Category Archives: Exotic


We’re heading downtown this morning. Looks like New York City, with all these big buildings! For our readers not from Tampa: This is pretty much all there is. We’re not actually like New York City.


Notice anything new about Marek? First glasses, and he’s so proud to be like mom and dad.


We revisited L’Eden at 500 N. Tampa Street on 11 January 2014. It’s not our first time, but it surely has been a while. Our last visit was pre-Ivo, four years ago.


Now that Marek has glasses, everything he does looks so studious. Now that he can read pretty much anything and he has glasses, I get more and more photographs like this one. He also likes to tell me over and over how he knows everything now. Glasses will do that for you.


Ivo doesn’t have glasses, but does this kid love playing with a knife.


It’s only a problem when he starts swinging his knife around like a sword, chopping everything and everyone around him. Of course, that never happens.


Is this Marek reaching out to stop his brother’s rampage? Or is this Marek with his own knife, joining the fray? You be the judge. Of the nice coffee that just arrived at the table. No time to pay attention to the boys, there’s coffee to drink.


The avant guard of fashion, menu hats. Innovators, that’s Tampa Bay Breakfasts.


Something to keep in mind when you visit L’Eden, and I hope you visit L’Eden, is that it’s not fast. Gerard is probably working alone in the back. So come prepared to play a little “gimme five … too slow!” (Which is also how I keep their mother entertained when on a date.)


Something’s happening over there behind the bar.


Hurray, breakfast is coming! Le Petit Déjeuner! She’s from New York, by the way, not France, not that it matters.


Marek got the American breakfast, with eggs, taters, bacon, sausage. These are the fluffiest scrambled eggs we’ve ever seen (and you know we’ve seen a lot of scrambled eggs).


I had the savory croissant with fruit. Perfectly fresh fruit and a croissant that was so lovely and delicate, it was like the bread equivalent of Ivo when he’s sleeping peacefully. (He’s usually sleeping peacefully on a pile of wreckage from his destruction of the house, but then he’s still lovely and delicate when he’s sleeping.)


Marek took this picture of his old dad. Note the little grabby-hand I had to catch to protect my chow.


Ivo had the pain au raisin, which he chose from the trays of fresh-fresh-freshly baked everything up on the bar.


And he yoinked my fruit also, for which I taxed him half a pain au raisin.


A happy Marek, a happy dad. Boy needs a haircut. Maybe on our next breakfast we’ll do that. Like I’m one to talk, with my mop of random grey. Note Marek’s holding of the grape.


And Ivo’s holding of the grape. Strange children.


Marek tried something new. That’s new, that he tried something new. He usually demands to stick with what he knows. He loved the croissant, and then gave it back. He usually doesn’t give back things he likes. Wow. Let it be recorded: First moment of budding maturity.


Ivo steps up to pay the bill. Check out how I’m giving him a card and he’s gazing off into the distance, thoughtfully, considering just how big a car he could buy with this card (Ivo, here’s a hint: Not very big).


Ivo would make a good waiter. Gerard, you may want to hire him in a few years.


Marek, sweet kid looking out for dad, went up to the bar to get me a coffee to go. That’s a good son. I think I’ll keep him around. He hasn’t figured out how to monetize his sweetness yet. He could say, “dad, I’ll get you a coffee for a quarter.” But he doesn’t. Not because he’s being sweet for free, but because it hasn’t occurred to him yet to start charging me for everything. That’s coming.


When we were all paid up at L’Eden, we walked over to Curtis Hixon Park. We went by way of the Rivergate Plaza and Kiley Garden. When the boys got to the top of the stairs, they cried, “wow! It’s a maze!” And started running. It’s a shame we don’t have more kids and more going on downtown. Tampa could be a real city.


And what about L’Eden? The food is lovely and lives up to all the praise you read about in the papers. The location is very nice, cozy and warm. Prices a little higher than maybe you’d spend elsewhere, but you’re not getting ripped off by any stretch. Our friend Gerard from Marseille has brought a wonderful bit of his home to us here in Tampa. Go to L’Eden. Thank him for not opening his fine little restaurant in Orlando. We’re pleased to give L’Eden a Tampa Bay Breakfasts four and a half pancake rating.


L'Eden on Urbanspoon

Jessi’s Restaurant

Boys are on dad time again today. We were going to get old-timey haircuts (for them, natch), but our local chop-shop is closed on Sundays. We’ll be back next week, boys’ attitudes allowing.


New location in the area for dad to pop in for a quick one on the way home. Last time I was in this building it was a used appliance store (and they were sold out of window-unit air conditioners). Now it’s becoming the “Red Star Rock Bar.” Being a fan of retro-references like the 45 RPM inserts in this cool mural they’re painting, and being a fan of appropriating the devenomed Soviet Union as if it existed only to become an aspect of American hipster pop culture, I think I’m going to like this when it finally opens.


This Bayshore morning is gloomy. Maybe not Portland-gloomy, but what do I know, I’ve never been to Portland.


In the year 2063 when Ivo is going to the robot doctor because he has pain in his right hip, the highest court in the land, the Google Internet Court of All-Seeing, will exhume my FaceBook page and blame me for Ivo’s middle-aged arthritis by allowing his older brother to pull his leg out of the socket. This picture will be all the evidence the future needs.


The gloom is worse over in Pinellas Park.


It cleared up slightly by the time we got to Jessi’s Family Restaurant, recommended by TBB fan Don B. Jessi’s has a nice web site at, and in the realm of the physical they’re located at 8331 66th Street N. Pinellas Park, FL 33781. Or in Tirana, if the Albanian omelets are any indication.


We look like a bad 70s TV show promo picture, don’t we? Ivo’s the tough guy. I’m the unhinged mad scientist. Marek’s the psycho who eats lollipops while tying dynamite to your chest before throwing you out of the back of an airplane so you explode in mid-air.


It’s a good sign. There was coffee on the table before I could even sit down. And not from the table’s previous occupants, either.


Marek makes me think of the old Springsteen lyric, “Well now Wild young Billy was a crazy cat and he shook some dust out of his coonskin cap.

This boy needs a coonskin cap.


Coffee straight up for young Ivo.

Man, that boy needs a haircut. And I should know, just look at all my hair.


Marek’s lure to come to breakfast: The hot chocolate. He initially ordered the wrong kind. What he really wanted was the “hot chocolate please,” which is so much tastier than a regular “hot chocolate.”


I’m having the Albanian omelet, and I’m thinking there’s a lot of Albanians in this part of town. Not the first Albanian breakfast we’ve been to. Our waitress, however, is Canadian. A real melting-pot here.


Two year old with a knife. Nothing to see here.


Marek would like you to note that he brought his “very special Corvette” with him this morning.


And here we go with breakfast. Standard-issue bacon and eggs for the Marek.


Ivo promptly started mauling his pancakes with cutlery. Taking out hidden aggressions from all that militant potty-training, I suppose.


Albanian omelet. This will put a spring in your traditional Albanian folk dancing.


I see this and think that Ivo’s conducting an orchestra. Orchestra of his belly.


Marek’s eating the whole thing. This picture is notable, by the way, as it represents the one split-second where both boys were actually good and calm at the same time this morning. Every other shot I take is of a good boy while the other is pouring sugar down my gas tank.


Marek pauses. The din of the melee raging around him fades. He looks his nemesis in the eye. Coldly. Measuringly. He knows that this moment will define him and will decide the outcome of the battle. He prepares to strike.


This is what the Iliad would look like if it were about breakfast.


We all pause for a coffee.


Ivo whipped out a Jackson and said, “I’ve got this one, dad.”


Sizing up the challenge.


On the way out, we noticed all these pictures of, presumably, family and friends. This bumped Jessi’s from a 4 to a 4.5. These are folks who care about folks, and that counts a lot to me.


Not captured on camera here: Marek stopping at one of these statues and saying, “Dad, this woman is naked!”

Also not captured, dad replying, “ayyyup.”


Leaving the parking lot. I suspect the building housing Jessi’s is repurposed. I didn’t see a single cart in the restaurant that would cause them to need this sign.


Jessi’s is a recommendation that came to us from Tampa Bay Breakfasts fan Don B. This was a great breakfast. Food was just right. Staff and customers alike were friendly and warm. A good family atmosphere, and the coffee never ran dry. Two breakfasts and three drinking men set us back just a sliver under twenty, which wasn’t the cheapest ever, but was still in budget. We’re pleased to give Jessi’s Family Restaurant a Tampa Bay Breakfasts Four and a Half Pancake Rating.


Jessi's Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

After breakfast, we rolled into the Lake Seminole Park, which is where my parents used to take me when I was Marek’s age.


As is the tradition with our tribe, we took a quiet moment of solitude to reflect, and also to yell at ducks.


We had gone to the grocery the day before. Each boy carried his own basket and got to choose one apple. Bachelor training, you know. We brought our apples for snacks for the ride home.


I took note of this fine American’s pickup truck on the way home. Soon enough I’ll be discussing with the boys why this person felt his misogynistic and violent views need to be on display. Let’s analyze: The “shocker” sticker in the upper left is a sexual reference not suitable for this blog, though we can say that it is not an act of empowerment for women on the receiving end. The “assault life” statement with the weapon implies a life that is founded on violence. I see this truck and it scares me. Not me, personally, but for my children who will have to grow up and navigate a world where it’s not only OK, but even encouraged to make crass statements on the highway that women are toys and lethal violence is the whimsical answer to the question. This guy probably has boys in the back and thinks it funny to teach them the little rhyme for “the shocker.”

I’m teaching my boys to grow up smart enough to manipulate the bullies, navigate the hate, and become real human beings.

Let’s hope so, anyway.


Consciousness Blossoms

We visited Consciousness Blossoms at Tampa Road in Palm Harbor on 2 June 2012.

Today it’s just Ivo and me, because Marek told me he “doesn’t want to go to breakfast with you anymore, dad.” He told Favorite Guest Reviewer Mom that “dad always drives too long to get to breakfast and I don’t like it.” Given that Consciousness Blossoms was a 45 minute drive, I guess he was smart to stay home.

Well-tended little garden out front. For a Pinellas County strip mall, this is very unique.

Ivo’s perfectly capable, and in fact encouraged to used a regular cup. But he got a nice sippy-cup, which is actually the first time we’ve ever seen where a restaurant has proper sippy cups like this. And there were big crayons, too. I let Ivo draw with them when I was done.

Nice, welcoming menu cover.

Inside is equal parts food and essay. I did not attempt to order a side-helping of philosophy, but since it’s in the menu I presume it’s possible. And probably offered free of charge. If I wasn’t here with a two year old, I’d have taken the time to read this.

But instead of reading the philosophical underpinnings of Consciousness Blossoms, I turned Ivo upsidedown and commenced to tickling him.

Consciousness Blossoms is very friendly, very clean, and very unique. But it’s not fast. So we spent some time goofing off.

Inside is nice and clean and bright. Cheery, even.

And on the table is a set of randomy cards with uplifting notions.

After goofing and after discussing Sri Chinmoy’s aphorisms. Note that Tampa Bay Breakfasts is a non-denominational breakfast organization and does not endorse any philosophy or religion that does not serve pancakes.

And speaking of serving pancakes, where we go!

Now speaking of breakfast, which is the whole reason we’re here, you’ll see that this is a very unique breakfast for us. We’ve never had soy bacon (I make it at home sometimes, but never when we’re out performing our official breakfast function). The whole thing is dairy-free. The eggs come from happy chickens. I know, because I asked, did the eggs come from happy chickens? The answer was, “yes, of course.”

Pancakes, with blueberries, were a decent size. A hungry boy can go away happy.

The “1 fish 2 fish” shirt is Ivo’s favorite. I put that on him and he runs around pointing at the fish, making his cute little “I can’t talk yet” grunts and squeaks. Ivo dug right into breakfast. He didn’t like the potatoes, but I loved them. He did, however, polish off the eggs. The pancakes were very good, probably be best whole-wheat blueberry pancakes we’ve ever had in our Tampa Bay Breakfasts. The only ones, too.

Even the toast was nice. Though the little Smuckers jellies seemed out of place in a breakfast that was so hand-crafted.

Ivo was sort of gooey and sticky after we finished, so we went to wash up.

When the bill came, we found out how much it costs to have happy chickens and Karma-free breakfasts. Much like in the software world where we say “think freedom of speech, not free beer,” “Karma-free” does not mean “less cost.” We had to trot out more than a Jackson for breakfast me and Ivo.

Ivo paid the bill. I mean, really, who else would do it? Obviously, we need new business cards if Marek doesn’t get back on the breakfast train! (And the timing’s good, because we’re almost out of business cards!)

Ivo found his way to the back counter and paid the bill. He did not, however, get one of those cookies.

On the ride home, I endangered us all by taking this cool picture of me and Ivo in the rear view mirror. Art without danger is merely decoration.

Consciousness Blossoms was a good and unique experience. The food was delish. Great pancakes, wonderful potatoes, interesting coffee. The people were friendly. There’s certainly no shortage of a sense that you’re in a new experience, breakfast-wise. The price is the real knock. Me and Ivo together weigh about 200 pounds. With breakfast costing about $20, that’s about $1 per 10 pounds of person. Bet you never heard of measuring value by THAT metric, have you? I’m uncertain about the Sri Chinmoy tie-in. Googling him returns some interesting results. But as far as a breakfast experience, we’re pleased to give Consciousness Blossoms a Tampa Bay Breakfasts our and a half pancake rating.


Consciousness-Blossoms on Urbanspoon

Ric’s Kountry Kitchen

I visited Ric’s in Manama on 3 October. I visited Ric’s in Doha a few years back, too. Ric has a nice web page, with a few broken links, here:

Ric’s is just a cricket field away from the Grand Mosque. Points for location.

Nice entrance. Very rustic.

The menu has the whole story on how Ric’s got started. Oddly enough, this story is not on the web page. And sadly enough, my phone camera was shaky when I took the picture.

A respectable breakfast offering here. With blueberry pancakes!

Makes me wish that I had room for pie.

After The Dome’s Emir-grade coffee yesterday, Ric’s coffee is sort of, well, lusterless. But it comes with refills, the way a good American diner should handle coffee, so we’ll call it even.

International Mississippi syrup ingredients. I’m not entirely comforted by this label.

There’s a big Kountry theme in Ric’s Kountry Kitchen. Including this portrait of John Wayne.

And these chaps.

Inside is faux rustic and very cowboy. Just what you need when you’ve had your fill of sand and camels and need to get back to the familiar. If your familiar is Out West. Or a movie set.

Mary Ann Rowell painted these walls in 2002. Google offers no insight on Ms. Rowell.

Here’s me. No Marek. No Ivo. This is no fun at all without them.

Blueberry Pancakes! That’ll take the edge off of any problem. It’s not just that the pancakes have blueberries in them, but they’re actually blue, too. I’m going to decide to like it that way.

It’s hard to tell if these pancakes are better than The Dome’s pancakes, but they’re certainly good, and different.

I’m sitting by the window. There’s a little courtyard. In the courtyard is a bunny.

Seriously. Look at the picture.

Let’s hope breakfast fits on a fiver, ’cause that’s all I’ve got!

It’s interesting that you flip the bill and it’s in English. Unlike the U.S. dollar these days, where when you flip the bill it has negative numbers and the sound of bankers laughing at you.

Walking out the door, you see this nice and friendly sign. With ridiculous graffiti. “See you later nerd.” Seriously? That’s the best you could come up with?

I left just in time to catch a cricket match! The guy in black in the dead-center of the group is in mid-bowl of the ball. Given my non-professional phone camera, I’m sort of impressed that I caught him in the act.

I love cricket. It’s as boring and nonsensical as American baseball, but only more so because it’s foreign. I watched cricket on BBC Asia for almost a year in the BMC days (that’s before married and children) and finally figured out the rules. And promptly forgot them when I got home and got married. Love’s like that.

This was a good breakfast. Cricket. The Grand Mosque. Blue pancakes with blueberries. A bunny. Lonely, though. Next breakfast will be with Marek and Ivo. That’s not Ric’s fault, though. Given the location, you’ve got to give Ric’s a lot of credit for making a real expat oasis. I’m pleased to give Ric’s Kountry Kitchen a Tampa Bay Breakfasts four pancake rating.


The Dome Cafe

I visited the Dome Cafe in the Juffair section of Manama by myself on 2 October 2011. The Dome has a nice web site at

I parked next to this inexplicable and gaping hole in the ground. Perhaps it’s a tourist trap?

The Dome is a chain. I didn’t find out until I was inside and thought, wow, this is a nice, cozy place. I bet it’s a chain. Pretty good, comprehensive menu.

Including a whole spread on how important their coffee is to the balance of the universe. Note that there’s nowhere on this menu where you can just say “gimme a coffee” and they know exactly what you mean.

Inside is a very nice and welcoming space. You could be here with a lot of friends. Not a lot of customers at this time of day.

This is a lonely breakfast. My first ever solo review, now that I think of it. Lucky for me, there’s lots of magazines to read. No car magazines, so I chose one with fashion models on the cover.

Look at this advertisement. “Sky Nanny?” What the helicopter is that? And why don’t I have two or three of them?

After all the fashion and coffee, it was time for pancakes. Lovely presentation on this, don’t you think?

Coffee and pancakes. Four and a half Dinars. Remember that number, we’ll come back to it in a moment.

When I filled up the tank, I found that it took about 4 Dinars to raise the needle from E to F. That’s right. A full tank of gas cost less than a simple breakfast at The Dome. Though I’ve got to admit, that doesn’t mean that The Dome is especially expensive.

My visit to The Dome was lonely without Marek and Ivo, but the people were friendly, the service was good, and the pancakes were reasonable. The coffee was boutique-good. And now I know that a wonderful thing called a Sky Nanny exists. Shame The Dome is a chain, but at least it’s an Aussie chain so I haven’t seen so many of them on Dale Mabry that I’m allergic.

After correcting for time zones, I’m pleased to give The Dome a Tampa Bay Breakfasts four pancake rating.


Just For You

Marek was unable to join me for breakfast this weekend, for reasons that are related to Kung Fu Tacos. We’re going to do a breakfast with Ivo and some friends anyway, because we know our Tampa Bay Breakfasts readers demand no less than perfection.

Did I mention Kung Fu Tacos? If you’re wondering if we’re in San Francisco, you might be on to something.

We visited Just For You at 732 22nd Street in San Francisco on 9 November 2010. They have a very nice web site at Also, check out how Mapquest did a complete redesign since our last posting. The old links are still supported, which is a bit of a relief.

Inside is a perfect little breakfast nook. Cozy, inviting, slightly eclectic, and above all, friendly. We sat in a cool window booth. Not shown here: The window booth.

We were joined by our old friend Rene! Note that “old” as an adjective modifies the noun “friend” and not the proper noun “Rene.” Also note the delicious chicory coffee we’re slurping this morning. Delish!

We’re also breaking bread with Ivo and Mia.

What? That’s not the Ivo you expected? I hope we get to hear more of this story. After all, how many people named “Ivo” can there possibly be in America?

Great menu, with lots of California flair. I decided to ask for a “Cow Girl.” The guy said “OK.” Then I asked for some pancakes, bacon, eggs. He told me that that was a cowgirl. Sad. I was hoping to see some big Texas hats.

When breakfast came, it came wrapped in delicious! Mighty slabs of bacon, almost like strips of ham. Good, big pancakes. Tasty eggs. More coffee, too. This is good eatin’.

Mia is Ivo’s little girl. She’s never met Marek but we figure they’re still young, so there’s plenty of time for her to turn him down when he asks her out. Ivo’s the inspiration for the name we gave Marek’s little brother Ivo. And he’s a gosh-darned nice guy, too.

Rene and I started working on the same day for a company two jobs back for me and one job back for her. Coming to Just For You was actually Rene’s idea. Any Tampa Bay Breakfasts readers who are enjoying this San Francisco Treat should thank Rene from saving you from a TBB review of the airport snack bar.

There’s more than one kid who likes pancakes. Mia is like a female Marek, but without all the little cars flying across the table.

The bill came. I’m not going to lie to you. San Francisco is not Tampa. It could have been worse, and was probably cheap by local standards. We left our calling card and I had a teary moment missing my breakfast sidekick (he probably thinks I’m HIS sidekick).

Excellent food, delicious coffee, cozy and cute location, lots of neighborhood regulars. Rene, Mia, and The Original Ivo pushed this one over the edge and made it great. I’m voting for Marek by proxy and giving Just For You a Tampa Bay Breakfasts four and a half pancake rating. Which does not actually count towards Tampa Bay Breakfast of the Year since you can’ hardly get farther away from Tampa than this.


Just For You Cafe on Urbanspoon


It’s been a tough month for Tampa Bay Breakfasts. Infants don’t eat pancakes, and they’re too young to let the television be a surrogate parent and distract them. To our loyal readers, we’re very sorry that we’ve been missing a few outings but we hope this one will help make up for it.

We visited Taste at 500 Main Street in Safety Harbor on 26 September 2010. They have a lovely web site at To get there, we had to haul way across the Courtney Campbell. It was a lovely morning. You can see Safety Harbor off on the right.

The only drawback to Taste is that they don’t actually serve breakfast. It’s brunch. So we’re actually here almost at lunchtime. Suites us fine, as that makes our hungry rumbly. It’s a cozy little space inside, obviously more geared towards evening pleasures than crack-o-Dawn (sorry, cousin Dawn, don’t mean to crack on you) breakfast slinging.

We have to remember that Taste isn’t a greasy-spoon diner and that we’re here for brunch, not breakfast, so please, don’t judge the sparse and eclectic menu from our usual truck-stop-chic perspective. There’s some very interesting chow on this short sheet.

This morning we had the extreme pleasure of being joined by our two favorite guest reviewers, Mom and Ivo. What most folks don’t realize, is that Mom was actually a circus performer before we got married. She would ride this 8-foot unicycle backwards while juggling puppies and balancing a teacup on her chin. Here’s a great shot of her performing this stunt today.

A lot of parents have these old-fashioned rules about child-rearing, like feeding infants breast milk or formula. That’s so very yesterday. Shown here is our very own Ivo, having a delicious blended pancake with bacon. He’ll have a second bottle with coffee in it next.

The following photograph has no breakfast-related merit.

Oddly enough, many people who meet Marek for the first time think his name is “Merit.” I guess it could be worse, they could think it’s “fart-blossom.”

Our fine hosts advised that they make better Cafe con Leche than Cubans do. Both Ivo and I tried one and we found it delicious. I don’t know that it’s better than that at the Caribbean Point on Hillsborough, but it was mighty fine indeed. Ivo loved it. Marek stuck with the plain black coffee, as is his habit, being that he’s older and everyone knows that three years old “big boys” like their coffee black and bitter.

Favorite Guest Reviewer Mom had this fancy hot chocolate, which was the Best Hot Chocolate She Had All Day.


Check out this funky contraption of brunch. We’ve got South African-inspired eggs, some truly wonderful rosemary potatoes. We’ve been to a lot of places, but we’ve never been to South Africa. We did really enjoy District 9, and once upon a time I took it upon myself to read the Army War College reading list, where I encountered The Defense of Duffer’s Drift, which has a lot of practical applications for approaching breakfasts while carrying two young kids around.

Marek had the waffle, which lasted about as long as our hopes for a winning Bucs season. Though we’ve got to say that the Bolts are really looking good!

Mom has the vodka French toast. With two kids, she also was considering just having the vodka.

We wrapped up with the bill. This was one of our more expensive breakfast adventures; we needed to roll out a Jackson and his twin brother to pay our way. I’d hoped that they would have offered to just take a child in payment, but, alas, they knew better.

Marek said, “oh father, would you be ever so kind as to allow me to take care of payment for this fine repast?” By which I mean, he was practicing his fake burping. A new skill he just rolled out this month. Blech. Belly-laugh. Bwwrrrap. Giggle. And so on. Pablo Neruda got his start the same way.

Not only did Marek get a pop, they had a whole barrel of them! These are Our Kinda People!

Taste was simply a good, warm, fun experience. The people here make it, with their obvious love of their food and the friends who come to share in it. We wouldn’t say this is a cheap way to start the day, but it’s certainly a winner for the unique tastes and the wonderful folks.

But it’s brunch, not breakfast, so we can’t realllllllly give it five pancakes. We’re pleased to give the fine folks at Taste a four and a half pancake rating. (But … keep reading!)


And then we received a lovely invitation. Taste was hosting a food-writer’s dinner and would I like to join?

I promptly pointed out that Marek and I are a team, can he come?

He was even more welcome than I was, so we jumped in the car!

Like many world-class professionals, we need motivational music to get ready for our big event. On the ride over we got amped up with Lamb of God.

Probably the best food experience we’ve had so far is to walk up to a restaurant that’s closed for a private function, and we’re actually invited to that function. Marek is sporting what can only be a big ole goofy grin.

And it kept getting better! We were expected!

We still had to sign in.

And get comfortable.

Marek was able to get some clarinet lessons. Turns out he can play more than just the electric guitar.

Then it was time to find the toys. This is a mark of a good place. Toys.

Since it’s not breakfast, we had wine. Well, one of us, anyway. Marek likes the hard-juice.

Then we all listened to our hosts welcome us, and we all made introductions. While I talked about our mission (to leave no pancake unflipped, natch), Marek passed out his business cards.

And then … our camera battery died before the food rolled out, so we didn’t get any more pictures!

There’s plenty to see at the sites of some of our friends’ sites, though:

We had the Best Time Ever. Taste invited us in, introduced us to some great people, and fed us well, at no cost to us. We’re going to say this was easily worth an extra half a pancake on the official rating!

We’re pleased to upgrade Taste of Safety Harbor to a Tampa Bay Breakfasts five-pancake rating. (That’s three this year, if you’re keeping track!) Thanks again, Taste friends! We’ll visit again soon!


Taste on Urbanspoon

Waffle House in Biloxi, MS

We visited the Waffle House at 1759 Beach Blvd in Biloxi Mississippi on 21 May 2010. There are 16 Waffle Houses in the Biloxi area, and not a single mom and pop pancake shop that we could find. But we were on a road trip. We were hungry. We had to make do. Note the little patch of gray-blue behind the white pickup truck; that’s the Gulf of Mexico. That’s right. A waterfront Waffle House. And you were making fun …


This was Tampa Bay Breakfasts’ first ever visit to a Waffle House. Here’s an interesting comparison. Pacagoula-Biloxi-Gulfport has 16 Waffle Hausen. The entire Tampa Bay area (like, totally, all of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties) has only 7. Marek scoped the menu. Waffles, hmmm?


We had to get coffee right away. Me and Marek, we like us some coffee!


Now regardless of what you think about Waffle House, it is pretty cool that you can watch the magic happen. There’s pretty much no spitting in your grits here!


We played with Mater. This little guy actually has a wobbly suspension out of the factory. Seriously, roll him across the table and he wobbles back and forth, on purpose. As an authentic redneck-small-town fellow, I’m trying to figure if Disney is making fun of me with this.


We had breakfast with a Very Pretty Girl this morning.


Marek made fun of the wobbly suspension problem and got in trouble by mom. Mater appeared nonplussed.


We had breakfast.


And more breakfast.


Marek had lots of bacon. Because, well, I just don’t know.


The bill came and it was pretty reasonable. We all ate for around eleven bucks. Actually, the three of us split a single “special” and none of us left hungry.


After breakfast we took a walk on the beach. Our Waffle House is in the distance on the very right of the photograph.


The water was murky, but that’s how the water is in Biloxi. Can’t blame Katrina or BP for this one; it was like that in 1995 when Famous TBB Guest Reviewer Mom and I lived here in 1995.


After all that, we felt like, well, we had been to a big chain breakfast, but at least we weren’t hungry. That’ll tide us over for a few hours!


Long enough to get to Mobile to check out the U.S.S. Alabama!


Where we had ice cream.


And learned how to fly jets. (Actually, the jet trainer seats were at the Air Force Armament Museum the next day, but hey, we’re a breakfast blog, not Jane’s, so get off our backs about it!)


The Breakfast Nook

If you were driving down the road and saw this car in front of a breakfast place, would you stop? Well, of course you would! And that’s what we did.


We visited The Breakfast Nook at 1532 Land O Lakes Blvd. in Lutz on 13 March 2010. This was our first visit to The Breakfast Nook. They have a nice little web site at


There was a line out the door to get in the door. But here’s a nice twist, they have all kinds of outside breakfast tables. How cool is that? And no waiting.

It’s a good thing, because we’d been in the car a while. It’s a long story. There’s up-chuck involved, and Roary, a toolbox, and an apple. Oh, yes, and a Mormon, a Jew, and a Hindu walked into a bar. It was that kind of morning.

You think I make this stuff up? The reality is usually strange enough.


There’s a kids’ menu, complete with pancakes and bacon. Marek’s favorites, right after cars. There was also a grown-ups menu, which was much less fun because it didn’t say “Kid’s” and didn’t have any menu items written in invisible ink, as you see here with the first item on the lunch menu.


We’re outside. It’s kind of chilly out. Marek appears to be wearing a jacket with no shirt, and his pants are wet from spilled juice. And he’s walking around carrying a Leatherman. Obviously his mother was not involved with his care this morning. So dag-nabbit, let’s get some coffee! With extra attitude, please, ma’am.


Do you think there’s any cars involved? Oh yes, sir! This appears to be some sort of customized MOPAR vehicle.


Dear reader, did you think I was kidding about the Leatherman? This kid comes prepared.


If you were two and a half years old and you had a car and you had a Leatherman, what would you do? In all honesty, if I had a car and a Leatherman, I’d be doing the same thing. But this was all Marek.


Lucky for that Chrysler, breakfast showed up. Did Marek eat all the bacon? Yes. Yes, he did.


The pancakes were delicious. But you just can’t get around the fact that these are not what anyone would mistake for “Large.”


But with some extra syrup we can overlook the size. Watch out for the Breakfast Blue Crabs! By which I mean the crab tattoo, not the nice girls sitting along the wall. They weren’t crabby at all.


Gotta wash it down with some coffee.


The bill came. 11 clams. Not bad at all.


We cruised on outta there with full bellies and even some change left over.


Good chow. Coffee with attitude. Really nice people. We got to sit outside. It’s all good.

We’re pleased to give The Breakfast Nook a Tampa Bay Breakfasts four-pancake rating.


Breakfast Nook on Urbanspoon

L’Eden Cafe

I got up this morning and found Marek hard at work. He says, dad, this Tampa Bay Breakfast thing is going nowhere if we don’t put in some overtime getting it done and done right. I’m just trying to help you out, Slo-Mo. I asked, where are we going this morning, ma jeune petit garcon?


Well, what do you think about THAT. Lad’s not even three and he’s taken over my laptop and set up office at the dining room table. It was early and I wasn’t all the way woken up yet, so I was, I’ll admit, feeling put out to pasture. Then I figured out what Marek was REALLY doing. Instant messaging with Grandma and watching Clifford cartoons, just like I do at work all day. He pointed out that he’d already done his homework and suggested we should go to France!


We had to go downtown to find a taste of Paris.


We don’t have the Eiffel Tower, but we do have an enormous “beer can” building that is every bit as awesome.


(In case you were wondering, this is a view from the top.)


We visited L’Eden Cafe at 500 N Tampa St on 20 February 2010. This was our first ever visit to L’Eden, though we have visited the Samaria Cafe next door and loved it. And of course, we just love being downtown!


Marek was full of talk. We walked in and he grabbed a table by the window. Bonjour, he says to the gentleman in the chef’s uniform. Serious. I don’t know where he picks this stuff up.


We both grabbed a menu and perused. No pancakes. But there’s some great tastes listed here, including the expected petit déjeuner avec cafe noir. And the croissants and pains on the counter were exquisitely fresh and tasty looking. I went for the coffee and Marek for the jus d’orange.


While we waited Marek says, hey speed freak, what do you think about re-enacting the 24 hours of Le Mans? I said, well, we won’t be here for 24 hours, but sure, let’s do some time trials. I said “un, deux…” and Marek hollered, “trois!”


Then Marek got some juice. He says, “merci bien, papa!” Now he’s just trying to impress the girls that walked in while we were sitting there.


I had a little bit of coffee. Now let me tell you something, ami, this is some very fine coffee. A bit more delicate, perhaps, than the harsh diner acid we usually drink, but no less strong. I thoroughly enjoyed it.


While we waited, Marek and I started a serious discussion. First I asked him if he knew that Rilke also wrote poetry in French as well as German? While his most famous and intricate works were in German, he was no slouch in French. This pleasant conversation meandered into politics. I said that President Sarkozy is great, but I’m sure he’s not nearly the poet Rilke was, in any language. Marek got a bit upset as he is a staunch supporter of M. Sarkozy and his economic policies. He really took it personally. Gosh, kid, I didn’t realize you felt so strongly about Sarko.


Then here came some petit déjeuner! This is the savory croissant with ham, eggs, and cheese, along with some fresh fruit. And it was delicious!


Marek went “yoink!” on the fruit bowl. I suggested to him that “yoink!” is not actually French. It’s not actually anything.


When we were done we paid the bill. About 17 Francs for all this plus un pain au chocolat to go for mom. Not exactly cheap, but what L’Eden loses in cost effectiveness it more than makes up for in deliciousness and ambiance.


Marek got a tour of the facility, including the lovely little courtyard in the back. He was still sore with me for the Sarko vs Rilke talk (though I WILL admit that Sarko would take Rilke easily in a WWF suspended cage match, as Rilke was sort of a pansy), so he was happy to just trot off away with a fellow Frenchman.


While Marek was gone I sat and daydreamed about a motorcycle ride I took through France years ago. Ahh, c’est bon.


I don’t usually override Marek on the ratings, but I’m going to today. Marek had pancakes on the brain and really wasn’t very interested in eating anything else. But our visit to L’Eden evoked a lot of fond memories for me from some years ago when I worked for a company in Paris. The people at L’Eden were both friendly and French. The food was lovely. The coffee was simply great. The location was downtown cool. And they played some nice French music in the background. I’m rolling out the four and a half pancake rating for this great Tampa Bay Breakfast.


After breakfast, Marek and I went to visit the new Curtis Hixon park. If you haven’t been, you are missing a really nice park. This urban public space made Tampa feel like a real city!


There’s a great slide, too!


This shifty-looking character was sitting on a park bench.


The park has the latest in playground features, the “Little Bartender.”


And there’s a great dog park. That’s not Marek’s dog, by the way. We were probably in violation of some city ordinance by going to the dog park to play with other peoples’ dogs.


What a fine morning. Merci, L’Eden, for starting us out right.

L'Eden on Urbanspoon