Early Dining Specials
In many parts of the U.S., particularly in resort areas, fine dining places offer great deals if you are willing to eat early. These specials are especially popular with the over-50 crowd, but in these recessionary times you see a lof of younger people taking advantage of them also.
For example, in or near Clearwater Beach, Florida there are three very good restaurants where two people can eat a full dinner with soup or salad, main course and dessert for $25 before tax and tip. House wines and drinks are also available at reduced prices at these times, usually before 5 or 5:30 p.m.
The Island Way Grill is one of them, and its main courses are accompanied by tasty mashed potatoes mixed with wasabi mustard or by rice. The selection of mains is wide, with a number of seafood specials. Salads and warm bread are good, as are desserts although the latter are on the small side. In fact, I noticed recently that the size of the main course also seems to have shrunk since last year, but it is still an excellent value for the price.
Bob Heilman's Beachcomber has a more limited choice of entrees, but also very good food and larger portions. I got a piece of salmon that could easily have fed two people, along with vegetables, warm bread, a relish tray and dessert. The early specials are served from 4 to 5 p.m. weekdays and Sunday afternoons. The Beachcomber dates back to the 1960s, and food is home style American if your parent was a very good cook. If you want something a little more ethnic, Bobby's Bistro behind the main restaurant has tasty pizzas and a somewhat more relaxed atmosphere
In Bellair near Clearwater Beach, Marlin Darlin is owned by the same people who operate the Island Way and has similar food, prices and early dinner specials. If you happen to be in this part of the world on U.S. Thanksgiving in late November, they offer a great turkey dinner special for $13.95.
Early dinner specials may not be advertised, but if you are in any resort area it doesn't hurt to call the restaurant and inquire about them.