Peel and Eat Shrimp

Cheese Monger

Hamachi crudo


**** (4 stars)

If you are a cheese lover, Haven is a must visit. There are dozens of cheeses on their menu, and the “Cheese Monger” offers a selection of 18(!) of them on one well-organized plate. My only wish was for more variety, as they were almost all cow’s milk, and mostly the same firmness. I’d have liked some more soft ones, and some stinkier ones. But that’s just me.

The menu also offers a nice selection of other small plates. We liked the hamachi crudo. The peel and eat shrimp was okay, but I didn’t care for the harissa flavor of the accompanying remoulade, as it overwhelmed the other flavors.

The interior decor is gorgeous, with reasonable lighting levels and not too noisy, even though there are no soft surfaces except the booths (which offer the quietest place to sit).

The wine list is extensive, and the more expensive wines are actually the better deals.

Service was friendly and efficient.

2208 W Morrison Ave
Tampa, FL 33606
(813) 258-2233

The Tam O’Shanter

Prime rib English cut

Toad in the hole




***** (5 stars)

Opened in 1922, Tam O’Shanter is one of LA’s oldest restaurants. Although it is owned by Lawry’s, the atmosphere is quite different, with cozy nooks and fireplaces everywhere throughout the rabbit warren of rooms.

As at Lawry’s, prime rib is a major attraction, but there are many other interesting dishes, some with an Old World history, such as Toad in the Hole, which here is served as a large Yorkshire Pudding filled with stew ingredients.

The wine list at first looks small, but it is simply compact. Extensive selections are available in every category, and pricing is reasonable.

Our server, Mark, was that rare mixture of professional waiter, interesting personality, and gracious host, and he made our evening a delight.

The Tam O’Shanter
2980 Los Feliz Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90039
(323) 664-0228

Dialog Cafe



***** (5 stars)

This cute, family owned coffee shop just off the Sunset Strip offers friendly service and excellent coffee drinks. There are also a large number of breakfast items, and tasty croissants. My macchiato was perfect and attractive.

Dialog Cafe
8766 Holloway Dr
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 289-1630

Mr. Quick

**** (4 stars)

Mr. Quick serves good reliable diner food in an old-fashioned roadside diner setting. If your group can’t decide between breakfast lunch and dinner, Mr. Quick has it covered, as they serve all three at once. The extremely extensive menu offers pretty much every diner food you can think of.

The omelets are interesting because they are served in either flat or fluffy styles, a choice I’ve never been offered before.

Corn beef hash, eggs and hashbrowns were prepared just the way I requested.

The burger was good too.

The staff are definitely into what they’re doing here, in both the front of house and behind the counter, as service was prompt and courteous, and true to its name our assortment of dishes were served pretty darned quick.

Mr. Quick
5615 W Colonial Dr
Orlando, FL 32808
(407) 293-0511

Keke’s Breakfast Cafe

**** (4 stars)

This is one of the better Keke’s locations, with a nice interior and excellent staff. While I usually go to Keke’s for breakfast, they have a fair variety of lunch items as well.

The Carolina Chicken wrap I tried on this visit combined fried chicken chunks, pecans, bacon, tomato, and lettuce. It was good with the accompanying spicy remoulade, which was really intended for the rather flavorless onion rings.

Keke’s Breakfast Cafe
2433 S Hiawassee Rd
Ste 130
Orlando, FL 32835
(407) 298-3684

The Kitchen Chicago

*** (3 stars)

We tried this place for brunch on a Saturday, and it was fine. It’s an unusual cross between coffee shop and seafood bar. As a result the mussels were the best dish. They were tender and had an excellent broth and were served with nicely grilled bread.

The poached salmon salad was just so-so. The salmon what rather sturdy, as were the stems of the accompanying greens.

Service was friendly and efficient.

The Kitchen Chicago
316 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 836-1300

Dixie Cream Cafe

**** (4 stars)

This is a charming cafe right in downtown Windermere. I’m old enough to remember this space not only as a convenience store, but also as the post office that preceded it. So it’s odd that I’ve driven past hundreds of times, but only just finally stopped in to check it out. It definitely exceeded my expectations.

There’s counter service for freshly made pastries, coffees, and other beverages, and sit down dining in several areas: the restaurant proper, high tops in the area near the coffee bar, and covered tables outside along the porch. Each offers a different ambiance.

The comprehensive menu includes coffee shop standards with an emphasis on breakfast, and more cafe-like items including artisan sandwiches and gourmet burgers. Fish tacos and other eclectic fare round out the diverse offerings.

I opted for the BL(FG)T, which is a unique version of a BLT using fried green tomatoes. It was delicious, especially the toasted multi-grain bread. I opted to upgrade my side to a mixed green salad, which was served on the same plate. It had a nice mix of greens and an excellent blue cheese dressing.

A very fresh coconut macaroon was the perfect dessert.

Service was very friendly and attentive. I’ll definitely be back to try some of the other interesting lunch dishes, and to check out breakfast.

Dixie Cream Cafe
434 Main St
Windermere, FL 34786
(407) 217-5047

Harold€’s Restaurant

***** (5 stars)

If there is a better omelette on the face of the planet, I have yet to find it. I’ve been going here for thirty years, and even through a change in ownership and expansion into the space next door, the omelettes have remained transcendental.

My favorite is the Special Omelette, which contains bacon, green chilis and sour cream. A mound of hash browns form the base, then come the ingredients, and then a fluffy egg disc the size of a frisbee. Ask for your hash browns well done for the ultimate omelette enjoyment experience.

Harold’s Restaurant
2440 E Thousand Oaks Blvd
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
(805) 230-3147