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Thread: Dad's Taxi's...... Part 6 - The Day I Ate Salad !

  1. #1
    Florida Chatterbox Dads_Taxi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Manchester, UK

    Dad's Taxi's...... Part 6 - The Day I Ate Salad !

    Part 6 or “The Day I Ate Salad”

    It’s hard to come to Florida and not do some serious shopping. Brand name clothing is so much cheaper here than at home, I still can’t work out why. It isn’t manufactured here, it all comes from the same far east factory.
    I must come clean though; as I write this, the “here” I refer to is really “there”. We’re back home now, and I’m afraid my enthusiasm for trip reports diminished the more we did (and the more exhausted I became!). However, I now have a spare hour so I’ll carry on.....

    We start our day with breakfast at Shoneys. If there’s one thing they get right in the USA, it’s having pancakes for breakfast – buried under crispy bacon, sausages and scrambled eggs. Why can’t British hotels just see the light and give up offering a “Full English”? Give me pancakes and syrup. I’m getting hungry now just typing it. Anyway, we eat our fill and point the bus at The Premium Outlets Mall.

    Many hours pass.........

    Many $$$s are exchanged for fashion goods, and I immediately start to fret about excess baggage charges. Every one of us appears back at the bus with enough bags to sort out the Spanish economy (had we been in Spain). Mrs Dad’s Taxi reminds me we have an entire empty holdall’s worth of baggage allowance unused on the way here, and once all the packaging is dispensed of we’ll be fine (as it turns out, one week later she is proved absolutely right, but that doesn’t stop me worrying all week)

    Some of our gang are vegetarians, and so far they’ve been surviving on Vege burgers virtually every meal, so today it’s their turn to choose the dinner venue. Following all the good comments on here, we are looking for Sweet Tomatoes. This proves harder than you would imagine. We’ve done a search, got an address, bung it into the SatNav, and Steve (Steve is my Floridian Sat-Nav) doesn’t know it, but suggests a nearby address that he does know. Good try Steve, but no cigar. We wander aimlessly for a while, and eventually end up in the right place after several U-turns. U-turns do seem to be a way of life round here. At home, if you’re heading the wrong direction you look for the next roundabout to point yourself the right way. In Florida- no problem, just U-turn across 3 lanes of traffic. On an Interstate – no worries, haul the truck onto that central reservation, it’s only a bit bumpy, judder judder, look for any small gap in the traffic, go for it, U-turn, there we go, no harm done.

    Anyway, I digress. So, we find Sweet Tomatoes, pile through the door and we carnivores look on in dismay – there is salad as far as the eye can see. If you haven’t been to Sweet Tomatoes before, like us, then the system is a bit odd. It’s a bit like a motorway service area in that you grab a tray, pop a plate on it, then slide it along a shelf past the dishes of food (all salad), picking stuff out of the dishes and placing it on your plate until you reach the end of the counter where there’s a cashier waiting to take your money. Now I see how this works at a Motorway services (or Tesco Cafe, or wherever) as the cashier then looks at your tray, adds up what you’ve chosen and presents you with a price. However Sweet Tomatoes is fixed price depending on time of day, so why does the cashier need to be anywhere near the food-distribution line? It’s a buffet. Take my money then let me loose!

    So, having filled my plate with anything I could find that looked vaguely tasty, I paid for 11 buffets and drinks and sloped off to eat my salad. And Ladies and Gentlemen, I need to announce – I Ate Salad – AND ENJOYED IT.

    OK, it was supplemented by some rather impressive garlic bread, and the soup selection was fantastic. And baked Sweet Potato is rather yummy too. I will give this place a huge thumbs up. It was lovely. And in true USA fashion there were desserts that could give you a coronary should you eat enough of them. It turned out that the salad distribution line was just the start. Once sat at the table you could explore the hot food, which was limited to a range of soups, garlic bread with or without cheese, and baked potatoes. I think someone found pasta too but I didn’t spot it. Tea and Coffee was included, and as mentioned some yummy desserts with an ice-cream machine to top them off.

    So, Sweet Tomatoes – don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it! (advice to self).

    Having rounded off the extremely healthy dinner with a brownie, ice cream and chocolate sauce (I assume they were all low-fat and organic, but didn’t see the notice to that effect), we cruised down to the Walmart on the 535 to get some supplies, and on the way we spotted a Dollar Tree. Now, I am completely averse to the Pound Shops at home, it’s not the shop I think of first when I want to buy anything. And so I can’t really see any attraction in Dollar Tree either. However with two teachers in the bus, we had to go in. In previous visits to the States, Dollar Tree has proved to be an amazing resource for incentives for young kids, and also kids’ parties. And so baskets were filled with “Happy Birthday” banners and the like, and sheets of stickers that are great for encouraging kids at school, with messages like “I’ve been good in class today”, “I did well at Math today” (but sadly not at spelling) and “I didn’t bring a weapon to school today”.

    OK, I made that last one up.

    With me mentally weighing the carrier bags as we squeezed them in alongside the spoils from the Mall, we clambered back in the bus, performed another U-Turn (can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em) and continued to Walmart, then back to the Villa and another day is gone. And I don’t seem to have taken a photo all day!

  2. #2
    Florida Chatterbox
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Nice one Dave. Can't agree about breakfast. I love the American breakfasts and pancakes but I have to keep the syrup (sugar free in my case) away from the bacon and eggs and I don't think there is any better start to the day than a full english - well occasionally - if you want to avoid the heart attack.

    The wife would like Sweet Tomatoes so I hope she does not read this and I aint going to tell her.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Totally agree with you about the breakfasts. We have had home made American style pancakes with strawberries and maple syrup this morning as we are all off work today and driving up to Sheffield to stay with our youngest son for the weekend.

    I have enjoyed your trip reports and it sounds as though you still managed to have a good day even if you did manage to go all day without taking a photograph.

    Have never tried Sweet Tomatoes and as much as I love a good steak I also love salad so will definitely add this to my list for my next visit.

  4. #4
    Florida Chatterbox
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Sorry, the pancakes with breakfast is not for me, I always ask for them on a separate plate.

    Now Sweet Tomatoes, well that is a must on every trip, the clam chowder soup is my favourite, love it. Very good value, and you can sign up for coupons.

  5. #5
    Gold 5 Star Member eagleydo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Great to see another one of your report! Prefer my pancakes seperate.

  6. #6
    Florida Expert
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Bristol and Rotonda, Charlotte County
    A thumbs up from me regarding Sweet Tomatoes. Being on the Gulf Coast our nearest one is in Sarasota if anyone is going that way.
    Clare R

  7. #7
    Florida Chatterbox lynnroy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Have loved reading your reports- making me excited about going - only 23 days to go!!

  8. #8
    Florida Chatterbox Rob Dawson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Leek, Staffordshire
    Great report-Glad you liked Sweet Tomatoes, Rob even eats salad when we go there it is a change from steaks etc.
    Jan & Rob

  9. #9
    Gold 5 Star Member SDJ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Windwood Bay/Tavistock, Devon.
    Sweet Tomato's for me to. Love the selection of salads, and of course all the other things that one can stuff your face with!!! Value for money is amazing.

    You need to be getting ready to book your next trip Dads Taxi so you won't have too many withdrawals!! Have really enjoyed reading your reports and it sounds as though you had a wonderful time apart from the flight delay going home.

  10. #10
    Gold 5 Star Member stabard's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Got to say we love Sweet Tomatoes - it is a must do lunch for us every trip. It is one of my favorite eataries.
    Jan and Lee

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