Sunday, October 6, 2013

E&E Stakeout Grill, Belleair Bluffs, FL

E&E is a warm and inviting, somewhat "old school" resto tucked away in a strip center just across the bridge from the upscale beach community of Belleair Beach (a town so intent on keeping non-residents off of their beaches least at one was illegal for beach-goers to bring any beverage other than water onto their shores). Anyone else remember the coffee-drinker fine scandal from around 1990?

A sister restaurant to one my favorites on the beach, Guppy's, I was excited at the prospect of revisiting it for the first time in 15 years.  UD and I arrived a little early and ducked into the cozy bar while we waited for our dining companions.  Service was prompt and courteous, and we were really impressed with the "High Five" bar menu available from 5:00 to 7:00 PM featuring five cocktails, five wines and five small plates all for $5 apiece. We each sipped a selection from the $5 wine list and nibbled on a $5 order of  fabulously plump and flavorful escargots nestled in their little tubs of butter, garlic and sherry-riffic goodness.  Two warm "sopping rolls" came with.  Nothing to complain about here.

After moving into the dining room (which had an awesome sound-dampening ceiling treatment I really appreciated after having to scream in order to converse at Seasons 52 in Orlando last week), we started with a couple of apps.

Jimbo loved his Sliced Beefsteak Tomato with bleu cheese, red onion and house vinaigrette.  Being a raw tomato hater from way back, I did not partake but can attest to the fact that the plate was practically licked clean after he had his way with it.

Our pals started with the Crabmeat Quesadilla & Grilled Shrimp with blackberry habanero drizzle and pineapple-orange salsa.  Still saving myself for the "main event", I didn't take a bite but it was nicely plated, had an appetizing appearance and seemed to be very well received.

Entrees at E&E all come with a better-than-average house Caesar Salad topped with multi-colored tortilla strips in lieu of croutons.  I loved this fresh and crunchy little salad and snorted it like there was no tomorrow (which doesn't often happen with the mostly-boring complimentary side salads I've become accustomed to).

So far, so good...but once the entrees arrived, everyone agreed that the honeymoon was over.  While none of our food was "bad", none of it was "special" either...and everyone's protein element was overcooked.

My Almond Crusted Fillet of Champagne Snapper tasted fresh, but the thin fillets had been left in the fryer a tad too long which left them a bit dry.  A little dredge in the yummy "Four Seasons Remoulade Sauce" accompaniment helped to resuscitate them a bit.  I did appreciate my baked potato side selection which was nicely loaded up with goodies (butter, sour cream, bacon, chives), however.

Momma-to-be "Mrs. P" seemed patently unimpressed with her Almond Crusted Shrimp and, after tasting one, I understood why.  They, too, had lingered too long in the deep fryer and lacked moistness.  Her Dijon Mustard Whipped Potatoes, which were not the least bit creamy and could've easily passed for Potato Buds, also failed to thrill.

UD's "Fest Haus Special" (again, overcooked) consisting of Roast Hind Shank of Pork with Cabbage, Bacon and more of the oddly gritty Dijon Mustard Whipped Potatoes was an all-around abomination.

Mrs. P's spousal unit, having requested his Filet Mignon cooked to medium rare +, had it served at standard medium temp.

With desserts came redemption.  The Pumpkin Cheesecake with Cinnamon Cream and Caramelized Ginger (and, I'm guessing, a gingersnap crust), may have been the best cheesecake I've ever put in my mouth. Pumpkin forward and cream cheese light, it was almost the consistency of pumpkin pie...but with higher fat and creaminess factors. This plus the escargots alone were worth the price of admission.

Oh, and let's not forget my better half's Caramel Pecan Heath Bar Sundae.  This thing will make you want to take Dairy Queen's Heath Bar Blizzard into a dark alley and beat the crap out of it until it stops slacking and learns to reach its full potential. "Orgasmic" is the word (and ice cream isn't generally a turn-on of mine).

Final word:  Some hits, some misses.  I'd return for the atmosphere, bar specials, apps and desserts...but probably not for dinner.

E&E Stakeout Grill on Urbanspoon
My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.

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