Tag Archives: Restaurant Reviews
It’s not good to begin writing a restaurant review when your pissed at the place your reviewing. I’ve been eating at both Pickles Plus locations – now one – for many years. I was there today and when paying my bill, I was informed they were out of chopped liver. This has never happened to me. Pickles Plus chopped liver is one of the truly amazing joys of existing on this planet. I prefer it in the morning with my hazelnut coffee on an “Everything” bagel toasted. The fact that they had none left is bound to just screw up the rest of my week. If I wasn’t going out of the country for a week on assignment, I would be back there tomorrow asking when a new batch will be ready for “me”. Until then I will be cursing Joe Benedettini, the owner, and I’ll have to wait to return for my world to be right.
So, Pickles is a kind of an under the radar screen “NY-style” deli – you either know about or you don’t. It’s located at the Northwood Plaza strip mall at 2530 McMullen Booth Rd. in Clearwater. You can spot the Boar’s Head black and red umbrellas outside. Inside, I’m not crazy about the plastic tables and chairs, the old green carpeting or the leaky ceiling that, I see, has finally been repaired. I tend to eat outside more, until the Florida heat and humidity becomes so oppressive that it drives customers inside for cool air. There are couple of “sports-bar-ish” flat screens inside on either side, which nobody except the servers pay attention to. The deli was established back in 1989 by folks that merged their talents from New Jersey and Michigan.
There used to be a downtown Clearwater location, but since the various commissions and politicians destroyed the business section and the beach front of the place I so loved when I first moved down here – certainly nothing to do with Pickles, there is just the Northwood Plaza location. Personally, I never liked that downtown location. I felt the service was slow and wait staff poorly trained. My “regular” waitress, she always wore a Freeport Islands hat or something, doesn’t seem to be there anymore. Our waiter this afternoon, my wife was with me tonight, was a nice young eager man, but kept saying awesome or fantabulous or something like that either every time we made a request. I appreciate his, what shall I call it, passion and positivity, but a simple “your welcome” would suffice.
Strange night for me. I had a 7pm tattoo appointment with Angelika at Foolish Pride on Central Ave. Next week, I’m headed out of the country for a few days. There is sun, salt water and a pool or two involved. Angelika had just come from ballet class, ready to work, but when she heard about my plans, she, wisely, said to put off the appointment for two weeks. It was to be my first “tat” and I was extremely disappointment, but then she is a real pro at what she does and I deferred to her expertise. I left her my design and walked outside stunned. I have waited years to do this and now it’s on hold albeit temporarily. My wife was with me and we decided to just cruise up Central.
Across the street was a gallery opening. The last one we attended, was, well, never. We don’t do gallery openings. It’s not how we roll. This was slightly interesting, but other than one painting that stood out to us, everything else was obvious art. Chicken wire painted black over a Nazi symbol with oppressed people in the background in front of a stone fence. Is it really necessary? The Holocaust Museum is across the street. Better there, maybe, than here. Some metal works sculptures reminded me that this was really more of a craft show than an gallery opening with relevant art. The sale of home made jewelry proved my point. The one outstanding painting had cats, balloons, a clown at a circus – I would have invested in it, if I had the wall space, the money and loved cats, which I don’t.
The shock of my tattoo-less right arm slowly dissipating, we were starting to get hungry. We passed by a few places, Korean or Japanese or maybe both, but they reminded me of the places I used to look into on 42nd St. in NYC. Do any of you remember places like Tad’s? Charbroiled steak over high flames, smells like a higher quality Burger King, but based on the way the place looked, you’d never go inside. There was an original European bistro – one couple was eating at one of the tables outside. It looked as though a ghost brought them their wine and salads. We saw nobody else around – not even inside. The next place, don’t know the name, looked like it shut down for good only a few hours ago – the only remaining activity to auction everything off. Why it is that every place we passed had dirty greasy menus laying on the table tops. Many tables not cleared yet. Don’t you want customers?