Woody's Waterfront Outdoor Restaurant - St Pete Beach, Florida 4/15
|Woody's located on Blind Pass|
Woody’s Waterfront Outdoor Restaurant
7308 Sunset Way
St Pete Beach, FL 33706
An old adage is that nothing is as consistent as change. It
came to mind when I was thinking of good friends, Dick and Cheryl. Once they
had a home in the St Petersburg area and we visited often. It was a good
friendship, each trying to do for the other. They have sold their local house
and moved upstate and now live 2 hours away instead of fifteen minutes. Sadly,
we don’t see them as often as we did before; so very less often than we would
like. Therefore it was a happy telephone call when they announce they would be in
town and would like to take us out to lunch. Now what could be wrong with that?
It was an opportunity to visit with friends who have been absent all too long
and get a free lunch to boot! It sounded like a very good deal to me.
When they arrived, we sat in the comfort of air conditioning
and brought each other up to date on happenings. Then Cheryl said they would
like to take us to a place they remembered from when they lived locally. It was
a small, casual place, off the beaten track and perhaps more frequented by
locals than tourists. She said it was called Woody’s, a small beer and burger joint
on the waterfront facing False Pass in St Pete Beach. She said it offered the
most wonderful fish sandwiches. We all loaded into the car and off we went.
It is only a fifteen minute trip from our house to Woody’s,
maybe a bit less. Where the highway jogs left to follow the Intracoastal
Highway we continued straight on a small nondescript road. It was only a few
blocks long and was lined with the rear service areas of the highway business
and what looked like some light industrial sites. We turned left onto another
small road paralleling the waterway. It is not where one would expect to see a
restaurant of note. Partly sand, partly paved or gravel, had I been a tourist I
would have figure I was lost and turned around some time back to retrace my
steps. Not to worry. A hundred yards further up Cheryl pulled into a sandlot
parking area next to a squat, nondescript building. Facade is not Woody’s
Blind Pass is a navigable waterway through a barrier island
to the Intracoastal Waterway. The excavation was done by a hurricane in 1928.
Originally a bait house that also served burgers, dogs and cold beer to the
local fishermen, it was built on the inlet facing the Gulf of Mexico in 1954.
It has gone through various incarnations and was once called the Sunset Inn and
provided a gathering place for the locals. Today it works at maintaining the
1950’s and 60’s beach shack image and has a reputation for good food among
locals and tourists who venture far enough along that back road.
It is a small older building. Most of the patron areas are
trellis or canvas covered and quite dark after coming in from the bright midday
sun. We made our way through the main dining area to the much brighter and more
inviting patio. The picnic tables are shaded with the café-style umbrellas.
Pick your spot wisely. As the sun moves across the sky the shadow will also
move and you may be in for more sun than you would like. There was no wait to
be seated but the restaurant was near capacity. It took several minutes before
the first contact by the wait staff. After that service was much quicker.
However, we were never pushed or hurried but never having to wait long for
beverage refills and the like. The serving staff did a reasonably good job in spite
of probably being one or two people short in staffing
To start Cheryl ordered some Buffalo wings (Wings, Wacky and
Wild – Plain, Mild, Spicy or Nuclear - $7.95 or $12.95 with plain or spicy
fries) appetizers. These were the bone-in, skin-on style, cooked to a slightly
crispy skin. The spicy variety was snappy to the tongue but should be tolerable
to most pallets. The Ranch dressing dip was a good pairing. Perhaps the sun,
perhaps the hot wings, but the refill of the cold soda glass was welcome.
The menu features full dinners centered on sea food and a surf
and turf for $12 to $15. You get to pick two sides from a choice of garlic
mashed potatoes, plain or spicy fries, onion rings, coleslaw or a side salad.
Most of the menu lists sandwiches, burgers, baskets, snack appetizers and
salads. There is also a small children’s menu section.
|Blackened Fish Sandwich|
Dick chose Woody’s Famous Fish Sandwich ($8.95 Fried, grilled or blackened – All Woody’s
sandwiches are served with Woody’s homemade slaw, lettuce and tomato). It is also served with a large portion of
pre-packaged tartar sauce. It was a nice looking plate – the lettuce green and crisp,
the tomato nice and ripe, a good serving of nice looking coleslaw. The fish
serving, nicely cooked, was very ample and overhanging the bun by a good bit.
Dick said it was very good, a slightly crispy crust with tender, flaky and
moist fish inside. He seemed to enjoy his meal very much.
|Grilled Chicken Wrap|
Janis chose the Chicken Club Wrap ($8.95 Blackened or
grilled with bacon, cheese and Ranch dressing – the lettuce and tomato are
included in the wrap filling, the slaw is served on the side). She chose the
grilled chicken. It was wrapped in a large flour tortilla and half if not more
of the filling was diced chicken meat. It was a large and filling wrap. There
was a nice helping of coleslaw on the side. Janis enjoyed her chicken wrap very
much but the size was a bit more than she was comfortable eating and she had a
nice portion to take home for a lunch the next day.
|Woody's Ultimate Burger|
Cheryl, proponent of the fish sandwich, actually ordered, as
did I, the Ultimate Woody Burger ($9.25 Mushrooms, fried onions, bacon and
cheese - All Woody’s sandwiches are served with Woody’s homemade slaw, lettuce
and tomato). It was an attractive serving. The bun was the large size and the at
least 1/3 pound patty filled the bun to the edges. The burger was grill cooked
with nice grill marks. I prefer a grilled burger to a griddle cooked one. The
lettuce was green and crisp, the slice of tomato large red and ripe. There was
a serving of coleslaw and some individual serving packages of mayo and mustard.
It was loaded with the cheese, mushrooms and bacon. The burger had good flavor
and it would probably be what I would order if ever I get back to Woody’s again.
It was a large burger and with the coleslaw made for a filling meal. Cheryl and
I both enjoyed our selections.
If I had any complaints, it would be this. I really don’t
care for those little individual serving packets; I think bottles of condiments
are more appropriate even for a 50’s-60’s beach shack burger joint. And not
really a complaint but more an observation is that burgers stacked high tend to
be messy blobs before they are half eaten. Woody’s Ultimate burger was no
exception and it occurred to me that perhaps a bit of moderation in what we
pile on top of our burgers would make for better table manners and require
fewer napkins (which are made of paper too thin and folded way to small).
Of course the highlight of the day was visiting with Dick
and Cheryl. I had been way too long since our last get together. We had a good
satisfying meal, uncovered some more of the local history and trivia; we found
a new place where the locals go to grab a bite to eat all the while enjoying
the ambiance of Gulf Coast Florida. All in all I would call that a pretty good
Labels: 50's, 60's, blackened fish, Blind Pass, burger, chicken, Gulf of Mexico, hot wings, Intracoastal Waterway, St Pete Beach, ultimate, Woody's, wrap
Product Review - Tai Pei General Tso's Chicken
|Tai Pei General Tso's Chicken Carton|
Tai Pei - Asian Gardens - Spicy General Tso’s Chicken
This is an impromptu product evaluation. It all started when
I was going to make a small batch of fried rice to use up some leftover
chicken. A bit before the wife said she was going to have some other left over
for dinner just to clean out the fridge. When she found out I was going to make
fried rice she decided that she wanted fried rice too. Fried rice is popular at
our house. It is a great catch-all for leftovers and it tastes really good not
to mention that it is quite simple to make in its simplest form. When I plan to
make it ahead of time as a main dish it can be quite elaborate; seasoned rice,
lots of fresh chopped vegetables and loads of the selected meat, be it chicken,
beef, pork or shrimp.
This batch of fried rice was not going to be as elaborate. I
was missing a few of the veggies I like to use, notably scallions but I was
going to use chives fresh from the garden instead. There was just a small dab
of chicken so I only cooked a cup of rice ahead of time. That would have made
an adequate dish for one but when I found out it was being split two ways I
knew someone was going to be really hungry after dinner, mainly me.
|Serving 1 - The yellow rice in the back is the fried rice.|
I was thinking it would be a good time to go to the local
Chinese take-out and pick up a side dish to go with the rice. It was a bit
early to start preparing dinner and we needed a few things from the store. So
we decided instead to get something from the frozen food section to go along
with the rice. Some time back we had picked up a box of General Tso’s Chicken
at the local Sam’s Club. It was typical a typical Sam’s Club mega-pack with
bags of breaded and fried chicken morsels and packs of sauce. That particular
offering was just the meat and sauce, no vegetables, not a hint of broccoli.
But they did taste good; a nice spicy sauce over large pieces of mostly white
chicken meat. The memory of a good experience with that product prompted us to
seek out a similar one at the local super market.
It was slim pickings at the super market. There was a large
bag with vegetables and sauce mix (you add your own chicken) that would have
made a main dish all by itself for almost $9 not counting the chicken. I kept
looking for something smaller, less elaborate, something tasty and easy to
share… About the only other thing I could
find in the oriental vein was a line of Tai Pei products in various flavors
including General Tso’s chicken. It was pint-sized container of General Tso’s
Chicken with some vegetables and sauce over rice. At almost $4 it was only
slightly less expensive as a pint of take out from the local Chinese place. I
wasn’t too happy about the rice that was included but it was getting close to
dinner time and we took home our prize.
|Serving 2 - 1/2 of the carton. The yellow rice in the background is fried rice|
I suppose if I had read the label including all of the very
fine print I would have known better. And, what I wanted and expected was not
the product that Tai Pei provided. What I expected was a pint serving of
General Tso’s Chicken with some rice added; an entrée dish. The instructions
were to microwave for several minutes without removing or puncturing the
plastic wrap – apparently to trap steam. After it was cooked I open the package
and looked inside, deep, way down inside. It is amazing how deep the inside of
a pint container can seem when there is little content at the bottom. It didn’t
look too bad, perhaps a bit “oversteamed,”it had a nice aroma and it tasted
good. At first I was concerned that I perhaps had gotten a defective, under-filled
package. Looking at the container I saw the words that I should have heeded at
the supermarket. There is a small illustration showing the levels as frozen and
after cooking; from three quarters to one half and the caveat, “Settling may
occur.” It also said that the contents were sold by weight and not by volume.
The 11 ounce by weight contents fall way short of filling the 16 fluid ounce
container. As for the settling after cooking, it was all there hiding in the
bottom third of the container, a serving spoon dollop apiece was our share.
In the future I will stock up on a couple of the Sam’s Club
offerings to have in the freezer for the wisp of the moment, conger up
something good to eat moments. And, if I ever need to augment again, I will
stop in at the local Chinese take-out. Compared to the Tai Pei offering, a
third of a carton of cooked food, at $4, for $5or even $6 at the local take-out
they will provide me with a full pint container of good tasting food, hot and ready
to serve; three times the food for only a dollar or two more.
|Read the label before you buy.|
As I mentioned, if I had been more careful in reading the
menu at the super market I would have probably passed on this product. It wasn’t what I really wanted. I wanted a pint
of Chinese take-out from the grocer’s freezer. That is not what it is. It is a
snack-sized portion of Chinese style food in an oversized Chinese take-out
container. If a snack-sized serving is what you want, available in just 5
minutes from the freezer, either at home or work, this may be just right for
you. Although the cooking directions seem to result in a bit of over-cooking ,
it doesn’t look too bad, has a nice aroma and tastes very good. It is mostly
rice with some vegetables and a bit of chicken. I just have trouble getting
past the large amount of empty space and rice I purchased at the same rate as a
full, real Chinese take-out.
Labels: broccoli, chicken, Chinese, General, spicy, take-out, Tso's