Bar

A significant number of travelers desire a unique and delicious culinary experience while on vacation. Because of this, we are incredibly excited to announce Reunion Resort’s “Taste Of Eleven” menu where guests can experience a taste of Eleven from Monday through Thursday, from 5:30pm – 7pm.  Choose an appetizer, entree and dessert for only $29 per person (plus tax and gratuity).  This special menu is the perfect way to explore the restaurant’s food and breathtaking views at an amazing value.

Eleven is located on the 11th floor of Reunion Resort.  Views of the Magic Kingdom and Epcot fireworks are available nightly from the restaurant.

My mom & I in the resort lobby.

The clean and spacious bar.

Breathtaking landscape views from the restaurant’s dining area.

Glass doors provide access to the resort’s rooftop pool.


Complimentary Bread & Butter

Crispy Calamari – Chorizo, Pickled Chiles, Broiled Lime

Sherried Onion Soup – Gruyere, Sourdough Crostini

Baseball Sirloin – Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus

Cedar Planked Salmon

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée – Fresh Seasonal Fruit Compote

Raspberry Cheesecake – Garden Berry Coulis

Eleven is a very nice restaurant with good food and a beautiful rooftop view.  The manager Kyle and our lovely server Raquel treated us like rock stars.  Be sure to check their “Taste of Eleven” menu from Monday through Thursday, from 5:30pm – 7pm!

(Source credit: Eleven)

Eleven
7593 Gathering Dr, Kissimmee, FL 34747
(407) 396-5290
reunionresort.com/dine/eleven

I love nothing better than going to dinner with friends. Especially, a couple that both you and your partner mutually like, meaning all four people are happy and no one has to pretend to like someone for the benefit of their relationship. I know you understand what I’m talking about, we all go through it. Finding good friends, especially at the age I am now (a much wiser age), friends that my husband also enjoys being with, can be challenging. Thankfully, on this occasion, all was right in the world. Friday night, the kids are home with our amazing sitter (she paints my daughter’s nails and bakes), meeting terrific friends (a couple we both love to be with), for a casual, but classy dinner at RusTeak Restaurant and Wine Bar in Ocoee. One of my local favorites!

Mahogany walls, dark cherry wood bar and furniture, chrome fixtures, a perfect mix of trendy and casual, rustic, as the name of the restaurant implies…this is RusTeak. A seasonal menu of American, farm-to-table favorites with an edge, and a selection of over two-hundred wines from around the world, a large variety of craft beers, and handcrafted cocktails. RusTeak has an upscale feel while creating an atmosphere in which I feel completely at ease in, wearing shorts and flip-flops, as I did on this night. Walking in, I quickly realized that RusTeak is one of the many restaurants taking part in Bite30 during the month of June. During all thirty days of the month, RusTeak is offering a special prix fixe, multi-course dinner menu for a set price of $30. We didn’t partake in the Bite30 menu on this night, but I do plan to return and try it soon. With our friends running a few minutes behind, we had no trouble finding a seat at the bar for a little pre-dinner conversation and drinks (Ponga Sauvignon Blanc for me, dirty martini for my husband). My glass of wine was icy-cold perfection for this humid night (welcome, summer weather, can’t say I’ve missed you).

Bite30 Menu Now Offered
Sauvignon Blanc and Dirty Martini – RusTeak Bar

With our friends arrival, we sat down at the high-top table, each of us merrily looking at our menus, my legs happily dangling from my bar stool (short girl problems), finally settling on a few appetizers to share: Pumpkin Seed Edamame, Tomato Jam Jar, and Soft Jumbo Pretzel Sticks with two dipping sauces (mustard and cheese).

Tender edamame sautéed with butter, garlic, parmesan, and toasted pumpkin seeds…it’s one of the best edamame appetizers I have ever tasted. Savory, salty, fresh, and rich all at the same time. The buttery parmesan coated each piece of edamame so perfectly, it took all my willpower not to suck the pod after I had already eaten the soybean. Good thing I stopped doing that after the third or fourth one.

Pumpkin Seed Edamame

The Tomato Jam Jar is one of RusTeak’s favorites (always on the menu). A jar precisely filled with layers of house-made ricotta cheese, spinach almond pesto, and cherry tomato jam, served with toasted Naan bread. The cheese is creamy, the pesto is grainy and thick with herbs, while the jam is pleasantly sweet. A trifecta of velvety, earthy, and nectarous.

Tomato Jam Jar with Naan Bread

You can’t go wrong with soft pretzels, especially dipped in mustard and cheese. Doughy, salty pretzels at RusTeak, are a surprisingly perfect pairing with super Tuscan red wine (I should know, I had plenty of both).

Soft Pretzels with Mustard and Cheese

Moving on from our appetizers, and plenty of conversation, we ordered our main entrees. RusTeak offers flatbreads, salads, burgers, sandwiches, and entrees such as Pesto Salmon and Scallop Ratatouille. My friend ordered the Shrimp Tacos, my husband went with the Fig & Rib Flatbread, while two of us settled on an entree called Stay Gold Ponyboy. The name alone, caught my eye. The Outsiders! But, the dish itself did it for me: grilled flat iron steak, spinach-maple bacon yukon gold mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, all topped with creamy gruyere mornay and two jumbo shrimp. My steak was tender, the potatoes were hearty, the asparagus crisp, and all of it nestled deliciously well with the sauce. I would order this again and again (and not just because of my childhood crush on Ponyboy).

Shrimp Tacos
Fig and Rib Flatbread
Stay Gold Ponyboy

Everyone at the table was completely stuffed…so, of course, everyone refused dessert…except me. In the name of journalism and foodies everywhere, I convinced my husband and friends that we had to try the Dulce de leche Bread Pudding served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. Wow! Spongy bread pudding made with sweetened milk and caramel, warm out of the oven plated with cold, rich ice cream. Everyone refused at first, but, they were thanking me in the end.

Dulce de leche Bread Pudding

RusTeak Restaurant and Wine Bar is a restaurant I frequent often and recommend consistently. I love that the atmosphere is comfortable, but also eye-appealing. It’s a place you can make as “dressy” as you wish. The staff is always polite and knowledgeable, and helpful when recommending a bottle of wine from the expansive list. The food is always freshly prepared and prepared with creativity. Every meal is fantastic, and even better when in good company.

 

RusTeak Restaurant and Wine Bar

 

 

 

 

First Watch will open their newest location in Waterford Lakes, next to Chuy’s, on Memorial Day, May 28.  This location is different than the rest of their Central Florida locations because it is about 1,000 square feet larger and includes its own bar.

Fun facts:
– First Watch is a Florida-based company. They opened their first restaurant in Maitland in 1993.
– They now have 300 locations nationwide.
– They don’t use microwave ovens, heat lamps, or fryers.

The dining area is modern and spacious.


The Waterford Lakes location is the second location with a bar, the first is Jacksonville.

Million Dollar Bloody Mary, Cinnamon Toast Coconut Milk

Pomegranate Sunrise, Morning Glory, Vodka Kale Tonic

Lemon Ricotta Pancake with Scrambled Eggs, Bacon. Side of Seasoned Potatoes and Biscuit.

 Smoked Salmon & Roasted Vegetable Frittata with Salad and Ciabatta Toast.

Roast Beef & Havarti Sandwich

Housemade Granola


Kale Tonic (Non-Alcoholic).  I need more of this fresh juice in my life!

Be sure to check out the new First Watch – Waterford Lakes soon for delicious breakfast or brunch and amazing service!  Shout out to our wonderful server, Myles.  He is the best!

(Source credit: First Watch)

First Watch
1448 N. Alafaya Trail Suite 150. Orlando, FL 32828
(941) 907-9800
firstwatch.com

With fellow media guest Andi Perez, Yelp’s community director, in the private dining room. 

The Citrus Club is one of Orlando’s best kept, most exclusive secrets.  Citrus Club is an elite, membership-only, private business-networking club on the 18th floor of the BB&T building in Downtown Orlando, across from the Grand Bohemian Hotel..  I had the pleasure of being the first to preview and taste their new seasonal menu during an exclusive media dinner.  Our fantastic 10-course meal was made so delightful and fulfilling thanks to Executive Chef Relner Drygala and his amazing culinary team, General Manager Jeff Jump, Social Media Relations Allie Otterbacher, and the awesome staff.

Social Media Relations Allie Otterbacher preparing to host the media dinner.

The space is clean and impeccably designed.

Citrus Club offers amazing food with amazing views.

General Manager Jeff Jump welcomes media guests.

Executive Chef Relner Drygala goes over the new menu.

Avocado Crab Salad – Avocado stuffed with lump crab salad, served on balsamic field greens.  It was delicious!

Ahi Tuna Tartar – Avocado, red onion, cilantro, pickled ginger seaweed salad, yuzu emulsion, finished with sweet soy and wonton crisp.  I was very impressed with the presentation and taste of this appetizer!

Baked Chèvre – Red wine balsamic, marinara, fresh pesto and crostini.  It was delicious!

Chipotle Bourbon Glazed Salmon – Prima Donna Gouda grit cake, sautéed Swiss chard.  Great tasting salmon.  I was not a fan of grits until I had their Prima Donna Gouda grit cake, it seriously changed my life!

Pan Seared Scallops – Red pepper and spinach, parsnip potato puree, orange carrot butter sauce.  Beautifully executed and prepared scallops.

Asian Noodles Tofu Bowl (vegan) – Stir-fried vegetables, rice vermicelli, tofu, lemon ginger broth, bean sprouts and basil

Bone-in Chicken Breast – Spinach and mushrooms tossed with hand-made sweet potato gnocchi, sage sundried tomato pesto.  This was my first time having sweet potato gnocchi and I feel like I have been missing out on sweet potato gnocchi my entire life!

Rosemary Crusted Lamb Rack – Truffle potato foam, asparagus, red wine demi glace

Chocolate Cake – Dark chocolate mousse with salted Dulce de leche ganache center, rich chocolate cake and caramelized-cocoa nib toffee.  Perfect for chocolate lovers!

Baileys White Chocolate Cheesecake – Baileys cheesecake with a chocolate salted cookie crust topped with mascarpone mousse.  It was delicious!

Citrus Club
255 S Orange Ave Suite 1800, Orlando, FL 32801
(407) 843-1080
clubcorp.com/Clubs/Citrus-Club

When you combine excellent tasting beer from Orlando Brewing, with the delicious, farm-to-table food of American Kitchen Bar & Grill and Chef Venoy Rogers III, what do you get? A perfect pairing! We were invited to the American Kitchen Bar & Grill, located inside of the B Resort & Spa, for a special preview of the restaurant’s Tap Takeover. Beginning this Friday, May 25th, American Kitchen embarks on a new and exciting partnership with Orlando Brewing, “the only U.S.D.A. certified organic brewery east of Colorado”. The restaurant will now serve some of Orlando Brewing’s most popular beers on tap, while also incorporating the beer in a few new dishes. I had the fantastic, and most appreciated, opportunity to sample these dishes and beer a few nights ago, and now…I’m ready for the main event on Friday night! American Kitchen is hosting an open house with special drinks and menu items, plus, giveaways and raffle prizes. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I could sure use a spa treatment from Aveda Spa, located inside the B Resort. A spa gift certificate is only one of the terrific raffle prizes to be awarded on Friday night.

My night at the Tap Takeover Preview was only made better when I got the chance to meet and speak with Chef Venoy. Before coming to American Kitchen, Chef Venoy was the Executive Chef of Essensia restaurant, located inside the Palms Hotel & Spa in Miami. A San Diego native, Chef Venoy’s experience in the culinary world is expansive, but he always stays true to using fresh, local, farm-to-table ingredients in his menu. American Kitchen offers a variety of these dishes, including Tomato Tartare, Forest Mushroom Mac-n-Cheese, Blueberry Grilled Cheese, Grilled Fish Tacos, and Bourbon Chocolate Cake, just to name a few. When speaking with Chef Venoy, his passion, his love, for cooking, for using the best ingredients, for making food fun and creative, shines through immediately. It’s written all over his face…his dedication to creating unforgettable dishes for those who come to American Kitchen, sometimes at the sacrifice of time spent with his family for extra long hours in the kitchen. But, as he said to my husband and I, he does it all for the love of those he loves and for his love of food. How lucky for us patrons!?!

Here’s a glimpse of our night at the American Kitchen and Orlando Brewing Tap Takeover Preview:

Beers on Tap and Special Menu Items

 

Beers on Tap

Music Provided by DJD Entertainment Professionals

Specialty Drink: “Greg Norman”
Foie Gras Donuts with Fig Marsala Sauce
Short Rib Flatbread with Pickled Ramps and Manchego
Smoked Crispy Chicken Sandwich with House Aioli and Coleslaw
Crispy Fish “Chips” and Beer Battered Potato Sticks with Orlando Brewing Beer Vinegar

GM of B Resort and Spa: Michael Allen with Chef Venoy Rogers III
Chef Venoy Rogers III
Meeting Chef Venoy Rogers III

American Kitchen Bar & Grill is a must-try all on its own; but, with the addition of Orlando Brewing, it’s even better. I have to admit, my drink of choice is not usually beer. However, after tasting Orlando Brewing’s La Guera Blonde Lager and I-4 IPA, while enjoying salty and sweet Foie Gras Donuts and the tender, flavorful Smoked Crispy Chicken Sandwich, I’m hooked! But, don’t take my word for it. Enjoy the pairing yourself at American Kitchen Bar & Grill. I know I will again…and again…and again.

 

American Kitchen Bar & Grill 

Orlando Brewing 

B Resort & Spa

DJD Entertainment Professionals 

 

Martini Pop Band – Lindsey, Jeremy, Rachel

We were invited to indulge in some of the best flavors that Central Florida has to offer during the inaugural Orlando Sentinel Foodie Awards Celebration at Celine Orlando, located in downtown Orlando.  The Orlando Sentinel’s Foodie Awards program has been recognizing the best food and dining experiences in Central Florida since 1998, but this was their first-time kick off event, inspired by Orlando Sentinel food reporter Lauren Delgado and their passionate readers.  General admission tickets included access to the party, live entertainment, and food and drink tastings from over 20 Foodie Awards winners and finalists.

Palm Ridge Reserve owners Dick and Marti Waters.  I always enjoy seeing them!

Create Your Nature (Best Vegetarian/Vegan) – Blackberry crumble oatmeal

Create Your Nature (Best Vegetarian/Vegan) – Holy frijole salad

Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream

Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream

Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream

K Restaurant – Duck breast, white beans, favs beans, English peas, rainbow chard, crispy pork, pea tendrils for a garnish.  (My favorite dish of the night!)

Dajen Eats – “Honey” Ginger Chipotle Cauliflower Bites.  She’s amazing!

1921 By Norman Van Aken – Florida fish & passion fruit ceviche with torched sweet potato and puffed sourghum

1921 By Norman Van Aken – Stone fruit gazpacho with peaches, pickled plums, buttermilk & basil

Maxine Earhart from Maxine’s on Shine

Maxine’s on Shine – “Chicken Maxine’s” – Diced chicken bread pan seared, roasted shallots, mushrooms, cherry tomato, marsala wine cream sauce, penne

Maxine’s on Shine – Rum balls – Classic cake with rum soaked raisins, covered in dark chocolate

Thai Island (Best Thai) – Pad Thai, Panang CK (Thai Curry), Tom Kona (Coconut Soup), Thai Custard (Dessert)

Tamarind Indian Cuisine (Best Indian) – Vegetable Samosa

Tamarind Indian Cuisine (Best Indian) – Tandoori Chicken Tikka

Tamarind Indian Cuisine (Best Indian) – Chicken Biryani

Border Grill Fresh-Mex (Best Mexican) – Carnitas tacos, grilled chicken tacos, shredded beef tacos, chips & house-made queso dip

Tapa Toro – Shrimp Causa – Peruvian style shrimp salad, potato salad, Aji Amarillo, cilantro, micro herb

Dunkin’ Donuts (Best Coffee)

Big Fin Seafood Kitchen – “Signature New Orleans-Style Shrimp” – Blackened shrimp on a bed of crawfish grits and New Orleans vegetables (sun-dried tomatoes, cremini mushrooms and spinach) topped with Cajun cream sauce.

Orlando Meats – Pork Rillettes – Olive oil, bread, Dijonnaise, hot almond

Orlando Meats – Gateux Matilda – blueberry cheese custard

Jeremiah’s Italian Ice (Best Frozen Treats)

Chef Eddie’s (Best Soul)

Grills Lakeside Seafood Deck & Tiki Bar – Tahitian Tuna Poke Cups, Grilled Filefish

Eddie V’s Prime Seafood – Pacific Ahi Tuna Tartar

Mynt Fine Indian Cuisine – Basil Malai Kabab, Chilly Baby Corn, Vegetable Pekora, Chicken Marsala (Nan & Rice)

Francesco’s Ristorante Pizzeria – Beef Tenderloin, Vegetarian Tortellini

Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café (Best German) – Nurnburger Sausage, Heaven and Earth Potatoes, Sauerkraut

Jenn from DaJen Eats being interviewed by Orlando Sentinel reporters Sarah Espedido and Lauren Delgado.

For more information, visit: www.orlandosentinel.com/foodiecelebration

Grilled center cut filet – filet mignon, grilled and seasoned perfectly, fingerling potato, radish, sugar snap peas, charred scallion oil & roast shallot sauce. (MY FAVORITE!)

Marlow’s Tavern is a bar & grill chain offering American pub fare in a classic setting with sports playing on the televisions.  The menu at Marlow’s Tavern changes three times a year.   We were invited to check out the new spring/summer menu at Marlow’s Tavern – Waterford Lakes (near UCF) and we really enjoyed everything we ate.  The food was delicious and the service was very welcoming and accommodating.  I highly recommend checking out Marlow’s Tavern – Waterford Lakes for any occasion.

That’s Not Mai Tie – Cana brava rum, raspberry syrup, orgeat, Myers dark rum & fresh lime.

Firecracker shrimp – Szechuan tempura shrimp, red & poblano peppers, peanut, cracklin spicy sauce. It was amazing!

Pastrami egg roll – Montreal smoked pastrami, Napa cabbage, sautéed onions, carrot, smoked thousand island sauce in a crispy egg roll.

Chicken tortilla – prestige farms chicken, sliced thin, crisp field greens, avocado, tomato, carrot, cucumber, fresh cilantro, tortilla, honey lime vinaigrette. One of the best salads I’ve ever had!

Side of fried okra.

Chicken salad wrap – house-made curry chicken salad, romaine, broccoli slaw, golden raisin, fresh cilantro, grilled tortilla.

Marlow’s special of the day – Blackened mahi sandwich – served on a ciabatta bun with a jicama slaw and house made citrus aioli.  

Grilled Atlantic salmon – jumbo cous cous, broccoli, carrot, red onion, golden raisin, parsley, toasted almond & port wine reduction.

Seared jumbo scallops – simply seasoned & perfectly seared, roast jalapeño corn grits, Spanish chorizo, poblano, roma tomato, roasted tomato fondue, palsied olive oil.

N.Y. style cheesecake – classic creamy vanilla cheesecake, strawberry, powdered sugar and cinnamon crisp.

Thank you Executive Chef Matt Tolson for an amazing nine-course meal and superior hospitality!  We really enjoyed everything that we ate and thank you Laura Richeson for hosting us!

Be sure to check out Marlow’s Tavern – Waterford  Lakes soon to taste their new spring/summer menu,  it is delicious!

Marlow’s Tavern – Waterford Lakes
547 N. Alafaya Trail, Building J1, Orlando, FL 32828
(407) 757-0606
http://marlowstavern.com

Dry aged New York strip – certified Angus beef prime, textures of sunchoke, petit vegetables, ghost block-huckleberry reduction, black summer truffles.  It was divine!

We were invited to the inaugural Wine & Dine Chef’s Table at American Kitchen Bar & Grill.  This intimate night was dedicated to showcasing the chef’s creativity and talent through an elegant four course tasting menu prepared and served by Executive Chef Venoy Rogers III.  We also had a Certified Sommelier Daniel Castillo taking us through a journey of fine wine pairings.

American Kitchen Bar & Grill is a rustic-chic eatery offering New American eats using a farm-to-table concept.  They source local and sustainable product whenever possible and grow their own greens and herbs as well.  Their menu is a melting pot of multiple influences and techniques with an artisan approach.

We really enjoyed our experience and food at the inaugural Inaugural Wine & Dine Chef’s Table.  We look forward to more Wine & Dine Chef’s Tables in the near future and we hope you give them a try soon.  They are worth checking out and I heard from many people that their Duck Fat Fries are amazing!


The living garden where they harvest all their greens and herbs used that are used to create their signature dishes.


Amuse bouche – foie gras donut.


Certified angus beef tartare – local organic quail egg, capers, Florida citrus, spent grain croutons, cured lake meadows natural egg yolk, garlic flowers, Dijon.

This dish was amazing and it blew my mind.  Tartare is usually prepared cyclindar but this one was rectangular and it was a game changer.


Heirloom beets and local goat cheese – whipped turtle creek goat cheese, beet soil, pistachio, spent grain, wild hibiscus, sunflower-poppy seed vinaigrette.

Ak s’mores – chocolate-espresso cremeux, ancho chile marshmallow, cinnamon, served with coffee.

This dessert was inspired by a camp fire.  It really did make me long for being cozied up at a real camp fire with a cup of coffee in one hand and and cooked s’mores in the other.

Michael D. Allen – manager and amazing host.


The talented Executive Chef Venoy Rogers III.


Left to right:

Tara Ifill (manager), Khabeer (our kind and gracious server), Alicia (marketing), Molly Meeker (sales maanger), Daniel Castillo (certified sommelier).


Daniel Castillo – our engaging and interactive certified sommelier.


Many thanks to the American Kitchen Bar & Grill crew for hosting us and their superior hospitality!  We felt like family!  Be sure to check them out soon next time you are in the Disney Springs area!

American Kitchen Bar & Grill
1905 Hotel Plaza Blvd, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
(407) 827-3080
http://americankitchenbarandgrill.com

Double cut grinned pork chop – Charleston SC double corn grits, pork belly collards, fried super sweet onions

We were invited to a media dinner at a nice speakeasy on Sand Lake Road called Pharmacy Orlando,  a prohibition-chic haunt with a hidden door featuring craft cocktails, New American plates & pizza.

It took me a few minutes of wandering aimlessly around and asking a few locals where the speakeasy’s hidden entrance was located but I found it and it was totally worth the hunt.  Pharmacy Orlando is located on the first floor of a multilevel shopping/business complex, near Regions bank, behind secret elevator doors.  The inside is dim with an intimate ambiance and relaxing vibe.  The food (“medicine”) was delicious and the staff was knowledgable and attentive.

Classic cheese fondue – 100 year old sourdough crostini, spicy pickled green beans

Margharita – sciue-sciue tomato, green h2ouse purple micro basil

Half pound Cape Canaveral garlic & butter rock shrimp (this was my favorite appetizer!  In this picture we had already eaten half of our order)

Tomato & prosciutto bruschetta with burrata cheese & farm poached egg

Greenh2ouse romaine & kale green goddess caesar – house smoked bottarga, local tomato confit, parmigiana reggiano

Florida fresh tang fried chickens with lime, scallions & sesame

Meatball grandé with Nana’s spicy sauce and fried cheese polenta

Pharmacy Mac & Cheese – wild mushrooms, poached farm egg, 3 cheeses

Cape Canaveral roasted whole vermillion snapper – (delicious medium bodied white fish) Peruvian chimichurri, fried plantains, lime

Be sure to check out Pharmacy Orlando soon to pick up your medication and elixirs!

Pharmacy Orlando
8060 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 985-2972
http://thepharmacyorlando.com

If you’re in downtown Tampa for Cinco de Mayo/The Kentucky Derby and don’t know what to do, definitely consider visiting the Westin Hotel’s Blue Harbor for their first event since their grand opening, Cinco de Derby, happening from 3PM-12AM! I previewed a few of the specialty drinks that they’re going to be featuring this Saturday. Nonetheless, they have their Happy Hour from 4PM-7PM with some amazing full-sized appetizers for you to much on while you sip away!

First we started off with their calamari and cheese sample platter. The fried calamari sat on top a bed of veggies and then topped off with what reminded me of shrimp chips! The seasoning and sauces of this dish was amazing and probably one of the favorite calamari dishes I’ve had so far. The cheese platter was great, as well! The fruits were so fresh and sweet, and there was a nice assortment of cheeses that paired very nicely with the salami and pepperoni. I really liked how they had a couple of jams on the side with honey too.

Tropical Fire Water (shown above.) This was probably one of my favorite drinks. Though it’s not a featured specialty drink for the event, you should still give it a try! Beware there’s a bit of added spice to it, so if you’re not really into spicy, you may not be a fan.

Passion Fruit Mojito with a Pea Flower Infusion

Featured below are their three specialty drinks that they will be having at the event for just $10 each! Each were so good, my favorite was the Spicy Mia-Rita! All of their featured drinks use fresh ingredients with some Don Julio, yummm!

Cucumber Agave Lime Margarita (shown above)

Hightailing Jalisco Julep (shown above)

Spicy Mia-Rita (shown above)

Meet Will! The man behind the geniusness of these creative drinks. Definitely stop by and say hi and try his creations and tag him on Instagram @cocktailsbyfrost, ask him from a Scorpion Sting (those are good, but beware they have a little kick to them!)

All in all, I had a really great time at Blue Harbor Bar & Eatery! Their drinks are definitely one of a kind with such creativity and thought put into them. Definitely something to check out! Happy eatings though everyone (or maybe in this case drinking), until next time!

Loaded Lobster – 1/2 maine lobster, seafood stuffing, parmesan, breadcrumbs béarnaise sauce

Thank you Orlando magazine for hosting us at deep blu seafood grille at Wyndham Grand Bonnet Creek for a delicious 7-course seafood culinary adventure.  We enjoyed diving deep into their new menu and meeting their new head chef, Chef Wade McLamb.

Gazpacho soup

Grilled Florida Peach & Burrata Salad – pickled blueberries, fennel, crispy country ham, honey truffle vinaigrette

Black & blu Linguine – vita squid ink pasta, jumbo lump blu crab, arugula, cherry tomatoes, marcona almonds, parmigiana


Loaded Lobster – 1/2 maine lobster, seafood stuffing, parmesan, breadcrumbs béarnaise sauce

Scalloped potato


George’s Banks Scallops – corn risotto, smoked tomato jam, crispy black eye peas

Red Snapper – local sweet corn succotash, baby herb salad, basil vinaigrette


Ora King Salmon – red quinoa, black eyed pea fritter, cucumber mint crème fraiche

Banana Pudding – Key Lime Pie Pana Cotta, graham shortbread, toasted meringue

Two hardworking chefs, Chef Ryan Cole and Chef Wade McLamb.

deep blu seafood grille at Wyndham Grand Bonnet Creek 
14651 Chelonia Pkwy Orlando, FL 32821
(407) 390-2420
deepbluorlando.com

Use promo code “Grand Experience” when making reservations for a free dessert or appetizer with the purchase of two dinner entrees (Limit 1 coupon per 2 adults |Valid 5/1/2018-5/31/2018).

Orlando’s new premier golf-entertainment destination has arrived!  Drive Shack – a three-story, indoor/outdoor all-weather golf-entertainment complex pairing the most advanced golf games and technology with good eats, cold drinks, and long drives is now opened in Lake Nona’s vibrant Sports and Performance District.  Drive Shack’s flagship location features 90 hitting bays with a 220-yard range, a full-service restaurant and bar, an outdoor lounge, three fully equipped meeting and event rooms for parties up to 1,000, and a complimentary game lounge with classic games like shuffleboard, skee-ball, basketball arcade and Pac-Man.

Orlando is home to the very first Drive Shack.  Additional locations are expected to open in Raleigh, N.C., Richmond, Va., West Palm Beach, Fla., Marietta, Ga., and New Orleans, La.

Below are some pictures from our media preview visit.  The brunch menu is available from 9am-11am on the weekdays, 9am-2pm on the weekends.

Deep-dish spinach quiche – spinach and Swiss cheese quiche in a rustic buttery crust

Skillet baked cinnamon buns – hot & fresh from the oven drizzled with icing

Loaded morning tots – crispy tater tots, melted cheddar cheese blend, bacon crumbles, and green onions topped with a sunny side up egg

Chocolate chip pancakes – fluffy pancakes sprinkled with chocolate chips, topped with whipped cream and strawberries, and served with maple syrup

Truffled tots

Grilled chicken breast slider – Swiss cheese, tomato, and lemon aioli

Classic all-beef slider – cheddar cheese, DS secret sauce, and a dill pickle

Complimentary game lounge

Outdoor bar

The meats flatbread – Italian-style, all-beef meatballs, chunky pork sausage, pepperoni, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil

Maple bourbon bacon wings – delightfully sticky with a savory, sweet fin

Bavarian pretzel sticks – fresh from the oven sprinkled with crunchy salt, served with tangy honey mustard and rich pimento cheese dips

Gardender’s Cup & Bushwood Clubhouse

The veggies flatbread – red and green peppers, Kalamata olives, caramelized onions, and marinara sauce with mozzarella and ricotta cheeses

Mediterranean dips & veggies – Garlic hummus and tzatziki dips with fresh-baked pita chips, crisp cucumber, bell pepper, and grape tomatoes

Stacked nachos – freshly made tortilla chips topped with melted cheese, black beans, pico de Gallo, sour cream, jalapeños, green onions, salsa, and guacamole

Mahi tacos – three grilled flour tortillas with blackened mahi-mahi, cider slaw, and cilantro lime aioli

Hole in one – cheddar cheeseburger loaded with crisp applewood-smoked bacon, a fried egg, shredded lettuce, and tomato, topped with our housemate bacon-tomato-onion jam and avocado mayo with French fri

Bucket of balls – Italian-style, all-beef meatballs in a zesty marinara sauce, served with toasted garlic bread and grated Parmesan cheese, and topped with fresh torn basil

Rocky road parfait – chocolate pudding layered with toasted marshmallow, chocolate cookie crumbles, and salted peanuts topped with chocolate sauce 

Strawberry shortcake parfait – shortcake layered with fresh strawberries and whipped cream

Salted butterscotch parfait – salted butterscotch pudding with gingersnap cookie crumbles, layered with whipped cream and caramel sauce

Churros – hot and crispy then dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with a warm chocolate sauce

Be sure to check out the new Drive Shack – Lake Nona soon!  It’s so much fun!

(Source credit: Drive Shack)

Drive Shack – Lake Nona
7285 Corner Dr, Orlando, FL 32827
driveshack.com
(407) 553-8820

Pig Floyd’s – Ribs, Maduros, Slaw

Orlando Magazine hosted its 2nd annual Generocity Orlando event, where attendees connected with over 50 nonprofit groups and learned how to get involved and give back.  This “Party With a Purpose,” held at the Orlando Science Center, featured local fare from Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa, King Bao, Swine & Sons, Art of Taste Orlando, and P is for Pie Bake Shop, signature drinks from The Courtesy Bar, plus a wide variety of live entertainment and was sponsored by the Orlando Science Center, Unicorp National Developments, Inc., Masters Realty Group, and Seaside National Bank & Trust.  (Source credit: Orlando Magazine)

Art of Taste catering company

Ceviche

Smoked salmon

Pork belly

Potato and avocado

King Bao – coconut shrimp

Fried chicken

Tofu

Potato croquette

Beef

Pork belly

Mudslide cream pie 

Peach cobbler

Blueberry lavender cobbler

Chocolate chip with brown butter bourbon

P is for Pie Bake Shop

The Courtesy Bar

Orlando Magazine
801 N Magnolia Ave #201, Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 423-0618
http://orlandomagazine.com

Orlando Science Center
777 E Princeton St, Orlando, FL 32803
http://osc.org

Kevin Pabis, son of local food bloggers Richard and Irina Pabis (@celebritychef4u).

We were invited to Main Event Entertainment to eat, bowl, and play!  The food offerings were all delicious!  You have to try their Skillet Mac & Cheese which consists of cavatappi pasta, grilled chicken, applewood smoked bacon, creamy blend of melted cheeses, green onions topped with CHEEZ-IT crumbs.  CHEEZ-IT are one of my life-long favorite snacks.  Throw some of its crumbs on top of a loaded-baked chicken/bacon mac & cheese and you’re golden.

Tomato Caprese Skewers – served with balsamic drizzle (these were super popular at our table, a blogger’s son said that it was his favorite dish!)

Calamari – zesty marinara sauce and fresh shaved parmesan cheese

Chicken Quesadilla – grilled chicken, jack & cheddar cheese, chipotle mayo &fresh made pico de Gallo (this was my mom’s favorite dish!)

Roast Beef Dippers– shaved roast beef, horseradish mayo, lettuce, tomato, red onion served on buttery garlic knot bun

Italian Pesto Pizza – fresh basil, roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, creamy basil pesto,feta, mozzarella & provolone cheese

Assorted Dessert Bars – lemon, raspberry rhapsody, pecan chocolate chip, & caramel, oatmeal

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts – with salted caramel and raspberry sauce

A variety of gelato.

Billards.

VIP bowling lanes.

Bar area with alcoholic beverage options.

Bowling alley.

A variety of arcade games.  Everyday deal:  1/2 price games 10pm to close.

Local food bloggers Ashelyn Vazquez (@orlandomag) with her guest, and Sean (@orlandofoodguys).

Samantha (@samantheah) & Mattia Joyce Castellano (@mattia_joyce) racing on the motorcycles

Carolina Grabova (@carolinagrabova) plays a racing game for her instagram story.

My favorite game at the arcade was their zombie-killing game in the first ever roam-free virtual reality room.  I don’t have a photo of it but I do have a video clip of it on my instagram (@bytiffanynguyen). Imagine a game that doesn’t feel like a game.  Where your body is the controller and your mind believes it’s real.  It was so realistic that other attendees were seriously spooked after they finished playing!  I enjoyed playing it though and I am looking forward to coming back and playing it again.  Be sure to check out Main Event Entertainment next time you are in the I-Drive area to experience the zombie-killing game for yourself!

(Source credit: Main Event Entertainment)

Main Event Entertainment – Pointe Orlando
9101 International Dr Suite 1032, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 352-3300
mainevent.com

We were invited to media dine at Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar nestled in Restaurant Row on Sand Lake Rd.  My favorite part of our lunch was the fresh guacamole that is made tableside and served with seasoned “Rocco’s chips”.  They are the best chips and guac that I have ever had in Orlando.  I highly recommend them!

Surf & Turf – marinated grilled steak, chorizo, sweet potatoes, chicken and shrimp in a roasted garlic verde sauce.  Served sizzling in a traditional lava rock molcajete with our tortillas, pico de gallo, cotija cheese, guacamole, sour cream

Dining with a view

Mexican Chocolate Brownie Sundae – vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, buñuelo, whipped cream, honey salted peanuts

Be sure to check out Rocco’s Taco’s soon for some of the freshest Mexican food in town!

Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar
7468 W Sand Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 226-0550
www.roccostacos.com/orlando

We were invited to a media event at a new lakefront restaurant named The Waterfront.  This American restaurant was bought in February and opened in April.  Everything is made in house except the bread.  It is important to support independent restaurants in Orlando, Florida so make sure you check them out!

Adult Swim Saturdays every Saturday in August at 2pm.


Outdoor patio with a roof to protect you from the sun or rain.  Or both.  Florida weather.



Food, brews, and views.

Chips & Pimento Dip – Salsa, Jalapeños, Corn Tortillas.  The pimento dip is prepared with pimento cheese, poblano peppers, garlic, and baked in the oven.

Wings – House Hot

Paired with the “Florida Crush” – Effen Blood Orange Vodka, Triple Sec, Fresh-Squeezed Florida Oranges, Lemon-Lime Soda

Crab Cake Sliders  – Arugula, Tomato, Pickled Red Onion, Avocado, Remoulade.  The blue crab is from Gulf of Mexico and they use the meat from its claws.

Tuna Poke Salad – Ahi Tuna, Seaweed Salad, Arugula, Romaine, Cucumber, Tomato, Radish, Avocado, Sesame Seeds, Sweet Onion Vinaigrette

Paired with the “Jennie Jewel” -Effen Cucumber Vodka, St. Germain, Fresh-Squeezed Lemon, Simple Syrup and Lime, Mint

The Waterfront Burger – Ground Chuck, Swiss, Blue Cheese, Caramelized Onions, Bacon, Arugula

French Dip – Roast Sirloin, Swiss Cheese, Caramelized Onions, Au Jus, Horseradish Mayo

Paired with the “Dixie Belle” – Jim Beam Black, Muddled Mint + Cucumber, Simple Syrup, Fresh-Squeezed Lime

Pan Roasted Catfish – Sautéed Kale, Cheddar Grits, Remoulade, Pickled Red Onion
Fried Chicken Thigh – Hot Honey, Cheddar Grits, Pickled Green Beans


Steak Frites – Pan Roasted Sirloin, Cut Fries, Blue Cheese Butter

Paired with House Red Wine – 2015 Drumheller Cabernet Sauvignon

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie  – Whipped Cream
Bread Pudding – Key Lime Syrup, Whipped Cream

Paired with a sampling of the “Margaret” – Jim Beam Vanilla, Butterscotch, Cocoa, Licor 43, Irish Cream

The Waterfront
4201 South Orange Ave
Orlando, Florida, FL 32806
(407) 866-0468
@TheWaterfront

This new, exclusive, and interactive bourbon pairing dinner takes fine dining to a whole new level.

The Capital Grille, a fine dining American restaurant, recently hosted an exclusive, interactive, and educational bourbon pairing dinner with Buffalo Trace at their Millenia Mall location in Orlando, Florida.  We were invited for a media preview and was highly impressed with what the culinary staff, bar team, and Buffalo Trace representative brought to the table.  Here are some scenes from our flawless five-star dinner.  The Capital Grille will be having more special dinners like this in the weeks and months to come so be sure to contact them soon about the next one happening in October!

First Course
Authentic A5 Wagyu Carpaccio
Chive Oil, Sea Salt – The highest premium cut of steak.


Eagle Rare 10 Year – This whiskey is masterfully crafted and carefully aged for no less than ten years.  This drink contains complex aromas of herbs, honey, hints of orange peel, leather, toffee, and oak with a bold and dry finish.


Assorted Breads


Second Course
Seared Scallop and Foie Gras, Sherry Vinaigrette
Wild Mushroom Sauté


Buffalo Trace Bourbon – The Capital Grille culinary & bar team’s take on the Manhattan.  This drink is strong, aromatic, and not much is added to it to keep it pure and simple.


Third Course

Berkshire Pork BBQ with Charred Vidalia Onion
And Caramelized Peach Glaze
Late Summer Succotash


E. H. Taylor Bourbon


Fourth Course

Dry Aged Sirloin, Roasted Bone Marrow
And Short Rib Ragout
Shaved Summer Truffle, Asparagus, Cabernet Reduction – 35 day aged sirloin.


Blanton’s Bourbon and Blanton’s Infusion with figs, blackberries, and thyme.

Dessert
Spiked Root Beer Float
Bourbon Cream
Taste: sweet, vanilla, bubbly soda, and then bourbon.

Be sure to check out The Capital Grille – Millenia Mall soon.  They plan on making these special dinners a regular occurrence featuring different spirits & wine in the future.  Cheers!

The Capital Grille – Millenia Mall
4200 Conroy Road, Orlando, FL 32839
Phone: (407) 351-2210
http://www.thecapitalgrille.com

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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
fogo-19
Grilled Beef Tenderloin Skewers // Seared with Kosher salt and srevied with a side of Chimichurri salsa to add flavor
fogo-18
Chimichurri salsa is a very popular sauce used to flavor meat
fogo-15
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
fogo-24
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
fogo-30
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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Crimson Tavern on Urbanspoon

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The Glass Knife opened just a few months ago and is already popular among the "ladies who lunch" of Winter Park. They've learned from...