Monthly Archives: November 2012

Sanibel Island’s Over Easy Cafe


When it comes to finding a good restaurant on Sanibel Island for breakfast or lunch, the choice is easy…the Over Easy Café. What may not be so easy is trying to decide what to have. They have a very extensive menu with lots of choices.

This award-winning, chicken-themed eatery offers six varieties of eggs benedict including the Reuben Benedict, Sanibel Shrimp Benedict and Nova Smoked Salmon Benedict. But if “Bennys” aren’t your thing, how about the Mellow Portobello Omelet, Crab and Asparagus Omelet, Stuffed French Toast, Oreo Pancakes, Strawberry Pancakes, Piggies in a Blanket or Sunrise Sliders. That’s just to name a few. Don’t forget the fresh squeezed orange juice. Every restaurant in Florida should have fresh squeezed orange juice! And I’ve read that the cinnamon rolls are fabulous. I’ll definitely have to try one next time. And yes, there will be a next time for sure!

If it’s lunch you’re after, try their wraps, salads, seafood, all kinds of sandwiches and burgers. I had a half tuna salad sandwich on toasted sourdough bread with a cup of Italian meatball soup. Super yummy!

Since I was there on a Friday during a somewhat low season, there was no wait, but hear it’s busy on weekends and during peak season. And if you have a well-behaved dog, you can eat on the pet-friendly patio.

This is the first restaurant I’ve ever been to that served drinks in insulated Tervis Tumblers, appropriately with chickens and roosters on them. (Come to find out, Tervis is a Florida company. Their headquarters is outside Venice, Florida.)

My very first impression of the Over Easy Cafe was a positive one. Our waitress was extremely friendly and accommodating. This was the first restaurant I went to on my most recent trip to Sanibel, so it was refreshing to have a great dining experience right off the bat.

So, whether you visit the Over Easy Café for breakfast, lunch or brunch, you’re sure to have a tasty meal.

Breakfast Hours: 7am to 3pm
Lunch Hours: 11am to 3pm

Dates of Visit:  October 2012

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Sun, Sand, Shells — Serenity


Living in Florida, you kind of take the beach for granted. After all, there’s so much coastline, hence a lot of beach! I love living in Florida, yet I’m not a die hard beachcomber. I never have been one to sit for hours in the sun and bake. But I do enjoy walking on the beach or sitting under the protection of an umbrella or cabana listening to the surf and gazing on the beautiful blue water.

There are so many places in Florida I haven’t yet been, but I certainly plan to do a lot more exploring and blogging about the wonderful places to visit in this great state of Florida. Of the places I have been, there is one place in particular that I love so much I never tire of going there. And that is Sanibel Island.

Sanibel is a small crescent-shaped island on Florida’s Gulf Coast, just west of Ft. Myers. I first visited there almost 13 years ago, but it’s such a wonderfully peaceful beach destination, I keep going back. Sanibel Island is a short four-hour drive from my home, so it’s a great place to spend a long weekend, or a long week.

Sanibel Island has a rich and colorful history. It is believed that Ponce de Leon discovered the island in 1513 on his way to find the Fountain of Youth. He named his discovery Santa Isybella after Queen Isabella. In the 1800s, the Gulf Coast barrier islands became known as “The Buccaneer Coast,” because pirates were attracted to the area. One notorious pirate in particular, Jose Gaspar, is rumored to have buried his stolen treasure on Sanibel. Then, to house his female prisoners that he kept for ransom, he built a prison called Isle de los Captivas, hence the name of Sanibel’s “sister” island, Captiva.

There are no more pirates or prisoners on Sanibel or Captiva. There are also no traffic lights, high rise condos or sprawling shopping malls. In fact, much of the island is a wildlife refuge.

In 1935, Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist, Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling visited Sanibel Island. He fell in love with the area and campaigned to get federal protection for the island’s fragile ecosystem. About ten years later, more than 6,000 acres of mangrove forest and wetlands became the JN “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. You can explore the refuge by biking, hiking, canoeing, kayaking or on the guided tram. Here you’ll find dolphins, manatees, alligators, ospreys, herons, egrets, pelicans, almost 400 different species of birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals.


In addition to being a famous wildlife refuge, Sanibel Island is also famous for shelling. The beaches are abundant with “treasures from the sea.” Because people are often seen bending down as they look for seashells, this posture has become known as the “Sanibel Stoop.”


Sanibel Island has something for everyone, every recreation imaginable: fishing, golfing, tennis, boating, biking (over 22 miles of bike paths), canoeing, kayaking, water skiing and windsurfing. And of course there are a variety of great restaurants. (I’ll be posting on some of them in weeks to come.) And many charming shops, boutiques and art galleries.

So, if you live in Florida, on the Gulf Coast, or anywhere in the world, Sanibel Island is definitely a place worth visiting. You may find you love it there as much as I do.


Dates of Visit:  January 2000 & 2002, October 2012

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4Rivers Smokehouse – For some it’s BBQ Nirvana


I’m definitely in the minority when it comes to 4Rivers Smokehouse. Though I find the food good and prices competitive, I don’t gush over the place like a lot of people I work with. They just can’t get enough of it. There must be something I’m missing because the line at lunchtime is always literally out the door. And if you check out the publicity page on their website, you’ll see that everybody’s talking about 4Rivers Smokehouse.

Chef and owner, John Rivers, wasn’t always a BBQ master. He spent 20 years working in the pharmaceutical industry. Originally, his interest in great Texas-style barbecue was only a “backyard passion,” but after organizing a barbecue fundraiser for a young child’s cancer treatment, John saw how popular his BBQ was. He left the corporate world to open up his first restaurant in 2009.

Since then, 4Rivers Smokehouse has become one of the fastest growing restaurants in Central Florida. Currently there are three locations, Longwood, Winter Park and Winter Garden, but soon they will be smoking meats in Jacksonville and Gainesville, Florida.

The menu includes your regular BBQ fare: angus brisket (pretty popular with my colleagues), pork, chicken, turkey, wings and St. Louis style ribs. They have your traditional sides like cole slaw, French fries, potato salad, corn bread, beans, but also mac & cheese, sweet potato casserole and fried pickles. And what I found very unique was their huge variety of bottled beverages including Cheerwine and many types of root beers.

The first time I tried 4Rivers Smokehouse BBQ was at a company party. I thought the pork was very tender and tasty, but I didn’t care for the sauce. (I like the Sweet sauce at Sonny’s Real Pit BBQ.) So, at my last visit (also a company function) I got the smoked chicken salad sandwich. It was very good – smoked chicken with grapes. For my sides, I had cole slaw and macaroni and cheese. Everyone raves about the mac & cheese and I agree it was very good.

The Longwood, Florida, location has a Sweet Shop next door where you can partake of all kinds of cakes, cupcakes, pastries and other goodies. (The other locations have desserts from the Sweet Shop available.) I was quite looking forward to the Orange Creamsicle cupcake that I got, but found it only average. Perhaps other flavors are better like the red velvet, carrot cake, coconut or birthday cake. They even have some unusual cupcake flavors like Mountain Dew with crushed Doritos and the Grape Nehi.

Since my work colleagues are totally obsessed with 4Rivers, I’ll be trying it again in the near future. At our office, we have an annual pre-Thanksgiving lunch catered by 4Rivers. Maybe I can bring my own sauce!

Dates of Visit:   November 2011, October 2012

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Phillip’s Seafood at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor


It’s not often that I have to go out of town for work (alas, I don’t write my blog for a living.) So, this was a great opportunity to write about places outside my usual stomping grounds. This trip took me to Baltimore.

Even though I was out of town, I still found myself eating at yet another seafood restaurant. But this time, I actually had one of the few seafood dishes that I like, New England Clam Chowder. The restaurant was Phillip’s Seafood at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

The Phillips family has been in the seafood business since the turn of the century. Grandpa first had a crab processing plant in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. In 1956, the Phillips family moved to Ocean City, Maryland, where they opened a small carryout restaurant, Phillips Crab House, where they sold the overstock from Grandpa’s plant.

The company has grown considerably over the last 50 years. They now have several locations along the eastern seaboard where they serve fresh seafood in a casual yet classy atmosphere. In addition to their Maryland locations, they also have restaurants in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington D.C. They even have several airport locations including ones in Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Newark and Savannah.

But back to the food, the New England Clam Chowder was good, a bit fishy for my taste, but nice consistency. My colleague ordered the grilled Mahi Mahi, which he enjoyed. And for dessert, chocolate lava cake.  Of course, they’ve got all the usual seafood dishes like lobster, shrimp, clams, and what they’re most famous for…crab.

Dates of Visit:  October 2012

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