Take a Bite Of: Picasso’s, Jacksonville, Florida


Sometimes a Plan B is the better course to take.

Pun totally intended.

When in Jacksonville last month for our final convention appearance of the year we were in a different part of town than usual and cast about for a place for dinner.

Finding out that there was a “Monkey’s Uncle Tavern” just down the street seemed like fate for me with my monkey obsession. They had good reviews and the menu seemed nice and easy, so off we went.

Only to walk into a wall of cigarette smoke within 5 feet of the door.

That wasn’t going to work (and we were a bit puzzled since the entirety of Florida is a non-smoking restaurant state*) so we high-tailed it out of there and decided to check out the place at the other end of the sidewalk we’d seen as we drove by.

Picasso's in Jacksonville, Florida

What we found was Picasso’s. An exposed-brick and chalkboard sort of place that seems to specialize in pizza and homemade pastas. They were still writing up that night’s wine list on one of their large chalk boards when we arrived and a few tables were occupied, but it was still a bit early in the evening. Over the course of our meal, however, we saw several patrons come in to pick-up pizzas, and nearly all the tables and booths were full when we left.

But what did we eat?

Picasso's Entrees

After ordering a glass of Pinot Noir, I settled on the pasta special of the night–a wide noodle pasta with mushrooms and a rich broth–while Todd went with Signature Pasta Trio. My dinner choice didn’t exactly mesh with the wine, but that’s the chance you take when you drink what you like and order wine before you’ve decided on entrees. Still, everything was excellent and, oh, those breadsticks. We were tempted to get an order to take back with us to the hotel for midnight snacking, they were that good. (Apparently they get them from a local bakery, the name of which escapes me, but our waiter said it like it was well-known among the locals.)

Desserts from Picasso's in Jacksonville, Florida

The portions were plentiful but not so much that we didn’t still have room for dessert. I chose the German Chocolate Cake white Todd went with the Chocolate Torte. Both were delicious.

Our bill was just $49 + tax and tip for a glass of wine, 2 entrees, and 2 desserts.

There’s a very good chance that we’ll be back at the same hotel in April and you can bet Picasso’s will be on our list for a revisit.


*The best guess on this is that the Tavern must make more than half its revenue in non-food sales, ergo smoking is still allowed.

Picasso’s is located at 10503 San Jose Blvd, Jacksonville, FL. We were not compensated in any way for this “review,” we just really enjoyed ourselves.

Again, apologies for the poor quality of the images–this was part of the set damaged in transfer and all I have are thumbnails. Butter than nothing, I guess!

Take a Bite Of: Buca di Beppo


Last weekend, for our 5th anniversary, Todd and I planned to go out for dinner but without any sort of cravings one way or another. The destination up in the air, I remembered some discounts we received at the office for the newly opened Buca di Beppo so decided to give it a try.

Well, after first looking up the menu to make sure there were ample non-tomato sauced dishes for me to choose from (always a peril at Italian restaurants).

Thankfully, Buca di Beppo has quite an extensive menu and I had plenty of choices. Also a plus was with family-style dining, a single entree (which looks pricey on its own) easily serves 2 so even with the a la carte side dishes, dinner is quite affordable if you’re willing to eat the same as your dining partner. And if not, you’ve definitely got lunch for the next day for each of you!

We went with the sharing option, but not before starting off the evening with cocktails and appetizers.

A Mediterranean Orange for Todd

Mediterannean Orange cocktail from Buca di Beppo

and a Lemon Basil Vojito for me.

Lemon Basil Vojito cocktail from Buca di Beppo

Both were quite tasty, though Todd’s benefited from ditching the pretty layers in his drink and stirring it up to mix the melon liqueur in the bottom with the rest of his drink. Definitely smoothed it out.

For our appetizer we couldn’t–or didn’t want to–settle on just one thing, so went with the sampler platter. It worked out perfectly: Todd got the mozzarella triangles, I got the mushrooms (stuffed with a creamy cheese mixture and with a pesto cream sauce), and we split the mass of calamari.

Appetizer Trio from Buca di Beppo

And speaking of the calamari, it was fried but not greasy, and the breading was very light, letting the flavor of the squid come through instead of just tasting breading.

Before we’d finished our trio of appetizers our entree arrived. We’d both been intrigued by the Veal Saltimbocca (also available with chicken) that we’d seen on our at-home menu perusal and once at the restaurant we were both still leaning that way.

Veal Saltimbocca from Buca di Beppo

The veal was wrapped in prosciutto and topped with artichoke hearts and a lemon caper sauce–it was like veal met our favorite bacon-wrapped artichoke heart appetizer and there’s nothing wrong with that ideas at all!

Green Beans side dish from Buca di Beppo

With a side of green beans (which the waitress cautioned us was very lemony, though we didn’t have any problem with it) the dinner was more than complete, to the point that we couldn’t even contemplate dessert.

When it comes to chains, what they might lack in originality they make up for in reliability. Buca di Beppo has made a favorable impression on us with this first visit and we’re certainly open to returning.


The discount coupon I used for this visit was through a workplace promotion. This “review” was not solicited in any way and all opinions and experiences are our own. Your mileage may vary–but you’ll never know if you don’t try it yourself 😉

Take a Bite Of: BJ’s Grill


Earlier this month Todd and I found ourselves in small-town Mississippi, Louisville to be exact, for a one-day comics show and we were looking for someplace nice and local for supper Friday night. We thought we’d found a likely candidate, searching online, in the Red Onion Restaurant and headed that way only to find out it was only open on Saturdays and Sundays–oops!

Figuring food couldn’t be that hard to find on a Friday night, we headed back towards our hotel via Church Street and happened upon BJ’s Grill which had two things going for it from the get-go: it was open, and there were a number of cars parked around it. Let’s go!

BJ’s specializes in American cuisine and has a small, down-home feel with plenty of country-kitsch tchotchkes on the walls and a simple, 4-page laminated menu.

Their claim to fame, as far as we could tell, seems to be their potatoes: plate-sized baked potatoes, quartered lengthwise and smothered in your choice of meat with various other toppings available. I ordered the Philly Cheesesteak Potato while Todd went with the Country Fried Steak. We both opted out of the salad bar, but I gave into temptation and ordered some of their Fried Pickles, too.

The pickles had a nice, light breading on them and were not overly greasy–something you do have to watch out for. They also had a great flavor. The potato was interesting: the topping of minute steak, onions, peppers, and cheese was tasty (though the bell peppers were still very crisp), but the potato itself was way under-seasoned and, therefore, had no flavor of its own. A liberal addition of salt helped that, though.

Todd’s country-fried steak was tasty, he said, but we were both surprised that the gravy that came on it was brown, not the usual white pepper or sawmill gravy. The baked beans he selected as his side were very good, though. As for the onion rings he orders, these were more like onion petals, but they were–like the pickles–fried nice and light and with a very nice flavor.

I was pretty full but Todd has saved room for dessert and the dessert of the day was Caramel Cobbler a la mode.

A very loose cobbler–as you might expect with the main ingredient being caramel and not something heartier–it was super-sweet but the vanilla ice cream served to cut it a bit. I only had a couple of small tastes, but if you had a serious sweet-tooth attack, this would definitely cure it.

The service at BJs Grill was solicitous without hovering, the owners seemed to know their regulars and were chatty with us outsiders, too. If you find yourself in Louisville, MS, and in the mood for a good, solid meal at a decent price (our bill came to $27 and change), BJs would be worth a stop. Bring cash, though, as they do not accept credit cards of any kind.


Going Back to E Street


Last weekend we were in Jacksonville for Ancient City Convention and one of the many things we were looking forward to was another visit (or 2) to European Street Cafe.

But out first night, after driving the 2.5 hours to get to town, checking in out our hotel and unpacking, and then heading to the convention hotel to set up, E Street was closed by the time we headed that way again. In fact, at 10pm on a Thursday night, most places were already closed and we drove around for a while before finding the Hurricane Grill, whose sign announced a recent change to staying open until midnight on Thursdays!  Hallelujah!

Of course, by this point I was rapidly approaching a level of hungry best described as “stupid hungry” so I located the least-complicated option on the menu (wings, etc. had sauce options and there were a ridiculous number of sauces to choose from) and ordered a burger with mushrooms and bacon.

Bacon and Mushroom Burger from Hurricane Grill

Man, but that was a good burger.

Sure, it could have been the hunger talking, any port in a storm-style, but I still say it was a good burger. And, hey, it turns out we’ve got one here in Tallahassee, so we could always go back and see if it really was as good as it seemed.

Friday night, though, was another story. We stopped by our hotel long enough to unload the car and for me to change out of my heels, and it was off the E Street for some wonderful German sausage. (We just don’t have any good German restaurants in Tallahassee, that I’m aware of; it’s a shame, really.)

We started with a celebratory Lambic each (Peach for me, Raspberry for Todd) as it had been a very good day at the convention and we were feeling mighty deserving.

Lambics in frosty Guinness glasses at European Street Cafe

Then, instead of the Beer Cheese Soup in a Bread bowl ($5.75) that we got during last year’s visit, I noticed they had a Pretzel Bread appetizer ($2.50) and my mouth watered. Their pretzel bread is like heaven, and there was even an option to order it with Boursin cheese spread ($6.50). Yes, please!

Pretzel Bread and Boursin from European Street Cafe

For entrees we went straight for the sausage. Todd ordered the German Sausage Sampler (with Knockwurst and Bavarian Bratwurst, hot German potato salad, sauerkraut, and–swoon!–a pretzel bread stick; $8).

German Sausage Sampler from European Street Cafe

While I went with the German Bavarian Bratwurst sandwich (with sauerkraut and chips; $5.50).

German Bavarian Bratwurst Sandwich from European Street Cafe

After all of that (and, oh, was it delicious) we were too full to have dessert there, but did take a slice of cake, each, from their bakery case, back to the hotel.

Unfortunately, the night didn’t end on that high note. I, being caught up in the excitement of the day (first by finding my wedding dress that morning at a charity sale in the convention hotel, then by the great sales day at the convention itself), failed to eat very much over the course of the day so I paid dearly for my indulgence at dinner. I spent most of the night with an upset stomach and was still feeling a little green the next morning. Lesson learned, I assure you.

Seeing as I was still not 100% after the 8am-7pm convention day on Saturday, we opted for my comfort food of choice that night and got some take-out from a local Chinese place. Pretty much the same menu as any other Chinese take-out place, China Joy wasn’t anything worth writing home about, but Egg Drop soup always seems to soothe.

Sunday night, after making sure I ate more throughout the day, we went back to E Street for our last meal of the trip. I was in the mood for a simple (but good!) club sandwich and who happens to have an entire selection (11 in total) of clubs? Yup, E Street! I ordered the Club European ($8)..

Club European sandwich from European Street Cafe

While Todd went with the Pastrami and Roast Beef Club($8). Both coming with a pickle spear and chips, and we both opted for sourdough as our bread option.

Pastrami and Roast Beef Club from European Street Cafe

My one tiny little quibble with my sandwich is that they only put mayo on the bottom slice of bread. Which meant both the middle and top slices had an un-smeared (and, therefore, dry) side. I have a thing about dry bread on sandwiches (similar to my dislike of dry salad greens in a salad): I don’t like ’em. Good thing it’s an easy fix–they brought me more mayo and I was happy.

We’ve yet to have a bad meal at European Street Cafe and have another trip to Jacksonville planned for November. We’ll only be in town one night but, somehow, I don’t think they’ll be a question of where to eat.

Do you ever look forward to a trip because of where you get to eat?

First Impressions: Kiku Japanese Fusion


The other night I just flat-out did NOT feel like cooking.

I’d been craving some “real” sushi for weeks and decided that would be the night we’d try out Kiku, a sushi place just up the road that was forever advertising a buy-one-get-one sushi roll special.

Because of the advertisements I was expecting something along the lines of a Sumo Sabi (the fast-food of sushi, essentially) but I’d heard good things about their quality. However, when we walked in, we were met with dark wood, dim lighting, and an extensive menu of rolls, maki, and other delicacies.

I was pleasantly surprised.

The rumors of their quality were not exaggerated. Todd and I each partook of the BOGO (which, for supper, consisted of purchasing one of their specialty rolls and getting a more “standard” roll for free) and that gave us each plenty of food for a meal, even though at first glance it didn’t look like all that much.

The thing about sushi is that you don’t just wolf it down and ask for more. If you savor each piece and actually have a conversation while you eat, your body registers it’s fullness by the end of the meal, not when you’re in the middle of seconds and have already gone too far!

Todd chose the Fire Dragon Maki and the (crabmeat) Spicy Roll…

Crabmeat Spicy Roll and Fire Dragon Maki from Kiku Japanese Fusion, Tallahassee, Florida

While I went with the Candy Bar Maki and the Spider Roll.

Spider Roll and Candy Bar Maki from Kiku Japanese Fusion, Tallahassee, FL

It’s tough to choose a favorite. We both shared a piece of each of our rolls but otherwise reveled in our choices. With a name like Candy Bar you kind of expect indulgence. Still, it hard to describe the creaminess of this roll. Part of it was due to the avocado, of course, but it as more than just that. The silky texture, the mild but not bland flavor–every time I think about it I want to go back and get another one!

It was so good, in fact, that Todd admitted he wasn’t really sure he was in the mood for sushi when I suggested it, but by the end of the meal he was more than a little glad he came.

With the buy-one-get-one deal, our supper of delicious sushi cost just a smidgen over $40, including tip. It’s not something we’ll be doing on a regular basis, but definitely high on the list when we’re next craving sushi. And their lunch specials seem even more reasonable, price-wise (though the selection is relatively limited for the BOGO specials).

I’ve decided to start rating these reviews and impressions. Based on this singular experience, I’m giving our meal at Kiku Japanese Fusion 5 out of 5 Bites.


This impression of Kiku Japanese Fusion, located at 3491 Thomasville Rd, Suite 12, in Tallahassee, Florida, was unsolicited and based purely on the experience of the writer.