Bar

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The Hammered Lamb in the Lake Ivanhoe District, just north of downtown Orlando, is one of those places you’d think would be just a typical divey bar, but actually surprises you with decent, if not very good, bar food. The restaurant has a large outdoor patio area which looks out on Lake Ivanhoe across the street and where you can hear the nearby train go by every so often. Free shots, more like fruit juice with a touch of alcohol, are passed around every time a train goes by.

The brunch at The Hammered Lamb features one of the most epic Bloody Mary bars I’ve seen here in town – with toppings like bacon, mozzarella, olives, and artichoke, along with the various mixers to the flavored Tito vodka of your choice. It’s a meal in itself and well worth the price.

The brunch menu itself is pretty small but the entire menu is available. Classic shrimp and grits are a hit here, as are the baked wings. Overall, a pleasant dining experience for a Sunday morning in Orlando!

The Bloody Mary Bar

Mixers and Hot sauces

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Bloody Mary

Baked Chicken Wings – quite delicious

The House Shrimp and Grits with bacon and andouille sausage

The Lamb Gyro

Lamb Gyro

Mary’s Little Omelette – with lamb, sausage, peppers and onions, and mozzarella

The Hammered Lamb 
Address: 1235 N Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32804, United States
Phone: +1 407-704-3200
Menu: thehammeredlamb.com

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Itta Bena a new speakeasy style restaurant on the second floor of Pointe Orlando,  named after a small town in Mississippi,  hometown for notable blues legends such as B.B King and Smoky Babe.

Itta Bena has a classy yet relaxed feel to it, where upon entering you are welcomed by the soothing notes of the piano and warm lighting.

We were invited and had dinner with owner of Itta Bena (as well as B.B King’s and Lafayette’s which are located on the same floor as Itta Bena) Tommy Peters.

Tommy was very insightful and talked to us about his vision of the experience, as well as guided us through each course through the night.

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Caesar Salad

We started the night off with the Caesar Salad – note I am a sucker for Caesar Salad.

I like to consider myself a caesar salad connoisseur and this was indeed a really good salad. The cheese, dressing, and croutons all put together in perfect equilibrium, it definitely prepared my stomach for the numerous glasses of wine I graciously finished that night.

Abita BBQ Shrimp
Abita BBQ Shrimp

Next on deck was the Abita BBQ Shrimp, a New Orleans (Nawlins) inspired dish with jumbo shrimp in a caramelized sauce with Abita bread (beer bread!).

The dish was hearty, and it was quite obvious that this was some good ol southern soul food as I quickly devoured this dish and was not sure if I would be able to make it through the rest of the night.

Grilled Salmon Filet
Grilled Salmon Filet

On to the main dish! I had the Grilled Salmon, with wild rice pilaf, grilled salmon topped with a lemon caper cream and green beans.

The dish was excellent – besides being a sucker for caesar salads, I love seafood and the lemon caper cream with its slight notes of zest brought out the fish which melted in my mouth.

Mixed together with the rice pilaf and you have an amazing dish, and the understanding of each ingredient working together in unison is apparent. Like the Abita BBQ Shrimp, I licked this plate clean, and I really wasn’t sure if I would be able to finish dessert at this point, mainly because I was being fed my dining companion’s food items that they could not finish!

Vanilla Bean Creme Brule
Vanilla Bean Creme Brule

I mustered the strength and found my second wind for dessert.

I’ve mentioned before that I am not a big dessert person, but I do enjoy my creme brule. Flaky, creamy, and delightful this dish brought the final touches to the night and satisfied my appetite.

If you’re in the area I recommend you stop by here for dinner, it’d be a nice date place, very romantic atmosphere and fantastic dishes, and while you’re at it stop by B.B Kings and Lafayette’s we went there with Tommy Peters afterwards and he showed us around, an excellent place to watch live bands with great talent!

Check them out!

Itta Bena
Address: 9101 International Dr #2210, Orlando, FL 32819
Phone:(407) 757-2910
http://ittabenadining.com/orlando/

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The Super Bowl is over! and with it, all the excitement to watch the Seahawks (Seattle) and the Patriots (New England) play against each other. However, the question is where are some of the best places to watch this once a year game, as well as other sports games now?

I got invited for a chance to visit Duffy’s Bar Grill new location in Lake Mary, and their whole idea was to reimagine bar food. I could definitely see their concept coming through as their menu had something for everyone as well as their price range:

Appetizers from $4.99-$13.99

Lunch Specials from $5.99-$8.99

Entrees from $7.99-$18.99

Desserts from $1.99-$5.99

Drinks at the bar from $2.25-$13.00

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetFor the Seafood Lover: Sesame crusted Ahi Tuna
Fresh slices of tuna that’s thinly seared with a mixed sesame shell, served with soba noodles and cucumber salad.  Definitely one of the more refreshing appetizers!

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The Fusion Enthusiast: Korean Beef Tenderloin Mini-Tacos
Super juicy and tender pieces of Korean marinated beef, topped with onion-relish and held together by soft shall tacos.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThe Veggie lover: Roasted Artichoke & Goat Cheese Flatbread
The roasted artichoke was accompanied by sweet red peppers, balsamic onions, and savory goat cheese on top of a crispy baked flatbread.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThe Meat Lover: Churrasco Steak 
Let’s talk about this beautiful assembly, first off, we have a super tender skirt steak that’s grilled and seasoned so nicely and then sauced up with chimichurri ( an Argentine based sauce that consist of finely chopped parsley, garlic, oils, and other herbs.). Then we have sweet fried plantains, and mouth-watering black beans…in fact it made my friend convert from pinto beans to black beans from being so delicious.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThe Classic: Traditional Jumbo Wings
A must have bar food, crispy wings tossed in a wide selection of sauces. Such as: Honey garlic, BBQ, asian sesame, sweet buffalo, spicy roasted garlic, firecracker, and my personal favorite-Mango Habanero.

Not only was Duffy reinventing Bar food, they have a couple of cocktails that could perk up any night.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetCotton Candy Cosmopolitan
This was definitely a conversation starter drink! You have your classic drink with a side of cotton candy for you to dissolve into the drink. This allowed you to control the level of sweetness all the while entertain you as you watch the colours of the candy melt and swirl together.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetPineapple Mojito
Super easy to drink, they combined with yummy mojito with a splash of pineapple juice making it all the more refreshing with a hint of tartness.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetUltimate Patron Margarita  
If you like tequila, this is most likely made for you. With Patron silver, triple sec, and patron citronge, it could get dangerous since you could hardly tell the alcohol content in it. 

At Duffy’s I was able to have the enjoyment of a full bar and restaurant quality foods. A bonus is that there are T.V Screens on about every wall space, so you won’t have to worry about missing a big moment of any future games or events.

Duffy’s whole idea was to reimagine bar foods, and they definitely delivered.

So here’s to a wonderful season, Cheers! Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

Brazilian-inspired appetizers and delicious small plates with authentic tastes and flavors. Unwind over the region’s fresh cocktails and carefully selected wines.

For a more casual way to enjoy Fogo de Chão, the Fogo culinary innovation team developed a modern menu concept available at every Fogo de Chão bar that features shareable small plates, signature caipirinhas, specialty cocktails and beers, bold red wines, and refreshing white wines.

Some of my favorite options on the Bar Fogo menu were The Picanha Sirloin Sliders and Chilean Sea Bass. The sliders are perfect for sharing and composed of two house favorites: Three cheese bread and house sirloin. In addition, the popular Superfruit Lemonade and classic Caipirinha are refreshing companions to any Bar Fogo small plate.

Additionally, the drinks are made with fresh fruit and based on traditional recipes with a Brazilian twist. Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail and a signature drink at Fogo de Chao. Most of the drinks are on the sweeter side but they are accommodating to adjustments.

The full dining menu at this steakhouse features an extensive variety of fire-roasted meats that are carved to each guest’s preference. Diners can enjoy selections such as the house specialty picanha sirloin, filet mignon, ribeye, lamb chops, chicken wrapped in bacon, and pork ribs, to name a few, or try the newly-introduced lighter seafood selection.

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Jumbo Iced Shrimp Cocktail // Spicy Brazilian cocktail sauce
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Jumbo Iced Shrimp Cocktail // Spicy Brazilian cocktail sauce
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Superfruit Lemonade, Fogo® Premium Caipirinha, The São Paulo Sling, Mango Refresco
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Crispy Parmesan Polenta Fries // Spicy Brazilian pepper aioli
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Warm Hearts of Palm and Spinach Dip // Crispy toasts
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Grilled Spiced Shrimp Skewers // Jumbo Tiger Prawn Shrimp with Malagueta pepper sauce
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Malagueta pepper sauce // Composed of Malagueta peppers to add a little heat and horse radish
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Grilled Beef Tenderloin Skewers // Seared with Kosher salt and srevied with a side of Chimichurri salsa to add flavor
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Chimichurri salsa is a very popular sauce used to flavor meat
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The São Paulo Sling 14 // Veev Acai Spirit, Cedilla Liqueur De Acai, 03 Premium Orange Liqueur, fresh pineapple, lemon, cherry, Angostura bitters

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Brazilian Martini 14. Veev Acai Spirit, mango puree, Passion fruit juice, Brazilian Orange juice, limes, Brazilian Guarana Extract
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Picanha Sirloin Sliders – Pao de Queijo 10 // Made of two house favorites: Three cheese bread sliders, and house sirloin
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Picanha Sirloin Sliders
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Mango Chilean Sea Bass // Hand seared Chilean Sea Bass served with a fresh mango and strawberry relish
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Mango Chilean Sea Bass
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Fogo Malbec
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Charcuterie Board // Manchego cheese, prosciutto, guava paste, black mission figs, grilled bread

Fogo De Chao
Address: 8282 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
Phone:(407) 370-0711
http://www.fogodechao.com/locations/orlando/

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The Crimson Tavern – a new contemporary American restaurant – recently opened inside the Orlando Airport Marriott off of Semoran Blvd with a focus on sourcing local ingredients. This is a worldwide theme among the Marriott hotel restaurants, as those who are familiar with Siro: Urban Italian Kitchen at the World Center Marriott and Primo at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes know, there has really been a big push in the past few years to source higher quality, local ingredients. Primo is one of the first to lead the way here in Central Florida in that philosophy.

They take the locally sourced concept up a notch here at Crimson Tavern, under the helm of Executive Chef Tony Hull, with a 5000 square foot chef’s garden at the back of the hotel near the pond.

Where there used to be a mostly unused volleyball court, now sits a space that could be used for events as well as rows of chard, peppers, herbs, mango and other delightful and surprising vegetables and fruits. These greens are then picked to be used as ingredients for the night’s specials or other dishes, whatever mother nature allows.

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Chef Tony Hull inspects some of the greens in the garden at the Orlando Airport Marriott

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Peppers growing in the chef’s garden

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Squash blossoms in bloom

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 Chards and greens

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For those ingredients not found in their garden, they source heavily from a list of local farms and companies such as:

Winter Park Honey
Satur Farm
Long & Scott Farm
Lake Meadows Naturals
Palmetto Creek
Creekstone Natural Angus
Tanglewood Farms Poultry
MyYard Farm
Loch Duarte Salmon
Uncle Matts Citrus
Muse Gelato
Orlando Brewing Company

As a part of a recent media dinner at The Crimson Tavern, I was able to experience some of the offerings found here at the new restaurant. Inside the hotel, the restaurant takes over the space previously occupied by the Porterhouse steakhouse and is now refurbished with dark reds and grays, giving it an almost American colonial feel.

The dinner menu is comprised mostly of small plates and appetizers conducive as accompaniments to drinking, but there is also a list of heartier entree items like steaks, fish, burger and pork dishes if you so choose.

For a tavern, I would have expected more than 6 of the craft beers listed on their menu, in addition to the usual line up of domestics and imports, but maybe they will be adding more in the future to their drink offerings. There is however a very nice selection of cocktails and wines along with the beers that guests can enjoy.

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Starting off at the top of the menu is their selection of cured meats and cheeses entitled “Room & Board” with plates like salumi, Benton ham, and cheeses.

The salumi plate was a favorite, coming with sopressata molinari, spicy coppa, speck, mortadella, served with bread selection, house pickled trio and mustard.

The Benton ham selection is a colorful board with cured Tennessee country ham with a side of pepper jelly and delicious warm baked biscuits.

Also, the Australian goat feta cheese with olive oil cheese plate selection was savory and decadent – I wanted to finish the whole plate of cheeses. I think I would have been satisfied with just these three dishes for the meal.

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Salumi 16
sopressata molinari, spicy coppa, speck, mortadella, served with bread selection, pickle trio and mustard

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Benton Ham 9
tennessee country ham with a side of pepper jelly, warm biscuits

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Cheese 8
served with specialty bread and cracker selection
creamy goat feta, australia – extra virgin olive oil, pistachio

Other satisfying appetizers and bites from the menu included a fantastic house baked Soft Pretzel, served warm with beer-smoked cheddar dip and Fried Green Tomatoes, with black pepper aioli.

The African and southern influenced Black Eyed Hushpuppies, served with a cilantro chutney, was a delicate, interesting take on the usually boring appetizer.

The House Burger, made with juicy, tender beef and topped with caramelized onion, gruyere cheese, house made bread & butter pickles, on sesame bun was one of my favorite burgers that I have had this year but may be a bit pricy at $16.

The ribeye steak with house mustard greens was also a favorite, very tender and flavorful with a nice sear at the perfect requested medium rare temperature.

There were a few items that I weren’t such a big fan of like the Smoked Trout Rillette, which needed a little more creamy texture and flavor, and the Boudin Noir Sausage with apple slaw and the beef cheek empanadas which both had some flavors that I personally disagreed with.

Make sure to save room for dessert though, as the Crimson Tavern’s specialty “Knickerbocker Glory” is definitely something to try. The Knickerbocker Glory is named for the traditional british ice cream sundae, made with locally crafted milk gelato from Muse Gelato layered extra high with decadent toppings, creams, crumbles and drizzles. The choices come as:

Key Lime, tangy graham cracker crumbs, toasted marshmallow
Warm Butterscotch, salted peanuts, whipped cream, crumbled ginger snaps
Brownie, dark and white chocolate, brownie bits, chocolate cream, piroutte cookie
Classic, mixed berries, raspberry puree, whipped cream, gaufrette wafer, cherry on top

Overall, the Crimson Tavern left me with a very favorable impression, with dishes that aren’t afraid to push the bounds of every day fare found in Orlando, yet also quite tasty and fun to eat. I can imagine myself coming here often after work to share a few drinks with friends and bites, especially as there are so few good options in the Orlando International Airport/Lake Nona area. Hopefully they can continue to improve on their menu and will become a popular spot among not only those flying in and out of the airport, but with local Orlando denizens as well.

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Soft Pretzel, served warm with beer-smoked cheddar dip 8

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Anthony Hull –  Executive Chef

Inspired by both his English born grandmothers, at the age of 13, Anthony began cooking by their side in their kitchens in England. His “hands on” experience baking, pickling, making jams from fruits harvested from the garden created a passion for cooking that is still strong 30 years later.

Turning his passion into a career, Chef Hull studied in London, England before beginning his first culinary position at the Café Royale in London. To gain as much experience as possible Chef Hull then took a position as a pastry cook at the Sheraton Skyline Hotel, London under Executive Chef Uwe Zander

Seeking International experience, Chef Hull accepted a position in the Cayman Islands with the Hyatt Regency Resort and then The Westin Cauarina Beach Resort and Spa overseeing Casa Havana the only four star restaurant located on the island at the time.

A proven accomplished chef, he accepted an opportunity in Tampa, Florida and then in 2002 joined Marriott International.

Trained in classical French cooking. Chef Hull takes these basic fundamentals and techniques and applys them with a modern twist to showcase the ingredient in its purist form embracing the seasons and local artisans.

When he is able to take time away he enjoys spending family time teaching his children to cook or exploring new restaurants and cuisines with his Wife

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Lake Meadows Deviled Egg 8

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Fried Green Tomatoes, black pepper aioli 6

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Black Eyed Hushpuppies, cilantro chutney 6

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manchego, spain – quince paste, fig jam

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Boudin Noir Sausage, apple slaw 11

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Beef cheek empanadas

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Chicken liver mousse

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Ribeye steak with house mustard greens

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House Burger, caramelized onion, gruyere cheese, bread & butter pickles, sesame bun 16

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Warm Butterscotch Knickerbocker Glory

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