A December 2008 trip
to Pensacola by Wildcat Dianne
Quote: Dad's in town for Christmas, and Mom and I have been busy showing him the town whenever we can get him to loosen the grip on the remote control. It's also the time of the year for Christmas parties, pigging out, and spending time with family and friends!
Erika and Todd met us at our place about 3:15 on Saturday afternoon, and we were ready for fun. But the show almost didn't go on when Erika stumbled down the stairs leading to our condo, but luckily Todd was there to catch his wife before our night wound up in a local emergency room. Disaster averted, we were all on our way downtown.
Todd parked in Plaza Ferdinand VII at Chisley Park on Palafox Street in Downtown Pensacola, and we began our walk through the park towards Historic Pensacola Village. On the way, Mom and I told Dad, Erika, and Todd the stories we learned on our Haunted Tour of Pensacola at Halloween, and after Todd heard about the hanging in the old Police Station that is now the Pensacola Little Theater, Todd quipped, "I like this town!" After living in Pensacola for four years, Erika and Todd never saw the downtown in depth only coming to the area for business and driving through on the way to the Naval Base or other errands. They didn't know what they were missing!
Our next stop was the Historic Pensacola Village near Seville Square. The beautiful old Victorian homes were lovingly decorated with pine wreaths and garlands on their white picket fences, and I loved the pine garlands on the fence of the Lear-Robechlave house with a Southern touch, magnolia leaves woven into the garland! At the Pfeiffer house near the church, there was an orange tree full of sweet fruit, and I was tempted to jump over the fence and take some of the oranges for my own consumption. "You watch out for cops, and I will jump the fence and get some of those oranges, Todd!" Needless to say, I behaved myself, and we continued on our adventure though the Village.
At the Highway 98 side of Seville Square, Dad saw an old Victorian on Highway 98 and wanted to check it out. Dad might be almost 66, but he is still a fast walker, and Mom, Erika, Todd, and I had to almost run after Dad across the street to catch up with him. The two-level Victorian was the Lee Bed and Breakfast House, and there were guests out on the second-floor balcony checking out the Gulf of Mexico across the street.
After checking out the B & B, we made our way back through Seville Square where a wedding was going on in the gazebo. "Don't do it!", Todd cracked as we passed by, but it was for us to hear, not the wedding party, but it would have been funny if they had heard us! Surrounding Seville Square are some little restaurants in some of the Victorian homes, and we looked at some of the menus, but nothing seemed appealing at the time or was too expensive for His Lordship to buy dinner for all five of us. If it's not a restaurant, all of the other houses are either law firms or former whorehouses, which led to Erika cracking, "Notice any difference?!"
After leaving the Village, we walked through the Seville Quarter which has a few bars and restaurants. One of the restaurants looked to be closed for a private Christmas party, but Dad stoped in Rosie O'Grady's for a second to check a football score on their TV. We returned to Palafox Street a few minutes later and walked around a little more checking out more restaurants before deciding to go to the Pensacola Ale House for dinner. Santa was outside a jewelry shop giving out candy to passing children, and the downtown was starting to come alive with Christmas festivities. We left downtown before it got too crowded in order to get to the Ale House before that place got crowded and enjoyed a nice meal together as a family.
Pensacola at Christmastime also has parades and festivities for New Year's Eve that are not to be missed. The streets and businesses are decked to fullest in holiday cheer, and the weather is mild enough for one to enjoy a walk around the town without freezing!
Restaurant | "Cheesecake Attack Before Christmas Cured by Trip to Chrissoula's"
Let's just say the diet has been shot to hell in a handbasket since December 1 with all of the goodies at work and Mom's constant baking frenzies at home. It didn't help that after last month's Greek festival that I was still craving pastries from Chrissoula's Cheesecake Shoppe outside of Downtown Pensacola. The owners of Chrissoula's are Greek, and they were the ones who provided the Greek Festival at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church with the Kok, Baklava, and other scrumptious goodies for their food booths.
Dad is in town for the next week, and I started vacation on December 23. On the 23rd, I decided to take Loki for a trip to the dog park to mingle with other pooches and get some exercise. Before that, I decided to nip the sugar fit in the butt with a trip to the source of my cravings, Chrissoula's Cheesecake Shoppe.
Located in a little shopping area near Scenic Highway, Chrissoula's is a small shop with a small parking lot but has over two dozen flavors of cheesecake to choose from. When I walked into the shop, I was greeted by a glass case showcasing all of the cheesecakes and a menu was above the counter showing the prices per slice and whole cheesecakes along with its tiny lunch menu. Flavors like key lime, cherry, German Chocolate, etc. were making me drool, but being Christmastime, the cheesecake that caught my fancy was the Eggnog Cheesecake. SCORE! Mind made up, I went up to the counter and was greeted by a good-looking and courteous man who I think was one of the owners and ordered a slice of Eggnog Cheesecake to go ($3.82). The man quickly got my slice of cheesecake while I waited and looked around already deciding to return here another time.
After I paid the man, I got back into the car where Loki was quietly waiting for me to take him to the dog park, but before that, I opened my container to see the cheesecake. PANT! DROOL! PANT! Luckily, I didn't tear into the cheesecake right there and then, but it looked sooooo good with the pale yellow eggnog custard and a sprinkle of nutmeg on top. Willpower won out, and I shut my container and hauled myself and Loki to the dog park where I would enjoy my cheesecake while Loki was getting his exercise. Maybe he would get a little bite of cheesecake if he was interested!
At the dog park, I found a bench to myself and let Loki inspect all of the trees while I ate my cheesecake. The eggnog cheesecake was very rich with a subtle eggnog flavor and really good. I thought I would need a jog around the dog park after eating that little piece of heaven, but I chose to talk to the other dog owners in the park on a rare cold day two days before Christmas. Loki showed no interest in the cheesecake choosing instead to inspect every dogs butt, but a mutt named Dixie came over checking my treat out, but I wouldn't give her any.
Chrissoula's Cheesecake Shoppe is open Monday-Saturday from 10-6, and if you are interested in a whole cheesecake or placing a large order, you must do so 48 hours in advance. There are seasonal cheesecakes along with all-year cheesecakes, and the prices are $3.55 for a slice to $20-$32 for whole cheesecakes and samplers with assorted flavors. I highly recommend this little slice of heaven in Downtown Pensacola!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 26, 2008
Restaurant | "Lunchtime at Jersey Mike's"
So lunch time comes yesterday, and I am a hungry little hippo, and I worked up my appetite taking the walk over to Jersey Mike's. Upon entering the restaurant, I was greeted by the nice man at the counter and perused the menu deciding what to eat for lunch. The menu is full of New Jersey style sandwiches and other goodies, and the decor of the restaurant is dominated by murals of the Jersey seashore made famous in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series of books.
After a few minutes of deciding what to eat, I went with my old standby and favorite, a turkey sub with the fixings. Not wanting to kill my customers with onion breath after lunch, I skipped the onions but had pickles, sweet peppers, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, and oil and vinegar put on the sandwich. The regular sandwich is 6-inches-long and you can get a smaller or larger-sized sub if you desire for a reasonable price. As my sandwich was being made, my co-workers, Sonya and Theresa, came in for lunch, and instead of taking my sandwich to go as first planned, Sonya invited me to sit with her and Theresa.
My turkey sub was very good, and well-prepared and there was nothing different about it. With a Diet Pepsi, my meal cost $7.60 with tax, and it's an inexpensive lunch option that I will be taking advantage of once in a while for lunch on my work days. Jersey Mike's offers simple and good sandwiches for a good price and feeds many employees of the businesses nearby. I will recommend it if you are ever driving through Pace, Florida and need a quick lunch.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 23, 2008
Jersey Mike's Subs
Blockbuster Shopping Center - 4865 Highway 90
Restaurant | "Home Depot Christmas Party at The Grand Buffet"
I was allowed to bring a guest to the party, and I asked Mom to come along to meet my new friends and co-workers, and she accepted the invite. Dad is in town for Christmas, so Mom and I also invited him to come along, but being the heat of the playoff rush of the NFL season, Dad said he would stay at my sister's house with at death grip on her remote control.
With Dad safely in a recliner at Erika's house and full of her cooking, Mom and I got all dressed up for the Christmas party. We had to run an errand before the party and arrived at the Grand Buffet early, but we were able to get a table on the left side of the restaurant. Since the restaurant is small, the owners were gracious enough to close the restaurant in order for the Home Depot to have the place to ourselves for our party. The waiters and waitresses were given Home Depot baseball caps and were running around to make sure things were just right for us. No booze was served during the party, but Mom and I were happy with water to drink and other employees got sodas or tea to drink.
Almost immediately after sitting down, we were told we could help ourselves to the buffet, which boasts it has over 200 items to choose from including a small sushi bar. I hit the appetizers first and filled my plate with small portions of shrimp along with a raw oyster and a crawfish. The seafood was a bit of a disappointment being bland from being steamed and sitting under heat lamps for a long time, and I am still figuruing out what is the big deal about Cajun Crawfish. After Joseph, one of my co-workers showed me how to eat one, there wasn't much tail meat to eat. Maybe it's my Northern blood!
The sushi was a bit bland, too, but after getting some of the main courses like the Chicken with Rose Oil and assorted steamed veggies, I was pretty impressed there. The green beans in soy sauces and bok choy were crisp and flavorful. Too stuffed and not wanted to overdo it, I chose to go light for dessert and had some cantaloupe and honeydew melon along with some tapioca pudding that was very good. Mom felt the seafood was also overdone and bland, but a lot of my co-workers said the food was great.
After dinner, our boss got up and told us what a great job we were doing and blah, blah, blah and named our Associates of the Year and told us to open our presents. Rhonda, who was in charge of the party, did a great job in organizing the whole thing and getting great gifts for everyone. But after taking everyone's concerns about the way the restaurant was laid out, she is busy planning for next year's Christmas party at another location.
Although the layout of the restaurant was not condusive for all to socialize with their co-workers properly and the fish dishes in the buffet were bland, Mom and I were pretty impressed by the way the party was run by the Grand Buffet's owners and employees. Mom and I didn't have to pay for our food, but if I was to choose a Chinese Restaurant for dinner, I don't think the Grand Buffet would be worth my money, but I will recommend it for it's good service and some of it's food, and there was no karaoke after dinner!
Restaurant | "Lunch with Loki at The Jordan Valley Cafe"
Needing a change of scenery, I decided to walk Loki on Palafox Street in Downtown Pensacola and check out the Christmas decorations lining the street and have some lunch before having to return Loki home. First, I took Loki through Chisley Park in Plaza de Ferdinand VII. There were construction workers doing work in the park along with several old men sitting on the park benches talking and laughing. Seeing Loki, a couple of them were a little leery of the big German Shepherd coming along, but I told them Loki wouldn't bite, and one of them said he was a good-looking dog. Then the old God of Mischief charged one of the men to give him a friendly greeting that scared the poor man and got a laugh and teasing from his friends for cowardly behavior.
After walking around Palafox Place and taking pictures around the courthouse and Plaza de Ferdinand VII, I said to Loki it was time to have a little bite to eat. There was a Greek/Arabic restaurant nearby that got good reviews in the local paper, and I was determined to give it a shot. Plus I noticed that the restaurant had a couple of tables outside that I could sit at and enjoy lunch with Loki and not have him pitch a fit being left alone tied to a lightpost while I ate inside.
The Jordan Valley Cafe opens at 10:30 a.m. daily, and I went in about 11 which was before the lunch rush. I tied Loki to a lightpost within view of the counter and went inside to order. The Jordan Valley Cafe has a small menu of traditional Greek and Arabic food such as Falafel and Gyros and a good lunchtime menu for under $10. Being in the mood for some falafel, I got the Falafel Platter ($6.49) that came with two sides along with the main course. For sides, I got Spinach Pie and Black Olives. After I ordered I went back outside to be with Loki, who was starting to get a little bit agitated being left tied to a lightpost for too long for his liking.
It wasn't very long before the young man who took my order at the counter came outside with my falafel, and Loki showed that even though he is 15 and old, he still can try to steal lunch when he sees something good. Luckily Loki didn't get any of my food, but he knows that when I go out to lunch with him, Loki will get a little taste of my food. The young server asked what kind of dog Loki was and said he was a good looking dog before going back to work inside, and I dug into my lunch saying "Bill O'Reilly eat your heart out!", in referral to Keith Olbermann's jokes about Bill O'Reilly of Fox Noise (as Keith calls it) and his thing for falafel.
The Falafel Platter was a nice-looking plate of three falafel balls and four wedges of warmed pita bread. I had ordered the black olives thinking they would be Greek Olives which I love, but I was disappointed when they were plain old canned olives sliced up. The Spinach Pie was hot out of the oven and full of spinach and feta cheese, and even Loki enjoyed a little bite of that but passed on the falafel. "Hey! I was in a vegetarian mood, Loki! Forgive me!" Other than the disappointing olives, everything else was good, and while I ate another customer waiting for his food asked me about Loki, and we had a nice talk about how Loki was a medical miracle living until 15 and still being relatively healthy for a dog that old. After the guy left, I finished my meal and went back inside to pay leaving the protesting Loki tied to the lightpost again.
Jordan Valley Cafe is open daily at 10:30 and stays open late for the night crowds that go to Downtown Pensacola. It is located in Palafox Place on Palafox Street adjacent to the Escambia County Courthouse and next to several little shops along the way. Lunch prices will cost you anywhere between $7-9, and there are dinner specials, too. I'll have to return there another day in order to try other menu items, but the first time was a good experience.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 16, 2008
Jordan Valley Cafe
128 Palafox Place