Picky: A well-bred, well-to-do foodie with a penchant for quality ingredients and quality service.
Poor: A down-home food fan with a love for good prices and good portions.
It was a long weekend at the ever wonderful Florida Pagan Gathering. Hundreds of Children of the Goddess got together once again in central Florida to dance, sing, make music and love all in praise of the Great Divine. Almost unique to this event, is the ability to leave the site to gather extra supplies from the world at large. We have attended many festivals at the Ocala 4-H Camp, and every time we have had to go get supplies, we have had to go thru the beautiful but very far away, Silver Springs. This time out, we decided to let our TomTom find us a restaurant to eat at before we went shopping. Sparky’s: 10.2mi the sign said. 10.2 miles? That was less than half the distance to the ever popular Silver Springs, so off we went.
In 12 short minutes we arrived in a small town by the name of Astor, FL. Not more than a gas station, post office, antique store, and of course, our foodie destination of choice: Sparky’s Place. One of the last things Picky wanted to see is BEST PIZZA
IN FLORIDA (Picky has a gluten allergy. Not an “I am a health nut and Gluten is the Nutra-Sweet of today” [probably the last link, I swear!] allergy, but an “Ow! My stomach is distended and I can’t breathe anymore” allergy. So Sparky’s was starting behind the finish line. But, as this was literally the only game in town, in we went.
The first thing we noticed was the pure simplicity of the place. Sparky’s is a small, quaint little dinner with 6 booths and 4 tables. We sat down, hooked up to the free Wi-Fi, and waited for our menus. The menu was nothing spectacular in design, the contents standard fare of burgers, sandwiches, steak, chicken, pasta, and pizza at decent prices. After thoroughly scouring the menu, we made our selections. Picky ordered the Double Mushroom Swiss Burger, sans bun, with Sweet Potato Fries, that came with Cinnamon Sugar Butter for dipping, and Coleslaw. Poor ordered one of his “go to” plates: The Reuben, complete with an order of their Homemade Shoestring Fries. Stage one was complete: The menu had contained things that Picky was willing to eat, and for which Poor was willing to pay.
It was not the shortest wait for food, but it was made easier by the free Wi-Fi. The waitress arrived with at the table with plates piled with lovely, fresh, plentiful, home-cooked, robust portions of glorious bounty. It was easy to see the reason for the delay.
Fresh, rich looking, tomatoes; thick, sweet potato fries; amazing sugar/cinnamon dipping sauce; handmade coleslaw; thick beef patties smothered in Swiss cheese; and fresh, thick, mushrooms adorned Picky’s plate.
Across the table the waitress set before Poor a plate piled high in a tangled mass of shoestring fries. A STACK of fresh cut corned beef lay smothered in cheese, thousand island dressing between two large, thick slabs of marble rye. The aroma rose in warm, mouthwatering waves to further set the stage as we drank in this rather unexpected feast that had been so tantalizingly set down before us.
The first bite led to the last bite with alacrity (that means really fast). One fry after another disappeared from each plate. It was a meal of silent mastication intermittently broken by the sounds of appreciative moaning.
It did not go unnoticed that our coffee cups never went empty. Our waitress was amazing and friendly, and the mileage we got out of our endless cups of Joe further cemented Poor’s opinion of the place–Refills equal value!
Picky’s palate was delighted. It was now time for the check—the last thing that Poor looks at to find out if it was worth the taste. Our meal was $22.00. Twenty-Two Dollars for an amazing meal that left us full, happy, and laughing about how wonderful the rest of the day was going to be. Value, Taste, Service, Quality. All of it. Sparky’s has all of it.
There are hundreds of festival goers who travel to Ocala year after year. They should make it a part of their journey to head to Astor, instead of Silver Springs for a good meal. Sparky’s is closer, delicious, and welcoming. And the Bathrooms are clean, and beautiful!
For years “Picky & Poor” have been eating and judging restaurants across the country, waxing philosophic about each eatery, but it was Sparky’s Place that finally led us to write it down and begin our excursion into the world of Food Blogging.
And so we concur with the awards they have already given themselves:
5 Stars or 3 Bears and a Boot