2328 Sunset Point Rd
Clearwater, FL 33765-1427
Well, how to describe the Sunset Grill? Home of the Crypt Keeper with a full bar? An old-folks-home Cafeteria? All I know is that the decor puts you in mind of being at someone’s alcoholic-Grandmother’s home. Before you enter you’re assaulted by a faux-StripClub lighting scheme:
Upon entering the realm of the elderly you get a view of the full bar. When I first entered I was a bit taken aback by the full bar. The Sunset Grill vibe lends itself to more of a “family friendly” kind of theme like a Perkins or Bill Knapps (if those are even around anymore). Close seconds for relating to this vibe are Ram’s Horn restaurants and half of the Coney Islands in the Detroit area. The most astounding part of the full bar was that someone was actually sitting at the bar and imbibing.
The next two shots really let you soak in the wrinkles. There’s nothing wrong with old-folks, but an older crowd generally signifies milk-toast flavors. If I ever hit 80 years old, I don’t know that I’ll want to chow down on something that really explodes in my mouth as it’s liable to make a forcible exit later. So, the patronage and fake pussy-willow stalks filled me with a sense of foreboding. Mediocrity may pervade.
In the vein of fulfilling your alcoholic-Grandparent’s desires, there is a ledge that rings the entire dining room of the restaurant. This ledge is littered with random beer steins. Now, in another setting this might play to the establishment’s favor but these beer steins are collecting dust. Instead of doing something interesting like letting patrons pick a stein from the wall to drink from they are merely ceremonial vestments to remind you that Grandma and Grandpa used to throw a couple back in their day. This reminds me of my own Grandmother’s house where she has random trinkets and figurines lining the kitchen walls that are collecting just as much dust. Who decided that this would be a good idea? This is willfully presenting your junk to the world like it’s something to be proud of. If it’s never going to be touched put it in a box and throw it in the basement or attic. Enough of my kvetching, onto the Menu:
This actually isn’t the full-menu. This is the placemat/specials menu. Unfortunately my phone couldn’t take a legible photo, but most of the items are classic American cuisine (Beef Tips with Noodles kind of shit). The bonus to this joint is that everything is under $15. I decided to order the ‘All You Can Eat Fried Fish’ for $9.95. Typically I steer clear of all-you-can-eat specials/items as I rarely get my money’s worth of food or the food is so god-awful that it becomes more of a “All-You-Can-Stomach” challenge. That challenge is essentially a vain attempt to recoup my wasted dollars, unfortunately it’s a battle I always lose. I ended up with the Fish-Challenge because it didn’t look like their were any other takers in this Land of Sagging Flesh and Liver Spots so I was hoping I wouldn’t get fried fish that had over-baked in the kitchen’s heat lamps. One nice thing about The Sunset Grill is that with most meals you get soup/salad and bread. I opened with Cream of Broccoli (it could’ve used far more broccoli).
As you can see, it’s all suitable diner fare. The cream of broccoli was actually quite decent and served hot. If you’ve visited a diner, you may have had an occasion where you received tepid soup, and I find that quite unpleasant. Unless I’m being served Gazpacho or something similar, I want my soup so hot that it could blister my mouth and will burn my hands if I get a little too grabby with it. This gives you more time to dip bread into the soup while waiting for it to cool.
The nice thing about the fried fish is that it wasn’t fish parts reconstituted into a triangle or square or some other non-fish shape… I actually received a fillet. The fish tasted like it was hand battered and then deep fried, my only beef (or lack thereof, har har har) was that one of the pieces wasn’t scaled well enough and ended up getting chewy at one end. I ended up ordered another batch of fish, as I did get the ‘All You Can Eat Fish.” Doing so was a mistake as I could only muscle down half of a fillet of the 3 brought. The Sunset Grill also gets a little stingy and won’t let you take home the remains of the ‘All You Can Eat Fish,’ which in retrospect is fine as the fish wasn’t anything to call home about.
Above are the still remains of a fish uneaten. Sorry fish for not fulfilling your purpose in this world and consuming you.
In the end, the atmosphere warrants a Rating: . Aside from feeling like I was eating at a retirement home, the ambiance wasn’t awful.
The food pulled a solid Rating: . I suspect that they make a killer-something here but I certainly didn’t order it today. If you have a large appetite for fish, you could do worse than order the ‘All You Can Eat Fried Fish’ special at The Sunset Grill, but if you want to be wowed I would steer clear.
-Matt in Clearwater