I-Drive

0 1063

Five Star New Year’s Eve marks its fourth year with the launch of its signature all-white-and-gold-themed celebration in Orlando’s I-Drive 360. The Miami acclaimed fête has been hosted and attended in Miami by actor Ryan PhillippeDJ Robin Schulz, Brazilian actor Macos Mion, soccer star Ronaldo “The Phenomenon” Nazario de Lima and renowned Brazilian actress Isabeli Fontana, to name a few.

fivestar2

Mirroring its Miami counterpart, Orlando’s party features an opulent celebration including exclusive access to full-service bar with premium libations, food all night long including dishes like Poached Lobster with Gruyere Cheese FondueBraised Pork with Lentils and KaleChimichurri Rubbed Beef TenderloinCrème Brûlée, and Chocolate Covered Strawberries, to name a very few, a boutique and styling suite, a private cigar room, sounds by live on-site DJs, recreational activities, and service from on-site concierge.

five-star_people

Admission packages to the event will start with General Admission ranging between $290 and $390, which features a full-service open bar with beverages, beer, vodka, whisky and prosecco. The Table Top package is priced at $4,000 granting guests a reserved bar space for six guests and access to the full-service open bar through the night. The VIP Table experience priced at $9,900 offers an exclusive VIP entrance, full-service open bar with beverages, beer, vodka, whisky and champagne, as well as dinner and breakfast for 10 people. The Gold Lounge package, which accommodates 16 people, is priced at $20,000 and features a VIP separate entrance, full-service open bar with beverages, beer, vodka, whisky and champagne, exclusive dinner and breakfast, a dedicated butler service, and private transportation for the entire party.

Valet parking is available, but Ubering is recommended.

Tickets available at: http://fivestarnye.com/

We can’t wait to see you at the event!

Photos are provided by Five Star New Year’s Eve.

About Concept ID:

Concept ID is a marketing and communications agency with clients like 1 Hotel & Homes, In List, Casa Cor, Hooch App and experience in events like Kevin Hart’s Heartbeat Weekend, Oculto, and Five Stars New Year’s Eve. Their unique solutions in the Miami/US market have made them successful in their creation, production and project management of accounts in entertainment and sports. For more information on Concept ID, visit www.conceptid.us or call 786-768 -2447. For additional details on Five Star New Year’s Eve, visit www.fivestarnye.com  or call 786.768.2447.

Churro Bread Pudding by Tapa Toro

Hi, food friends! Did you know that in August 2016, 7.1 trillion gallons of water fell during the Louisiana floods? Lives were lost, and more 140,000 homes were destroyed. I was deeply impacted and decided to create Good Through Food, a new Orlando-based organization that strives to make lives better through food-related efforts. This past Monday, we launched the first initiative to help called Project 001. Louisiana, which includes local restaurants creating and selling Louisiana-inspired dishes and desserts to help raise funds for those in need.

From October 24  through October 31, local restaurants are selling a Louisiana-inspired dish to help raise funds for the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, a Louisiana-based charity that seeks to assist South Louisiana residents, which make up the majority of the 30,000 people that were displaced from their homes because of the floods, only to return to neighborhoods they couldn’t recognize. Chefs and restaurants will donate 25, 50 or 100 percent of proceeds to the charity.

5 Participating Restaurants: (Eat one dish or eat them all to give back):

I-Drive

1. Tapa Toro: Churro Bread Pudding

2. Taverna Opa: Loukomades (Greek Beignets) — check out how to make them here!

Audubon District

3. P is for Pie: P is for Pecan Caramel Hand Pie + Coffee

Historic Longwood 

4. Collette’s Clean Eats: Shrimp, Blue Crab & Turkey Sausage Gumbo with Organic Brown Rice

Mills 50 District 

5. Black Rooster Taqueria: NOLA Pork Belly Taco

Please share your dishes on Instagram using the hashtag #GoodThroughFood. For more information, visit GoodThroughFood.com. Restaurants can still sign up, so spread the word.

Connect on social media on Facebook and Instagram. Check out the video below to learn more.

Thank you so very much for your support, it means everything!

Let’s do good together…

Snack on,
Chauniqua Major, but we’re friends so call me Major!

https://youtube.com/watch?v=kqslsT7W4IQ%3Frel%3D0%2520frameborder%3D0%2520allowfullscreen

Shareable Images for Social:do-good eat-and-give join-us lets-do-good

 

0 1075

Tommy Bahama, known for it’s beach chic apparel, also serves guests at several successful restaurants. The brand’s Island Time Happy Hour welcomes guests to a tropical theme that matches the new wave of culinary restaurants that are appearing on the recently renovated International Drive. We were recently invited to attend a media tasting to showcase their new menu!

FullSizeRender(1)

Executive Chef Matthew Oakley showcases Tommy Bahama’s new spring influenced happy hour menu items. Fried Green Tomatoes is the outstanding dish among the appetizers. The refreshing Grapefruit and Jicama Salad is a great choice for lighter spring time fare.

Of the entrees, the Pan Seared Whole Branzino is the favorite. The boldness to serve whole fish at a more mainstream establishment is to be applauded. It is prepared with the right combination of herbs and grilled citrus.

Chef Matthew prepares a personal dessert creation, which is now on the menu of all Tommy Bahama’s Restaurants. The Brown Butter Blondie sets itself apart by not following other chocolate based desserts. The incorporation of Hawaiian Sea Salt adds a special element of enhancement for the classic Blondie flavor.

The Pineapple Paradiso is the favorite of the two newly minted cocktails. General Manager Nancy Lingo recommends some of the more classic cocktails including the Cloudy Coconut, a dessert unto itself, as well as Tommy Bahama’s classic Mai Tai, which paired well with all the dishes sampled.

Ever in need of a happy hour that not only serves good food, but also provides great cocktails and outstanding service? Tommy Bahama’s is hard to beat.

Special Thanks to: Executive Chef Matthew Oakley, General Manager Auruto Coronel, General Manager: Nancy Lingo, and our Server Jessica.

Appetizers

FullSizeRender_3(1) Fried Green Tomatoes with a Plantain Crust, Jalapeno Cilantro Aioli, and Charred Corn Salsa

FullSizeRender_4 Filet Mignon Flatbread with Bacon, Garlic Aioli, Honey Roasted Onions, Gruyere, and Crispy Shitakes Mushrooms

FullSizeRender_2(1)Salad Grapefruit & Jicama Salad with Baby Greens, Red Cabbage, Macadamia Nuts, and Mojito Vinaigrette

Entrees
FullSizeRender_1Pan Seared Whole Branzino with Jiacama Hash and Jalapeno Brown Butter

FullSizeRender_2Roasted Prawn Papperdelle Pasta with Lemon Parmesan Broth, Citrus Gremolata, and Fresh Herbs

Dessert
FullSizeRender_3Brown Butter Blondie with Toasted Macadamia Nuts, White Chocolate Mousse, Hawaiian Sea Salt Caramel, and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Fresh Cocktails (L to R:  Mai Thai, Hibiscus Lime Cooler, Pineapple Paradiso; Cococut Cloud in second row.)
FullSizeRender_1(1)Pineapple Paradisio: Bacardi Pineapple, St-Germain Elderflower, Creme de Banana, Scratch Sour, and Fresh Pineapple

Hibiscus Lime Cooler: Ketel One, Cointreau, Pineapple, Hibiscus Syrup, and Lime

0 1970

Offering prime steak, fresh seafood and top of the line hospitality, Del Frisco’s Orlando is an exceptional steakhouse, and one of the newest additions to the restaurants on International Drive.

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House features an impressive, diverse wine list of more than 1,200 labels,  including a number of notable verticals from both old and new world producers.

With two floors that include two bars, four private dining rooms and a picturesque patio, Del Frisco’s Orlando boasts over 400 seats.

The restaurant’s price point is closer to probably better for those with an expense account or for a special occasion, but the dishes from the succulent lobster tails and lobster mac and cheese  to the juicy ribeye steaks. Leave room for dessert – the crispy on the caramelized outside, pillowy soft on the inside butter cake with butter pecan ice cream is really one of the best desserts in Orlando.

SONY DSC

Executive Chef Greg Thompson spoke with us recently about Del Frisco’s and his background in cooking.

He tells us, “Del Frisco’s commitment to quality, in everything we do makes us stand apart. From the staff to the ingredients and the restaurant standards we hold, we embrace this commitment to quality each day.”

What are some of the most popular items at Del Frisco’s here in Orlando?
The Crab Cake, for sure. It’s one of the best I’ve ever had! Also, of course the Bone In Filet!

How did you get your start in cooking? Where were you before Del Frisco’s?
I love to eat! I was always fascinated by the metamorphosis of ingredients into magnificent food; almost like alchemy. I am a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, and I worked in NYC for a long time before a stint in Charlotte, NC (both are great food towns). I have traveled around the world opening up steakhouses in locales like Beijing, Shanghai, and Mexico City as well as the lower 48 states and Canada.

What is your favorite childhood food to eat?
Ice cream! It’s still my favorite food, to this day.

If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your life from Del Frisco’s – what would that one thing be?
Definitely the Butter Cake!

What were some of your favorite eats while traveling the world?
The Chicken Thigh Sliders at Blue Frog in Shanghai, and also anything at Da Dong in Beijing! I also really love Tacos “al pastor” in Mexico City.

What is your favorite thing to eat at home after a long day?
A really good deli sandwich piled high with all the “fixings”

Take an inside look at Del Frisco’s:

Private Rooms available
Private Rooms available

SONY DSC SONY DSC

House baked bread
House baked bread
Classic Caeser Salad  - $9.5
Classic Caeser Salad – $9.5
Crab Cake with Cajun Lobster Sauce - $19
Crab Cake with Cajun Lobster Sauce – $19
Thick Cut Bacon Au Poivre Bourbon Molasses Glaze - $14.5
Thick Cut Bacon Au Poivre
Bourbon Molasses Glaze – $14.5

SONY DSC

Broiled Lobster Tail Carved tableside & served with drawn butter & lemon.
Broiled Lobster Tail
Carved tableside & served with drawn butter & lemon.
Bone-In Prime Ribeye 22 oz. - $59
Bone-In Prime Ribeye 22 oz. – $59

SONY DSC

Seared Chilean Sea Bass Crab Fried Rice & Black Bean Garlic Sauce - $44
Seared Chilean Sea Bass
Crab Fried Rice & Black Bean Garlic Sauce – $44
Lobster Macaroni & Cheese - $16.5
Lobster Macaroni & Cheese – $16.5
Buttercake Butter Pecan Ice Cream, Fresh Whipped Cream & Caramel Sauce - $12
Buttercake
Butter Pecan Ice Cream, Fresh Whipped Cream & Caramel Sauce – $12

Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

DSC_0117

My sweet tooth was satisfied at Sugar Factory’s media event last Thursday. Sugar Factory is located right next to the Orlando Eye on International Drive. One side is a candy store and the other side has a bar and seating area. I heard of Sugar Factory just this year while researching places to visit in Chicago a few months back. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to stop by during my trip so as you can imagine, I was ecstatic when I found out Sugar Factory was coming to Orlando, Florida. I got to taste popular drinks, milkshakes, food, $99 ice-cream, and took a bag full of candy home. Extra bonus for parents – these drinks featured here all come virgin for the kiddos!

DSC_0001

DSC_0004

DSC_0003

 

DSC_0006

Started it off with the Ocean Blue. Hpnotiq cocktail featuring gummy sharks and dry ice!

DSC_0022

 

Next was the Mai Tai. A Tahitian style drink. Fresh orange and pineapple juices blended with coconut and light rum and then topped with a oat of Dark Myers rum, with dry ice!

DSC_0032

 

My personal favorite is the White Gummy. A fruity cocktail that was so delicious! Comes with dry ice of course!

DSC_0062

 

Lastly, the most visually stunning, Lollipop Passion. A mix of melon, coconut and pineapple. Garnished with lollipops and dry ice!

DSC_0082

Fried Macaroni and Cheese with Tomato Bacon Jam.

DSC_0030

Meatballs with Marinara, Fontina Fondue, and Polenta.

 

DSC_0036

Red Velvet Pancakes

DSC_0076

 

From left to right, Chocolate Milkshake, Birthday Cake Milkshake with a candle, and Berry Milkshake with candies.

DSC_0110

Sugar Factory’s World Famous King Kong Sundae $99. Includes 24 scoops of ice cream, topped with Chocolate and Caramel Sauce, Whipped Cream, Gummy Bears, Waffle Cones, Oreo Crumbles, Brownie Chunks, Chocolate Chips, Bananas, Toasted Marshmallows, Reese’s Pieces, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Giant Lollipops, and sparklers!

DSC_0140

DSC_0151

GTNphotoLogo

Photos taken by Tasty Chomps! author Gina Nguyen
Photographer at GTNphoto
Book your shoot at http://www.gtnphotography.com

0 1973

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.

20150915_191750_HDR
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/

Last Wednesday, we decided to visit Kings Bowl on International Dr. in Orlando, FL. It was a spacious venue with plenty of bowling lanes, pool tables, and bars. What’s more is that they also have a restaurant inside of Kings Bowl. This summer, Kings Bowl decided to add around 14 dishes and 5 drinks to their menu. Fair warning, the lighting wasn’t great for photography so we may not have photos for every dish and drink. Also, many of their 14 dishes are meals split up separately (i.e. a chicken dish may also have the quinoa salad, but the salad is also sold on its own); therefore, grouping will occur in this post.

DSC_0485

The Drunken Bear Martini is a sweet drink that contains raspberry vodka, peach liqueur, sour mix, lime juice, and it is garnished with gummy bears. Along with it is an Orange You Old Fashioned?, which is a bourbon drink with orange liqueur, simple syrup and orange bitters.

DSC_0482

 

 

DSC_0516

The Apple Raisin Chicken Salad and sandwich contains mostly the same ingredients plus or minus the toasted multigrain bread. Instead of bread, the sandwich can be served as a lettuce wrap instead. The salad is very delightful as the mixture of apples, raisins and chicken is always refreshing.

DSC_0512

The Turkey, cranberry and brie sandwich contains toasted multigrain bread that may have a weird smell because the oil it was toasted with was cooked incorrectly. I couldn’t get past the smell to enjoy the sandwich.

DSC_0502

DSC_0508

The chicken wings can be Teri-Dactyl (Spicy BBQ and Teriyaki sauce) or Kings’ Famous Baked Caribbean Jerk wings. I prefer the Caribbean Jerk sauce over the Teri-Dactyl because the latter is very sweet and overpowering. Nevertheless, the wings themselves are very moist and cooked well.

DSC_0501

There wasn’t anything specifically special about the BBQ Pulled Pork Wontons. They were tasty, but oily.

DSC_0528

DSC_0493

The Mango Lime Grilled Chicken Breast is served with a mango salsa, avocado, sour cream, Southwestern quinoa, and steamed broccoli. The Southwestern quinoa can also be ordered as a salad and the only difference is that it includes kale, Feta, carrots, and a cilantro lime vinaigrette. The chicken breast is cooked well and is still juicy on the inside. There isn’t anything really special about the quinoa side or salad.

DSC_0517

 

The Turkey and Hummus Wrap is packed with protein and veggies. It’s a nice item if you’d like a refreshing dish on a hot summer day.

DSC_0519

 

The Ginger Soy Glazed Salmon is a bit dry, but the flavors are delicious. The baby bok toy is extremely salty and the brown rice is ok. However, the glazed baby carrots are delicious and I could eat them all day.

DSC_0529

The marinated artichoke and spinach pizza was interesting and delicious. The downside is how oily the pizza and the crust was.

DSC_0546

This pizza is basically an Americanized taco spread out. Another way of thinking is if Taco Bell made a pizza. My favorite part of this dish is the crust, which is more crunchy as well as still a bit chewy.

The burgers weren’t photographed, but they are essentially the same thing with one or two different items switched around for each burger. The most interesting is the burger that contains peanut butter, bacon, grilled pineapple, and Sriracha. The peanut butter works well with the beef where the bacon adds a salty and savoriness to the burger. The grilled pineapple is new and adds a sweetness to it as well.

DSC_0540

 

The “homemade” health bar cake is served with whipped cream and a rum caramel sauce. The lower portion of the cake is dense and chewy, while the top is creamy and smooth. I prefer the top portion as it isn’t as sweet as the cake portion. Eating it together is the best way even though it is fun to dissect it and take it apart.

Feel free to visit Kings Bowl America – Orlando for more information on their menu and summer bowling deals.

0 1883

Hidden in a rather desolate plaza on Universal Blvd, Japan Food Aki is a good introduction restaurant to Japanese home cooking. They’ve got the sushi rolls and nigiri, as well as the various pork and beef katsu curry dishes popular in Japanese cuisine.

In the 1800s, the Japanese were on their way to modernization and were enamored with the curries brought overseas to them by the Dutch via the Indian colonies. It became a national hit along with the fried pork cutlets (katsu) in the 1900s.

The sushi quality might not be the best in town, but the value is there – especially for happy hour, which lasts from 5:30pm – 6:30pm weekdays with rolls that can be found for $2.50 and nigiri sushi for $1.00 a piece.

It is a good place to start for your exploration and journey into Japanese cuisine.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Click to add a blog post for Japan Food Aki Restaurant on Zomato

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.

DSC_0019

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.

DSC_0023

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.

DSC_0018

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.

DSC_0014

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.

DSC_0024

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.

DSC_0025

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.

DSC_0031

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.

DSC_0033

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.

DSC_0035

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.

DSC_0051

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.

RA Sushi has branched out all over the states. It’s the 1st in Orlando, 4th in Florida and 26th in the United States. The RA Sushi located in Orlando can hold up to 260 guests and provides Happy Hour (4-7pm Mondays-Fridays) throughout the entire restaurant instead of just at the bar like some places.

Although it just opened July 30th in Orlando, They are already dishing out a new menu, in addition to their current offerings that consist of over 100 dishes and 150 drink specialties that are mainstream and originally created at RA Sushi. When I say “mainstream”, they still have an RA twist on them to make you feel like you can’t find anything like it anywhere else.

On September 10, 2014, we were invited to Ra Sushi to preview and experience a number of delicious items ranging from appetizers to desserts.

If you have an allergy, they’ll be sure to keep you from contacting any dish that contains those ingredients (ie, me from eating anything coming into contact with shrimp or items that have touched shrimp).

DSC_1057
To start with, we were served Garlic Edamame, which are steamed soybeans sautéed in a garlic butter and Asian seasoning. Not only were the shelling seasoned, it seems as though the flavors seeped in and also came from the soybeans themselves.

DSC_1066
RA’llipop* is a roll that consisted of raw tuna, salmon, yellowtail, spicy tuna mix, lettuce, asparagus, and cucumber wrapped in lobok. It’s served skewered with a garlic ponzu sauce. The entire roll will melt in your mouth. You’ll only realized that you ate something because of the crunch provided by the vegetables the fish is encased by as well as a hint of spicy from the tuna mix.

DSC_1069
The Viva Las Vegas Roll* is a popular item on the menu. Ingredients: Kani kama crab and cream cheese rolled in rice and seaweed, lightly tempura battered, and topped with spicy tuna, kani kama crab mix and sliced lotus root; finished with a sweet eel sauce and spinach tempura bits. The lotus root has a nice crunch but is dense and had a little heat. The crab and spicy tuna mix is smooth and creamy to provide a contrast to the lotus root. Unfortunately, I was unable to try the roll itself because it contained shrimp, but my colleagues seemed to love it and didn’t leave a single roll on the plates they came on.

DSC_1080
The Yellow Monkey Roll is a vegetarian friendly roll that is nice and tropically refreshing. It is made up of mango, roasted red pepper, marinated artichoke, and cream cheese rolled in rice and seaweed, topped with mango and cashews before drizzled with a kiwi wasabi sauce.

DSC_1082
The Crazy Monkey Roll is one of my favorites and is creamy from the salmon, cream cheese and avocado. The sweet sauce drizzled on top added a nice surprise to the roll itself. This is a little different to the Yellow Monkey Roll because it is made up of smoked salmon, mango and cream cheese topped with avocado, red beet tempura bits and cashews, then drizzled with mango and sweet eel sauces.

DSC_1086
The Lobster Shrimp Roll is another roll I unfortunately could not try, but I visually enjoyed the heart shape roll as it came out. Ingredients: lobster, cucumber and avocado rolled and topped with shrimp; served with an Asian pesto sauce.

DSC_1099
After sushi, we took a break from eating to enjoy Sake Flight 8 that consists of three 2 oz. pours of Kizakura “Pure”, Sho Chiku Bai Nigori “Crème de Sake” and Kizakura “Pure” Stars – range from sweet, dry to sparkling.

DSC_1101
The Tuna2 Salad is a refreshing dish with two types of tuna: ahi and albacore. It was a mixture of different textures ranging from smooth to crunch thanks to the variety of ingredients. Ingredients: seared ahi and albacore tuna drizzled with a garlic ponzu sauce, placed over a bed of mixed greens with sliced avocado, jalapeño, cilantro, fried wontons and cashews; served with an onion soy vinaigrette.

DSC_1106
The first entrée was the Spicy Chicken Teriyaki Udon, which is stir-fried Asian vegetables tossed with chicken and udon noodles in a spicy teriyaki sauce. For you chopstick experts, even you may wish to use a fork for this meal because of how slippery the udon is! The sauce the udon is dressed with isn’t overpowering and adds the right amount of flavor to each noodle and vegetable that will please your palate.

DSC_1109
The Chicken Katsu is usually a favorite for children and adults whether they don’t wish to have any sushi or if they want something Southern, but with an Asian twist. Panko breaded chicken with coleslaw is served with an Asian BBQ dipping sauce. With or without the Asian BBQ sauce, the chicken was marvelous and I’m drooling over the thought at the moment.

DSC_0001
The Bara Chirashi Bowl* is a bowl of rice topped with tuna, salmon, yellowtail, shrimp, avocado, and cucumber with Asian green vegetables dressed with poki sauce. This is like sushi in a bowl that can deliciously fill your stomach so you can continue on with your productive day!

DSC_0005
Last, but not least, the dessert served was Banana Split Maki. It is RA’s version of sushi for dessert that consists of a fried banana maki topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit drizzled with raspberry and chocolate sauces.

*As mentioned on the RA Sushi website, “consuming raw or under cooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish or eggs may increase your risk of food borne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions”.
More dishes and information can be found on www.rasushi.com. You could also join their email list and Get Hooked Up! They’ll give you a $20 RA gift certificate every year during the month of your Half Birthday as well as something special the month of your actual birthday!

Location: 9101 International Drive Suite 1008, Orlando, FL 32819
Hours: 11am-11pm daily with lunch served until 3pm

RA Sushi Bar Restaurant on Urbanspoon

0 1969

Upscale-casual eatery with great food, classic rock music and an endless fleet of tap handles of craft ales and lagers.

Darden Restaurants features some of the most widely recognized brands in full-service dining and will now have all eight restaurant concepts in Orlando. Located on International Drive, Yard House features an eclectic American menu and draught beer offering from a unique beer delivery system.

The extensive menu showcases more than 100 chef driven items with a range of appetizers, salads, pastas, grilled burgers and steaks, street tacos, sandwiches, seafood, and a generous selection of vegetarian dishes. There is also a Kids Klub menu that includes fresh-to-order favorites and a selection of healthy items.

Yard House creates a contemporary yet casual environment that includes elements such as an island bar, exhibition kitchen, colorful abstract artwork, lively music, and flat screen TVs in every direction.

A glass enclosed keg room houses 250 kegs and features 140 craft ales and lager. There is also a unique selection of handcrafted cocktails, chilled martinis, selected wines and sake round-out.

Yard House is now open in Orlando. Yard House is known for great food, classic rock music and a seemingly endless selection of beers on tap including imported, craft and specialty ales and lagers.  Yard House at will open daily at 11 a.m., serving lunch, dinner and late night seven days per week.

Yard House Orlando

8367 International Drive

Orlando, FL 32819

407-351-8220

yardhouse-16
Grilled Sweet Korean Beef BBQ
Marinated boneless short ribs over jasmine or brown rice with green onions, korean vegetable salads
yardhouse-2
Penne with Chicken
Crimini mushrooms, asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes in marsala cream sauce, dusted with parmesan
yardhouse-3
Blue Crab Cake
With mango papaya chutney, passion fruit beurre blanc and tomato oil
yardhouse-6
Seared Ahi Sashimi
Seared rare, lightly blackened served with soy vinaigrette, wasabi and pickled ginger
yardhouse-7
Chicken Garlic Noodles
Finely chopped chicken, asparagus, spinach, shiitake mushrooms, smoked tofu, parmesan & edamame
yardhouse-10
Southern Fried Chicken
Served boneless and skinless over spinach-corn-mashed potatoes and bourbon gravy
yardhouse-17
Summer Salad
Romaine, strawberries, avocado, oranges, candied walnuts, leeks and spiced balsamic vinaigrette
yardhouse-19
Spinach Cheese Dip
Baked with feta, jack, parmesan & cream cheese served with crispy flatbread
yardhouse-28
Chicken Rice Bowl (gardein*)
Bok choy, baby corn, snap peas, carrots, shiitake, celery, peppers & broccoli over jasmine or brown rice

GARDEIN™ is a chicken or beef substitute made from soy, wheat, pea proteins, vegetables and ancient grains.

Yard House offers a variety of menu selections made with gardein™ that do not contain meat, fish, poultry, shellfish or product derived from these sources, but may contain dairy or eggs.

yardhouse-20
Blackened Swordfish
With green cabbage, cilantro, cumin crema, pico de gallo, guacamole & mango papaya chutney
yardhouse-23
Spicy Thai Chicken
Firecracker sauce, mozzarella, macadamia nuts, carrots, green onion & cilantro
yardhouse-24
Boneless Wings

yardhouse-25

yardhouse-13
Black Orchid (Right)

Yard House on Urbanspoon

Olive Garden consists of 800 restaurants inspired by the foods and wines of Italy. They’re known for their warmth and caring family of hosts, waiters and waitresses. On April 9th, I was able to experience their warmth and was treated as family when I paid a visit after hearing rumors of a new menu for 2014.

Although the people of Olive Garden were great, I can’t say the same about all of the new food menu – some were hits, and some were real misses. The lighting was also very dim, which provided a nice relaxing atmosphere to enjoy after a long day of work. However, I have a feeling that the dim lighting was also to conceal how the food was not presentable and didn’t make me say: “YES! I’m excited to try this!”

THE BEST

DSC_0292

The dinner menu features a number of things and started out well with the greatly known breadsticks that were moist, warm and full of flavor!

DSC_0306

Polenta Shrimp alla Greca was nicely presented with a refreshing taste. The shrimp were made just right, but make sure you take the tail off before consuming.

DSC_0314

The Spicy Calabrian Wings were my favorite dish of the evening! It was zesty and just to my liking! I could eat this all day. Note: if you are sensitive to hot and spicy food, you may want to take your time and test one before ordering a large number.

DSC_0318

DSC_0327

The Crispy Risotto Bites consisted of a dense and creamy risotto with bits of mozzarella fried to have a crunchy outer shell to provide a nice contrast to the texture.

DSC_0294

As you enjoy your appetizers, you can get your hands on a Peach Bellini frozen cocktail consisting of a blend of Zonin Prosecco and fresh peaches. This cocktail is nice to have on a hot day and is one of my favorites.

DSC_0303

If you’re not in the mood for a frozen cocktail, maybe you can try a Strawberry-Limoncello Martini. This martini consists of Smirnoff Citrus Vodka, Caravella Limoncello and strawberries. This drink has a strong alcohol taste, but it is minimized a tad with the help of fresh strawberries.

THE REST

DSC_0329

The Antipasti Italian Meats and Cheese had a mixture of vegetables, meats and cheese that is usually served in Italy. From a healthy standpoint, you may pass on this, as the vegetables present won’t provide much nutrition and the deli meat toppers will probably raise your sodium levels and cholesterol. The dish came as seen in the photo and seem as though it was put together in a hurry and cut right out of their individual packaging.

DSC_0334

The Roasted Tomato Caprese is a lighter salad. I like this better than the Antipasti Italian Meats and Cheese. The kale is crunchy, the salad is colorful and the mozzarella bites are a delight. Each vegetable provided a different texture and different taste to your palate. The roasted tomatoes were scarce and those that were found were bitter. The dressing they used for this salad was the same for the other salad; both had Italian dressing.

DSC_0337

Smashed Chicken Meatball Sandwich

DSC_0347

The Smashed Chicken Meatball Sandwich is nicely presented with a side of fries with a garlic seasoning sprinkled on top. The sandwich had fluffy buns that were rich in flavor. The chicken patty itself did not have a texture you’d imagine chicken to have as though it was over-processed and synthetic. The fries were limp and cold to eat.

The “Cucina Mia” section will allow you to create your own entrée out of six different pastas and five different sauces. Although they say the sauces are “made-from-scratch”, they tasted like any other sauce you can buy in your local grocery store at any brand.

DSC_0351

The Large Paccheri with Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato and Chicken Meatballs was bland, had only a hint of sauce and had what it said in the name: a single, small “sun-dried tomato”.

DSC_0352

When taken apart, the meatball doesn’t look appealing; its taste wasn’t pleasant either and reminded me of the texture of cat food. The large paccheri were rolled up tight or suctioned together to one another. The “creamy” sauce noted on the menu description didn’t exist. It was more of a drop of sauce given that didn’t even provide emollient between the paccheri.

DSC_0355

All I have to say about the Vegetable Penne Primavera is that it is very bland, maybe more than Chef Boyardee from the can.

DSC_0362

DSC_0360

The Chicken Abruzzi was nicely presented and can be greatly paired with a Pinot Grigio or any white wine. I like the Pinot Grigio because of how smooth it is and is easy on the taste.

DSC_0364

The Pappardelle Pescatore consisted of fresh seafood and asparagus. Yet, that doesn’t make up for how watery and flavorless the sauce and pappardelle was.

DSC_0369

The Chicken Primavera with Giant Fusilli was overpowered by a heavy hand of basil. Other than that, it did not have much flavor. Although the lightness demonstrates “Leggeri,” which means “lighter Italian fare,” the moist chicken tasted very gelatinous.

DSC_0378

The Wild Berry Layer Cake was very refreshing and moist. I believe the actual cake was soaked into sweet milk and reminded me of the Tres Leches cake that can be traced back to Central America and Mexico. If you have a major sweet tooth, you can try this cake!

DSC_0387

The Caffè Mocha Latte (above) and Caramel Hazelnut Macchiato (not shown) were very watery and did not have very much coffee inside.

DSC_0391

To have any hint of coffee/espresso/caffeine, Lavazza Espresso was added. Each specialty coffee was paired with sweet biscotti that I like with or without the coffee.

All in all, the new menu is a great effort from the Olive Garden, however it falls far short of its goal. The best dish to get would be the spicy calabrian wings.

Olive Garden on Urbanspoon

0 2795

Chuy’s is a Tex-Mex chain restaurant based out of Austin, Texas that recently opened their second location here in town on International Drive near Sand Lake Rd (the first location was in Kissimmee off of US-192). This is one of the first of many other new developments on the I-Drive corridor as part of the I-Shops project.

If you’ve had Tex-Mex in Texas before, you’d know there is nothing else like it in the world – the flavors are intense from the steaks to the peppers and vegetables.

International Drive is a little far away from Texas, but from what I tried recently during their opening events, Chuy’s should be able to do Tex-Mex cuisine proud. Chuy’s Tex-Mex cuisine includes the traditional enchiladas, nachos, quesadillas, and tacos and the price points are all very reasonable with most entrees falling below $15, great for traveling families and even locals. The tortillas are made in house, as can be viewed through a display area where ladies mix dough and flatten them out the way your abuela used to make them.

Kitschy decor and Elvis themes pervade at Chuy’s and in the bar area, nachos are served out of the back of a make shift Chevy. The original owners of Chuy’s first struck popularity after dressing up the original restaurant in Elvis paintings and decor and the theme stuck ever since; there is even a dish called the Elvis Presley Memorial Combination – a fittingly huge dish not for the faint of heart. The Tres Leches cake is a must for dessert – the best I’ve had in Orlando!

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Chuy's is Elvis themed
Chuy’s is Elvis themed
Kitschy decor
Kitschy decor at Chuy’s
Ladies making fresh tortillas by hand
Ladies making fresh tortillas by hand
Queso Compuesto $6.99 - filled to the brim Chile Con Queso topped with a satisfying trio of seasoned ground sirloin, guacamole, and pico de gallo
Queso Compuesto $6.99 – filled to the brim Chile Con Queso topped with a satisfying trio of seasoned ground sirloin, guacamole, and pico de gallo
Our server was fantastic despite the hectic first night
Our server was fantastic despite the hectic first night
Nachos, freshly made, light, thin and crispy - some of the best nachos in Orlando
Nachos, freshly made, light, thin and crispy – some of the best nachos in Orlando
Guacamole $5.99 - fresh, good, but I did not like the lettuce mixed in. Kind of felt like they were cheating.
Guacamole $5.99 – fresh, good, but I did not like the lettuce mixed in. Kind of felt like they were cheating.
Chuy's Chicken Tortilla Soup $4.29 - Light, refreshing chicken broth with  tender, hand-pulled chicken, avocado, roasted  corn, green chiles, tomatoes & cilantro, topped with  cheese and tortilla strips
Chuy’s Chicken Tortilla Soup $4.29 – Light, refreshing chicken broth with
tender, hand-pulled chicken, avocado, roasted
corn, green chiles, tomatoes & cilantro, topped with
cheese and tortilla strips
Taco Salad $8.99 - Homemade tortilla bowl with fresh, mixed salad  greens, tomatoes, cheese, guacamole & your choice  of fajita chicken, fajita beef or seasoned ground sirloin
Taco Salad $8.99 – Homemade tortilla bowl with fresh, mixed salad
greens, tomatoes, cheese, guacamole & your choice
of fajita chicken, fajita beef or seasoned ground sirloin

SONY DSC

Crispy Tacos – $8.29 – Hand-formed corn tortillas filled with seasoned ground sirloin, lettuce, cheese & tomatoes

SONY DSC

Chuy’s Margarita

SONY DSC

The Elvis Presley Memorial Combination $10.99 – Beef Tex-Mex enchilada, cheese Ranchero enchilada, chicken Tomatillo enchilada, a  seasoned ground sirloin crispy taco & homemade tostada chips dipped in chile con queso

SONY DSC

Fried Tortillas Dessert

SONY DSC

Flan

SONY DSC

Tres Leches – the best Tres Leches cake in Orlando

Chuy's on Urbanspoon

1 3419

Hash House A Go Go, an all-day dining spot, opened at 5350 International Drive; Orlando, FL – just a half mile North of Universal Boulevard, serving “twisted farm food” for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner at the restaurant group’s first Southeast location.

 photo DSC00076_zps293c068b.jpg

The restaurant seats 260 guests, including 60 seats at the bar.

Hash House A Go Go has received national recognition from the likes of The Steve Harvey Show, Martha Stewart, Al Roker, and Adam Richman of the Travel Channel’s “Man Vs. Food.”

 photo DSC00106_zps49934531.jpg

I recently visited for a media dinner, and all I can say is that I wish them the best of luck.

The location has previously been a series of different restaurants without many lasting more than a few years.

As one of the few if only places for “breakfast” on International Drive, it is a unique restaurant with uniquely huge portions of food. I would imagine it would be a good place for groups to get together for something “fun” or different to try or maybe have a nice laugh about when the food arrives.

The decor is a bit dark inside when I would have imagined something brighter to signal the morning day or something.

 photo DSC00077_zps56797861.jpg

The food…though admired by Adam Richman and Martha Stewart…was not particularly memorable besides the huge portions. It was gluttony defined…huge portions for a good price.

I suppose it is true what they say as quantities increase, quality often is compromised. The items I tasted were in need of some flavor and taste, and I hope the chef remedies this before it is too late.

 photo DSC00082_zpsdd8f3da6.jpg

Johnny’s Famous BLT Mary trimmed with a fresh tomato wheel, smoked bacon slice, a rib of romaine lettuce, and toast.

 photo DSC00086_zps0efad9c9.jpg

Honey biscuits – huge, and a bit dry

 photo DSC00091_zpsa1175cc3.jpg

Chorizo House Hash tossed with crispy potatoes & topped w/ 2 eggs, served with fruit and biscuit

Brunch

 photo DSC00096_zps861d2975.jpg

Crispy Hand-Hammered Pork Tenderloin Benedict
with market tomato, spinach, and barbecue cream, topped with scrambled eggs

Dinner

 photo DSC00100_zpsb63bb33f.jpg

Sage Fried Chicken and Waffles
two sage fried chicken breasts with a hardwood smoked bacon waffle tower, hot maple reduction and fried leaks

 photo DSC00103_zpsc494bf97.jpg

Hash House A Go Go on Urbanspoon

0 2134

 photo DSC09552_zpsc233e707.jpg

Strange name, BBQ Tonight.

I would expect there would be some braised beef, barbecue ribs, pulled pork, with a side of cornbread on its menu.

Nope, this is an Indo-Pakistani and Halal Chinese restaurant, serving up a different type of cue. The barbecue menu here refers to the flame grilled items like lamb kebabs, tandoori chicken, and other Indo-Pakistani style grilled meat platters.

In regards to the Chinese menu, I suppose there is Chinese food in every culture, each taking cues from local ingredients wherever the people may land. Peruvian Chinese food taking up potatos to make lomo saltado, American Chinese food taking up sugar and fried dough to make General Tso’s Chicken. For Indian Chinese food, I think the sweet and sour flavor is prominent in their dishes with many of the main vegetable ingredients accentuated, much like Gobi Manchurian consisting of deep fried cauliflower. I did not see the gobi manchurian on the menu, but I did see the chicken lolipop, a popular Indian Chinese dish made with fried chicken wings.

A family owned business located in the International Festival Plaza at the corner of International Drive and Kirkman Road, the restaurant is a bit hidden out of the way and hard to get to, especially sitting at the epicenter of the maddening traffic of I-Drive.

The decor was a bit forgettable – though it was very clean, the generic flooring and fluorescent lighting just was very humdrum.

The food likewise, was good, nothing to really complain about but overall nothing stood out.

 photo DSC09554_zps47aa0db4.jpg

For lunch there is a buffet option for $9.95, consisting of a various Indian/Pakistani dishes like tandoori chicken, eggplant, biryani, and some typical fast food Chinese dishes like lo mein and stir fried beef. The meal comes with naan and rice to enjoy with. The tandoori chicken was very good, cooked fresh and moist, and overall very enjoyable as was the spicy lamb curry dish that they had that day.

My partner ordered the chicken tikka masala, which was delicious and filling, much larger than other places which is a positive. It is a great value for the price and was enjoyed the next day as well for lunch at home.

Service, though intermittent, was fair. The server came by once or twice to check on us but other than that it was a pretty bare bones experience at this restaurant. I would probably return to try more dishes.

 photo DSC09555_zps18fa40d5.jpg

 photo DSC09558_zpsc2a0b7c9.jpg

Chicken tandoori

 photo DSC09560_zpsa6ad61a8.jpg

 photo DSC09561_zpsdb55c4ea.jpg

Naan

 photo DSC09563_zpsd63731e4.jpg

Chicken Tikka Masala – pretty good though oily. Seems like Pakistani style chicken tikka masala is oily

 photo DSC09564_zpsf625efba.jpg

Garlic Naan

 photo DSC09557_zps798c9593.jpg

Biryani rice with chicken

 photo DSC09565_zps6f0a2184.jpg

BBQ Tonight on Urbanspoon

0 1872

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

I had always thought it was a bit odd for a restaurant named after the famous wine country in California to be specializing in “local, fresh” Florida dishes, but Napa, located inside the Peabody Hotel next to the Orange County Convention Center, brings not only an extensive wine list but also the sustainable farm-to-fork cuisine first popularized by the Napa Valley region.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Napa brings the local, organic, sustainable movement to Florida with dishes like steamed Cape Canaveral Clams in an Orlando Brewing Red Ale broth, whole fried Yellowtail Snapper with escabeche rice and fried plantains, and Florida Heritage chicken confit quesadillas.

The restaurant itself is very modern, with a beautiful bar area and earth toned fittings, and wine bottles lined up along the walls and around the restaurant. I recently visited Napa to take advantage of the Visit Orlando Magical Dining Month specials. The prices here typically are on the level of fine dining, but the Magical Dining special this September enables locals to try the restaurant out and experience three courses with the high quality of food for a very reasonable price point of $30.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

For appetizer, I ordered a very fresh, very delicious orange braised Heart of Christmas beet salad, made with arugula, Winter Park bleu cheese, candied pecans, and balsamic orange beet vinaigrette, featuring local vegetables from Heart of Christmas farms. The little orange pieces just bursted with flavors, and everything was very tasty, as if they were picked off the farm just this morning. If only the produce at local supermarkets tasted the same I think we would have a much easier time eating our veggies. My partner chose the tangy, tart Fire roasted Waterkist Farm Heirloom Tomato soup, made with tomatoes from local Waterkist Farms of Winter Park, and a dollop of basil creme fraiche.

For entree, I chose the Meyer Ranch Natural Beef Filet (typically $42 alone on the regular menu), a hearty piece of filet mignon steak, seared to perfection and the exactly requested medium rare, served with fingerling potatoes, fall vegetable hash in a salty red wine reduction. The beef filet was very filling and savory, and the accompaniments tasted great as well. My partner chose the Cioppino, a southern twist on the California favorite, composed of a spicy stew of mussels, calamari, lump crab, rock shrimp, mahi mahi, fennel, leeks, spicy tomato broth, and paprika rouille.

For the dessert, I chose the Amaretto Dark Chocolate Bar, a creamy, sticky, decadent, yet surprisingly light chocolate dessert served with a side of cafe latte gelato and topped with caramelized popcorn. This is probably one of my favorite desserts of all time after this experience. My partner chose the likewise delicious rustic apple tart, served with vanilla ice cream and roasted pecan.

Service here was good, but not the greatest, and certainly not what I expected from a fine dining restaurant. Our server was friendly, but disappeared for rather long lengths of time. I noticed that it may have been due to a staff shortage, as there were several other parties around us that were waiting for service as well.

Overall, I thought Napa at The Peabody Hotel executes the philosophy of Napa Valley, of local, fresh, and sustainable fare whenever possible with great flair and is definitely worth a try, especially if you love fresh, delicious tasting food.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

FIRE ROASTED WATERKIST FARM HEIRLOOM TOMATO SOUP
Blistered tomatoes, basil crème fraiche, napa extra virgin olive oil

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

ORANGE BRAISED HEART OF CHRISTMAS BEET SALAD
Arugula, winter park blue cheese, fiery candied pecans, balsamic orange beet vinaigrette

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

CIOPPINO
Mussels, calamari, lump crab, rock shrimp, mahi mahi, fennel, leeks, spicy tomato broth, paprika rouille

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

MEYER RANCH NATURAL BEEF FILET
Fingerling potato and fall vegetable hash, red wine reduction

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

AMARETTO DARK CHOCOLATE BAR
Café latte gelato and caramelized pop corn

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

RUSTIC APPLE TART
Burnt vanilla ice cream, roasted pecan

Napa at The Peabody on Urbanspoon

2 1624
Photobucket

Kona Dog (formerly Hula Dog) is a new place that opened up recently on International Drive (Orlando’s tourist district) where business is booming. With quite a few places closing in the past few years on International Drive (an empty and and abandoned Bennigan’s restaurant sits just next door from Kona Dog), it is refreshing to see new restaurants opening up and becoming successful and flourishing because people love what they have to offer.

What Kona Dog has to offer is something new and unique to our area, and according to the Kona Dog manager, the first one of its kind to open in the continental United States. Kona Dog is a tiny shack that serves up big hot dogs made hawaiian style: they serve their Boar’s Head hot dogs with home made hawaiian bread and sweet and spicy sauces made right on the premises.

For $6.95, you can get a Kahuna combo which comes with hot dog, chips and a drink. First you pick a “dog” with choices ranging from the traditional all beef hot dog, a spicy sausage dog, or a veggie dog made with soy. Then you pick a “Hula Sauce” from the original “garlic lemon”, spicy jalapeno, or hot chili pepper to go with the dog. Then you pick a fruit sauce from coconut, pineapple, mango,and banana. And then finally a “mustard” from pineapple, mango, spicy brown, or yellow mustard.

I chose the spicy jalapeno all beef hot dog with pineapple fruit sauce and mango mustard. The hot dog actually was quite huge. I would say it was at least a foot long hawaiian roll that it was served in. The hawaiian roll was very unique, a sweet, fluffy and filling bread that they insert the dogs in. The hot dog and sauces, though subtle, provided quite a fun and sweet flavor. I would definitely come back and get some more dogs from this small and humble shack.

For more info, visit
http://thehuladog.com/
Address: 6312 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819


Kona Dog on Urbanspoon


Photobucket

Find Kona Dog on International Drive right by the Congo River mini Golf park!

Photobucket

The Manager is a friendly guy at Kona Dog

Photobucket

The Menu at Kona Dog, its on a surfboard!

Photobucket

om nom nom 

Photobucket


3 3230

Hanamizuki Japanese Restaurant – International Drive – Orlando

Journey down to the land of tourists and conventioneers to discover the hidden culinary delights of authentic Japan. Central Florida may be abound with “modern” Japanese restaurants suited and updated for the American palate, but I find quiet comfort in the nostalgic, down-home style feeling of Hanamizuki, a restaurant renown for its Kyoto-style cuisine and some of the freshest sushi this side of the Pacific.

Located off of International Drive just south of Sand Lake Road, Hanamizuki sits in an old plaza neighboring the Sleuth Mystery Dinner Show of Orlando and The Crab House. Its odd to find this gem juxtaposed next to a cheesy dinner show and overpriced chains that abound along I-drive.

On my first of many visits, I am joined with my old friend Cuong. We are sat by Yoko, a charming and friendly waitress who has grown kinder with the years, with a certain wit to her as well. She’s probably one of my favorite waitresses there at Hanamizuki but they all provide great service. Looking around, we notice that we are the only non-Japanese customers in the place, a fortuitous omen for the restaurant.

The decor of Hanimizuki is simple: shades of light green walls framed by terraced roofs, silhouetting an image of a Japanese temple. With the sounds of the shamisen playing in the background, the ambiance is serene and tranquil. A perfect place to go for a meal with a friend and chat away the afternoon.

What sets Hanamizuki apart from the rest is its authentic Japanese cuisine. The chef at Hanamizuki prides himself on the quality and taste of his offerings from the fresh sashimi to the delicious noodle bowls and more.

At Hanamizuki and most other restaurants in Japan there are hardly any “special” rolls, despite what we may be led to believe with the confluence of super-crunchy-crazy-ninja-bonsai-sushi-rolls drenched in mayo and drizzled with sweet syrups or other crazy toppings stateside. The maki (rolls) at hanamizuki are simple and fresh, a taste of the divine.

We begin with one of the few special rolls at Hanamizuki, “The Hanamizuki Roll” is a roll made with cooked salmon, eel, egg and flying fish roe topped with baked sesame seeds. The roll is one of the best I have ever tasted despite being simple and devoid of any special spicy mayo volcano sauces. It is indeed a remarkable roll.


The Hanamizuki Roll

Noodles! on their Lunch Menu

I also order the Shio Butter Ramen ($7.50) and if there are any better ramen bowls found in Orlando I have yet to find it. Get out of your mind the prejudices of those 29cent instant nissen ramen noodles that fed you through college, this ramen is the real thing the imitation could never hold a light to. The broth is deeply flavorful with the taste of butter and salt, the noodles are made fresh and tasty. The boiled egg, the bamboo shoots, chashu pork slices, scallions and everything else melt together in a sea of deliciousness. I could come back again and again just for this dish. (And I do just that over the past few weeks…)


Shio butter Ramen

In addition to the shio butter ramen, we ordered a half order of their fried rice. Fried rice is a very simple dish and is often preconceived as greasy and all in all just ok. The fried rice at Hanamizuki however, to phrase a friend, is like crack. The rice is fresh, cooked with slivers of scallions and eggs and topped with slices of red ginger, and is among the best fried rice dishes I have ever tasted in my life. Its important to note though that the ramen and the fried rice is offered only during lunch time which ends at 2PM daily.


The Fried rice at Hanamizuki
(my anti-drug)

Fried Rice at Hanamizuki

According to the book “Art of Sushi”, hundreds of years ago ramen and other noodle shops were popular for lunch and dinner in Japan. However a huge fire that burnt down half the capital started by the noodle shops’ hot stoves caused the government to put a ban to selling these noodle soups during dinner. This event catapulted the little street food that didn’t need any fire to popularity: sushi.


Tuna Don bowl!

Alaska Roll at Hanamizuki

Alaska Roll

Sushi at Hanamizuki!

Delicious Sushi at Hanamizuki

 

On a separate trip to Hanamizuki, I was also able to sample some of my partner’s nabeyaki udon noodle soup and I must admit again it was the best udon noodle soup I have tasted in Orlando, with a flavorful broth unrivaled by any.


Nabeyaki Udon Noodle Soup at Hanamizuki Orlando!

Nebayaki Udon noodle soup

Yakitori Chicken

Hanamizuki’s Fried Chicken

Gyoza Dumplings

Onigiri Rice balls

Shoyu Ramen (soy sauce based)

 

Its the simplest things that are the hardest to do well. Simplicity and perfection. Nirvana is found in every bite here at Hanamizuki. Itadakimasu!

Tasty Chomps Rating!!!
5 out of 5 Tasty Chomps

bye bye mr doggieHanamizuki
www.hanamizuki.us
8255 International Dr # 136
Orlando, FL 32819-9350
(407) 363-7200

Hanamizuki Japanese on Urbanspoon

Chef's Spotlight

0 328
“The world of sweets is for everybody. No matter your taste, you can always find something on the dessert menu that will make you...

Featured Articles

0 342
Hurricane Irma Information In times of disaster, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and its network of 550 nonprofit feeding partners represent a vital...