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Island Way Grill in Clearwater Beach, FL

U.S. Brunch Review
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When you grow up near Florida’s beaches, the glare of the sun seems to cover up any bruises that you might notice in your surroundings. Life is sunny. The entertainment is great, the restaurants delicious, the bars tons of fun.

And then, in your 20s, you move to the Northeast, to a city that—at first—feels gritty and sad. Where is all my sunshine? You think, as you trod around in heavy coats to dark hole-in-the-wall bars to meet a friend.

Then the sun starts shining from unexpected places, like a melt-in-your-mouth appetizer at Rasika, or an unbelievably tasty cocktail made from herbs and shaved ice at the Columbia Room, or a moving-yet-intimate concert at Twins Jazz.

And suddenly you’re warmed, not from UV rays, but from the amazing secrets and tastes and sounds that you keep discovering in your city. There’s your sunshine.

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Then you go back to Florida for the holidays, with your family, and you return to those places that you once thought were the bee’s knees. Which is exactly what happened with Cori Sue and I when we took our families to brunch at Island Way Grill on Clearwater.

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The restaurant is known to be one of the best in the Tampa Bay area, owned by footballers and visited by rich folk who drive in from their golf neighborhoods in their fancy, shiny SUVs. Cori Sue even had a high school Valentine’s Day dinner there.

The deal is simple: Sunday brunch from 11 to 3, $23.95 for adults, $8.95 for kids. With that, you get a Bloody Mary and a mimosa.

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That is, if you ever get a table. We waited for more than half an hour—even though we had a reservation—and were relentlessly ignored and eye-rolled by the 16-year-old hostess.

When we finally sat down, it took the server another 20 minutes to get to us to get our drink orders. Sir, it’s a buffet. Why is it taking you so long to visit us? What else do you really have to do here besides serve drinks and clear plates?

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Then we cautiously dipped into the buffet, which was quite enormous. They describe the food as “continental, pacific rim, island cuisine with an exciting pan-Asian flair,” but all I saw was old food in metal containers under heat lamps.

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There was pasta, tons of bread products, some browning salads and fruit, and huge boats of oysters and shrimp on ice—who knows how long those had been sitting out. The sushi was OK, but Papa Morris said the oysters were way funky.

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I attempted three different plates of food, and all three, in the end, were mostly untouched and cleared away. The only thing I actually ended up eating was the bread: croissants, muffins, and toast.

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The dessert buffet was the only redeeming part of this brunch. In a different section of the restaurant, they were serving up little bites of different cakes, mousses and pastries. They were beautiful. Plus, a woman was making ice cream sundaes in homemade waffle cones—any way you like it.

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We sat indoors, because it was a bit chilly outside (unusual for Clearwater Beach). But on the deck outside there was a tiki bar and a woman playing the steel drums.

I think that’s where I would have found my sunshine that day—outside, enjoying the Florida weather, listening to the music, mimosa in hand, staying far, far away from that brunch buffet. Or perhaps I just should have gone to my Tampa brunch buffet standby.

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The Bitches say: D for desserts. Because that was the only good thing in this brunch.

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Island Way Grill
20 Island Way
Clearwater, FL
(727) 461-6617

Island Way Grill serves brunch on Sundays.

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3 thoughts on “Island Way Grill in Clearwater Beach, FL”

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  1. If you ever come back to the Clearwater area, you should definitely try the brunch at City Fish in Oldsmar. Its $23.95 and includes unlimited bloody mary’s and mimosas. And its a bloody mary bar (with jalapeño infused vodka or citrus infused vodka) where you can make your own. They even have an area with meats (salmon, turkey, prime rib, ham, and more) that they will slice for you. They usually have a chocolate fondue fountain on the dessert table. The place really is amazing. I recommend making a reservation because it is very popular and if you don’t have one you will be waiting a while. Sorry your experience at Island Way was so bad. They normally do have really good food, but I’ve never been for brunch.

  2. R u serious Inland Way is and ways will be the best in Clearwater & Tampa Bay. On the other hand City Fish actually sucks — I wrote to Chris Fragale who owns City Fish and told him how disappointed we were with his place. He knows me personally and still did not take the time to answer me .

  3. We loved everything we ever had there. Every experience was amazing. We even had our wedding reception there. Love Amber and her staff!

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