see what was in their Steakburger.
Scott delivered the first part of our order, the sides. He had some bad news. They were temporarily out of the baked beans my wife Janis and Lynda had ordered. Lynda changed to coleslaw and Janis ordered onion rings. Since she doesn’t really like onion rings, it was a bonus for me. The remainder of the order followed shortly along with the reordered sides. All of the burgers, with the specific combination of condiments, were correct. Even Lynda’s out of the ordinary order, Bleu cheese dressing, was as ordered.
My vanilla milkshake was thick and rich. The full glass was a more than ample serving. The coleslaw was cool and crisp. The dressing was a nice combination of tart and sweet, thick enough to cling and pool under the slaw, but thin enough to enjoy the cabbage underneath. A good sized scoop served on a saucer, not a dab in a little paper medicine cup, it was a sufficient serving. The French fries were nice and hot, cooked golden brown and nicely crisp. The onion rings were real onion rings, rings of onion cut from the bulb, not ground up onion extruded into little circles. They were hot, crispy fried and nicely browned; a welcome addition to the meal. The burger was medium well, probably a wise choice considering the problems that other chains have had with undercooked beef. All the requested condiments were as requested. I drizzled my own sauce, ketchup in this case; therefore the burger was exactly what I wanted.
Besides our server, Scott, there were two manager-types making the rounds of the facility. They stopped by the tables and made sure all was correct. Almost as soon as one of us thought of something we needed, it seemed as if there was someone there to fill the request. The food was good. It was served in a timely manner and in adequate serving sizes. The facility was bright, clean and well maintained; it instills confidence. If they put that much effort to the exterior, they probably do as much in the back where it counts. The serving staff was courteous and efficient. It was a pleasant afternoon out. Good friends, good conversation, good food in a very pleasant environment. And, it was a good value considering the coupons. Then and Now: For comparison, this is a photo from a 2006 Steak and Shake visit.

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