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Florida, Day 3: Special Homemade Brunch, Late Lunch at Harvey’s and Supper at Emeril’s

Grouper

Yes, it was a big day…

We slept in a bit, packed and skipped out on our bill at the Hilton checked out. That part was hard. Getting up in the first place, I mean. For some reason, Florida makes Texans tired. Must be a force field or something.

Anyway, we moseyed to the Sheppards where brunch was under construction. Cornmeal-rye waffles (gottagettarecipe!), bacon (no recipe needed), orange juice (in Florida?) and special-blend coffee. The caffeine was a life-saver, and the waffles were tasty as well as good fuel for the big day we had planned.

Which pretty much fell through. At least the early part.

We planned to go to the Dali Museum and see some nice art, but none of us (and I mean nobody) was energetic enough. Shoot, we could barely lift forkfuls of waffles to our exhausted pie holes. It took me what seemed like forever to pack in four or five of them, in fact. Sad; very sad.

As we sat around chatting and drinking that wonderful java it became clear that we were going to have to get going to meet our time targets for the day. And get lunch too, I mean. (You thought we’d skip lunch under these conditions?) J and K had to finish packing, and then we had to decide where to go for mid-day grazing. Making that decision amongst the seven of us was only a few percent tougher than, say, any three of the labors of Hercules. At the same time. (Professional squabblers; do not try this a home.)

Maybe if we’d actually been hungry it wouldn’t have been such a challenge.

Chicken Alfredo

A consensus began to form over time, if fuzzily, that maybe we should go to Harvey’s 4th Street Grill. PJ and I didn’t have a vote, since we’d never been there. From the descriptions, though, it certainly sounded nice. So we saddled up and rode out.

Harvey’s is an unpretentious, smallish place, neat and trim, with lots of wood: Floors, walls, furniture, bar. The lighting’s good, though, so you don’t feel like you’re in a cave or a dive. We took the big booth in the back, the one with the round table, and service began immediately. The waitressladypersonage (man, I hate this PC stuff) knew the Sheppards by name, a good sign, and was gracious in welcoming foreigners to her table. It only took a few minutes to get our drinks settled and collect our meal orders.

As I looked around at the décor it became apparent that something different was going on at Harvey’s. A goodly number of the fixtures, and even the tabletops, come from historic hotels in the St. Petersburg area. Landmarks like the Soreno, the Albemarle and the Vinoy, to name a few. A clever form of recycling, of sorts. Certainly it adds a special cachet to the atmosphere, and makes for good conversation starters.

On to the food! The group chose Bacon & Cheese Potato Skins and Fried Mushrooms as shared appetizers. I was tempted by the onion rings, but you know me, always thinking of my girlish figure. I managed to restrain myself, but barely. All I had to do was pull up a mental image of the morning’s waffles, and also chow down on the potato skins and mushrooms. It was sufficient.

Kari had the Grouper Sandwich (the fried version), which has made the area’s Best Grouper Sandwich list repeatedly. I think it took her all of about four seconds to decide. PJ chose the French Dip, which surprised me at first. Then I remembered her love of good roast beef, and the Universe was okay once again. Jess wanted Chicken Alfredo; no surprise there, she’s not a fan of sandwiches at all. (She’s a math/physics major too; I’m still suspicious that she was switched at birth.) Nils had no second thoughts about one of his faves, the Grilled Cheese. Kai was decisive in his pick of the Grilled Turkey Express, with its tasty mix of turkey, bacon, 1000 Islands dressing (I assume he got the full thousand) and pumpernickel bread.

Reuben

Chris reluctantly chose the Florida Gold sandwich. Either he was still thinking of the waffles (I was, occasionally) or he wanted the one-of-each special and knew he didn’t have the baggage space behind his belt. I was tempted to get what Kai was having, but then I settled on the classic Reuben sandwich. (They’ve also got a nice-looking Blackened Salmon Reuben on the list, and even a Grouper Reuben. Decisions, decisions.)

It’s hard to say which meal was the best. Certainly nobody had anything bad to say about their choices. Of course, their mouths were all rather occupied for a while. There were some long faces when the food was gone, though. Or mostly gone; some takeaway boxes showed up.

We couldn’t sit long and relax, though, as Kai had to get over to Tampa International for his flight and then Jess had to get up-country to catch her ride. And we were ready to head towards Orlando for the next part of our adventure. With maybe a detour or two along the way, if I could find some air museums. (We also planned to find a nice restaurant in Orlando for a late supper, and Emeril’s more than fills that bill; but that’s for a later episode.)

Harvey’s is a special place in St. Pete, I would say. The staff were very friendly and competent, and the food was way above average for this type of diner (in my experience). The menu’s extensive, and several of their offerings are award-winners. In addition to the classic American pub-fare food we ate, they have full meal entrées, pasta and salads. Not to mention some good-looking desserts. I’ve seen bigger places have good menu lists that weren’t half what Harvey’s offers. If you can’t find something on their menu to meet your needs and satisfy your hunger, then you’re not really from this part of the galaxy…

Harvey's 4th Street Grill on Urbanspoon

Harvey’s 4th Street Grill, 3121 4th St. N, St. Petersburg, FL 33704. Phone 727.821.6516. Open Daily: Mon-Wed 11:30AM-10:00PM; Thurs-Sat 11:30AM-11:00PM; (Breakfast 9:15AM-11:30AM); Sun 9:15AM-10:00PM (Brunch 9:15AM-2:30PM). Kid-friendly.

If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Then Hit the Road…

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2 comments to Florida, Day 3: Special Homemade Brunch, Late Lunch at Harvey’s and Supper at Emeril’s