There’s just something about the cuisine of the south that screams bbq. There is no shortage of great places to tempt your cravings in this area.
So far we have tried a few. We love the places that are pet friendly. Molly is such a great traveller and always likes the attention she gets from everyone. Especially since most dogs we’ve come across are purse size. There are many great venues both indoor and outdoor that welcome furry family members.
The craft breweries are cool. Mostly they are in off beat locations with industrio themes. But The Swan in Lakeland has indoor and outdoor seating near downtown and across from the lake. It’s fabulous. We also really enjoyed the Grove Roots brew pub in Winter Haven. They have a bbq food truck out front and Luce music.
Ovation Bistro has been our go to when we decide on the spur of the moment. Their outdoor patio is a breezy spot to enjoy local beers and great food. The last couple of times they’ve also featured live music. Their servers are super friendly and always make sure Molly has water.
Last night we tried the Mannys Chophouse. We attempted on a Friday night a few weeks ago but the line up was tremendous! We decided in order to avoid the lines we would go at opening time which is 4 pm. Crazy right? We arrive at 4:20 pm; the parking lot is almost and there are a few parties ahead of us waiting to be seated. What!?
Once we are shown to our seats we take in the surroundings… retro “junk” is everywhere. License plates, signs, posters not a bare piece of wall or ceiling to be found. There’s an old fashioned help yourself to popcorn machine and the place is buzzing in general. Every table is taken. Our server, Pearl (that’s right, Leah, an actual Pearl. And she was young and spunky!) gives us menus and offers drinks. Bails orders a Margarita and Rudy and I order red wine.
While we start perusing the menu Pearl comes back with our drinks. Two of each for everyone. It’s happy hour. Oh man.
We’ve decided on our dinners. It’s the early bird special menu (now we are starting to clue in) from 4 pm to 6 pm. Bails orders steak, Rudy gets ribs and I’m in for prime rib. Rare. Oh ya. Our dinner specials come with a side as well as warm rolls with cinnamon butter and bottomless salad. I see a doggy bag in our future. The rolls show up first. They are warm and yeasty with a light glaze. The butter is delicious. It tasted like apple jacks cereal. Wow.
Then the bowl (a large stainless mixing type) of salad arrives. Pearl tosses the mixture of iceberg, diced tomato and cukes, red onion, hard boiled egg, sourdough croutons and creamy ranch dressing. OMG. I could have stopped right there. The perfect meal. But then the entrees arrive. Whoa! The hugest baked potatoes loaded with cheese, sour cream and butter accompany our protein.
In the mean time, the table next to us receives their dessert. Death by chocolate. A huge (think fish bowl) vessel of ice cream and brownies smothered in chocolate syrup and whipped cream. There’s no way.
Rudy orders another red wine (which is 2) and Bails volunteers to help. I guess I’m driving.
We can’t finish our meals. Dessert is out of the question. Take out containers please. We fill 4 of them. What!?
The bill is a whopping $78. We are blown away. We totally get the line ups. We will totally be back. At 4 pm. With empty stomachs.
Florida. F@@k yeah!!