Sandwiches

Plant Street Food Tour Owners & Experience Guides, Matt Kent & Alyssa Hostetler are all smiles at The Whole Enchilada’s one-of-a-kind rooftop bar.

Launched in August, Plant Street Food Tour is a new walking food tour owned by Matt Kent & Alyssa Hostetler, a Winter Garden couple who are passionate about showing off the culinary scene on Plant Street in Historic Winter Garden.  They have hired their friends as Experience Guides, all of whom are foodies and entertainment professionals from the theme park and theater market in Orlando!  The food tour lasts from 90 mins to 2 hours and consists of taking a brisk walk down historic Plant Street with many tasty stops along the way, sampling delicious food and drinks from a variety of restaurants while learning some surprising history about downtown Winter Garden and their many small businesses.

Plant Street Food Tour offers 5 different food tours: Mornin’ Sunshine Brunch Tour, The Flavorhood Tour (the tour that I got to experience), Booze & Brews, A Sweet Treat, Date Night, or you can customize your food tour to your specific tastes and group size, making it perfect for any special occasion.

Prices start at $30 per person, but you can save $5 on any tour by using promo code CHOMP5 at checkout on plantstreetfoodtours.com

We began our tour by meeting at the Citrus Fountain on the intersection of South Boyd St and Plant Street.  Fun fact:  The spot where the Citrus Fountain is located was once a railroad track used to ship oranges.

First stop: Chef’s Table at the historic Edgewater Hotel

Duck fat fries with aioli from Chef’s Table was the first dish on our food tour.  I could not stop eating them, they were seriously addicting!  I wanted to eat all of it in one sitting but Matt let know me to save room for the other culinary delights that were remaining on our food tour so I took a few bites and packed the rest of the fries in a to-go box.  I am glad that Matt warned me because I was full by the end of our 2 hour food tour.

Everything is made from scratch at Chef’s Table.  Pictured: Mini beef wellington.

After dinner, we got to meet the manager at Chef’s Table, Matt Womick.

The cuban sandwich from Savoree were sooo good!  It was the best cuban sandwich that I’ve ever had!

The pastry selection at Axum Coffee.

Snickers iced coffee from Axum Coffee, it was good.  This coffee shop gives away all of their profits to a variety of charities.

Hasselhoff tacos and skrimp tacos (yum!) from The Whole Enchilada.  I loved the ambiance of their rooftop bar, I would have not known about this rooftop bar had it not been for the food tour.  I am so grateful and I am excited to share this restaurant with my friends.

Pastries at Rosallie Le French Cafe

Pistachio gelato

Plant Street Food Tour makes exploring Winter Garden’s historic downtown area cool, fun, and tasty!  For more information, visit plantstreetfoodtours.com

Roque Pub is a fun and local spot where you can stop by and meet your friends for a drink or enjoy a meal throughout the day. We were invited to taste a few dishes and drinks offered. With drinks, there are over 450 different beers and 20 different wines. I was happy to see that they had one of my all time favorites – KilKenny Irish Red Nitro!

Chef Eva likes to add zest to her dishes and create beauty in her masterpieces. From time to time, she’ll create a new flavor or item for the menu. You can try any of these if you ask what the Chef’s specialty is for the day you visit.

We started with the Spinach & Artichoke Dip. It consists of spinach, artichokes and a blend of jarlsberg, asiago, mozzarella, parmesan, and cream cheese/served with tortilla chips. The dip is delightful and requested by all. It is nice and creamy from all the cream cheese added.

The Silo was suggested by Chef Eva as guests tend to order. Chef Eva also mentioned how she has a lot of fun making this dish. It consists of roast beef, jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, and garlic aioli sauce on a toasted ciabatta roll. The ingredients used are very fresh and you taste it with each bite. The flavors are very subtle and I would like it to be equally spread out for each bite.

Wings are a staple at any bar that serves food. This dish is 10 savory wings tossed in your choice of one our signature hot, teriyaki or dry rub wing sauces. Served with a side of celery and your choice of ranch or bleu cheese.

The wings we tried had a special sauce Chef Eva created with apricots, chili and ginger. It has a brilliant mix of sweet and spicy. The wings are steamed as the first step of cooking these.

The Publican is a Philly Steak flatbread with jack cheese, cream cheese, green peppers, onions, and Italian seasoning. It is a great drunk food and wouldn’t mind ordering a few for myself and my friends after a few drinks. The cheeses on the flatbread are very fresh and flavorful; the cheese has to be my favorite part.

Chef Eva has a limited amount of space and supplies in the kitchen, which gives her more credit to her creations due to the steps she takes to make the dishes. For instance, her creative flavors she added to the wings for this visit.

The Roque Pub family is very small but loving towards one another as well as their guests. They host many events for you to discover on their Facebook account, which includes an upcoming beer and wings pairing. For more information, check out their Facebook or website.

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

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

The dining area is modern and spacious.


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

Million Dollar Bloody Mary, Cinnamon Toast Coconut Milk

Pomegranate Sunrise, Morning Glory, Vodka Kale Tonic

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

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

Roast Beef & Havarti Sandwich

Housemade Granola


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

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

(Source credit: First Watch)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Side of fried okra.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recognized as the region’s premier food and wine pairing event, the 26th Heart of Florida United Way Chef’s Gala at Walt Disney World Resort featured unlimited sampling of signature dishes prepared by 23 of Central Florida’s top chefs, along with thoughtfully paired fine wines.  The evening also included a sparking wine reception, live music and a silent auction filled with unique items and trips. 

This year they served over 460,000 individuals and raised a record-breaking $300,000+ towards the fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Central Florida.  95 cents of every dollar raised is invested back into the community to fund critical programs.

Chef’s Gala – what a tasteful way to make a difference in the world!

All beverages were generously donated.

All silent auction items were generously donated.

Live performance by an amazing band

Flying Fish – Disney’s BoardWalk: Chef LT Majoras
Cool Water Lobster and Slow Poached Shrimp, Spring Melon, Hearts of Palm, Shaved Serrano and Cava Vinaigrette

SLATE: Chef Jacob Woolf
Smoked Brisket, Jalapeño Creamed Corn, Charred Scallion Vinaigrette and Annatto Oil

Artist Point – Disney’s Wilderness Lodge: Chef Michael Gonsalves
Sweet Maiz Soup – Dungeness Crab, Avocado, Spring Radish, Ramp Mole, Greens

Urban Tide – Hyatt Regency Orlando: Chef Chef Jared Gross
Plantain-Crusted Atlantic Cod, Roasted Red Beet and Crème Fraiche Mash, Kumquat Mostarda

Todd English’s bluezoo – Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort: Chef Jason Wiggin
Crispy Puffed Rice Shrimp, Wasabi Pommes Puree, Sweet Thai Chili

Shutters – Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort: Chef Mark Donovan
Caribbean Goat Curry with Fragrant Island Rice and Cilantro-Lime Crema

Hemisphere – Hyatt Regency Orlando: Chef Jeffrey Powell
Chilled California-Style White Fish Ceviche with House Fried Corn Chips

Ale & Compass Restaurant – Disney’s  Beach Club Resort: Chef David Hutnick
Slow Smoked Pork Tenderloin, Bacon Jam, Vermont Cheddar Grits, Barbecue Gastrique and Herb Salad

The Turf Club Bar and Grill – Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa: Chef Dan Marozzi
Pan Seared Salmon Slider – Seared Ora King Salmon, Horseradish Pickled Cucumber Slaw, on a Dill Gougère

blu on the avenue: Chef Tony Krueger
Hot Smoked Scottish Salmon, Dukkah Drop Biscuit, Bacon, Pickled Serrano, Aged Maple Syrup, Flowers

Morimoto Asia – Disney Springs: Chef Yuhi Fujinaga
Foie “PHO”, Kona Kanpachi, Shiso

Latitude and Longitude – Orlando World Center Marriott: Chef Kyle Anderson
Low-Country Perloo Carolina Gold Rice, Chicken Thighs, Andouille Sausage, Florida Rock Shrimp

The Hollywood Brown Derby – Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Chef Craig Schleider
Spicy Togarashi – Crusted Ahi Tuna, House-Made Kimchi, Bamboo Rice and Ginger-Soy Glaze

STK Orlando – Disney Springs: Chef Aaron Taylor
Goat’s Milk Ricotta with Crushed Peas, Mint and Charred Spring Onion

Jiko – The Cooking Place – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: Chef Eddie Mendoza
Mandazi

Jiko – The Cooking Place – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: Chef Eddie Mendoza
Isitambu – Zulu-Style Samp, Beans with Oxtail and Quail Egg

Tiffins – Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park: Chef Robby Sayles
Blanquette de Veau, Crispy Sweetbreads, Forest Mushroom Ragout and Charred Pearl Onion

Le Cellier Steakhouse – Epcot®: Chef Kevin Downing
Lamb Loin, Confit Marble Potatoes, Spring Vegetable Vinaigrette and Pinot Noir Syrup

Primo by Melissa Kelly – J.W. Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes: Chef Eric Santiago
House-Made Casarecche Pasta, Lake Meadows Duck Confit, Local Mushrooms, Ramp Pesto and Shaved Pecorino

Bull & Bear – Waldorf Astoria Orlando: Chef Richard Brown
Seared Shrimp Scampi with Pinot Grigio Butter, Black Venus Rice Risotto and Parmesan Cheese

Cinderella’s Royal Table – MAGIC KINGDOM Park: Chef Axel Martinez
Blood Orange Braised Beef Short Rib, Melted Leek and Kohlrabi Puree and Sweetie Drop Peppers

Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company: Roast Master Chris DeMezzo
Made-to-Order Specialty Coffees

Amorette’s Patisserie – Disney Springs: Pastry Chef Yoly Lazo Colon
Amorette’s Petite Signature Cake – Chocolate Chiffon, Raspberry Pate Fruit, Red Velvet Cake, Chocolate Biscuit, Dark Chocolate and Cherry Mousse

Gideon’s Bakehouse: Owner Steve Lewis and Chef Nicole Beebe
Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie and Pistachio Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie

Epcot® Bakery Team: Pastry Chef Noah French
Meyer Lemon Tart with Mandarin Orange Jam

Beautiful and breathtaking fireworks are the perfect way to end an amazing night.  Be sure to check out this amazing event next year!

(Source credit: Chef’s Gala)

Chef’s Gala – Epcot Showplace
200 Epcot Center Dr, Orlando, FL 32821
(407) 939-5277
ChefsGala.org

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

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

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

Calamari – zesty marinara sauce and fresh shaved parmesan cheese

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

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

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

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

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts – with salted caramel and raspberry sauce

A variety of gelato.

Billards.

VIP bowling lanes.

Bar area with alcoholic beverage options.

Bowling alley.

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

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

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

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

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

(Source credit: Main Event Entertainment)

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

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The CrepeVine is a new dainty quick eat restaurant that’s located in Altamonte Springs, but to be honest, when I heard of this new restaurant concept I thought it would be located in Thornton Park or Park Ave.

However, I’m glad that something like CrepeVine popped up in Altamonte – it’s refreshing to have more dining options than just the typical Olive Garden and Wing House. 

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetThe interior is modern, but not intimidating.

When you walk towards the back you can see an open kitchen with a glass wall – delightful because as soon as you place your order, you can watch the staff prepare it right in front of you.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetOn a recent media visit, I was able to sample “The Czar”, which was a savory crepe with chicken, fresh romaine lettuce, tomatoes, creamy caesar sauce all wrapped up in thin crispy crepe.  The chicken was definitely the highlight, neither smothered in seasoning nor overcooked.

It was as if I was eating a sub but without the heaviness of the bread, which is always a plus if you are trying to stay away from carbs…. or just don’t like bread.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetI ended the visit on a sweet note with a decadent crepe ” The Gilberto”  – a guilty pleasure with strawberries, bananas, whipped cream and Nutella all wrapped in a soft crepe that’s drizzled in chocolate syrup.

Needless to say this was a classic that could not go wrong with all the right sweetness and tartness from the syrup and the fruits. Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

The Crepe Vine definitely lived up to their slogan to be “Fast, Fresh, and Friendly.” I definitely enjoyed my visit and would definitely come back for a quick bite!

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The Crêpevine on Urbanspoon

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Once upon a time, Halal Philly Cheese Steaks and Gyros occupied the space on the corner of Colonial Drive and Semoran Blvd.

There it was, since 1996, this corner mom and pop type place serving up hot, fresh philly cheese steak sandwiches and gyros.

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Then in 2012, the shop moved to this location on East Colonial near Goldenrod Road. This was because of the new overpass interchange built in that location to prevent pedestrian accidents/deaths (named one of the top 10 deadliest intersections in America a few years ago by Transportation of America).

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The space inside this strip mall spot is sparsely decorated, save for a fantastical space mural on the wall. The Philly cheesesteaks are out of this world, it subtly proclaims.

The space mural - foolish earthlings don't know how good they got it here
The space mural – foolish earthlings don’t know how good they got it here

The menu is also rather limited in scope, with gyros, salads, cheesesteaks, and burgers making up the majority of menu. But, the flavors are there – hot, fresh, griddled meat and cheeses all melting and sizzling together on the stovetop, handled with care by the friendly and welcoming owner/cook Mr. Iskender aka Alex Kurnaz.

The fries also arrive hot and fresh, crispy.

If you so desired, you could even get a philly style gyro sub sandwich.

Either way, it’s a good place to go if you are hankering for a great sub sandwich and hot fries without the pretenses.

Follow them on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HalalGyro

Mr. Iskender aka Alex Kurnaz of Halal Philly Cheesesteaks and Gyros
Mr. Kurnaz of Halal Philly Cheesesteaks and Gyros
Philly Cheesesteak - big and fresh
Philly Cheesesteak – big and fresh
Gyro
Gyro
Burger, a favorite of Mr. Ali Kurnaz, son of Mr. Kurnaz
Burger, a favorite of Mr. Ali Kurnaz, son of Mr. Kurnaz

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Menu at Halal Philly Cheesesteaks and Gyro
Menu at Halal Philly Cheesesteaks and Gyro

Philly Cheese Steaks & Gyros on Urbanspoon

Located in a rather desolate corner of Alafaya and Colonial Drive, ‘Kesh restaurant serves up an intriguing menu of sandwiches and flavors with an international flair, truly a hidden gem.

A visit to ‘Kesh, right next to the Orange County DMV, is like playing a game of food roulette. You literally never know what to expect – the menu changes daily, dependent on the whim and creativity of Chef Jerry Helminski.

The shop is sparse, with a layout similar to a deli  – which it may have been in a previous time – with Chef Jerry manning most of the make-shift open kitchen area and doing his best to serve up creative street food dishes.

The dishes, though humble in name, are full of flavor and have a certain finesse to them, thanks to the culinary training of the chef.

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The menu, sandwiches, shakes, and snacks – always changing

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Chicago style Dog

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Yakiniku beef sliders at Kesh

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Chef Jerry grew up on the west side of Chicago, though starting out in architecture, after some jobs in the restaurant industry and becoming intrigued, began apprenticing at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in California and working in some of America’s most renowned resorts and hotel kitchens in Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando, Houston, and Amelia Island.

For more than 20 years, his passion has been driven by one simple rule: “Learn something new every day.” His love for learning and mentoring, in addition to being part of 5 hotel openings, has sharpened and broadened Jerry’s general management competencies, as well as his restaurant concept development skills.

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Jerry has cooked for world leaders, dignitaries and celebrities including US President, George Bush Sr., the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, Mayors of Galveston, Lyda Ann Thomas and Joe Jaworski, actor Anthony Hopkins, singer Rod Stewart, radio personality and voice actor, Casey Kasem, Astronaut and US Senator, John Glenn, hosted former WWF professional wrestling heavy weight champion, Hulk Hogan’s daughter’s birthday party, among others.

Jerry has also promoted the culinary trade through fund raising efforts since 1992 with the homeless and hunger relief organization Share Our Strengths. He is a member of the American Culinary Federation.

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We talked with Chef Jerry about ‘Kesh and his inspirations.

Where does the name ‘Kesh come from?

The name ‘Kesh is short for Marrakesh, from the city in Morocco. My wife is from Morocco and we have been several times. In particular the marketplace there is an unbelievable experience…Jemaa el-Fna. While I don’t always have Moroccan dishes on the menu I am inspired by the excitement the memories of my time there.

What are some of your favorite food memories?

My favorite food memories are all family moments from the Christmas dinners with my family to my first dinner in Morocco with my wife’s family.

Tell us about the inspiration for the menu at Kesh – it is very diverse with elements from Asia to Africa.

The inspiration for the menu at ‘Kesh comes from all my travels. I love recreating classic ethnic dishes as well as putting my own spin on those dishes. Street food from all cultures is where I start and most times what I find at the markets and food supplies takes me the rest of the way…lately a lot of the menu comes from suggestions and what I call challenges from my regulars. For example, one regular asked me if I make good crabs cakes? Challenge accepted…lol.

How did the Supper Clubs start? What can guests look forward to?

Supper Club was an idea I always had planned, based on my food memories as I mentioned above…(dinner at the table with family and friends.) However, it took a spin when again customers wanted to see me do more than “sandwiches”. I did not want to compromise what I started with as far as menu prices. So I adjusted the Supper Club to be a little more upscale than originally intended. But never pretentious.

Guests can expect as I like to say at the start of the dinner…”good food, good friends and good music.” And sometimes bad dancing by me. .(have to be at the Supper Club to see that…lol)

Chicken K'dra - Moroccan style chicken with chickpeas and zucchini
Chicken K’dra – Moroccan style chicken with chickpeas and zucchini

Through out your career, do you have any special moments that you have had that you’d like to share? 

The fondest memories I have from looking at my career so far would be my time spent working with my mentor Chef Bernd Mueller at three different hotels…Marriott, Gaylord Palms & Omni. He taught me more than I could ever explain. The best moments where working side by side with him at the Croc’s pool grill at the Omni with three other cooks in a kitchen designed for one cook…lol

Where would you go on your off days?

Days off now are spent spending time with my wife & son, going to my favorite Asian market JM on O.B.T. and Sushi take out from either Mikados or Suki Hanna.

Cheesy Breakfast Tots - with scrambled eggs and ham
Cheesy Breakfast Tots – with scrambled eggs and ham

This is kind of like asking who is your favorite child, but … what is your favorite dish and why?

Being raised in Chicago my heart will always have a place for a good steak (very rare) and Chicago style hot dogs. But I admit to having an unhealthy obsession for Asian food…Sushi, Spicy Thai Food and traditional Chinese food (mostly made at home as most Chinese restaurants food is too “Americanized” hence why I Love going to JM Oriental Market. The owner always gives me fun things to cook with. Got some black mushrooms, fermented black beans & dried shaved black fungus!

Chef Jerry - master of the kitchen at 'Kesh
Chef Jerry – master of the kitchen at ‘Kesh

On every other Saturday, check out the Kesh Saturday Supper Club and enjoy a 4 to 6-course tasting menu delicately prepared by Chef Jerry Helminski. With dishes in the past have ranged from Maple-Sake Cured Salmon Belly to Prawns braised in sweet and sour sauce, you’ll never know what to expect.

Pre-dinner canapés will be served from 7:30 – 8:00 p.m.
First dinner course is served at 8:00 p.m.

$41 per person (includes pre-dinner canapés, 4 to 6-course tasting menu and paired beverages).
$72 per couple (includes pre-dinner canapés, 4 to 6-course tasting menu and paired beverages).
Group discounts available for parties of 4 or more.
Dress code: resort casual.
No children under 12, please.

Seating is limited so reservations are required.
Please call 407.203.0801 or email us at info@keshrestaurant.com by noon on Friday.

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Kesh Restaurant and Deli on Urbanspoon

Last year, the long standing Chuck’s Diner, known as a local, little diner specializing in British breakfasts, closed in the Mills 50 District.

Taking its place on the corner of Mills Avenue is The Strand – a hip, yet humble new concept featuring a menu of American classics with a modern twist. From my visit, it seems like they are undertaking an ambitious feat considering the small kitchen space that still hearkens back to its diner days – ultimately, despite a small kitchen, The Strand weaves together dishes with a lot of heart.

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The name, The Strand, represents the restaurant’s hope to be a thread forming a unity with a larger weave in the Orlando community…a philosophy that reflects the intricate diversity of the Mills 50 district itself. All different parts and “strands” making up the same fabric.

The menu is small, featuring less than 20 items, but it helps to keep everything in focus especially in the early days of the restaurant. Don’t want to be overly ambitious and fail to execute properly, especially for a small kitchen. So do a few things and do them well – and that is what they succeed at during my visit with a few dining companions.

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It was Friday afternoon for lunch, and it seemed a bit empty at first in the small dining room, which feels a little like visiting a diner mixed with an old friend’s city apartment dining room in a way.

Soon after we sat down, the crowds began to pour in, filling the restaurant with ladies lunching, co-workers meeting up for a bite, friends catching up, all walks of life in the community taking up seats until there was a small waiting area that formed near the bar area. That’s one thing about the ritual of eating – it’s not just about the food we eat, but also the friendship and fellowship of those with whom we eat.

My dining companions and I of course wanted to try a little everything on the menu so we ordered three different things to split and share.

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The Porkzilla sandwich

For my lunch, I ordered the “Porkzilla”, a rather tame pulled pork sandwich that tasted quite delicious, topped with kale coleslaw on a toasted brioche bun and served with a side of fries. The waitress told me that there was a pineapple glaze to the pulled pork, but I could not detect it and it would’ve been a nice touch to have the pork a little less dry.  The fries could use some nice spice to make it stand out more, but it did have a nice crisp texture to it.

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The Strand Burger

One of my dining companions ordered the signature “Strand Burger”, a solid burger topped with bacon, blue cheese dressing, the standard lettuce, tomato, and onion, and a little less standard, roasted jalapeno that gave the burger a nice spicy, and unexpected, kick.

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The Grilled Meatloaf Sandwich with pesto quinoa side

The favorite of the bunch was the “Grilled Meatloaf Sandwich,” a thick cut of savory, gloriously-diner-greasy meatloaf stuffed with pimento cheese and sautéed onions sandwiched between potato-chive buns with a refreshing quinoa pesto side – the daily grain.

Service was good, though needed a little bit more time on training and communicating between the servers as things got a little confusing with two servers coming by asking the same questions, but  very friendly and accommodating.

Overall, very impressed with the offerings at The Strand, and would definitely return again and again.

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The open humble kitchen at The Strand

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The Strand Orlando
Mills 50 District
807 N. Mills Ave, Orlando, Florida 32803
(407) 920-7744
http://strandorlando.com/

The Strand on Urbanspoon

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In a rare case of an international “fast food” franchise branching out to the US (rather than vice versa), 100 Montaditos, based out of Spain, has arrived to bring their Spanish style tapas sandwiches (known as montaditos) to Central Florida.

Located in Waterford Lakes, the “100 Montaditos” name refers to the 100 varieties of montaditos offered here. Montaditos are the Spanish tapas style finger mini sandwiches on your choice of bread (chapata (ciabatta), whole wheat, house special, or chocolate bread) with toppings such as chorizo sausage, serrano ham, manchego cheese, bbq pork, and more.

Appetizer choices include patatas bravas (potatoes in a spicy red sauce), olives, and crispy, crunchy french fries with four dipping sauces (ketchup, salsa brava and ali oli) and five varieties of salads.

The beer of choice is the imported Spanish Mahou beer (which reminds me a little of light Stella Artois), and other drinks include sangria as well as red and white wines.

On Wednesdays, everything on the menu is $1 from sandwiches to apps and drinks. It’s a great value for the budget minded college crowd nearby at UCF, as well as the local high school students – and maybe that’s why there is such a huge line out the door there Wednesdays. Everyone loves a good deal – if you don’t mind the lines.

The sandwiches overall are quite nice, especially for a quick little bite before heading over to a movie at the nearby Waterford Regal. The ingredients are nice, but I think the bread could be better. It is a good value for the price though and worth a try if you are in the area.

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100 Montaditos on Urbanspoon

 

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UPDATE: April 7, 2013

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I finally got to try the new Asian bbq sandwich from Publix! (Seen above) though not too much to do with a Vietnamese banh mi sub, the sandwich itself was not too bad. I enjoyed the pork but it could be improved with some more hoisin bbq sauce. They should make a spicy option of this sandwich with optional sriracha hot sauce. Overall, not too shabby Publix!

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As described first by TheDailyCity.com here, Publix has unleashed their newest creation the Asian BBQ Sub sandwich, inspired by the Vietnamese banh mi sandwich.

The official post on the new sandwich can be found here: the official Publix post on new Asian BBQ Sub sandwich.

The banh mi inspired sandwiches is nothing new, there have been many mainstream restaurants as well as local food trucks such as Big Wheel Food Truck who have put their own touches and homages on the Vietnamese street food dish.

Publix is a local Central Florida institution and is well renown for their deli sandwiches. Is this move to an “Asian” inspired sandwich another step towards the bastardization of Vietnamese cuisine, a simple way to cash in on a cultural phenomenon, or just an evolution of American cuisine?

The Publix Asian BBQ sandwich features roasted and shredded pork in a sweet chili BBQ sauce, topped with cucumbers, matchstick carrots, and fresh cilantro.

If this was a true banh mi, traditionally they would use sweetly pickled cucumbers and carrots and there would be a liver pate and butter spread on a French baguette.

I wouldn’t be so bothered by it all if they only spelled “banh mi” correctly on their site (incorrectly as “bahn mi”) or if they could get rid of those signs in Vietnamese that say “no parking” at their Publix store at Shine Avenue and Colonial, in the heart of the Vietnamese district in Mills 50.


Signs in Vietnamese – literally “Parking for Publix Customers Only” – I think that would be nice if they changed to “Feel free to park here we love the Vietnamese community and their banh mi sandwiches”

So including Publix, there is Banh Mi Nha Trang, Boston Bakery, Yum-Mi Sandwiches, Pho 88, Vietnam Cuisine, Hawkers, among many other local restaurants in the area who currently serve up banh mi.

Try them all and let me know what you think!

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Yes, I love comfort food, with fond memories of great homemade grilled cheese on the stovetop at the kitchen.

To be honest, I had rather low expectations going into Toasted. I don’t like being overcharged for bread and cheese, and if they are going to overcharge for bread and cheese it better be worth it.

But I was pleasantly surprised with what I did find at Toasted, despite the somewhat pricey sticker tags.

Located, inside a rather tight shopping plaza near the Whole Foods on Aloma and Lakemont in Winter Park, Toasted sits with its cute logo above its doors, poised for the inevitable franchising opportunities if this concept proves successful.

The interior is very playful with a textured yellow left wall like a giant slab of swiss cheeses and a right wall with a “periodic table” of various cheeses. For those who are a bit claustrophobic or wary of mouse traps, the restaurant itself may seem a bit tight and narrow and there are only a few scatterings of seats. I suppose it’s designed more for take outs rather than sit down eats?

Order at the counter in the back and the order comes up to your table when ready.

I am skeptical at first at the sight of my seemingly tiny Braised Brisket grilled cheese sandwich, but luckily this sandwich packed a lot of flavor. Italian Fondina cheeses, yummy braised beef brisket, with a housemade bbq sauce and sweet tea caramelized onions, this braised beef sandwich was a definitive winner. It also went well with my “dipper” sized portion of roasted tomato soup. The tomato soup and sandwich was great together, but the soup by itself was a bit too tangy to enjoy alone.

One of my dining companions ordered a fig and goat cheese sandwich made with havarti and goat cheese, sweet fig preserves, basil, and honey. I tried a few bites and thought it was good but may need more cheese. My dining companion however thoroughly enjoyed it and finished the sandwich to the last bite.

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The Periodic Table of Cheeses

Another dining companion of mine ordered the Southern Comfort off of the Toasted Burger menu. This is probably the first time I’ve seen mac and cheese in a burger, but surprisingly the combination with applewood smoked bacon, bbq sauce, and cheddar went very well together and I could only have wished to try another one next time.

Overall, I would definitely go back to try some more of their sandwiches and burgers, but the braised brisket sandwich and southern comfort were both standouts for Toasted.

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Braised Brisket grilled cheese sandwich

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The fig and goat cheese sandwich made with havarti and goat cheese, sweet fig preserves, basil, and honey

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Souther Comfort burger with mac and cheese, bbq sauce, applewood smoked bacon, and cheddar

Toasted on Urbanspoon

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Niffty Fiffty’s Diner is one of the new food trucks in town that focuses on nostalgic, home made cooking. I recently had a chance to visit them at the Crealde School of Art in Winter Park for a community fundraiser.

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They cure and smoke their own bacon, and also brine their corned beef, and pastrami in house, an impressive feat for any dining establishment these days. They also smoke their own marinated chicken breasts, BBQ pulled pork, BBQ pulled chicken, beef jerky, and beef brisket.

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The menu ranges from burgers and sandwiches to their very scrumptious, meticulously handmade desserts like cookies, brownies, and cheesecakes. The powdered milk yeast buns that they use for their burger buns are even made in house from scratch. You may remember the strawberry souffled cheesecake that was available elsewhere before can now be found here at Nffty Fiffty’s Diner, and is indeed still a great treat.

The signature sandwich is Kick’in it Pittsburgh, with crispy potato fries and apple cider vinegar cole slaw on the sandwich. I had the opportunity to try one of the Pittsburghs and must say it’s now one of my favorite sandwiches in Orlando, the rich pastrami going well together with the sweet and sour apple cider vinegar cole slaw…all together very refreshing.

 

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Kick’in It Pittsburgh Sandwich – Your choice of our own house-made corned beef, pastrami, or chopped steak, topped with cheese, crispy fried potatoes, oil & apple cider vinegar cole slaw, and vine-ripe tomatoes on thick hand sliced Italian bread $8.00

 

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Niffty Fiffty’s delicious Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Spekulatius Cookie Crumb crust, topped with a Chantilly Cream made with Chinese Five Spice and Dark Rum – based on Marcel Desaulniers Dark Chocolate & Pumpkin Cheesecake from the 1992 James Beard Best Dessert Book Winning Death By Chocolate. Marcel now operates Mad About Chocolate in Williamsburg, VA. http://www.madaboutchocolate.us/madaboutchocolatehome.html

 

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You can find Niffty Fiffty’s Diner on Thursday, January 10th from 5 MM to 9PM at the Edgewood Farmers Market (at City Hall in Edgewood). They are also open from 10AM to 2PM every Friday at Food Truck Fridays at the RDV Sportsplex in Maitland. Check their facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NifftyFifftysDiner for up to date news on locations.

You can preview their menu (subject to change), below:

 

 

 
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Niffty Fiffty's Diner Mobile Food Truck on Urbanspoon

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Located at the intersection of Winter Garden Vineland Road and Lake Butler Blvd in Winter Garden, Perrotti’s NY Deli is a family run, local deli that serves up some of the best sandwiches in town.

Their deli stocks Thumann’s deli meats and cheeses as well as Just Bagels, true “water bagels” from the Bronx. The small deli shop is decked in Pittsburgh Steelers memorabilia, due to the owner’s love for the football team, but the family has roots from New York.

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The Perrotti menu

On a recent visit to Perotti’s, I ordered the signature Perrotti-Petro sandwich. This epic sandwich is made with layers of corned beef, pastrami, provolone, coleslaw, potato chips, tomatoes, and topped with spicy mustard on rye bread. The combination is fantastic.

The New Yorker sandwich, a corned beef, pastrami, swiss cheese on rye with Dusseldorf mustard, and the Pastramageddon, hot pastrami, pepper jack cheese, hot peppers, jalapenos, 1000 island dressing, and creamy horseradish on rye bread are also great, mouth watering, sandwich choices here.

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The Perrotti-Petro sandwich, filled with corned beef, pastrami, provolone, coleslaw, potato chips, and tomato…yum


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The Pastramageddon sandwich made with hot pastrami, pepper jack cheese, hot peppers, jalapenos, 1000 island dressing, and creamy horseradish on rye bread

Perrotti's NY Deli on Urbanspoon

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If you’re like me, living in Orlando you probably had to play host to visiting family and friends who come to vacation here at the theme parks. Despite their great dole whips and mammoth-sized turkey legs, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom doesn’t necessarily always conjure up thoughts of great, creative food when compared to some of the other WDW parks like EPCOT.

Disney’s Magic Kingdom is currently undergoing some major renovations at its theme park with the new developing Fantasyland, rolling out in phases over the next few years. At the center of the new Fantasyland will be an exciting new ride based on the mine shafts prevalent in the world of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. There is also a new game called “Secret Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom” being played out at the park right now (more on that in a later post).

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Not just the theme park itself, but the food and beverage offerings are slowly starting to get a upgrade as well.

Imagine my surprise when I found out – from the very informative and expansive DisneyFoodBlog – that there is a place that serves up waffle sandwiches at Magic Kingdom. On a recent visit with some family and friends, I knew I had to try it.

Located at the Liberty Square, Sleepy Hollow is a little hidden spot just to the left of Cinderella’s Castle probably best known as the only place to get funnel cakes in the entire Kingdom. The small counter-service spot is designed, like the rest of Liberty Square, with a Colonial American period style architecture with brick walls and cobble stoned streets. The staff, also dressed up in colonial garb, can be seen from the window working the waffle irons and making the waffle sammies fresh to order.

They actually had to get rid of the Mickey shaped waffles to accomodate the new menu, much to the chagrin of some Disney purists. The waffle sammie options include a sweet Nutella and fresh fruit waffle sandwich ($5.59), a sweet and spicy chicken or a ham, prosciutto and swiss waffle sandwiches (both $6.99) .

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality, taste, and value of these waffle sammies (large enough for two to snack on, I reckon). The waffles themselves were soft, fluffy, and slightly sweet, large enough for holding all the fillings inside without being too cumbersome for your hands.

My favorite of the bunch was the sweet and spicy chicken, made with lightly fried chicken breast that was slightly tangy, sweet, and crispy with a touch of black pepper and nicely garnished with some slaw and arugula.

The ham, prosciutto, and swiss was by no means a failure, it was pleasant and light, but it definitely did not pack the punch that the sweet and spicy chicken sandwich did.  I think it may need some more prosciutto or maybe some light sauce to liven it up.

Slathered on with a base of nutella spread and filled with fresh strawberries, blueberries, and banana, the nutella and fresh fruit waffle sandwich made for a wonderfully sweet ending,

All in all, the waffle sandwiches brought a very nice culinary and creative touch to the offerings at Magic Kingdom. Don’t miss it on your next visit!

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The Menu at Sleepy Hollow

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Working the irons, making the waffles fresh to order at Sleepy Hollow

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The Sweet and Spicy Waffle Sandwich with arugula and slaw ($6.99)

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The Ham, Prosciutto, and Swiss Sandwich with tomato and arugula ($6.99)

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The nutella and fresh fruit waffle sandwich filled with fresh strawberries, blueberries, and banana. ($5.59)

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Sleepy Hollow at Disney's Magic Kingdom on Urbanspoon

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Pom Pom’s Teahouse and Sandwicheria, located on Bumby Avenue just south of the heart of Orlando’s Milk District (the area around the T.G. Lee’s Milk processing factory), serves up some of the most creative and scrumptious sandwiches in our area.

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Here at this indie, homey sandwich shop – with walls bedecked in local artwork – there are over 20 types of sandwiches to order, with each ‘wich is set to a playful, yet delicious gourmet theme.

Like the Mama Ling Ling’s Thanksgiving, a monstrous turkey, ginger cranberry chutney, gouda, stuffing, mashed potato, cream cheese served with a side of gravy, so now you can have that after Thanksgiving dinner meal -itis feeling all year round.

Or try the villainous Fu Man Chu, made with a sweet Hoisin barbecue sauce based Asian Pulled Pork, watercress, goat cheese, ginger cranberry chutney, and spicy red onions, a perfect lunch for all those deviants out there. It’s got sweetness from the barbecue and cranberry chutney, a little tart from the red onions, savory from the pulled pork, creamy from the goat cheese. It all sounds like quite the mess, but it’s all strangely satisfying and fulfilling.

Pace yourself, these sandwiches are large and can easily be shared between two people. There is also a wide variety of diverse salads to tantalize your taste-buds.

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These days, you can probably more often find Pom Moongauklang, owner and operator of Pom Pom’s Teahouse and Sandwicheria, dividing her time between this shop and mixing it up and creating wonderful little fusion tacos at her new venture Tako Cheena in the Mills 50 District, but the staff here is on their best behavior even when Pom Pom is away. They were some of the friendliest and down to earth staff I’ve had the fortune to dine with in a while.

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The place is pretty small and can get quite busy, so sit back, relax and enjoy one of the many house blend or specialty teas like the Rooibos Love tea. End the meal with one of their fabulous desserts like the Red Velvet cupcake imported from nearby Bluebird Bakery. One thing I love about Pom Pom’s, despite the very hip ambiance, is their eclectic clientele: from trendy hipsters to twenty-something working ladies in heals to college students on a first date, everyone is here together under one roof enjoying good food. On the weekends they are sometimes open 24 hours, when interesting late-night conversations over tea and sandwiches are sure to ensue. A tiny teahouse with a big heart in the City Beautiful.

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Pom Pom's Teahouse and Sandwicheria on Urbanspoon

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Normally I wouldn’t touch the often dreaded tourist areas of town with a ten foot pole unless there is some event going on or a friend is in town who – of course – is staying near the Disney/Universal Studio resort areas. It’s not that the areas don’t have some attractive venues, it’s just the crowds and the traffic sometimes are so hectic it’s not worth the bother. This latest visit to the Disney area was courtesy of an old friend, spoken word artist and director of the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, Giles Li, in town with his lovely wife and twin children for some Disney park fun. We decided to meet up near the Downtown Disney area with my friend Nathaniel in the evening after their time at the parks.

Downtown Disney is a part of the Disney World complex, and the place was literally crawling with thousands of family and children on this weeknight in February. There are a multitude of restaurants and street attractions, all very convenient for an evening stroll after a day in the parks. The restaurants are mostly pricier due to the locale, but there is one place that has earned rave reviews for its quality and value: our old, dear friend, the Earl of Sandwich located on the north east end of Downtown Disney.

Legend has it that the first sandwich was named after John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Often found gambling, he did not have time to have meal during the play, so he would ask his servants to bring him slices of meat between two slices of bread during his long hours playing at the card table. This habit became well known among his gambling friends and thus the ‘sandwich’ was born. According to the Watch-Me-Eat blog, the Earl of Sandwich here at Downtown Disney was actually founded by the real-life descendent of the original Earl of Sandwich along with one of the founders of Planet Hollywood.

The hot sandwiches, as its namesake, are the draw here at the Earl’s, and at $5.99, they are a great bargain for the family. Inside, there is a line up system – the same familiar one perfected by Disney at its parks – where customers move through to the cashier to give your order.

My exchange with the cashiers wasn’t the most pleasant as they all seemed to be rushing people to order and move along in the assembly line. I didn’t even get a chance to look beyond the list of sandwiches that they served before I had already somehow ordered, given a number, and moved along down the line. In many ways this place is like Subway’s, though unlike at the Earl’s, the folks at Subway’s always asked you if you wanted a combo or drink or something else with the meal. The ingredients are much better though at the Earl of Sandwich.

I ordered the Italian and my friend Nate ordered the Caribbean Jerk Chicken sandwich. My Italian was filled with salami, capicola, roasted ham, mortadella, mozzarella cheese, roma tomatos, and topped with a nice Italian dressing. The sandwich was definitely meaty, but my favorite part was the breading for the sandwich: it was crunchy and flavorful, probably the first time I had that type of bread for a sandwich. My friend enjoyed his Caribbean Jerk Chicken with roasted peppers and a spicy jerk sauce, though I found the sauce to be a bit too mild and not at all reminiscent of any jerk flavors found in the caribbean, but it was still a good sandwich.

Overall, the Earl of Sandwich is a great value sandwich shop for families visiting Downtown Disney and probably one of the better places that you can visit at Downtown Disney. For the price point, you probably can’t get anything better than the Earl’s. The decor is similar to a Panera Bread, with some nice touches resembling a British library. The ambiance is rushed and noisy, but it’s Downtown Disney, not Downton Abbey after all.

Menu at the Earl of Sandwich

Best BLT – Smoked Bacon, lettuce, roma tomatoes, and seasoned mayo – $5.99
Cannonballs – Meatballs in a rich tomato sauce with Provolone and Mozzarella cheese. – $5.99
Caribbean Jerk Chicken – Grilled chicken, roasted peppers with a spicy jerk sauce. – $5.99
Classic Cold Sandwiches – Egg salad, Tuna salad, or Chicken salad. – $5.99
Ham ‘n’ swiss – Roasted ham, aged swiss cheese and Earl’s mustard sauce – $5.99
Hawaiian BBQ – Hawaiian BBQ ham, fresh pineapple and Swiss cheese. – $5.99
Italian – Salami, capicola, roasted ham, mortadella, zesty italian dressing,mozzarella cheese and roma tomatoes. (peppers optional) – $5.99
The All American – Roast turkey, buttermilk ranch, cranberries, cheddar cheese, tomato and lettuce. – $5.99
The Caprese – Sliced fresh Mozzarella, Roma tomato, fresh basil and drizzled virgin olive oil. – $5.99
The Earl’s Club – Roast turkey, bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato. – $5.99
The Full Montagu – Freshly roasted beef, roast turkey, mustard sauce, Swiss/cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato. – $5.99
The Original 1762 (Hot Sandwich) – Fresh roasted beef, creamy horseradish sauce & cheddar cheese. Fresh made to order on Artisan Baked Loaf. – $5.99
Tuna Melt – Fresh made Albacore Tuna salad and melted Swiss cheese. – $5.99
Veggie – Feta Cheese, lettuce, roma tomatoes, cucumber, red onions, roasted red peppers and mediterranean dressing – $5.99


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“Don’t talk to me, I’m busy making your sandwich”
 

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The sandwiches are wrapped in shiny foil, careful they’re hot.

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The Italian sandwich was a crowd pleaser

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The Caribbean Jerk Chicken

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Dessert at Ghiradelli’s down the way

Earl of Sandwich on Urbanspoon

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There’s a new banh mi shop in town, complete with new bar seats and tables and modern lighting. Where Ba Le bakery once sat, a new and trendy sandwich shop now occupies in its place, completely remodeled on the inside and out with a fresh new look.

yum-mì sandwiches focuses on bringing a modern twist to the traditional Vietnamese banh mi. The Phans (sisters Linda and Rosa, and brother David) all UCF alumni, came together with a passion for the Vietnamese culture to share their food with the community. Growing up they always talked about having a business together (they come from a family with roots in the restaurant business a la Pho 88 down the street). This common love of food inspired them to create Yum-mi sandwiches.

Having upbringings in a Vietnamese family, the Phan’s inspirations came from the traditional flavors  acquired growing up and with an open mind for the cultural diversity surrounding the Orlando area. Most of the prices range from $2.75 to $7.95, very affordable.

“It was very exciting for us to come together and see our dreams come to life. The most challenging obstacle was to target the right audience while staying true to our Vietnamese roots. When we were younger, we noticed our friends were always hesitant to go into some of the traditional sub shops. So we wanted to create a place that was more inviting to the young crowd while still satisfying our traditional Vietnamese customers.” explained Linda Phan.

“We serve the traditional banh mi dac biet which is different cold cuts served on a French bread spread with pate and top with cucumber, cilantro, pickled daikon and carrots and jalapeños with splash of soy sauce, but also have yum mi specialities like the V.P. which is our version of Vietnamese philly steak n cheese with two fried eggs on top,” Rosa Phan added.

Some other must try’s also include the Lost Tofu (made with lemongrass spiced tofu)for the vegetarians out there and their custom fresh fruit boba tea freezers. The bread is baked fresh on the premises each day as well.

On a recent visit, I admired the new digs at yum-mi and ordered a VP with the two fried eggs and thit nuong (grilled beef) inside. The sandwich was filling and enjoyable and the eggs over easy oozing yolk onto my banh mi made my lunch divine. My friend had the Ms Piggy with pork belly, lettuce and tomato and noted that although it was a great banh mi, he wished that there was more meat to the sandwich. I think filling is a very important part to the banh mi, as the bread and the meat ratio has to be a respectable amount so that one does not overpower the other. I believe this will improve as time goes on. Overall, it was a fun trip to visit yum-mi and it is definitely a welcomed addition to the new banh mi landscape in Orlando.

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You can sit inside yum-mi sandwiches at the new bar stool area, watching the cars race by on the concrete paved Mills Avenue.
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Delicious Vietnamese street food: banh bao, steamed buns filled with pork and hard boiled egg.
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Mango-lychee freezer boba drink
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Miss Piggy: The Pork belly, tomatoes, and lettuce banh mi
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The VP – Vietnamese Philly with two eggs
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yummi sandwiches are yummy

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I suppose East Orlando can be demarcated unofficially by the SR 417 . Mediterranean Deli & Gyros of East Orlando is actually owned by the brother of Walaid Ali of the Mediterranean Deli of Fairbanks Avenue in Winter Park. This location, like its predecessor, is located in a tiny strip mall plaza that you just might miss if you blink. Just a little bit east of the SR 417 on Colonial Drive/ SR 50, Mediterranean Deli offers much of the same great combo wraps, gyros, and salads that can be found at its sister location.

Inside, you’ll notice how bare the small place is: fluorescent lights humming above small cafe tables,  toward the back a counter for ordering, and the obligatory posters of attractive women eating some of Kronos’ finest gyro meats.

The owner here is a big hearted man who cares for his customers like old friends. Walking down to the order counter, you can pick your choices from the various salads laid out in trays and also order your gyro or wrap for eating in or to go.

I order the gyro platter with Greek salad. The owner cuts strips of the gyro meat rotating in the back and heats the heaping mass of Kronos meat on a press which is also used for the pita bread heating. A dab of tzatziki sour cream sauce and bundled up in some foil wrap. The gyro was delicious and overflowing with meat. Though flavorful, the meat might have been a bit dry that day as we were one of the first to visit that day. A special favorite dessert here is the baklava, homemade by the owner’s wife and made from some of the finest ingredients and phyllo dough this side of town. You must try it.

Though I have had better Greek salads and falafels elsewhere, overall, I would definitely recommend checking this place out if you are in the area for a quick bite or lunch.


Looking into the Mediterranean Deli and Gyros




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Various combos and wraps are available




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The counter with the salads





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Spanakopita – spinach pies!




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Gyro platter




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Falafel, a fried ball of chickpeas/fava beans.





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Baklava!





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Farewell !




Mediterranean Deli & Gyros on Urbanspoon



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A few months ago, as part of the epic Orlando Weekly Banh Mi Battle, I got the chance to visit Banh Mi Nha Trang to pick up some new banh mi from their shop for the first time to enter them into the competition. Although they did not win 1st place (the honors went, to the deserving Boston Bakery across the street), Banh Mi Nha Trang which just opened a few days prior placed 2nd for best banh mi in Orlando. 

It is a bit hard to find Banh Mi Nha Trang as it is tucked away in a courtyard on Colonial Drive just to the east of the intersection with Mills Avenue. I like to tell people its in the strip between Lollicup (now renamed Chewy Boba Company) and Saigon Market with the big yellow flag on the flag pole. You have to park in the rear and walk through to the courtyard to reach Banh Mi Nha Trang. Its an unassuming hole in the wall of a place to say the least, but its these holes in the wall that most often have the most heart in their food.  The place is a mom and pop type joint, run by a lovable, friendly and always smiling Vietnamese lady. Her English is not good at all yet but you can pretty much order the same banh mi you can as the other banh mi joints. They also sell home made nem chua pickled meat and cha lua pork roll meats.

They specialize in banh mi Nha trang, a banh mi from the south central coastal region of Vietnam and topped with a special garlic fish sauce and peppery goodness. The sandwich is full of various cuts of Vietnamese deli meats like cha lua pork roll, cha siu roast pork, and pickled carrots and daikon veggies. The bread is also different from the other banh mi places as it is a bit softer and more chewy.


The banh mi dac biet Nha Trang is $2.50 (the cheapest price you’ll find for banh mi in Orlando) and if you buy 5 you get 1 free.  Tips: its cash only for the moment so remember to bring some when you go.

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The Banh Mi Nha Trang Dac Biet – a great sandwich for $2.50~



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Scenes from the Orlando Weekly’s Banh Mi battle



Banh Mi Nha Trang on Urbanspoon

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The quirky, teeny tiny Black Bean Deli is a staple of the Winter Park area, sitting in a small strip mall in an even smaller shack just north of Fairbanks Avenue on Orlando Ave (US 17/92). They have won numerous accolades throughout the years from Best Cuban in the Orlando Weekly to Best Takeout in the Orlando Sentinel Foodies just this past year.

The place, as said earlier, is tiny. You would probably be best advised to try to get their goods for take out as they have very few seatings by the window / along the walls. Their menu is similarly tiny, though I think it suits them  as this allows for greater focus to do a few things exceptionally well rather than go crazy on a whole crazy list of dishes.

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Black Bean Deli is renown for their cuban sandwiches, and rightly so. I ordered  a small cuban ($5) and it was delicioso: plentiful, juicy slices of sweet ham, roast pork, swiss cheese and pickles all pressed in between a wonderful cuban bread. The bread is what makes these sandwiches stand out I believe as they are fresh, soft, and you can tell they were made with careful attention. Excellente. I could only eat half of it cause it was such a large sandwich. No problems because I saved the rest for lunch the next day.

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The small Cuban Sandwich at Black Bean Deli

My partner ordered the pan con lechon ($5), a sandwich chockful of pulled roast pork with garlic mojo. It was good but maybe needed a little seasoning and a little lighter touch of the garlic mojo.

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Pan con lechon – literally bread with roast pork

The beef empanadas ($1.75) were  tasty meat pies filled with bits of seasoned ground beef, kind of like a latino hot pocket with ground beef instead of cheese and pepperoni. We also had the tres leches, ($2.25) a small wonderful pound cake topped with three types of milk ( condensed milk, whipped cream, and milk).

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Beef empanada

Next time I will try their medianoche sandwich too…

ps…I have also heard rumors also that Black Bean Deli may try their hand at the food truck phenomenon as well, so we shall see if these rumors prove to be true in the coming days!

Black Bean Deli on Urbanspoon

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Italian Beefstro sits in on busy Colonial Drive just a few blocks west from the I-4 exit in a small building with a little fountain in front. Inside, you get in line to order your food at the counter. The people who work here are all very nice and hospitable, which is greatly appreciated.

Italian Beefstro’s pride themselves on serving Italian Beef sandwiches, a specialty from the windy city of Chicago.

The Italian Beef sandwich ($4.95) has slices of juicy roast beef and sauteed green peppers in a hoagie roll. For 0.30 cents extra, they add hot giardiniera (pickled veggies) and the Italian beef sandwich is dunked in the flavor filled juice that runs off the beef (i call it beefy juices). Its a dripping, juicy, delightful mess of a Italian roast beef sandwich.

Italian Beefstro’s also serves up Classic Vienna Beef Chicago hot dogs ($3.89) topped with tomato, pickles, sport peppers, celery salt, and relish.

Maybe it was the old Orlando feel or just something about the counters and the roast beef, but for some reason I was reminded fondly of Beefy King’s down the street while eating at Italian Beefstro. Maybe its their love for roast beef. Overall, I thought the sandwiches were pretty good and worth a try, especially for all those displaced Chicago residents 😉


Italian Beefstro on Urbanspoon
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Inside Italian Beefstro, not much to look at, but its all about the food!

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The Italian Beef sandwich, dipped in beefy juice

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Chicago dog!

5 2440

Beefy King – Orlando FL
or Long Live the King!

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Beefy King off of Bumby Ave is a Orlando landmark, home of the famous Beefy King roast beef sandwiches and “tasty spuds” (tater tots) sides. Lunch time is always busy here, filled to the brim with Orlando natives and transplants. From businessmen to students out for the summer, all united under this 1960s era relic for a nostalgic taste of the high school cafeteria style, crispy fried tater tots.

The chairs and booths and diner style stools all look the same as they were in 1967 when Beefy King first opened. For a city with so many openings and closings each year, the staying power of Beefy King is uncanny and shows that Orlando’s love for the roast beef sandwich here is timeless.

The roast beef sandwich is indeed a step above the Arby’s style roast beef sandwich, its juicier and more natural tasting, going perfect with their horseradish sauce or barbeque.

They also serve ham and pastrami sandwiches.

Address:
424 N. Bumby Ave.
Orlando, FL 32803-6028

Tasty Chomps Rating!!!!
4.5 out of 5 Beefy Chomps!!!!

Scenes from Beefy King

 

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Beefy King’s roast beef sandwich, some tater tots, and a root beer all is right in Orlando foodie heaven
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Beefy King on Urbanspoon

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LaSpada’s – Philly Cheesesteaks – Orlando

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Located just off of Lee road off of the I-4 exit in a strip mall/plaza, La Spada is a small hole in the wall type place to go for great cheesesteaks. Inside, the place is small and a little run down, but I suppose a little TLC would do the place good. I ordered the 7″ philly cheese steak which came on a delicious amoroso bun. I asked for provolone cheese as well to stay healthy.

The cheesesteak is really good, the melted cheese and the steak meat were fresh and served hot, maybe too piping hot. Although I enjoyed the cheesesteak, it was not necessarily the best I ever had.

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Laspada's Original Philly Cheesesteak Hoagies on Urbanspoon

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