Crazy Week Date Night

Mr. R. worked the schedule from hell last week.  I suppose it wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t been back to work, but as it was, it was terrible.  That’s because all week long he worked from 3:00 to 11:00, arriving home after 11:30 every night.  I, of course, rose at 5:00 every morning to arrive at work around 6:30 and finished up at 3:00 in the afternoon, so we effectively missed each other all week long.  I managed to stay up until he got home most of those nights, but I was the walking dead all the next day. 

All of that to say, we were in no hurry to rush out and go someplace for date night.  We did, however, have some errands to run, including grocery shopping, as we had no food in the house. 

And this brings me to a story I wanted to tell.  Out here in the country, we have two nearby shopping options, the city Publix and the country Publix.  The city Publix is closer in to town and backs up to a kind of froo-froo neighborhood.  People dress nicely and one occasionally sees local dignitaries such as our county Sheriff (they’re just like the rest of us, you know). 

The country Publix is notably different.  For one thing, they sell livestock feed in the pet food aisle.  That’s because out here, people are as likely to have chickens, horses, cows, goats, or pigs as they are to have dogs and cats.  Another difference is that you absolutely do NOT have to dress up to shop there. 

And on weekend nights, the parking lot fills up with local kids who have no other place to hang out.  You see young girls Mr. R. has dubbed ‘Loxahatchee debutantes’ in their Daisy Dukes and cowgirl boots.  And you see young bucks in their pickup trucks who engage in testosterone-fueled pissing contests trying to win the hearts of those scantily camo-clad strumpets.  It’s like the mating rituals of the rare and elusive redneck bird. 

On Saturday, however, we saw something odd even for the country Publix.  There was a woman, possibly in her late 50s or early 60s, decently dressed for that rural grocery mecca.  I first noticed her because she obliviously wandered in front of me as I was looking at a shelf of kidney beans.  Is it just me or is that annoying as all get out?!  Anyway, it seemed that she ended up with us on every aisle.  She would take something off the shelf, look at it for a moment, then put it back and wander further along as if in a fog.  That’s when I noticed that she had no cart.  She wasn’t actually buying anything. 

We beat her around the corner so I hurried to tell Mr. R. before she came into earshot.  We watched as she made her way down that aisle doing the same thing she’d been doing.  She seemed neither happy nor sad.  She was just looking.  I have no idea what that was about.  Mr. R. theorized that she was bored and just had nothing else to do.  I wondered if she had no money to buy anything.  I suppose we could have asked her, but since she seemed content, that seemed like butting into what was none of our business.  So ‘no cart lady’ will remain a mystery.

As for date night?  We enjoyed a beautiful late August afternoon on our back patio.  There were two different colors of roses in bloom.  We considered lighting a pinon wood fire in the chimnea, but ended up watching last week’s episodes from the Breaking Bad Binge on DVR so we’d be ready for tonight.  All in all, not too shabby. 

Next week, however, mama wants to go out.

Date Day Saturday–Priorities, People!

Mr. R. and I had date ‘day’ Saturday rather than date night on Friday.  That’s because on Friday, Mr. R. was feeling a little under the weather.  Why not go out on Saturday night, you ask?  Well, because Sprint Cup racing was in Bristol AND the Dolphins were playing on Saturday night.  Priorities, people!

So we found ourselves out on Saturday afternoon running a few errands and with the general intention of stopping somewhere along the way to celebrate date ‘day’.  After errands, we made a couple of stops to appreciate the beautiful, if hot, afternoon (it is August in South Florida, after all).  We stopped along A1A and went down to the beach to snap a few photos of the amazing blue water.  We progressed to Jupiter Inlet to watch the boats for a while.  Finally, we realized we were ready to find some grub.

After kicking around a few possibilities, Mr. R. took us to one of my absolute favorite places, Guanabanas.  We had considered it last week but passed on it due to inclement weather.  Understand, ALL seating at Guanabanas is outside.  It’s on the Jupiter River on the west side of US 1 in Jupiter.  The place is utterly beautiful, all lush tropical gardens, tiki huts, tables right by the water. But Guanabanas has something else going for it besides its gorgeous setting:  their incredible food.  They use fresh, local ingredients as much as possible.  All their seafood is certified ‘Fresh from Florida.’  They use locally grown produce, and they even source the hot sauce on the tables from Palm Beach Gardens.  That attention to detail is apparent in the flavor of their food.

We chose a high-top table in the bar area, where often they feature live music, ranging from great local musicians to national acts like Natasha Beddingfield and Rob Thomas, although all was quiet on Saturday afternoon.  Be forewarned, if you sit in the bar area, you can only order from the left side of the menu (appetizers, sandwiches, etc.).  If you’d rather have a proper entree, you have to sit in the dining area.  The good news there is that the regular dining tables are next to the water, where in all likelihood you’ll watch kayaks and paddle boards go by as you enjoy the view of the river and mangroves. 

They offer a nice Happy Hour, too, but Mr. R. and I were about an hour early for that.  No matter, I knew what I wanted and promptly ordered the Cat 5, their spin on a traditional hurricane.  It is yummy, delicious, and more importantly on a hot day, marvelously cold.  Mr. R. settled for a Diet Coke. 

Foodwise, we started with the fish dip.  It was absolutely enjoyable, local fresh-caught fish, pureed and mixed with a savory smoky dressing.  For lunch, I ordered the spicy shrimp wrap while Mr. R. had the Cuban sandwich.  My wrap was amazingly tasty, and served with a side salad of mixed greens and their signature vinaigrette.  Mr. R.’s Cuban sandwich (which was delicious, I tasted it) came with Guanabanas’ fresh-made lightly seasoned wavy potato chips. 

We can’t recommend Guanabanas highly enough.  It’s everything I love about a restaurant:  local, beautiful setting, great food, friendly staff.  Next time you want a casual place to eat or have a cocktail, Guanabanas is for you.

U-Tiki Beach in Jupiter or Monsoon Date Night

You know how sometimes you read a menu at a restaurant and you just can’t decide among all the amazing offerings?  You won’t have that problem at U-Tiki Beach in Jupiter. 

Last night, Mr. R. and I ended up driving through Jupiter in a monsoon as we considered where to have dinner for date night.  We’d run a few errands (I bought two pairs of shoes for work) and we were hungry, but the weather was not conducive for outdoor dining at Guanabanas or Square Grouper, two of our favorite places on the water in Jupiter.   Which is why Mr. R. steered us into the parking lot of a new place on the water that’s been getting a lot of buzz. 

U-Tiki opened in March, on the Jupiter Inlet, just west of the now defunct Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  It’s owned by the same guy who owns Jetty’s.  From the front it looks like a regular Key West style building but as you walk inside you realize that the entire back of the place is open to the water.  There is indoor and outdoor seating with a small marina between you and the Jupiter Lighthouse.  We were shown to a high top table in the bar area just under the edge of the roof line with the outdoor ‘beach’ dining and marina opening in front of us. 

We settled back to enjoy a nice waterfront dinner.  One clue that it would be less than that was when Mr. R., a cigar aficionado, was told that although cigarette smoking is allowed outside (read, out from under the roof line) cigar smoking is not allowed anywhere on the property.  Meaning you can’t even walk to the end of the marina out over the water and smoke a cigar, but you could stand right next to our table and smoke a cigarette.  This point was emphasized to us by a young woman dressed in what could have been a nightgown and who was, presumably, the head hostess. 

Our menus were presented to us by our server Mandy, who was the bright spot in our visit.  She was friendly and efficient.  The menu, however, was disappointing.  First of all, there were no Happy Hour specials on drinks or appetizers so we decided that we’d have a proper dinner.  But there was really nothing that jumped out at either of us.  Even the appetizer list was lame.  It’s bad when the fish dip is the most appealing item. 

Moving ahead in spite of our misgivings, I ordered a Bermuda Triangle cocktail.  It was average, definitely not worth ordering a second.  Instead, I drank my water when it was gone. 

U-Tiki’s Bermuda Triangle.  It looks like Mountain Dew only not as good.  Perhaps the taste got lost.

My sons and I like to play a game when we fly.  It’s called ‘You Have to Buy Something From Every Page of the Sky Mall.’  The object of the game is to pretend that you have to buy one item from every page.  You end up going, “Okay, I’ll take the sculpture of the zombie crawling out of the ground.”

It was just like that trying to decide what to order at U-Tiki.  Nothing sounded amazing, there was nothing creative or interesting, and the prices were way too high for something you’re just settling for.  Burgers were $15, salads were $17, and proper meals were $23.  We both ended up ordering burgers.  I had the Onion Burger, which is a cheese burger with ‘crispy onions’ on it.  Apparently we’re calling onion rings crispy onions now.  Mr. R. had the Sauteed Shiitake Cheese Burger.  Guess what his cheeseburger had on it. 

As usual, I ordered my burger well done and Mr. R. had his medium.  When they arrived, mine was medium and his was rare, as in, bloody.  We opted not to return them, wishing to get out of there as quickly as possible.  The fries were hot and nicely crisp on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside.  But they were from frozen, while at this price point, I expected fresh-cut potatoes with some signature seasoning.  As it was, whatever oil the potatoes were fried in left them so dry even salt wouldn’t stick to them. 

Mr. R. and I both had the thought that the place simply takes itself too seriously.  It’s a tiki bar.  That’s a noble thing, given the setting and the view.  But we can have the same view without the pretentiousness about a block east at Square Grouper.  Which is what we’ll do next time, because we won’t be back to U-Tiki.

But hey, it wasn’t all bad.  Mr. R. and I spent quality time together.  And I got new shoes.  So there’s that.