Category Archives: Pinellas

Stella’s Deli

We’re starting out the day pretending like it’s summertime. This wad of bikes on the back of the mom-car is guaranteed to make motorists go “awwwwww……”


We’re taking a long ride to breakfast this morning. Everyone came prepared. Marek has his current favorite book. He loves books about nature but has decided that he really dislikes interacting with any actual nature.


Ivo has his new Buzz. You can see how the roles are falling out with the boys. Marek, nerdy smart kid. Ivo, ug-play-crash-go. Three stitches under that band-aide, if you were questioning the “crash” in “ug-play-crash-go.”


Lovely day here in Tampa Bay. All that blue sky makes us hungry.


We’re headed to Gulfport, a little town hidden on the edges of St. Pete. For all our years and miles, we’ve never been to Gulfport. Residential roads, as you can see here, just end at the bay. There’s something nice to be said about that.


Today we’re visiting Stella’s Deli at 3119 Beach Blvd South, Gulfport, FL 33707. They have a nice little web site at


Menu is extensive, with all kinds of standard and non-standard stuff. Hangover burgers make me already appreciate the clientele at Stellas.


For Tampa Bay Breakfasts fans Jason and Jess, here’s yours.


We’re sitting outside. How nice is that? Table’s pretty dirty. I only mention it because I noticed, and if I noticed, what with two boys who make icky an every day pleasure, you know it’s noticeable. Just surprised with all the great press Stella’s gets that they don’t start out the day by wiping off the accretion of dirt, dust, pollen, and nighttime from the outdoor tabletops.


Marek appears very uncomfortable here. I appear very comfortable here.

These appearances are accurate.


Ivo repurposed the creamer bucket as a fez. Looks good on him. As will the creamer pod he will doubtless split open and dump on himself in a few minutes.

Note the little girl in the background. Staring at Ivo, thinking, “hey, nice hat!”


Hot chocolate for Marek. This is the first place where he didn’t really care for it. It was too hot at first, and when it cooled down he still didn’t care for it. I didn’t try it, myself. I don’t like to drink after these little monsters.


Ivo, on the other hand, mainlined his triple-shot of the good stuff.


I asked Ivo to go get me a newspaper. Parenting technique of distraction, as all the coffee was making everyone jittery. So Ivo executed this excellent dismount. Yes, he knows it’s easier to just get off the chair, but he’s going to do it his own way. Thank you very much.


Fetching the above-mentioned newspaper. Note that actually placing our order for chow had a significant lag time, leading to the need for an actual newspaper.


No breakfast merit here, just a sweet picture of little Ivo. Look deep into his eyes and enjoy the fact that for this tiny, quiet, personal moment between father and son …. he’s not actively breaking something.


I predict lots and lots of goofy looks from Marek in the coming decades. Here’s an early example. His biographers from the future will cite this as the first time his goofball genius was documented.


We’ve had a great half an hour here at Stella’s Deli. Read the newspaper. Had some coffee. And here’s our chance to get some chow to go along with it. We were digging the super-tech ordering system, first place in The Bay Area we’ve seen that.


Ivo’s going to do a magic trick. Notice the very nice folks from Pennsylvania behind him.


Step one: Bite the creamer pod.


Step two: Wear the creamer and be proud.

First time readers of Tampa Bay Breakfasts are probably thinking, wow, Andy acts like he knew that was going to happen and he didn’t stop it?



Not to be out-done, Marek proposes doing the same thing with the jelly.


At first we thought the umbrellas were for the sun. Then we saw the birds in the trees.


Just in time to prevent us from breakfasting on creamer and marmalade, here’s breakfast! Ivo dives into the fray with fork and knife, shredding and mauling pancakes with gleeful abandon. I can only imagine him on a medieval battlefield, with a sword and axe.


I had the homemade corned beef hash. I’m a sucker for homemade corned beef. Having been a bachelor at one point, I have actually eaten canned corned beef for 27 straight meals.

I don’t know if that’s actually true, but it’s not entirely false either.


Breakfast boys at work. Tampa Bay’s only Pancake Professionals!


Took us long enough to mention, but we’re here with a Tampa Bay Breakfasts Guest Reviewer, Randy.


Marek says “syrup on eggs is the BEST!”


Even Ivo looks at him with that look of “huh? syrup on EGGS?” If you’re grossing out Ivo, you’re doing it right.


If you think for a moment that this syrup squeeze came straight out at Marek’s old man you’d be wrong. He did that earlier with the ketchup in the caddy and got in a bit of trouble that he hasn’t quite yet forgotten.


Ivo with Marek’s old t-shirt, a gift from dear friends in Stuttgart.


Randy’s reading that whole book on the table behind him.

It’s the owner’s manual for 2 and 5 year old kids.

Volume 1.

Of 2000.


And then, while we’re casually talking, suddenly eggs are flying through the air. My Breakfast Ninja Ways took over and I caught the eggs in mid-air. In one fluid motion, elegant in its efficiency, I caught the eggs and said, Ivo, eat this.


Ivo jumped like a cat. Pounced. Struck like a cobra. And the wayward eggs were gone. No one, to this day, knew where they came from.


Marek’s plate is suspiciously void of eggs. Hmmm.

And here we are, back with the jelly.


Because eating actual food is never as satisfying as just slurping condiments.


I’m just glad I’m a lot bigger than Ivo, that’s all I’m sayin’. ‘Cause this is scary. Like a professional pancake wrestler, Ivo’s about to fly off the top rope at me.


More with the painful, unnecessary dismounts.


And we’re off to pay the bill. Just over $20. Not terrible, but not a bargain either. About average these days.


Ivo’s got the cash. Marek’s the muscle. Good force protection posture.


Quote from folks around us, “did you just send your kids into the restaurant alone with the money?” Ayyup.


And within three hours, they came back with change.


They’re starting to get paid for their efforts. The funny thing is, the quarters just come out of their little pockets in the washing machine and I put them back in my own jar anyway. So here ya go, kid, take two!


Ivo ran off and got a quarter stuck in his eye. Does this happen to anyone else?

Here’s Marek in bouncer-mode. He’ll pick up work at Prana in Ybor when he’s older.


Stella’s is a quality breakfast and well worth the long haul from Tampa. Service was a bit chaotic and slow to get moving, but the coffee never failed and the chow was very nice. TBB Guest Reviewer Randy gives it a thumbs up as one of his favorites. We’re pleased to give Stella’s Deli a Tampa Bay Breakfasts four and a half pancake rating.


Stella’s Deli on Urbanspoon

After breakfast we walked to the shore and chased birds.


And wouldn’t ya know it, the birds chased back!


And once in a while, I get a picture that makes me think I might be doing this right after all.


Gulfport had a mini-parade. Ivo climbed the fence by himself, looking for more stitches.


After the playground, we went to SE Mattis barber shop in Seminole Heights, near our place.


Marek negotiated with his barber.


Ivo’s not interested in a haircut today.


But when Marek paid the bill, he found out there were lollipops. Suddenly, Ivo appears by the chair.


Jump up and ready to go, no fuss at all. There’s a lollipop at the end of this ordeal.


Our barber has a good hand with these boys. He understands little-boy-hair-cuts and tickle spots.


That’s a sharp haircut!


Later that evening, we took a nighttime walk with our family hound. These are the little things the boys will remember when they’re my age and working until forever o’clock all the time.


Just a normal day.

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.


Nick’s Family Restaurant

Today is Martin Luther King Day. Ivo has been talking about “Arthur Luther King” for days, with Marek being a good older brother and correcting him that it’s “Martha Luther King.” My kids are debating American civil rights issues at 2yo and 5yo, so I’m going to take the win and not fret the details.

I’ve been out of town for a few days. I’m still a relatively new father, so things like this are just now starting to happen. I love it.


But I was out of town long enough to allow a little surface rust on the disk rotors for the FR-S. That’s sad, but easily remedied with a little hotrodding.


Lovely day today, but a little bit overcast. Nothing like the weather up north. But more about that later.


This morning we visited Nick’s Family Restaurant. They have a web site at, but it looks like they started it up and never finished it. The “About Us” link is especially funny; I had to read to the end to figure out that it’s boilerplate, and there is no “Anytown.” Nick’s is at 5701 Central Ave. in St. Pete, not too far from the excellent Freefall Theatre Company.


It’s me and the boys. They’re dressed rather snazzily, as if dad went on some sort of business trip and all they got was lousy t-shirts.


We also have our Favorite Guest Reviewer, Mom!


Marek says, dad, can I have a puppy? I says, got any kisses for me? So here we go, looks like a puppy is in the future.


Favorite Guest Reviewer Mom says, hey, I never get any good pictures of me and the boys. So here you go, Mom, a great picture of you and your boys. Happy Birthday Baby. (It’s not actually her birthday)


Here’s Nick’s breakfast menu. I have to point out that the “omelette of the day” today is “ham and cheese.” Which does not make me think that there’s a daily committee meeting to decide what will draw in the adventurous breakfast crowd.


Marek had the hot chocolate, as is the tradition with him these days.


This shot has no real breakfast insight, it’s just a cute snap of Marek and me. It’s nice to be away from home, because it makes otherwise ornery kids happy to be around me.


Same for this shot, not really breakfasty, just cute. While we’re waiting, I took note of a few things about Nick’s. It’s 0900 on Monday morning. It’s not crowded, but they did start to get some business while we were there. Yet it was deafeningly quiet, like a memorial service or a museum. Everyone was whispering. Except us, of course. And also, there was an odd, subtle scent to the room. Not so much bad-food as like musty-old-house.


Coffee for everyone, cheers! Or … skol!


Here’s a souvenir I brought home for the boys. Hogskolen i Oslo is the college in Oslo where I’m doing a little teaching.


Marek had to teach me how to use it.


And then he got creative.


Grocery store syrup. We’ve had worse grocery store brands in restaurants, I reckon.


And here’s breakfast. French toast, eggs, grits for Mom. Pancakes for Ivo.


Ivo makes an immediate strike. He’s like a cobra for pancakes.


Marek jumps on Mom’s bacon. And then pauses for a moment and considers the poetry of the moment. Then he began quoting Wordsworth.


Marek’s own bacon and eggs came, and then he had his own bacon and Mom’s too. That’s a lot of bacon for one little boy. But then again, boy can eat some bacon, can’t he?


I had the corned beef omelet, which was a little out of band for me. Home fries, which were pretty bland.


Mom enjoyed the grits. The boys weren’t interested.


Marek demonstrated that he can handle a knife. That’s an important skill when you’re growing up Florida.


Here’s Ivo’s patented Breakfast Karate Strike. Say “Hayyyyah!”


When breakfast was sacrificed on the pyre of our appetites, the boys paid the bill. $23 for three full breakfasts, one of which split up with the boys, obviously.


We got change, and that was nice. Not the cheapest ever, but we did get a lot of food.


We left a few bucks and a Norwegian Krone as a tip.


On our way out we stopped to wash up. The sink really tells the story of how we felt about Nick’s. As if it started out strong, but then they never really put much effort into keeping it up.


This door on the way to the restrooms is more of the same. Removing the exit sign was more effort than taping up the second sign.


At the end of the morning, Nick’s food was OK. The bacon was nicely done, the pancakes were good. The coffee ran really dry for quite a while. The price was average. The dining room had a slight but odd odor which, combined with things like the sink and exit sign make me think that no real effort has been put into upkeep for a long time. But the thing that did me in was that we were the only friendly people in the room. We’ll give Nick’s Family Restaurant a Tampa Bay Breakfasts Two and a Half Pancake rating.


Nick's Family on Urbanspoon

Nick’s is in the same neighborhood as this enormous wig market. I’m not surprised that there’s a market for wigs, just at the size of the store.


After breakfast we took the boys to the Dali Museum for the first time. Marek’s been with his cousins Simone and Sandor, but this is our first time since they moved to the new location.


We might have to put the Dali on the Breakfast schedule this year.


After Ivo almost got us kicked out of the museum, we went outside to sit on the bench and think about what we’ve done.


For lunch, Marek had an Angry Birds drink. It didn’t taste like it looked.


Trip’s Diner

We’re all glowy with our tiny moment of fame.

And now, our real problem is where to go next. This, as you might expect from such newsworthy lads, takes a lot of research.

In case you’ve wondered if the FR-S is a family car, I can assure you it absolutely is. Jalopnik agrees.

Marek picked what we’d listen to. If you can pick out of the fuzzy picture what looks like “Norwegian Phrase Book” then you may be seeing things. In this case, true things. Marek has a real hangup on learning Norwegian these days.

Again, I insist. The FR-S is a family car.

Ivo’s got the map. Marek looks like he’s been in a shoebox for 45 minutes. Just a normal day.

Good looking boys. They’re lucky they look like their mother.

Here’s a great business model. I wish I’d thought of opening a store where you pay me to come wash your own dog.

We visited Trip’s Diner at 2339 Martin Luther King St N in St. Pete on 8 December 2012. Trip’s was recommended by multiple TBB fans last week and we just couldn’t turn it down.

Trip’s tables have great scenes from old St. Pete, and there’s all sorts of old-time pictures on the walls, too. I’m a sucker for that sort of thing.

The menu has all the right parts in all the right places, as we like to say.

Two year old with a knife. Just a normal day.

Marek with his signature hot chocolate.

Ivo tanking up on coffee. Strong and black, just like dad. The caffeine helps him concentrate when using the knife shown above.

Neat picture of the old pier. Soon it will be the old-old pier, after they tear down the new pier to make a newer pier.

Inside Trip’s is clean, well-lit, and friendly. A nice atmosphere for bringing little kids to hurl eggs at people.

We had to immediately relocate the jelly jars. These would be shattered into a million sticky bits of glass that would become so embedded in the fabric of Trip’s that they’d have to move to another building … that’s what would happen if Ivo could reach them.

Marek would like to show off his Nova Southeastern University shirt. Marek’s dad spent some time there and highly recommends it.

This is Ivo, trying to stab me in the eye with a fork. Kids are so sweet.

Saved just in time by breakfast! The look on Marek’s face may be interpreted as “is that BACON?”

Ivo appears to be an employee of Science Applications International Corporation. They obviously only hire the best!

I was feeling bad about Marek hanging his head over the back of the booth. I think this cute little girl was seeing if Ivo was really drinking coffee (probably the question I get asked most, by the way. Followed by, “do you really let them pay the bill?”)

Very Large Pancake (VLP) sighted. This is a good-ole-biggun.

I just put eggs and fruit on Marek’s plate, but we all know it’s a sham. Bacon’s where it’s at these days.

Good breakfast. But 17 clams for one breakfast split three ways seems a trifle on the high side.

The boys like up to do their part. Though I getting less and less change back as time goes by.

The transaction in progress.

Ivo trying to order a pie, apparently, when I’m not looking. They wouldn’t sell him one though, since he didn’t have enough money.

The look on Ivo’s face may be interpreted as, “I’m going to the toy store now!” Or maybe to the bar, since he’s my kid.

Again, I point out: The FR-S is a family car. (Despite this report.) This head-out-the-window posture is not recommended for high-speed maneuvers, I must add. No donuts until you’re sitting back, Marek.

Really good food. Nice atmosphere. Friendly people. History of St. Pete throughout. And rumor that the owner has triplets who work in the restaurant (they all kept moving, so I could never tell!) Price was a bit high, but the VLP pancake was delish. We’re pleased to give Trip’s a four and a Tampa Bay Breakfasts half pancake rating.


Trip's Diner on Urbanspoon

The Hangar

Marek’s tucked into the back of the pancake express. The FR-S is a family car.

We had to tank up on the way. I remember when I was little and I’d want to pump the gas and wasn’t strong enough to squeeze the nozzle. I see Marek try to squeeze it just like I used to do.

We’re heading to St. Pete. It’s a long ride. Long in distance, but … not in time!

We drove by the St. Petersburg Lawn Bowling Club, established 1930. Isn’t that interesting?

We’re meeting some special friends: Ivo and Mia! We last met them two years ago in San Francisco.

Marek: “I like your Hello Kitty”

Mia: “Don’t touch my Hello Kitty”

We’re back re-visiting The Hangar at Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg on 13 October 2012. The airport is located at 107 8th Avenue S.E, and The Hangar has a nice little web site at We last visited back in July 2010, and The Hangar was our 2010 Tampa Bay Breakfast of the Year.

Inside is still classy and attractive. But who would want to sit inside when there’s airplanes outside?!

Everyone’s listening very intently to Marek. Who is going on about something completely fascinating. Fascinating to himself. No one else knew what he was talking about.

An interesting, exotic, and yet somewhat terse breakfast listing. I’m going to have “The Beechcraft.”

Marek is very proud of his breast cancer shirt. He spent 15 minutes this morning digging through his drawers to find it.

Mia is very proud of her Hello Kitty. Which she still doesn’t want Marek touching.

Here’s two good-looking young fellows hanging out at a trendy breakfast spot in St. Pete. Not a care in the world, just relaxing. No stress from kids or work issues cropping up constantly all morning. No grey hair or middle-aged health concerns. No worry about the future.

Ooops. Wrong caption. This is just a picture of me and Ivo, and we both spent all morning battling work issues while corralling kids.

Breakfast came in the hold of a DC-3. Here’s Ivo, suffering under the relentless paparazzo attack of being a Tampa Bay Breakfast guest.

And Mia, with pancakes and bananas and bacon. And also, if I recall correctly, Ivo made some statement about how Mia was “easy” in the morning, just put her hair in a little pony tail and throw a dress on and she’s ready to go. Enjoy that while it lasts, man. I can only imagine the challenges Ivo’s going to have with a girl, challenges that I’ll never have with boys.

And Marek, who ate all his bacon and none of his eggs. Also, it’s a good thing Marek has his mom, or his hair would never be brushed.

Andy with a big plate of delicious.

Here’s a closer look. This is the first time I’ve ever had an omelet with fresh spinach and brie. It was surprisingly delicious without being overpowering. I tried it for the novelty, but I’d gladly have this again.

It’s fun to have breakfast and watch airplanes. Here’s Marek with a fist full of bacon, watching one take off. The bacon here, by the way, is fabulous. Somehow they manage to make it thick, crispy, and yet not over-done.

We watched a nice couple drive up in this little blue number, park, and come in for breakfast. Only here at The Hanger, you can drive up for pancakes in your airplane.

After we were done eating, we had a jumping contest. (It was a tie.)

And then we spent half an hour watching airplanes and drinking coffee.

Final bill: under $30 for all four. Wow! I think this was the TBB discount!

So we paid the bill and spent another half hour watching airplanes.

And getting yelled at for going above the first rung. Too high, kids! Too high!

This is what I look like when I’m yelling at kids.

On the way out, we stopped to get maps and brochures. We ARE from out of town, after all. Tampa is a long way from St. Pete. (And so is San Francisco, by the way.)

Absolutely wonderful food. Great service. Moderate prices. Airplanes. Ivo and Mia. How can The Hangar not be an award-winning Five Pancake Breakfast?


The Hangar Restaurant & Flight Lounge on Urbanspoon

The Frog Pond

We’re a long way from home. Should we go left or right? Straight is also an option, but as anyone knows there’s no breakfast there. Just ocean.

We visited The Frog Pond at 7390 Gulf Boulevard, St. Pete Beach on 22 September 2012. This has been on our to-do list for years. TBB Fan Jason K, you’ll be sad to hear that we did not meet any Frenchmen.

Thought bubbles.

Over Ivo’s head … “I am going to break random things today and laugh, laugh, laugh.”

Over Andy’s head … “I coulda been a stah on Broadway if I didn’t have all dees kids.”

Thought bubbles.

Over Marek’s head … “I’m almost tall enough to steal your keys and drive your new car down the street and into the neighbors’ houses.”

Over Andy’s head … “Having kids looked like such fun in those romantic comedy movies.”

Thought bubbles.

Over Andy’s head … “If I loved these boys one mote more, I’d explode. They are everything to me.”

Over Marek’s head … “I wish I could join another family.”

Over Ivo’s head … “Hey you looking at this picture, can me and Marek join YOUR family and get away from our Neanderthal father?”

Tia Cindy, this one’s for you.

Ivo’s thinking, maybe this frog would be something I could knock over and then blame Marek.

Check out Ivo’s mad stacka skillz.

Check out Marek’s reaction.

We cozied up to the menu. Marek figures there might be something in his nose for breakfast. Stay classy, Marek!

A little Frog Pond philosophy. I always like a place that’s mom-n-pop and takes time to tell you Why They Care about what they do. The only drawback is that usually, and Frog Pond is no different, they take your order and whisk away the menus before you can read half of what they have to say. I love that they are “strongly opposed” to things! I read that and thought, hey, I’m also strongly opposed to things. Conveniently, the same things as they are.

Can’t get through the day without our coffee. Y’ought hear Ivo say “caffeeee?” It’d melt your heart like an acetylene torch on a plastic army man. By the way, “acetylene torch on a plastic army man” is another phrase that,as of this writing, is not found in Google.

Tampa Bay Breakfasts: Innovators.

Marek, too. That’s the same look I get with a strong cuppa joe in the morning. Relaxing. Pleasant. Calm.

“Relaxing. Pleasant. Calm.” And then Ivo swings a knife at your head. And then you hand over your wallet and tell him you don’t want no trouble, man, here you go, take my cash, just don’t cut me.

Inside the Frog Pond, you’ll find a cozy, well-appointed atmosphere. Knife-wielding two year olds and lots of frogs.

This is an impressive kick. Or ballerina move.

Breakfast came on a forklift. (Actually, delivered by a young waitress from Russia, not resembling a forklift at all.) Look at all this chow!

Ivo got the pancakes. Now, when you go to the Frog Pond because you read our review, you’ll see that pancakes aren’t really a big feature in the menu. Eggs, quiche, crepes (which are French, Jason K), are the big deals. Pancakes are a footnote. They were good, but the real winner was the waffle.

Try to snag some eggs from Marek’s plate and you’ve got a fight on your hands. Oddly enough, he barely ate any eggs. He just didn’t like me messing with his chow. Hats-off to the photog (me) for snapping a dynamic shot (of me) in the egg-snatching fight.

Ivo has a new trick. Point. “Look there!” Then “Yoink!” as he steals something from your plate. Seriously, he tries to say “Yoink” and it comes out “oink,” which makes it even better.

Devil-eyed Marek has a belly full of bacon. It’s good bacon. Notice behind Marek that the dining room filled up by the time we were done. Not an empty table in the house.

Here’s the bill. $23 for three breakfasts isn’t bad at all, especially given the quality and quantity.

We managed to escape without breaking any frogs.

The chow was great. I haven’t had a waffle in years, and this one was truly tops. Bacon, eggs, pancakes were all serviceable. Lots of frogs. A restaurant philosophy. And the best part was the guy with coffee. There was a guy who came around every 10 minutes with the coffee pots, and it never ran dry. That was awesome. The price was right. I can’t find any reason to not award the Frog Pond with a Tampa Bay Breakfasts Five Pancakes rating.


Frog Pond on Urbanspoon

As we were leaving, we noticed this wicked little Mini sportster. There’s a lot of things I’ve never seen, and this is one of them.

We’ll go here next time. Beverly’s is right across the street.

After the Frog Pond, we went to Sunset Beach.

We went swimming and did the stingray shuffle.

Neat clouds on the ride back across the bay. Truly, a lovely day today. This is why we live in Florida.

On our way home, we stopped at Inkwood Books. Our favorite book store in Tampa.

And to round out our trifecta of locally owned small business support today, we also stopped at Rollin’ Oats.

Just a normal day.

The Covered Bridge

We visited the Covered Bridge at 2070 Bayshore Blvd in Dunedin on 21 July 2012.

The Covered Bridge is in Dunedin. It’s not Dunnellon, but it sounds about the same.

It’s interesting to note, by the way, that there are no actual covered bridges within a thousand miles of Dunedin. We’re driving the long haul to Dunedin with Ivo.

We’ve also got Marek, who announced on this ride that this is his last time ever, dad, only this time then I’m never going to breakfast again. Teenagers!

It’s about 30 miles from home to the Covered Bridge, so we’ve got to listen to some good music. This morning, it’s Geri X, who is a great local Tampa Bay musician in every way, except that she’s from Bulgaria.

You may have noticed, if you’re a dedicated TBB reader, that the Pancake Mobile appears slightly different. That’s because we upgraded from the 2002 Celica GTS to the 2013 FR-S. It squeals tires at 40mph shifting into 2nd gear. Today is our 100th unique breakfast, and there’s 100 miles on the odometer. Everything’s coming up Milhouse.

The Covered Bridge promptly rolls out coloring utensils.

While we look at the menu, which is full of the standard fare we expect in a quality breakfast location.

Ivo’s taking care of business.

The only thing that got Marek out of the house this morning was promise of a hot chocolate. And the Covered Bridge didn’t disappoint.

Inside is nice and cozy, and most everyone seemed to be greeted by name. You can see the dedication to the covered bridge concept, wall-to-wall.

Ivo was quite impressed with this anole lizard.

Breakfast. We got “The Bridge” special. Which, for seven bucks, was a whole lotta chow.

Notice the chance in expression on Marek’s face. From anticipation to apprehension. And also, there’s a Zamboni on the table.

Me and Ivo, we’re getting ready for some chow. Notice the pilfering move he’s making on my pancakes. If you’re some nice girl 20 years in the future, reading this while you’re looking back at Ivo’s history and trying to decide if he’s husband material, I’ll tell you this: Don’t take your eyes off him at the breakfast table.

And still with the lizard. This took up 15 minutes of our morning, going on about the lizard looking in the window. We’re in Florida, kid. There’s probably lizards in your bed.

Marek held up this sausage and told me all about how grandma makes him sausage all the time and how much he loves it and how this is the best breakfast ever because this sausage is so good.

I’ve never seen him eat sausage once, ever.

Here’s a nice family portrait. We’re all four here: Andy, Marek, Ivo, Breakfast. Favorite Tampa Bay Breakfasts Reviewer Mom is still sleeping.

All three of us ate, and ate well. One breakfast split three ways. Coffee, juice, choco. Under 12 clams. That’s a good value.

Ivo stepped right up to the pole position on the bill-paying race.

That’s a look of gleeful accomplishment that he’ll have trouble achieving when he’s 42 years old. But at 2 years old, good for him!

On the way home we passed these monster trucks. You can’t just not take a picture of monster trucks.

We had a great time at the Covered Bridge. The chow was good all around, though the bacon was a bit small and the home fries oddly sweet. You can’t beat a place like this for the local, “the usual, Tim?” And the unique covered bridge theme sets it apart. Friendly folks, good prices, good chow, and a unique atmosphere. That’s worth the drive. We’re pleased to give the Covered Bridge a Tampa Bay Breakfasts four and a half pancake rating.


Covered Bridge on Urbanspoon

Country Boy Soul Food

Today we were going to go to the Parrot Cafe on Grand Central in St. Pete. For all the good write-ups I’ve been seeing about the Parrot, it surely was closed this morning.

So we ended up at Country Boy. Country Boy is actually hidden, tucked in on a side road. We’ve driven by here dozens of times and never noticed it. Only because the Parrot Cafe was closed and we were going to run back up into downtown did we even stumble on it.

Country Boy is at 48 31st St N, Saint Petersburg, right behind this meat market on Central. Best meat in town.

Ivo chose exactly what he wanted. That stuff he’s pointing at. I was really drawn to the special, the “$2.00 Holla” which really looked like a good deal. But we settled on pancakes, bacon, and eggs so we’d have something for everyone.

We weren’t the only folks in the place, but there were plenty of empty tables. Ivo took the one closest to the place he was standing when he stopped moving. Kid after my own heart on that.

We brought toys, but who needs them when you’ve got salt and pepper?

I mean, seriously, I’ve never seen Ivo this pleased. It’s like this pepper is just singing to him.

While we’re waiting, I snapped a look at the rest of the place. Small, obviously mom-n-pop. Not seen here is the broken coffee machine, just out of the picture. Apparently it broke this morning and they ran out to get another one.

Monster truck versus salt and pepper!

And here’s breakfast. No coffee, which is a downer, but me and Ivo split an OJ. Pancakes, bacon, and eggs.

And here’s how it divvies up when I do the cutting. Ivo, as you can see here, likes to drink his juice by hand.

Digging in! Ivo has this new thing of picking up food with the fork so he can take it off the fork with the other hand and shove it in his mouth and then drop it on his lap.

When we were done, Ivo paid the bill. About $9 for a pretty large breakfast.

Just like his big brother, Ivo can always find someone to take his money.

Off we go to start the rest of our day! We did not dress alike on purpose.

Country Boy Soul Food is a good experience. The bacon was Steve-Standard good and the eggs were fine. The pancakes I can’t say as I loved, and being out of coffee is a terrible thing, though mechanical failures are the way it goes sometimes. The people here were wonderful, though. Everyone we talked to was friendly as a sunny day and we really enjoyed that. Country Boy is a lot like Martha’s in Tampa. We’re happy to give Country Boy a Tampa Bay Breakfasts three pancake rating.


On our way home we stopped at the St. Pete. Saturday market, where Ivo got to pet lots of big dogs.

And then on the long ride home to Tampa, Ivo ran out of gas. Luckily, the car did not.

Country Boy Soul Food on Urbanspoon

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

Kozy Korner

We’re all getting an early start this morning.

There’s a donkey in that trailer.

And sunrise behind us as we’re heading west.

We’ve got Ivo.

We’ve got Marek.

This morning we’re exploring breakfast at The Kozy Korner at 5251 110th Ave N in Clearwater. Kozy Korner was highly recommended by TBB fan Nicole C.

Winner of the picture caption competition: “Our father dresses us.”

The menu includes a quiche of the day, which comes with a fruit cup of the day.

There’s also the restaurant’s story on the back. I like when a place has a history and the people feel strongly enough to share it.

Marek, who is starting to look like a grown-up person, has developed a hankerin for some hot chocolate.

Ivo, as dedicated TBB readers may remember, likes chewing on creamer pods.

With predictable results. (Sorry, Kozy staff!)

There was also coffee for dad. I have to say that the coffee felt a little weak. It wasn’t the 20,000 mile oil change diner coffee that I usually like.

While we waited, Ivo found the Toddler Slot Machines. Sadly, he had neither disposable cash nor fine motor skills to take advantage of this.

There was another slot machine by the register. Inside Kozy Korner, as you can see here, is clean and orderly.

One of us is crazy. The other just a bit insane. Try to guess which is which.

And then, breakfast arrived. Quoth Marek, “Thou still unravish’d strip of quietness, Thou back-fat of lovely and slow pork, puerco amorito, who canst thus express a salty bite more greasy than our rhyme…”

Whilst Marek did lovingly spake unto the bacon, Ivo attempted a conjuring act. See how he’s looking off to the right, while his left hand is, la-de-dah, nothing-to-see-here-folks…

He got his, that’s true, and then just wanted what Marek had. We had the blueberry pancakes, which were pretty good.

Good, but not huge.

With a look like this, Ivo can not possibly be planning anything good.

And there we go. Toddler with a knife.

What’s Ivo going to do with a knife? Burglarize his brother’s breakfast, apparently.

He’s got a knife, so I handed over my cash.

Marek helped Ivo pay the bill. Marek doesn’t want to do it, unless Ivo’s doing it then it’s “not for babies, dad.”

The total bill was around $14. Not bad, but not the cheapest around. I’d call that average, given what we had.

As we were pulling out, we noticed this cherry 66 Mustang in the lot. Sweet ride!

This was a pretty good experience. Lots of regulars. Staff were really friendly. Price was OK. Food was good, though the coffee seemed weak. I love that this was a recommendation from a TBB fan! We give the Kozy Korner a Tampa Bay Breakfasts four pancake rating.


Kozy Korner on Urbanspoon

After the Kozy, we turned up U.S. 19 and saw this wall of clouds.

Undaunted, we turned west and headed to the beach.

And hoped it wouldn’t rain.

Marek got into uniform right away.

And we rounded out our morning with good times, Florida-style. On the left is Ivo rolling his banana in the sand before eating it.

After a long morning of running around on the beach, we end up the way we started …. We’ve got Ivo.

And we’ve got Marek.