Burgers

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

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Pinch Factory, Miami’s own born and bred fast casual success story, announces the opening of its first franchise store in Dr. Phillips on Friday, March 31st. This marks the first in the Orlando, FL area.

Co-owner Nedal Ahmad launched the original Pincho Factory in 2010 with his partners/cousins Otto Othman and Nizam Ahmad with only $6.27 in their bank account.

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With the balance of $6.27, they decided to have their own brew of 627 Ale locally brewed by Lynwood Brewery in Miami and is offered on tap in Orlando, FL as well as the other locations of Pincho Factory.

This craft has notes of citrus thanks to the key lime and coriander used during its brewing. This beer can be paired easily with many dishes at Pincho Orlando.

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Pincho entrees are cooked to order with all natural ingredients that are antibiotic and hormone free. You will start with a base: pita wrap, sandwich, rice bowl, or salad. Top it with a pincho: chicken, steak or shrimp. Then pick a style of how it is made.

The chicken was a tad dry, so make sure you have a bit of citrus to make it juicy for every bite.

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If you are not in the mood for big meal and would like an appetizer made up of only a protein item, try some single pinchos. Single pinchos can either be chicken, steak or shrimp served on a skewer with a dipping sauce on the side.

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The Chicken Pincho was very tender and juicy.

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The Steak Pincho was a tad dry and gamey due to being overly well done. It may give an impression of being lamb to some; however, don’t be fooled because it is beef.

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The Pincho Burger consist of beef that is certified humanely raised and handled from a select 250 US family farms. It is topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheese, potato sticks, and a secret pink sauce.

Make sure to mention that you would like it medium or medium rare for the best flavors. If not, it may come out too dry for your liking.

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The Toston Burger is very dense because it uses 2 fried plantains as the “buns” before topped with jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and homemade cilantro sauce. The cilantro sauce is delicious on its own and pulls this burger together.

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The Egg’in Burger is topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro sauce, and a fried egg. It is delicious as the juices of the burger joins with the yolk of the egg to create a dance of flavors and textures on your tongue.

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The Cartel Dog, like other dogs at Pincho Factory, is made with 100% kosher beef. It consists of chopped bacon, cheddar cheese, mango sauce, potato sticks and a secret pink sauce.

This was one of my favorite dishes at Pincho Factory besides the Toston Burger and Egg’in Burger. The beef had wonderful flavors and the texture was just how I like it.

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The classic fries and sweet potato tots are some from Pincho Factory voted as #1 fries in South Florida by Channel 10 viewers. The sweet potato tots at Pincho Factory are some of the best I have had in Florida. They are sweet, creamy and delicious for a cheat day for those who don’t fancy fried foods.

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Cajun Fries consists of fries that are the same as the classic fries, but topped with grilled onions, cajun seasoning, and a secret pink sauce. Cajun fries are my favorite fries, but I am not sure if these are my favorite. Sometimes, simplicity truly goes far. However, this is a great item to share with friends after a few drinks.

This opening week will consist of Pincho Moments on Instagram. Diners will be asked to post their favorite Pincho moment eating any signature item with the hashtag #PinchoOrlando.

Each day, one winner will be selected and have their post featured on the company’s digital billboard located at 7600 Dr. Phillips Boulevard. Winners will also receive a Pincho swag bag complete with an owner’s card (aka black card) which offers 50% off each visit at any Pincho Factory location for one year.

Pincho Factory is located at

7600 Dr. Phillips Boulevard, Suite 102, Orlando, FL.

Telephone: (407) 745-4462.

Complimentary parking available.

http://pinchofactory.com/

 

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McDonald’s is in the midst of a great reinvention and change. It recently reported its worst same-store sales decline in more than a decade. For the first time since the 1970s, McDonald’s may be closing some of its stores.

Changing tastes, greater emphasis on local, natural, foods, and the encroachment of new competitors such as Shake Shack and Chipotle have all slowly chipped away McDonald’s marketshare. The fast casual segment has slowly become more prominent as customers shy away from “fast food.”

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Folks want to eat healthier, delicious tasting food – pretty much the opposite of the traditional thought of greasy, so called mystery meat fast food.

Nonetheless, McDonald’s is still the worldwide leader in sales and will continue to dominate despite slowing sales.

Locally in Central Florida, the restaurant recently unveiled their new “Create Your Taste” program – a build your own burger concept within existing McDonald’s that allow customers to customize their own burgers with custom toppings, artisan bread buns, and meat from a giant electronic touchscreen kiosk. A giant touch screen? all the options I’d want to get? custom to me? It’s a millenial’s dream.

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It’s available now at the UCF location as well as another store in Lake Mary with more on the way. We were recently invited to test out the new system – here is a run down of how things went.

You walk up and put in your order at the giant ipad-like kiosk screen. So many choices – death by choices? It can get confusing at times with all the different options if you don’t have someone to help guide you through the first time.

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After choosing your ingredients, toppings, meat type, and bun style (butter toasted ciabatta or artisanal bun), the order is sent back to a special area of the restaurant where the burgers are made to order.

After it’s ready, the order is sent to your table by an employee in quite a nice presentation – burger wrapped in special paper, fries in a fancy, little mini fryer basket. Note, you can only order it inside the restaurant and not in the drive thru, where many McDonald’s do 70% of their business.

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The burger is actually quite good – the bun is soft, but not too spongy, and quite tasty – as are the meats and ingredients. It may be the best burger I’ve had at McDonald’s in a long time. But it does come at a price, around $2.50 more than your regular burgers, more or less depending on what your toppings and ingredients are. My sirloin burger with bacon meal with medium fries and dasani water came out to $8.50 – comparable to pricing to some of the craft burger places out there, but actually on par to taste as well. For comparison, a Big Mac meal comes out to $6.00.

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Customization is a new and possibly daunting task for such a large corporation accustomed to value meals and preset menu items. Though the price is much higher than their value menu items, it may help draw in that coveted youth demographic that have slowly begun to explore new restaurants using their new apps like yelp and posting photos of their meal on instagram and other social media. Will they be posting custom McDonald’s Create Your Taste burgers soon?

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There are so many burger places in the area now by UCF, each with pricing about the same as McDonald’s – some do it better, some do it worse. If McDonald’s can keep up the quality, keep prices in check, I’d definitely come by again for a custom burger.

The future of McDonald’s is here.

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Photo courtesy of Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs
Photo courtesy of Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs

Shake Shack opened it’s second location in Orlando last week, located on International Drive in the I-360 plaza.

Shake Shack – if you might not have known – is a New York based food chain started in 2004 who prides themselves in serving the highest quality burger, brews, and shakes in a great atmosphere and with the busy individual in mind.

As part of their grand opening we were invited to their special Friends and Family practice which allowed us to try numerous of their menu item combinations.

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First on the menu was the SmokeShack burger, a succulent and hearty burger topped with lettuce, tomatoes, all natural apple-wood smoked bacon and cherry pepper. This burger was delicious, most noted however is the crispiness of  the bacon which complimented the 100% Angus beef that Shake Shack prides itself with.

To wash that down we had some of their delicious peanut butter shake. Now, personally, I do not enjoy shakes due to my lactose intolerance and personal taste, however it is to note that I particularly enjoyed this shake as it wasn’t comparable to drinking a tub of peanut butter commonly found in items whose main ingredient consist of peanut butter and didn’t leave me regretting ever drinking any milk product later that night.

Selection of House Drafts and Wine
Selection of House Drafts and Wine

Shake Shack also offers Beer brewed by Brooklyn Brewing Co. created specifically for Shake Shack, and wine made by Frog’s Loop in Napa Valley made especially for them as well.

This day we tried their Shackmeister Ale – an American Pale Ale with a nice body and bold flavors.

Typically when a restaurant offers their own line of beer I get skeptical as I find them on the same quality of typical “tailgate beers” such as Natural or Bud Light, however, I was surprised to find how great the Shackmeister Ale complimented the burger well. And nothing is more American in my opinion than a burger with a brew…but then again everything is good with good beer.

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Our experience at Shake Shack was great, their staff was very friendly and explained to us everything, as well as the service being superbly fast given the sheer number of people overwhelming the store on opening day.

With an excellent selection of amazing food I would recommend stopping by this location if you happen to be there whether it be at the convention center or seeing the Orlando Eye.

Fun fact, Shake Shack allows dogs and offers dog biscuits your dog would love, so the next time you stop by at one of your locations remember you can bring your favorite furry friend as well!

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Shuffleboard Table

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Photo courtesy of Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs
Photo courtesy of Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs
Photo courtesy of Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs
Photo courtesy of Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs

Shake Shack – I- Drive 360

8359 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819

(407) 205-0362

https://www.shakeshack.com/tag/i-drive/

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Spice Burgr recently took over for the space at the downtown Orlando Plaza that once belonged to grilled cheese sandwich shop Meltz. If the name “Spice” rings a bell, it’s because the owners of Spice Burgr are the same as the owners of nearby Spice Modern Steakhouse at Lake Eola.

It’s a counter service restaurant – order at the counter and the order is delivered to you when ready. I guess it’s the next evolution of the fast food restaurant with better ingredients. The decor is anonymous – minimal and white – and rather forgetful. The staff was friendly enough, but at times they appeared a bit lost and unsure about who ordered what when the orders became ready.

I ordered the Traditional – always a good base to start off with, I supposed. It was all right, juicy and slightly flavorful but nothing to denote any memorable “spice” moment. The fries came out hot, but needed a little salt. It was $5.95. I’d have to go back to try their other burger varieties and choices like the California Spice burger – topped with lettuce, tomatoes, sliced avocado, pico, cheese, “Burgr sauce” on a buttered bun and a side of fries. There is also a Burger of the Month, or BOM, that changes monthly.

Overall, Spice Burgr just did not leave much of an impression – spicy or otherwise – on me.

Spice Burgr - One of Many, Many new burger joints in Orlando
Spice Burgr – One of Many, Many new burger joints in Orlando
The decor - modern, sleek, boring
The decor – modern, sleek, boring
The Traditional Burgr
The Traditional Burgr

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Spice Burgr on Urbanspoon

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Teak Neighborhood Grill looks like your average every day American neighborhood pub or bar with a nice list of beers and cocktails, sticky wooden floors, bright neon liquor signs and flat screen TVs, and probably not much else when it comes to food.

But you’d be overlooking one special thing about Teak if you thought that – their surprisingly good list of special, jaw-droppingly delicious half pound Angus beef burgers.

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Burgers featured on the list include the mountainous Drunken Monk ($12), a burger topped with Angry Orchard onion jam, roasted cherry tomatoes, smoked bacon, herb mayo, provolone cheese & Teak chips topped with melted white cheddar cheese served on pretzel bun.

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Truly adventurous (read: masochistic) eaters can go for THE CHALLENGE ($40) – 2 full pounds of Angus beef, 9 slices American cheese, 9 slices Swiss cheese, 9 slices provolone cheese, 24 slices smoked bacon, 2 fresh fried mozzarella rounds, 4 beer battered onion rings, tomatoes, lettuce, Danny’s beanless chili, cheddar cheese sauce & sliced jalapenos…enough to possibly make even Man Vs. Food’s Adam Richman wary.

I had the PB&J burger on this particular visit, a burger topped with almond butter, peanut butter, orange marmalade, crispy potato strings, and provolone cheese on toasted pretzel bun. The burger was ooey-gooey and fun to eat, with just the right amount of sweetness from the orange marmalade, though the peanut butter could have been smoother.

One area of improvement recommended – service, which was rather brusque and inattentive, with long periods of waiting for both our food and our drink refills, but this could easily be remedied with some training or oversight.

The food makes it worth visiting, though, and everyone in our party enjoyed their hearty, delicious burgers.

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PB&J 11 – almond butter & peanut butter, orange marmalade, crispy potato strings & provolone cheese on toasted pretzel bun

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Engine Oil 11 – sautéed peppers & onions, imperial stout glaze, over easy egg, Swiss cheese & crispy potato strings served on pretzel bun

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Children of the Corn 11 – smoked Gouda, tomato & smoked bacon mayo topped with creamed corn & crispy potato strings on pretzel bun

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Teak Neighborhood Grill on Urbanspoon

I had the honor of attending the opening of one of the newest and most innovative restaurants here in Central Florida, Cowfish at Universal City Walk. Cowfish offers both burgers AND sushi, two very different ends of the food spectrum. However, they managed to harmoniously fuse these two foods together and form a very inventive food concept- Burgushi.

DSC00029_Fotor           The night began when the elevator doors opened and we were immediately greeted with friendly faces and even friendlier cocktails. I made my first choice with the Ruby Panther (9.5): it is as dangerous as it sounds. It did not possess any hints of alcohol, only the sweetness and slight tang of raspberries and lemonade. Another drink that stood out to me was the Bees Knees (9.5), the gin was mellow and citrusy but then you get a sweet note from the honey sitting at the bottom. It was also topped with a charming honeycomb stick.DSC00085_FotorAlthough, I believe the crowd favorite would be Buffalos and Bacon (11). The bourbon drink featured a specialty ice that melts slower than regular ice cubes due to its design and composition, allowing you time to savor the drink while snacking on the candied bacon that comes with it. Soon after, I was introduced to the Thundering Herd Bison Burger (15), which had sharp cheddar and a light kick from the chipotle aioli but calmed with a fresh avocado salsa. The burger was not over seasoned which let the true flavors of the beef come through. In a brief moment, I was caught in a whirlwind of flavors from all the dishes that were offered on the table.

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The Blackened Tuna Nachos (13) appetizer was probably my favorite. A rare seared blackened yellow fin tuna sat on top of a smooth avocado salsa and held together on a crispy wonton chip, garnished with microgreens. The “Prime Time” Filet & Lobster Roll (23) had fresh lobster, crisp cucumbers, pan-fried mushrooms that was accompanied by an incredibly tender rare seared filet mignon.

I also had samples of the salmon nigiri; the taste was clean and refreshing and not at all gritty like how some sushi would get from being kept in the freezer. The Taste Explosion roll (15) had juicy Angus beef topped with Roma tomato and pepper jack cheese and baked to a creamy sensation.

Aside from the scrumptious foods, the staffs at Cowfish were exceptionally helpful and welcoming. I’ve been a server at multiple restaurants for a couple of years now and it had opened me up to appreciate great service. Everyone was available to answer questions, take requests, and check up on you, which made the night all very comfortable for my friend and I.

I also had the opportunity to converse with the founders of Cowfish, Marcus Hall and Alan Springate. I saw how passionate and caring they are towards the guests who visit their restaurants. Not only were they open to discuss their creations, they were super fun and engaging- much like Cowfish. On a side note, be on the lookout for a new roll! Thanksgiving dinner will have a new whole meaning.DSC00094

Before I had a chance to taste any of this, I have to admit I was skeptical of the whole “Burgushi” idea, but after eating and enjoying every bite, I’ve come to understand that it is its own thing.

Overall, my night at Cowfish was unbelievable! The entire ambience of the opening was lively and well fitted into the theatrics of Universal City Walk. You can definitely enjoy a night of casual dinning while being offered exceptional quality and service.

6000 Universal Boulevard
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 224-2275

 

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  • Cowfish Tank
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  • Salmon Nigiri salmon

The Cowfish on Urbanspoon

From Atlanta, Georgia to Orlando, Florida comes a classic American tavern fare called Marlow’s Tavern. At Marlow’s Tavern, there are a large number of dishes and cocktails updated each season. On that note, the neighborhood Taverns, in Winter Park and Pointe Orlando, are bringing back popular seasonal specials that we were lucky enough to have a few plates. Every ingredient comes in fresh 6 days a week and bread comes in 7 days a week because Marlow’s Tavern does not consist of a freezer besides a small one for ice cream and chocolate chips as well as to keep the food fresh for that day.

As executive chef and co-founder of Marlow’s Tavern John C. Metz said, “there is something about these hearty dishes that we all start craving in the fall.” With that, Marlow’s Tavern brings us a Ribs & Whiskey menu that offers an assortment of sweet and tangy dishes. The Ribs & Whiskey menu is available at the Winter Park and Pointe Orlando locations Tuesday, September 23 through Monday, October 27. From the starters to entrees and sides to desserts, Marlow’s Tavern aims to please and each guest craves each item after experiencing it for the first time.

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To begin with, we shared a few starters that included J.T.’s Kettle Chips, which were crispy potato chips crowned with Gorgonzola cheese, bacon, Roma tomato and scallions. Eating this was like eating nachos where parts of the chips would be crunchy, while other parts in the cheese are a bit softer, but nonetheless packed with flavor. In my opinion, I like the softer chips, but I don’t fancy getting my fingers dirty…yet, that’ll give me an excuse to lick my fingers after eating J.T.’s Kettle Chips. Remind me to thank J.T. for his contribution of this delicious snack to the Marlow’s Tavern menu.

I recommend having a plate of J.T.’s Kettle Chips with your friends and having a glass of SweetWater Whiplash GA BAV 6.2%, which is also on this special Ribs & Whiskey menu. SweetWater Whiplash GA ABV 6.2% is an American style Belgian IPA, with a subtle flavor in combination with citrusy, piney hops, well balanced with tart, dry finish. Sweetwater originates in Atlanta, Georgia and is considered to be a neighborhood tap. At all times, Marlow’s Tavern will have at least two neighborhood taps on hand.

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Besides the SweetWater Whiplash, A Kick From Ginger can also be a nice drink to have with the chips…or anything on the menu, for that matter. A Kick From Ginger contains the original Kentucky bourbon, Old Forrester, along the original Atlanta ginger ale, Red Rock. This is a nice drink to sip on after a long day while kicking your feet up…as long as your feet are not on the bar counter.

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For instance, order yourself a Shrimp & Crab “Nacho” Plate along with A Kick From Ginger and you’ll know what I’m talking about. This starter consists of rock shrimp, crab, Pepper Jack cheese, and fresh jalapeño. Each bite will make the rainy days a little bit brighter. Please note that because the jalapeños used are fresh, it will have a spicy note to every bite.

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The Daily Smoke-House Flatbread offers slow-roasted pulled pork, basted with our secret sauces and the best ingredients the farm has to offer, served on brioche. This flatbread brought a welcomed surprise taste of sweetness that is refreshing and light to eat. Packed with ingredients fresh and delicious that’ll keep you wanting more and more.

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With the flatbread, I indulged in a Georgia Peach Lemonade that consists of Minute Maid Lemonade, peach nectar, Jack Daniel’s Honey whiskey, and a frozen peach. This drink is cute, tasty and refreshing as long as you remember to mix thoroughly as the alcohol may settle at the bottom.

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When lemonade isn’t on the mind, R&W S’weet Tea is another possibility. It is made up of Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka, fresh lemon, agave nectar, topped with a shot of Shock Top beer, and a kick of orange.

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After the starters, the entrees were now making their way to the table. A Pig With Buns is a slow-roasted pulled pork with Jack Daniel’s® Honey Glaze, House-Made Pimento cheese, dill pickles, and crispy tobacco onions on a buttery onion roll with a side of Granny Smith Apple Cabbage Slaw. Eat with caution, as an experience of explosive flavors will take place with plenty of textures in each bite from the crispy tobacco onions to the tender pulled pork.

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Marlow’s Ribs & Whiskey Hookup is a feast with: slow-cooked Smithfield James River ribs and drunken chicken with Granny Smith apple-cabbage slaw, Southern fried mac and pimento cheese and house-made sweet corn and jalapeño muffins. This plate consists of a bit of everything from the Ribs & Whiskey menu and is made to share. The Drunken Chicken is very lean and isn’t overpowered by too much flavor. This can be eaten on it’s own if ordered that way, but it can also go well with a salad.

The Granny Smith apple-cabbage slaw is very unique to the taste and will grow on you like the House-made Sweet Corn and Jalapeño muffins. Although it may be assumed that the muffins will be sweet according to its name, but it also has a hint of cinnamon to it. At Marlow’s Tavern, these muffins are very moist and delectable.

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The slow-cooked Smithfield James River ribs are made St. Louis style and are “finger lickin’ good”. They come with a choice of favorite barbecue sauce, including Jack Daniel’s glaze, Hoisin barbecue and Marlow’s chipotle barbecue. Each was great, but the Jack Daniel’s glaze came out on top in my book along with Marlow’s chipotle barbecue! These ribs are served with each side listed in the hookup. You’ll want to try the Southern fried mac and Pimento cheese. Along with the other sides, this is a blast to the South in every bite.

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Last, but not least is the Bourbon Bread Pudding, which is a Crème-brulee-soaked Cuban, vanilla bean and a splash of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee honey whiskey for sippin’. Unlike other bread puddings you may have tried, Marlow’s Tavern Bourbon Bread Pudding isn’t soggy! It comes out warm with a scoop of cold, delicious vanilla bean ice cream on top. To fully experience this dish, a little of the bread pudding and the ice cream should be on each spoon. If the bread pudding is eaten without the cold ice cream, it may be too sweet to the palate.

For casual to formal special occasions, social gatherings, and corporate events, just say “Meet Me at Marlow’s” to enjoy great food and beverage with world-class hospitality in a relaxed and welcoming environment. To book your group dining experience, contact Annette Medina at 407.741.3215 or amedina@marlowstavern.com.

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Orlando finally has a Shake Shack to call its own – the New York based burger joint created by legendary restauranteur Danny Meyer will open this Wednesday July 30th 2014 at 119 North Orlando Avenue at the intersection of West Morse Boulevard in the Orlando suburb of Winter Park. Locals may know it as the “Trader Joe’s Plaza,” familiar with the parking issues that already exacerbate the trip to the area.

But despite the parking issues, the trip is so worth it, and here is why:

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1. The Original Shackburger – Ok, maybe this might not be so surprising, but this juicy, flavorful burger is one of the best in town in a very crowded field, and despite its small stature, the burger packs a lot of satisfying punch. As a burger traditionalist, nothing beats a good quality burger patty topped with cheese, tomato, and lettuce. The bun is a bit soft for me, but altogether the burger is definitely a heavy hitter among the many burger contenders in Central Florida. Note, the fries here are the crinkle cut, rather than hand cut fries available else where. They tasted fresh and crispy.

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ShackBurger – Cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce

 2. The SmokeStack Burger – Spicy bacon? yes please – The SmokeShack is a Cheeseburger topped with all-natural applewood smoked bacon, slightly sweet and surprisingly spicy chopped cherry pepper and ShackSauce.

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SmokeShack – Cheeseburger topped with all-natural applewood smoked bacon, chopped cherry pepper and ShackSauce

3. Something really delicious for our vegetarian friends – the ‘Shroom Burger – no, Shake Shack isn’t serving up those frozen soy tofu burgers you see at all the other burger joints. This ‘Shroom burger is house fried battered portobello mushroom filled with oozing, melted muenster and cheddar cheeses, topped with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce – it pleasantly holds its own on the menu and is definitely a highlight amid the meatier burger menu.

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‘Shroom burger is house fried battered portobello mushroom filled with oozing, melted muenster and cheddar cheeses, topped with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce

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4. A Local Flair with Audubon Park’s P is for Pie Bake Shop in their “Concretes” – Little known fact about this Winter Park location of Shake Shack – they are using local Audubon Park bake shop P is for Pie’s Key Lime Pie for their Key Lime Pie Oh My Concrete vanilla custard dessert – a very nice local touch. See the full menu here

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Another sweet local touch – Shake Shack in Winter Park will also donate 5% of sales from the Winter’s Wonderland concrete to the local non-profit BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation, a local non-profit that provides year-round support for children and families in Orlando and Central Florida who are facing cancer and other hematological illnesses.

5. Stunning Hidden Lake Views at Shake Shack in Winter Park – It’s not just for the particularly good burgers – juicy, flavorful, tender on a soft bread bun – but also a great reason to visit is to see the stunning sunset views over Lake Killarney. Really lovely, beautiful place to have a burger and a shake or a “concrete” frozen custard ice cream, and kick back and relax in Central Florida.

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Bonus: you can even play ping pong back here on the Shake Shack branded table tennis area while you enjoy your burgers and shakes in the patio on Lake Killarney.
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PRESS RELEASE: SHAKE SHACK TO OPEN FIRST-EVER ORLANDO, FLORIDA, LOCATION ON WEDNESDAY, JULY 30TH

Beloved Burger, Hot Dog and Frozen Custard Stand Parks it in Winter Park

NEW YORK, NY – July 29, 2014 – It’s a Shack world after all! Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) is proud to announce it will open its fourth Shake Shack® in Florida on Wednesday, July 30th, at 11:00AM.

The newest addition to the Shack family is located at 119 North Orlando Avenue at the intersection of West Morse Boulevard in the Orlando suburb of Winter Park.

Established in 2004 in New York City’s Madison Square Park, Shake Shack is a critically acclaimed, modern day “roadside” burger stand known for its 100% all-natural Angus beef burgers, griddled-crisp flat-top dogs, fresh-made frozen custard, craft beer and wine, and much more. A fun and lively community gathering spot with widespread appeal, over the past decade Shake Shack has earned a cult-like following in Florida and around the world.

“We opened our first Florida Shake Shack in Miami Beach four years ago. We’ve had our eye on Central Florida for some time, and we’re thrilled to finally be a part of this community and further our commitment to the state,” said Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti. “Being located alongside Lake Killarney is ideal, and we look forward to having locals and visitors alike join us for a ShackBurger on our outdoor patio space complete with fire pit, lounge chairs, and even a ping-pong table.”

Like its Sunshine State predecessors in Miami Beach, Coral Gables and Boca Raton, Winter Park’s menu will feature all the Shake Shack classics, plus a selection of delectable frozen custard concretes to satisfy those sweet tooth cravings.

Exclusive to the Winter Park Shack is Winter’s Wonderland (vanilla frozen custard, marshmallow sauce and crispy crunchies). A long-time fan favorite that originated at Shake Shack’s flagship location in NYC will also be offered, the Shack Attack® (chocolate frozen custard, fudge sauce, chocolate truffle cookie dough and Mast Brothers Shake Shack dark chocolate chunks, topped with chocolate sprinkles). Last but certainly not least, is a beloved classic from the Miami Beach Shack that will now be served in Winter Park as well, the Key Lime Pie Oh My (vanilla frozen custard blended with a slice of key lime pie from Orlando’s own P is for Pie Bake Shop).

As part of its community outreach efforts and mission to Stand for Something Good®, the Winter Park Shake Shack will donate 5% of sales from the Winter’s Wonderland concrete to BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation, a local non-profit that provides year-round support for children and families in Orlando and Central Florida who are facing cancer and other hematological illnesses. Learn more at www.basecamp.org.

In keeping with Shake Shack’s eco-friendly mindset and commitment to green architecture, the interior walls of the Winter Park Shack are clad in once lost century-old lumber that was recently salvaged from Northern Florida’s Suwannee River. The Shack also features energy-efficient kitchen equipment and lighting. Chairs and booths are made from lumber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and tabletops are made from reclaimed bowling alley lanes. To keep guests virtually connected, free Wi-Fi is available.

For more information, including a list of all current Shake Shack locations, please visit www.shakeshack.com.

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Chicken Dog – Shake Shack chicken, apple and sage sausage

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Chocolate Shake

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Shake Shack on Urbanspoon

Photos by Krystle Nguyen

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May marks the beginning of ‘cue season and it is also National Hamburger Month! Margaritaville is celebrating with three limited-time-only specialty burgers inspired by the different regions of the Americas.

One of the most celebrated holidays at Margaritaville®, National Hamburger Month returns to honor a true American icon—the hamburger. Starting May 1 through May 31, Margaritaville Orlando, along with locations across the country from the Bayou to Baja, will celebrate with specialty burgers that pay homage to regions of the Americas. Margaritaville will also pay tribute to its signature burger “Cheeseburger in Paradise” that has been served with a side of fun for almost 30 years.

To prepare for the month-long celebration, Margaritaville® connected with thousands of fans spanning the country, encouraging them to share their version of the perfect hamburger. The burger components surveyed ranged from the preferred type of patty to toppings, condiments, buns and sides. Out of more than 17,000 respondents, almost 82 percent of those surveyed preferred beef to turkey or vegetarian patties. An astounding 93 percent voted cheese as the number one topping, with cheddar as the favorite. Lettuce, tomato, bacon and pickles also got top votes. Ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard were the most popular condiments with barbecue sauce and Heinz 57 coming in fourth and fifth place. Naturally, the favorite side item was French fried potatoes with 77 percent of the respondents opting for a big kosher pickle and 53 percent choosing a cold draft beer as their beverage of choice to enjoy with their burger.

All burgers can be substituted with veggie or turkey patties and are available with gluten-free buns. Burgers are served with a choice of French fries, sweet potato fries or mixed green salad.

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MARGARITA FLIGHT: Who’s to Blame, Blueberry Pomegranate, Last Mango In Paris, and Fins to the Left
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VOLCANO NACHOS: House-made tortilla chips topped with chili, cheese, fresh guacamole, sour cream, jalapeños, tomatoes and scallions
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“DRUNKEN” SHRIMP SKILLET: Sautéed with tequila key lime butter, roasted garlic and peppers, with a mini baguette for dipping
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GRILLED SHRIMP SKEWER: Jerk-glazed shrimp dusted with sugared coconut served with pineapple
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BAYOU BURGER: Seasoned with Cajun spices, topped with caramelized onions, grilled andouille bacon, lettuce, tomato and Cajun remoulade sauce on a toasted brioche bun
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BAJA BURGER: Topped with carne asada, Oaxaca & Monterey jack cheese, avocado, pico de gallo, key lime crema and shredded lettuce on a toasted brioche bun
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LANDSHARK LAGER FISH & CHIPS: Hand dipped in our Landshark batter, fried and served with jalapeño tartar sauce, French fries and cilantro lime coleslaw
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CHOCOLATE HURRICANE: Vanilla bean ice cream served with brownies, Kit Kat and Heath bars, pirouette and mini shortbread cookies, sliced banana, whipped cream and chopped macadamia nuts. Swirled tableside with chocolate and caramel sauces.

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Wagyu Cheeseburger with Fried Egg and Crisp Onions

The Capital Grille, known for dry-aged steaks and award-winning wine list announces the introduction of new burger offerings for lunch.

The Capital Grille will be adding three new burgers to the lunch menu.

The new burgers, all wonderfully juicy and made with premium Wagyu beef, will be featured on the lunch menu along with The Grille’s Signature Cheeseburger, the Wagyu Cheeseburger with Fried Egg and Crisp Onions and Lobster and Crab Burger with House Tartar Sauce.

The new burger options, include:
-Kona Crusted Wagyu Burger with Shallot Mayo ($17)
-Wild Mushroom Wagyu Cheeseburger with 15-year Aged Balsamic ($18)
-Oscar-style Wagyu Burger with Jumbo Lump Crab and Bearnaise ($19)

All of the burgers will be served with a side of Parmesan Truffle Fries.

The menu is only available at the Millenia mall location for now, the newest Capital Grille in our area. The interior design here is much more modern and casual, rather than the usual club feel from other Capital Grilles, owing to the casual nature of mall shoppers and appealing to the younger crowd – hence the very prominent bar area and open air seating.

Happy National Burger Month, yall!

New burger menu
New burger menu
Wild Mushroom Wagyu Cheeseburger with 15-year Aged Balsamic ($18)
Wild Mushroom Wagyu Cheeseburger with 15-year Aged Balsamic ($18)
Wagyu Cheeseburger with Fried Egg and Crisp Onions
Wagyu Cheeseburger with Fried Egg and Crisp Onions
Oscar-style Wagyu Burger with Jumbo Lump Crab and Bearnaise ($19)
Oscar-style Wagyu Burger with Jumbo Lump Crab and Bearnaise ($19)
Kona Crusted Wagyu Burger with Shallot Mayo
Kona Crusted Wagyu Burger with Shallot Mayo

The Capital Grille at Mall at Millenia
4200 Conroy Rd, Orlando, FL 32839, United States
Phone:(407) 351-2210

The Capital Grille on Urbanspoon

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The restaurant has a soft opening starting this Thursday May 15, 2014 starting at 6 pm, and then regular hours with lunch every day after, and plans for a grand opening later in June. I dropped by with some friends on their friends and family run-through today and checked out the new digs. I left feeling quite impressed with the quality of burger being served here at Burger and Beer Joint and hope to return soon.

Quite the renovations have been made for the opening of the new Burger and Beer Joint, a Miami based restaurant with plans to expand to International Drive and other locations in Orlando.

Brick is layered inside the entrance ceiling creating the feeling of a tunnel, and an urban design is added to the bar area making it very inviting. You would never realize just a few years ago this place was the home to a Perkins, then a Chinese/Japanese buffet, and finally Culpepper’s before it.

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Burger and Beer Joint has a sports and rock ’n’ roll theme and of course lots of burgers and beers on the menu.

Their restaurant specializes in “massive burgers with a gourmet twist – You pick a beer, then pick a burger.”

Though the drink menu is a bit limited in terms of beer, they have some very nice options ranging from IPAs to lagers. I had a nice, smooth, lemony Shandy to go along with my burger on my visit.

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My friends had the HOTEL CALIFORNIA ($13.99) – a very filling, cooked to ordered medium 1/2 lb. Premium Black Angus beef burger topped with guacamole, grilled Vidalia onion, jalapeno relish, cilantro sour cream, sharp cheddar, and a sunny side up fried egg between two brioche buns, and served with skinny fries.

Hotel California burger
Hotel California burger

I ordered the THUNDER ROAD ($13.99), a more standard burger (think of it as a very good, bacon cheeseburger) made with 1/2 lb. Premium Black Angus beef, smoked Duroc pork belly bacon, American cheese, sesame bun, a side of BBQ sauce, and served with skinny fries. Overall, one of the best burgers in town, and reminiscent I think of the burgers found at Metrowest’s Teak Neighborhood Grill – huge, juicy, delicious burgers.

Thunder Road Burger
Thunder Road Burger
Scaffolding work still being done
Scaffolding work still being done

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For more info, visit: http://www.bnbjoint.com/menus/burgers

Burger and Beer Joint
11662 University Blvd
Orlando, FL 32817
(407) 381-1999
http://www.bnbjoint.com/

Burger & Beer Joint on Urbanspoon

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The 10 lb Monster Burger at Burger and Beer Joint

I ran by the new Burger and Beer Joint restaurant today, and it looks poised to open any day now, with a soft opening on May 15 and grand opening in June, according to the OBJ.

With thousands of UCF students nearby and Four Rivers Smokehouse recently open a few doors down and lines out the door almost every day, will University Boulevard become Orlando’s “Fast Casual” Restaurant Row?

Photo of Burger and Beer Joint on University taken May 5, 2014
Photo of Burger and Beer Joint on University taken May 5, 2014

The restaurant based out of Miami will open its doors this May 2014 after some finishing touches this month. It replaces Culpepper’s, a restaurant founded by nearby UCF alumni Daunte Culpepper, most famous for his time as the quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. That restaurant closed after just a few short months, and never really getting the footing needed in the very competitive and tight UCF market. The location previously was the home to Ichiban buffet for about a year before that, as well as Perkins for many years.

Burger and Beer Joint has a sports and rock ’n’ roll theme and of course lots of burgers and beers on the menu.

Their restaurant specializes in “massive burgers with a gourmet twist – You pick a beer, then pick a burger.”

This location will be the fourth in the company, and the first outside of South Florida.

Some highlights on the menu include the $125 ten-pound Mother Burger , the fried Twinkie with ice cream, fried zucchini sticks and adult milkshakes.

The Mother Burger consists of 10 lbs of Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime, served with lettuce, tomato, onion, and a pickle, the size of a manhole cover and sandwiched in a bun that resembles a couch cushion. If you finish it yourself within 2 hours, it’s free! Otherwise, share with your table.

They also offer light fare options including seafood, chicken and salads.

Looking at the menu, with many of their specialty burgers ranging in the $13.99 and up levels, it will be facing some stiff competition especially with that price point in an area where the dining crowds are mostly UCF students or nearby corporate industry employees.

Burger 21, Super Burger, Graffiti Junktion, and Junior’s Colombian Burger (taking over the spot for the briefly opened Pioneer Kitchen burger joint) are all open now in the area with BurgerFi opening soon as well with the new Plaza student apartment complex on University and Alafaya.

Photos below via Burger and Beer Joint Orlando

The 10 lb Monster Burger at Burger and Beer Joint
The 10 lb Monster Burger at Burger and Beer Joint
Burger and Beer Joint in Orlando
Burger and Beer Joint in Orlando
Burger and Beer Joint set to open May 2014
Burger and Beer Joint set to open May 2014
Burger and Beer Joint renovations - formerly Culpepper's
Burger and Beer Joint renovations – formerly Culpepper’s
Burger and Beer Joint renovations
Burger and Beer Joint renovations

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The Smiling Bison’s Chef / Owner Joshua Oakley has quite the resume – formerly a chef at The Ravenous Pig and the Enzian theater, he has brought his skills for making house made charcuterie, sausages, and meats to the menu here at The Smiling Bison.

Locals may remember this location on Bennett Road across from Roxy Nightclub as the former home of the wildly popular Redlight, Redlight Beer Parlour (which recently moved to larger digs on Corrine Dr in Audubon Park).

There have been some very nice upgrades to the interior, with the place appearing more like a nice home in suburbia rather than a hipster watering hole. Dark browns and woody colors give it a nice warm, autumn vibe – perfect for drinking some ale and enjoying the wonderful food coming out of The Smiling Bison’s kitchen.

One thing though I do wish was upgraded was the parking situation, which remains a bit limited and difficult to maneuver due to the odd location and sparse parking spots.

Nonetheless, it’s worth the trip and parking issues to travel to the Smiling Bison.

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The bar area at The Smiling Bison

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The menu at The Smiling Bison, which changes, of course, seasonally

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My dining companions and I start off with the Smoked Fish Dip – house smoked flounder caught along Cocoa Beach, pumpernickel toast from local Olde Hearth Bread Company. I enjoyed the subtle spices layered within the dip, but ultimately, I think it needs a little more of a kick.

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 Our second appetizer was much more of a crowd pleaser – the Crispy Pork Belly, cooked sous-vide style till buttery softness, and layered on top of creamed zellwood corn, smoked tomato, and onion jam. The pork belly  was tender, soft, and had the slight slippery texture that is often the result of the sous vide process – very delicious.

Sous-vide (French for “under vacuum”) is a method of cooking food sealed in airtight plastic bags in a water bath for longer than normal cooking times—72 hours in some cases—at an accurately regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking, typically around 55 °C (131 °F) to 60 °C (140 °F) for meats and higher for vegetables. The intention is to cook the item evenly, and not to overcook the outside while still keeping the inside at the same “doneness”, keeping the food juicier.

Cooking meats sous-vide also breaks down the muscles and tissues into a gelatinous like texture and the pork belly could have used some finishing “crispy” texture to give the dish name its due.

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I ordered the WITBEER GLAZED HAM STEAK ($14) – house cured kurobota pork served with sweet potato fries and a house made dijonaisse. The hamsteak was fantastic, prepared sous-vide  as well, with such a tender, wonderful texture and sweet and savory flavors from the witbeer glaze. It’s interesting to note that the witbeer used tonight was provided by the local brewery at Cask and Larder. The house made sweet potato fries really shined as well – such an interesting crispy texture on the outside yet light and airy on the inside – totally unlike any other sweet potato fries I have ever tried before.

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WITBEER GLAZED HAM STEAK

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ROAST BEEF…$13
wagyu eye round, cheddar, horseradish,
pretzel kaiser, caraway

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DUCK LOVERS PIZZA…$16
Garlic puree, duck confit, duck ham, duck egg,
monterey cheese, pea tendrils

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SMILING BISON BURGER…$12
6 oz. natural bison, garlic aioli, mushroom ketchup,
smoked provolone, house bacon, texas toast

I sampled one of my dining companion’s Smiling Bison Burgers and thought it to be truly delicious – very flavorful, savory, juicy, cheesy, and all in all one of the best burgers I have tried in recent memory. Compliments to the crew at Smiling Bison!

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Overall, I came away very impressed by both the great service and the quality food at The Smiling Bison. I hope they continue to improve on their dishes and become one of the best restaurants in Orlando. They are well on their way.

The Smiling Bison Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

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Photos by TastyChomps.com’s Krystle Nguyen

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Waltzing Matilda” is Australia’s most widely known bush ballad, a folk song that has been referred to as “the unofficial national anthem of Australia”. The title is Australian slang for traveling by foot with one’s goods (waltzing) with a “Matilda” (bag) slung over one’s back.

Matilda is a romantic term for a swagman’s bundle and I suppose Matilda’s on Park can be called a mixed bag of sorts.

The restaurant took over the spot on the north end of Park Avenue, across from Panera Bread, that has been a bit “cursed” as of late, with quite a few closings in the past few years. Maybe it’s the foot traffic in that area, or maybe it is the restaurant management – either way it’s a tough deck of cards that are dealt.

The decor is rather modern and swanky, though the flat screen TVs flanking the walls give the restaurant a decidedly more pub-like feel. I think that angle shows potential especially given the menu choices of so called “gourmet” mac and cheeses (they have over 7 types here including lobster mac) and burgers. If only the prices reflected those that you would expect at a pub-like establishment.  At $14 for Buffalo Mac and Cheese, I would expect more than a small bowl full, maybe a platter of mac and cheese for that price.

On a recent visit for brunch, my friends ordered the typical brunch items from breakfast croissant sandwiches to California eggs benedicts.

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As a nod to their “Aussie” theme, one of the burgers on the menu is the Roo burger ($14) made with real kangaroo meat, topped with cheese sauce, onion straws, on a toasted brioche bun. The kangaroo meat tasted slightly gamey, a little greasy for some reason, but savory and was cooked to the right temperature. Overall, not sure if I am a fan, but didn’t hate it – maybe I’ll have to give it another try. The fries that came with the burgers were also quite nice.

On this visit, it seemed oddly quiet for a Sunday morning at the restaurant, with nary another group dining during our time there. Maybe it’s time to do some promoting, as just a few doors down at another restaurant, the crowds were fully flowing. I thought the food at Matilda’s was better than that other place, but maybe it was the concept that throws people off. The theme and menu seem to need some clarity.

The food overall was good, but for some reason it just seemed like something was missing.

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Wasabi bloody mary – tomato juice with wasabi, montreal steak seasoned rim

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 Buffalo Mac and Cheese – pieces of chicken (a rather large piece that looked like fried tofu at first), cheddar, swiss, parmesan, with secret sauce $14

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California eggs benedict with avocado, egg, bacon, tomato

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 Shrimp and crab omelet – cheddar and gruyere cheese, crab, shrimp, with potatoes and wheat toast ($12)

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Breakfast croissant sandwich with ham, egg, cheese and side of home fries
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Roo burger ($14) – kangaroo meat, cheese sauce, onion straws, brioche bun

Matilda's on Park on Urbanspoon

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The weather in Central Florida can be described as fickle at best. Even the local weathermen around here don’t even know how to predict the afternoon’s shower chances. Taking the chance for a beautiful sunny afternoon, I decided to visit the Taproom at Dubsdread with a friend for some outdoor lunching.

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Located on the scenic, historic Dubsdread Golf Course in College Park, the Tap Room offers classic American fare with a sophisticated touch. Though the interior may be showing signs of aging, the outdoor seating is timeless old Florida: watch as golfers ride around in their carts, in search of the next tee on the rolling green hills of the Dubsdread golf course, so named after the “dreaded” difficulty of the course.

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For starters, we order the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake Maryland style, served with remoulade sauce, a pretty large sized crab cake with a comparable price tag. The crab cake was good and full of fresh crab, but ultimately it appeared a tad too pricey.

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The Tap Room classic cheeseburger is fantastic and truly a “classic” – half-pound burger with Tillamook cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion. I ordered a variant of the classic burger with some avocado on top, named after local College Park.

Some in Orlando have called this the best burger in Orlando, and although I agree it is pretty good, I thought the bread buns could be a little more fresh and fluffier. The onion rings that accompanied the burger were among the best I’ve had, fried perfectly and still juicy.

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My friend ordered the Slow Roasted BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich, a tender, flavorful sandwich chock full of pulled pork, not a single complaint about it.

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Slow Roasted BBQ Pulled Pork

Despite its aging interior, the Tap Room at Dubsdread continues to serve up tasty dishes, if not altogether too adventurous, with great service and a little finesse.

Sitting on the outdoor patio for an afternoon lunch and enjoying the beautiful view of the golf course, it makes one feel blessed to be a Central Floridian.

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Tap Room at Dubsdread on Urbanspoon

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Burger 21, a fast-casual “beyond the better burger” franchise concept founded by the owners of The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc., have opened their 2nd shop in Orlando (after the Millenia Mall location) at 11551 University Blvd. near Orlando’s beloved University of Central Florida (UCF).

Locally owned and operated by Daniel Torres, Burger 21 UCF features 21 unique, chef-inspired burger creations. There are 20 listed on the menu including 100% angus beef, turkey, chicken, veggie, and even seafood burgers -like ahi tuna and shrimp – as well as 1 changing featured special burger. Going along with the 21 theme, on the 21st of each month Burger 21 donates 10% of sales to a local charity partner of the month.

In addition to burgers, they serve up hand-dipped signature shakes made with Blue Bell Ice Cream, gourmet hot dogs, hand-breaded chicken tenders and made-to-order salads.

The decor is modern, super clean contemporary-style diner atmosphere with a fun little bar area for milk shakes. Once inside, guests order at the counter and then you are given a numbered disc to take to your seat. There is a creative sauce bar (maybe a cue from their mother company The Melting Pot) where you can gather together sauces like Apple Cider, Toasted Marshmallow (which goes well with the sweet potato fries option), ragin cajun, and Thai ketchup.

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I ordered the Tex-Mex Haystack, a tasty, gargantuan burger made with 100% angus beef, lettuce, tomato, applewood-smoked bacon, Gouda cheese, guacamole, onion strings, chipotle-jalapeño sauce, all on a buttery toasted brioche bun. The flavors and textures went together very well, and it really has to be one of my favorite burgers I’ve tried so far. The crispy, thin french fries were also a treat to eat with the burgers.

I also ordered one of their Blue Bell Ice Cream shakes: the strawberry short cake shake made with strawberries and little pieces of real short cake inside. Truly a delicious, sweet dessert treat.

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The Shake station at Burger 21

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The Sauce Bar

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 Very unique flavors for the sauce bar

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Tex-Mex Haystack, a tasty, gargantuan burger made with 100% angus beef, lettuce, tomato, applewood-smoked bacon, Gouda cheese, guacamole, onion strings, chipotle-jalapeño sauce, all on a buttery toasted brioche bun

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 French fries

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 The Tex Mex Haystack

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The Strawberry Short Cake milk shake made with Blue Bell Ice Cream

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Burger 21
Orlando, FL – UCF
11551 University Blvd., Suite 16

Burger 21 on Urbanspoon

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The Fifth opened this past May of 2012 – in the heart of Downtown Orlando on Orange Avenue – by the proprietors of The V Group – Vintage Lounge, Vixen Bar and NV Art Bar. “The Fifth” is located at 112 S. Orange Avenue adjacent to Vintage Lounge. I was recently invited to a media preview of their items and have to say I was thoroughly impressed.

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Right when you walk through the door, you could feel practically transported to a city like Miami or downtown Manhattan: sleek, modern designs, glowing dynamic lights, and beautiful white rock encapsulate the restaurant. The setting is upscale yet relaxed. The staff are all unpretentious and warm to guests. At the front is a retail space with liquor and various goodies stocked for customers on the go. The real star of the place, however, is the food.

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Led by Chef Dean Holland from Le Cordon Bleu, The Fifth features a menu of familiar, yet creative favorites from gourmet burgers to mac and cheese and I can see the items being popular for the busy Downtown professional’s lunch hour, dinner date or late-night food craving.

During my lunch visit, I tried some of their V potato chips as well as the signature V Chopped Steak burger. The V potato chips were dusted with white truffle and sea salt, crispy and delightful and altogether prepared very well. I noshed on them all throughout lunch. The V Chopped Steak burger was also expertly prepared with very high quality grade beef, cooked perfectly to my desired medium, and topped with caramelized onions, tomato, arugula, and an alioli sauce. The burger probably ranks up among the best I’ve had in Orlando. The prices are a bit higher here than others, but the ingredients and flavors warrant the premium.

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The V Potato Chips with sea salt

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The V Chopped Steak Burger with caramelized onions, tomato, arugula, ale-oli sauce

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Mini chicken sliders drizzled with a Maple Bacon Aioli

 

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At the front is a retail space with liquor and various goodies stocked for customers on the go.

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The Fifth on Urbanspoon

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TastyChomps’ personal choice for best burgers:

1. Crooked Spoon Food Truck – The Crooked Spoon Burger

2. The Ravenous Pig –  Pub Burger

3. Pine 22 – Make your own burger topped with egg, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese

4. Teak Neighborhood Grill – The Brazilian burger

5. Prato – Burger

After two weeks of furious voting by loyal fans of the great American burger, the undisputed people’s choice – by a landside – for best burger belongs to….

Best Burger of Orlando 2012 Winner is…

Oblivion Taproom

5101 E. Colonial Drive
Orlando, Florida 32803
(407) 802-4800
http://www.obliviontaproom.com
http://www.facebook.com/obliviontaproom


Oblivion’s Hog Wild Burger, one of their many burger offerings – Photo Credit: facebook.com/obliviontaproom

Oblivion Taproom, a quirky, bar and grill restaurant with a creative flair and an impressive list of craft beers, is located off of Colonial Drive just west of Semoran Boulevard and features daily specials (you can see them at their facebook.com/obliviontaproom ). Their burgers are a mainstay, like the Hog Wild featured above, a beef burger topped with chopped pork, caramelized onions, bacon, house BBQ sauce, onion rings and sharp cheddar all stacked high on a brioche bun.

 

 

Congratulations to all the nominees, it was a tough vote, and hopefully with the new restaurants opening up soon in the coming months, we’ll have even more nominees to vote for best burger in Orlando next year !

The Rest of the Best


Top 6 Best Burgers in Orlando 2012 

2. The Ravenous Pig’s Pub Burger
1234 N. Orange Ave
Winter Park, Florida 32789
(407) 628-2333
http://www.theravenouspig.com
http://www.facebook.com/ravenous.pig


The Ravenous Pig’s Lamb Burger, tzatziki, tomato-olive relish, tempura haricots verts
Photo Credit: http://www.facebook.com/ravenous.pig

3. 4 Rivers Smokehouse’s Brisket Burger

2103 W. Fairbanks Ave. Winter Park, FL 32789
1047 S. Dillard St. Winter Garden, FL 34787
1869 W. State Road 434, Ste 230 , Longwood, Florida 32750
http://www.4RSmokehouse.com
http://www.facebook.com/4RSmokehouse

Photo Credit: http://www.facebook.com/4RSmokehouse

The 4 Rivers Smokehouse brisket burger is a mixture of brisket and ground beef that is grilled and topped with lettuce, tomato, special smokehouse burger sauce, cheddar cheese and crispy fried onions and is featured throughout the year as a specialty item. Keep an eye out on their Facebook page for specialty items including the brisket burger.

4. The Crooked Spoon Food Truck

Various Locations
Follow on
twitter.com/thecrookedspn
http://thecrookedspn.com
http://www.facebook.com/thecrookedspoon

the crooked spoon burger

The Crooked Spoon Burger, Swiss Cheese, Chipotle Aioli, Onion Marmalade, Lettuce, Tomato on a Brioche bun

Photo Credit: TastyChomps.com (http://tastychomps.com/2011/03/crooked-spoon-food-truck-orlando.html)


5. Hard Rock Cafe Legendary Triple Decker Dagwood Burger

6050 Universal Blvd., Orlando, FL.
http://www.universalorlando.com/Restaurants/CityWalk/Hard-Rock-Cafe.aspx
http://www.facebook.com/hardrockorlando

Photo Credit: Hard Rock Orlando (https://twitter.com/HardRockOrlando)

6. Pine 22

22 E. Pine St
Orlando, Florida
http://www.pine22.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pine-22/124278644301080

Make your own burger with local egg, bacon, cheese, all amazing

Photo Credit: Pine 22 (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pine-22/124278644301080)

Notable Mentions

  • Eastside Bistro Avalon Park
  • Bananas Modern American Diner
  • Graffiti Junktion
  • Johnny’s Fillin’ Station & Johnny’s Other Side
  • White Wolf Cafe and Bar
  • Hamburger Mary’s
  • The Tap Room At Dubsdread
  • Junior Colombian Burger
  • Prato
  • BurgerFi Winter Park
  • The Rusty Spoon
  • C&S Brisket Bus
  • Ruth Chris Bar Menu
  • The Taproom At Dubsdread
  • Nicks family diner
  • Hillstone’s
  • Teak Neighborhood Grill
  • Jimmy Hula’s
  • Sonoma
  • Happy Hour Burger at Fleming’s
  • Citrus Restaurant
  • Nona Tap Room
  • THE FIFTH
  • Downtown PourHouse

 

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With the oncoming burger trend movement coming to Orlando in full force, especially with the new opening of BurgerFi in Winter Park, I thought it would be interesting to see what readers think is the best burger in Orlando. A thick, juicy beef patty between delicious buns, who could deny the America’s love for the burger?

Here are the nominees, feel free to add your own and vote on Facebook here at this link:

http://www.facebook.com/questions/10151108574701037/

Voting ends Friday August 31st 2012 at 5pm!

 

orlando best burgers 2012
Vote for Orlando’s Best Burgers 2012 poll

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BurgerFi recently opened in Winter Park along busy Park Avenue in a rather popular corner overlooking Fairbanks Avenue and Rollins College across the street. I paid the place a visit recently to scope out the first of many burger joints to open up in Orlando as part of the national gourmet burger trend on the rise. These burgers, unlike the fast food burgers of yore, are thought of as beefier, more global citizen minded, and with higher quality ingredients. Some burger joints even go so far as to place flakes of gold, foie gras, and truffles as toppings to their beef burgers.

BurgerFi sits at the mid range level of the gourmet burger trend with prices ranging around $8-$10 per meal, and I’d put it just slightly above Five Guys burgers on the burger charts. Founded in Delray Beach, BurgerFi prides itself on its use of grassfed beef that’s never frozen, as well as being environmentally conscious in its operations.

The restaurant is beautiful inside, with a rustic feel from the wood panel walls and unique lighting, yet also a modern, sleek look from the outside panels, giving it a feeling of fitting right alongside some of the other  more posh eateries along Park Avenue. The place appears to be bustling with business, with students from nearby Rollins, parents and friends from around the neighborhood all meeting up, sitting alongside businessmen and seniors at one of their communal tables.

You walk up to the counter to order here, choosing from a list of burgers, or you can make your own burger – with premium ingredients like sunny side up egg and hickory bacon for extra – as well as adding sides that include fries, beef hot dogs, “real” Coca Cola from real sugar without the corn syrup, frozen custard desserts, and beer & wine. There is even a (rather poorly kept) “secret menu” that you can find here http://burgerfi.com/menu.php#secret that includes orders like “urban fries” and “alternative style” burgers a la In-N-Out burger on the west coast.

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Busy lines at BurgerFi!

My dining companion chose the original BurgerFi burger, topped with lettuce, tomato and a secret sauce. I chose, upon recommendation from my friend Gabby (of Audubon Park District), the “B.A.D. – Breakfast All Day” Burger that comes with egg, hash browns, and bacon. The orders are brought to you via a remote location device that you place on the center of the mat at your table.

Each burger here is marked with the signature “BurgerFi” logo grill marks seared on top of the bun, though I did not recognize any “burnt” tastes from it, thankfully. My friend’s burger turned out, rather disappointingly simple and bland. I suppose there may have been too much hype leading up to this moment. The burger’s buns were a bit too soft and sticky to chew on and the beef patties themselves were a bit lacking in the flavor department. Also, the patties were a bit too dry, thin, and flaky for my tastes and it probably could be best compared to Five Guys, whether you like that or not. Though my BAD burger tasted a lot better, aided mostly by the addition of the bacon and hash browns – not by the well done egg – I still found the buns and the burger meat patties themselves to be lacking. The parmesan and herb fries that we ordered with the meal were also lackluster and rather limp, as though they had not been fried long enough resulting in a slightly soggy texture. Hopefully this was a fluke and an off day for them, but I do hope they figure it out soon.

The burger trend has arrived, but I hope the scene gets better. Overall, the experience just felt a little bit too much like eating at a high school cafeteria, despite the nicer digs, and with slightly better food offerings.

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Communal dining tables at Burger Fi

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The BurgerFi burger

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Parmesan and herbs fries

BurgerFi on Urbanspoon

Open 24 hours a day 7 days a week, Donut King is a treat for those who love hand made, fresh daily donuts. Located out in Minneola, north of SR 50 and way out west of Orlando, this unassuming little bake shop packs a big punch in terms of sweet flavors. Strangely enough, there are several menus featured here at Donut King: the donuts menu, a breakfast menu, a burger menu, and a New Orleans style cajun menu (including an impressive list of po boy sandwiches).

When you first step into Donut King, it feels like it used to be a old 50’s fast food joint, despite being open only since 2007. A few scattered chairs and tables, and a bar area on a side are all the seating available. Most patrons come in, salivating over the display of donuts on donuts on donuts, ordering their boxes and go.

Donuts ($0.79 each or $7.79 for a dozen) reign supreme here at donut king, soft, fluffy, and delicious. The glazed donut is heavenly, a sweet donut soft and fluffy like something you’d find on cloud 9 with a touch of vanilla flavor. The red velvet chocolate cake donut and the sour dough cake donut are also great, though they tasted more like cakes in donut form than a traditional donut. The sour dough cake donut reminded me particularly of a delightful apple fritter with out the apples. Custard filled donut holes, chocolate oreo crusted donuts, strawberry glazed donuts, and even a UF Gator themed sprinkled, chocolate glazed donut are some of the many flavors available.

As mentioned earlier, there is a burger menu, consisting of their signature “castle burgers“, which are much like the White Castle/Krystal’s slider variety. The bun was soft and the burger itself was agreeable, though nothing out of the ordinary. I wished there was more toppings in the burger, like more onions and pickles.

The New Orleans style cajun menu here was surprisingly good. The catfish had a spicy, flavorful batter and was fried to a golden crisp. The accompanying grits were standard fare. A whopping platter of gumbo with okra, sausage, cajun spices, and sauce over rice and french bread had a home-cooked, yet very mild taste to it, though I would have expected it to be more soup-like as I am accustomed to. One of my favorite things on the menu here were the chicken wings, fresh, crispy little wings dipped in a mild hot sauce. Simple but good.

Just the sheer amount of variety here will have you liking something on the menu. The donuts indeed were the main attraction

Let the Donut King continue his reign.

Scenes from The Donut King

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Unassuming storefront belies what lay inside

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Delicioso

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The Castle Burger

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What wonders behold

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Donuts!

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Dozen donuts please

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Catfish and grits

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Glazed Donuts on a stick – i call it the HoneyCatTails

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Gumbo – Large $7.99

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Donut King on Urbanspoon

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This past Tuesday, I ventured out to the intersection of Robinson St and Primrose Drive near the T.G. Lee milk factory for Tasty Tuesdays in the Milk District. I’ve actually come by here a few times in the past month or so on the way home from work to pick up a few items to try for dinner. The convenient thing about this event set up is that all the bars (The Milk Bar, Sandwich Bar, Spacebar, etc.) along Robinson Street in the Milk District area open up to allow you to bring the food in so you have a place to sit with your food. You can order a drink, alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage of your choice, and enjoy the food with out having to stand around awkwardly or on the street corner squatting like you’re fresh off the boat.

The Milk District has steadily grown in popularity these past few years – I don’t think the name for it has been around for even that long – since Lonely Planet featured them for a CNN article on the top destinations in 2012 which included Orlando.

Check out this great 76 second video from Robert Reid, editor of Lonely Planet on the “real” Orlando, which includes pieces on the Jack Kerouac house in College Park, Viet town in Mills 50 district, and the Milk District

The area is growing and so is Orlando, and I think Tasty Tuesdays is a wonderful event to bring this place to life even more.

Food trucks change almost weekly, so check the Tasty Tuesdays’ Facebook page here for detailed info:
http://www.facebook.com/TastyTuesdaysOrlando

I visited a few trucks that evening, and took a few to go as well. My first stop was Big Wheel Food Truck where I tried their Asian braised duck wings and the heirloom chicken quarter dishes. I’m always amazed at how Chef Tony Adams can create a menu that is so unique, locally-based, and so tasty every week, and served gourmet-style straight out of the food truck at that. I trotted off to the Spacebar to find a seat and snap a few shots while enjoying a nice bottle of Captain Eli root beer from the bar.

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Asian Braised Duck Wings $9, duck wings slow braised in soy, mirin, nuoc cham, hoisin, scallion, sesame, rice wine vinegar, sugar, and local honey and served with Fresh Scallion Japanese Sticky Rice and Roasted Enoki Mushrooms

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Roasted local heirloom chicken quarter with chorizo, pequillo pepper, and Old Hearth stuffing with dark meat chicken with some creme fraiche $10.50

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Inside the Spacebar of the Milk District

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BBQ Chicken and gouda empanada from La Empanada truck, pretty much one of the most amazing empanadas in existence

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I also visited my old favorite, The Crooked Spoon food truck (check out their video on The Cooking Channel’s Eat Street!! ).

I wanted to see how they were holding up since my last visit many months ago, and I am happy to report that they are still as amazing as ever.

I ordered the Crooked Spoon burger, their signature angus beef burger with onion marmalade, spring mix of greens, tomato, swiss cheese, and chipotle aioli all encased in a lightly charred, toasted brioche bun. The burger was cooked to perfection, soft, flavorful, savory and sweet. One of the very best burgers in Orlando bar none. It’s served with a side of housemade rosemary seasoned potato chips in a paper bag. I could seriously eat this every day.

Hats off to the team over there at the Crooked Spoon for all of their hard work in that hot trailer kitchen and still creating some wonderful dishes for us to taste.

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The Tasty in Tasty Tuesdays in the making

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Homemade rosemary seasoned potato chips

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The Crooked Spoon burger, one of the best burgers in Orlando, an angus beef burger with onion marmalade, spring mix of greens, tomato, swiss cheese, and chipotle aioli all encased in a lightly charred, toasted brioche bun

The Crooked Spoon Food Truck on Urbanspoon

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The Food Truck craze has officially entered Orlando in full swing: (Check out this awesome article by Sandra Pendicini of the Orlando Sentinel on the Food Truck craze in Orlando here and theDailyCity.com’s Food Truck Guide and Orlando Food Truck Bazaar event on March 29 here)

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More and more gourmet type food trucks are hitting the streets and The Crooked Spoon has answered the call. They are currently located at the Chevron gas station on the corner of Fern Creek and Colonial Drive near Bumby Ave during lunch hours and relocate to the Dr Phillips area for late night festivities. The Crooked Spoon is headed by Chef Steve, who has worked at Tavern on the Green in New York City, K Restaurant and Wine Bar and Citrus in Orlando in the past along with Allie, the very sweet pastry /sous chef who also happens to bake the cookies for The Crooked Spoon.

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Tools of the Trade at the Crooked Spoon

My friend and I ordered the Crooked Spoon Burger and the Mac N Cheese to share. We also got the potato salad and apple-papaya sauce for sides. The Crooked Spoon Burger ($8) is a meaty Angus beef burger with soft buns made locally from the Olde Hearth Bakery topped with a chipotle aioli sauce, sweet caramelized onions, swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato. It definitely ranks up high as one of the best burgers in Orlando at this point in time.

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The Crooked Spoon Burger $8
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Potato Salad!

My favorite however was the Mac N Cheese ($8) from The Crooked Spoon, made with a 6 cheese blend, roasted red and yellow peppers, bacon, and toasted bread crumbs. The decadent serving was enough to fill up two people and luckily I had my friend with me to share this heavenly, cheesy, mac-y delicious creation with, otherwise it would most definitely have ended up all in my tummy. Magnificent.

 

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The Crooked Spoon’s Mac N Cheese!

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The Crooked Spoon’s Mac N CHEESE!
The other items for lunch at The Crooked Spoon include Fish Tacos, Bistro Ham, Rustic Garden Salad, Mediterranean Chicken Salad, and Cranberry Turkey. They change their menus often so check back (sometimes they have a pork quesadilla on the menu!). Most of the items run around $8 and a combo with a drink and a side for $2 more. I will definitely be back to check out more items from the Crooked Spoon!

Some tips:

They accept both cash and credit. You might want to bring a chair or table with you as there is no seating (i used the trunk of my car to set everything for eating lol)

To find out about where they are throughout the day, like them on facebook at facebook.com/thecrookedspoon or follow them on twitter at twitter.com/thecrookedspn

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The Crooked Spoon food truck…its awesome.

The Crooked Spoon on Urbanspoon

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When searching for the best burger in Orlando, a few names pop up over and over again. The eclectic Hamburger Mary’s is one of those places renown for their awesome hamburgers. Located off of Church Street in Downtown Orlando and only a few blocks away from the new Amway Center, Hamburger Mary is a hamburger haven for those working downtown and looking for a good place for lunch.

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The inside of Hamburger Mary’s is colored with purples and golds, kind of like visiting your weird aunt’s living room, complete with soft purple carpeting on the floor. They also host drag shows here with celebrity female impersonators (check show times by calling in).

On my visit, I ordered the “Blue Boy Burger”, a burger made with bleu cheese, topped with bacon and blue cheese dressing. The burger was juicy and large, and pretty much delicious. The buns were okay, could have been better.

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The only issue I have is that it costs about $10 to park downtown which is pretty much the same price as the burger I had for lunch. The parking prices are ridiculous! How’s a guy to eat when it costs more to park? GRRR !!

lol well anyways here are some shots of the burgers from Hamburger Mary!


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The Blue Boy Burger at Hamburger Mary
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The Pilgrim Burger – Holiday special

Hamburger Mary's Bar & Grille on Urbanspoon

 

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