Safety Harbor: Whistle Stop Grill & Bar
I found myself unexpectedly in Safety Harbor at dinner time and the name of the place seemed to ring a bell...There were a half dozen guys solving the woes of the world at the bar plus a couple at the other end speaking with a standing woman and a scattering of tables finishing meals as I stood at the empty hostess stand. Eventually a server spotted me and waved me over. As I stepped down to the bar area the standing woman turned and asked "do you want something?" Her delivery was a bit odd for the hospitality industry and caught off guard I replied "Yah - dinner." and continued walking to the server. The server invited me to choose a seat and provided me with a menu.
I really dislike menu's which lack prices. Market price notations are fine and understandable. The entire drink section lacked prices. No price for bottled or draft beers, wines or cocktails...really? I can't imagine the house wines or beer (not talking microbrews) vary to such an extent that committing a price to paper is a risky endeavor. I choose the safest route and went with a draft.
I wasn't in the mood for a heavy meal. The smoked mahi mahi and amberjack spread seemed promising. I added an order of cole slaw too.
Which brings me to an epiphany I had after my first bite of the smoked fish spread: sometimes a saltine is all you need. Unfortunately the mild spread could not hold it's own against the strong multi seeded cracker. Not that the cracker was objectionable - more an instance of the groom outshining the bride. The fish spread was blended to the point where it seemed like a very smooth tuna salad with no real hint of smoke. The cole slaw was quite good. The colorful sprinkling of paprika on the rim of the plate was....colorful, but added nothing to the flavor or potential success of the dish. But then I'm not part of the garnish as décor camp...sauce, spice, herbs all can be used to visually entice and add flavor components to the dish. This was one of those meals where hot sauce becomes the saving grace.
My Sister, who considers ice cream THE major food group reports that the Whistle Stop serves up a very good scoop. The atmosphere is casual with a open air dining area which makes for good people watching along the adjoining walking/biking trail.
Personally, I'd maybe return for a beer if I was thirsty from walking the area trail. I'm not of a mind to risk more money for a so-so experience, especially after learning that the woman, (still standing and talking to the couple when I left) who so lacked a welcoming spirit, was the owner.