Southern

Three things that I love:
1.  4 Rivers Smokehouse – I used to work for 4 Rivers Smokehouse Catering back in 2015.
2.  Winter Park – I went to elementary school, middle school and high school in Winter Park.
3.  Supporting charity events – who doesn’t?!

Combine all those three things that I love and what do you get? COWS ‘N CABS.

Central Florida’s annual Cows ‘n Cabs returned for its seventh year on Saturday, November 11 from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.  Hosted by 4 Rivers Smokehouse founder John Rivers and ABC Fine Wine & Spirits’ David Larue, the event benefited the After-School All-Stars and Elevate Orlando.  This 21+ up charity event returned to 150 North New York Avenue in Winter Park’s Central Park West Meadow and featured more than 30 of Central Florida’s top restaurants including 4 Rivers Smokehouse, The Ravenous Pig, Hunger Street Tacos, Holler & Dash, and Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen.

This is a must attend event for all food enthusiasts.  Cows ‘n Cabs does it right year after year and they are always getting better!

Cow ‘N Cab – Beef Over Creamy Polenta & Cabernet Reduction

The COOP “Fiesty chicken” – Fried Chicken Topped With Lettuce, Pickle, & Fiesty Sauce On A Slider

4 Rivers Smokehouse Sweet Shop – Chocolate Wine Cupcake, Red Velvet Hot Chocolate with House-Made Cream Cheese Marshmallows

ABC Fine Wine & Spirits – Dominick, Wine and Spirit Specialist

Soco Restaurant in Thornton Park – Confit of Pork Rilette with Pickled Apples, Mustard, and Pumpernickle Crostini

Tamale Co. – Cochinita Pibil Tamale and Carne Asada Tamale

The Sanctum – Buffalo Chickun Slider and Bleu Cheez Wedge Salad

Luke’s Kitchen and Bar – Luke’s Crab Cake with Celery Lemon Tartar

STK (Disney Springs) – Dry aged Sirloin of Beef with Smoked Poblano Pepper-Pumpkin Seed Puree and Pickled Butternut Squash

Foxtail Coffee – Cold Brew

Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen – Pork Tenderloin “Pastrami” Banh Mi Sandwich, Truffle Aioli and Pickled Vegetable

Drew Estate

Dove Tale

Tapa Toro – Sliced Corned Beef, Braised Red Cabbage, German Potatoes

Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park – Mini French Macarons, Chocolate Covered Bacon, Chocolate Covered Popcorn

Holler & Dash – The Four O Seven

Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen & Bar – House Ceviche and Shrimp with a Grit Cake

Grey Goose

Fantasy Fare Food Truck (Disney Springs) – Achiote-Orange Rubbed Salmon Taco

Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar (Disney Springs) – Smoked Duck Carnitas Bao

The Daily Poutine (Disney Springs) – French Fries, Beef Poutine Gravy, Mushrooms and Cheese Curds

D-Luxe Burger (Disney Springs) – Curried Lamb Burger

F&D Kitchen / F&D Cantina – Guanjillo Chili and Black Bean Quinoa Chili

1921 by Norman Van Aken – Five Spice Crispy Chicken Wings, Fish Sauce Caramel & Thai Herb Salad

Norman’s – Guava-Pasilla Barbecued Pulled Pork Tostada with Black Bean Puree

Morimoto Asia (Disney Springs) – US Wagyu Beef Nigiri, smoked soy, fresh wasabi

Hunger Street Tacos – Fried Avocado Taco, Panko breaded and fried avocado, shredded cabbage, red onion, serrano-lime crema, cilantro, queso cotija

Urbain 40 – Umami-laced Angus Brisket & Short Rib Burger Slider, Caramelized Sweet Onion Compote & Pimento Cheese

The Ravenous Pig – Green Eggs and Ham

The Polite Pig (Disney Springs) – BBQ Cheddar Sausage on Mini-Bun

K Restaurant – Cider Braised Pork Jowl, spiced apple sauce, brussels sprouts salad

Pizza Bruno owner – Bruno Zacchini III

Taverna Opa Orlando – Mini Souvlaki

Hawkers Asian Street Fare – Pork Belly Dumplings and Singapore “Chili” Crab

Sus-Hi Eatstation – Sushi bowl

Amorette’s Pastisserie/ The Ganachery (Disney Springs) – Assortment of Sweet Delights

P is for Pie – Christmas Story Hand Pie with Roast Duck, Caramelized Onions, Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Cranberry Goat Cheese
Salted Honey Bourbon Hand Pie and Caramel Maple Pumpkin Pie

Pop Parlour

For more information, please visit www.cowsncabs.com.
(Source credit: Cows ‘n Cabs)

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Soco stands for Southern Contemporary, with Southern roots and a contemporary interpretation of American cuisine, and is situated in Thornton Park. It’s also got one of the best Sunday brunches in town.

“It’s a new and adventurous culinary approach to dishes that we have all come to know and love. At Soco we are focused on true Southern hospitality, and we are committed to overall excellence.” said Executive Chef Greg Richie.

“We are local, both in terms of the products we use and the neighborhood where we reside. Soco is committed to enriching Thornton Park and cultivating the culinary renaissance of Downtown Orlando.”

Chef Richie graduated with honors from the acclaimed Johnson and Wales University in Charleston. He worked with Yamaguchi at the original Roy’s Restaurant in Hawaii and was selected to be the first executive chef/partner for Roy’s in Orlando. He was then chosen by Lagasse to take over the kitchen at Tchoup Chop at the Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando.

Here’s a look at the fabulous Sunday brunch at Soco:

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Crab-Stuffed Deviled Duck Eggs – 12
Crisp Bacon, Lemon, Truffle

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Fried Green Tomatoes, Pickled Okra and Little Gems Greens – 10
House-Made Farm Cheese, Benton’s Country Ham, Vidalia Onion Buttermilk Dressing

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Lake Meadow Naturals Korean-Style Fried Chicken – 23
Pickled Radishes, Sweet and Spicy Sauce

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Lobster Eggs Benedict – 18
Buttermilk Biscuits, Benton’s Ham, Lobster Hollandaise

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Sunday Burger – 15
Fried Egg, Aged Cheddar, Red Onion-Bacon Marmalade, Brioche Bun, Crispy Onion Rings

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Soco
407-849-1800
629 E. Central Blvd.
Orlando, FL 32801
http://www.socothorntonpark.com/

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

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

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

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

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Caesar Salad

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

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

Abita BBQ Shrimp
Abita BBQ Shrimp

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

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

Grilled Salmon Filet
Grilled Salmon Filet

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

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

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

Vanilla Bean Creme Brule
Vanilla Bean Creme Brule

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

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

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

Check them out!

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

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Fried Pork Chop before being smothered

Located on Carter Street just west of downtown Orlando and east of Orange Blossom Trail, Nikki’s Place is one of the last few places specializing in soul food in Orlando. The place itself is small and humble, with only a few dining tables and a minimally decorated space. The walls are adorned with various newspaper clippings and photos with community leaders and celebrities who have visited over time.

Despite its humble setting, quite a few Mercedes and Lexus cars were parked out front, and a few folks from the city could be identified eating inside. I wondered to my dining companion that afternoon if this was like Orlando’s own version of Freddy’s BBQ joint from the House of Cards, where Mr. Frank Underwood would go to scheme his political ascent over a plate of ribs.

The restaurant actually has quite the history as outlined in the Nikki’s Place article by Orlando Sentinel’s Heather Mcpherson. Although known as Nikki’s Place since 1999, the restaurant was originally opened in 1949 and was known as Roser’s Restaurant. The restaurant continues in the tradition of serving good Southern comfort food, simple and straightforward.

Courses here for lunch come with two sides as well as a freshly baked cornbread muffin. Diners can choose from a list ranging from chitterlings to ox tails, fried chicken, smothered rib tips, pork neck bones, pig tails and pig ears, all the wonderful bits and pieces that make traditional Southern cuisine so delicious.

My dining companion ordered the Fried Tilapia with sweet rutabagas and collard greens ($8.25) while I ordered the Fried Pork Chop with mac and cheese and collard greens ($9.00).

Portions are not outrageous as some other soul food places have known to be, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It was just the right amount to be full but not overstuffed, particularly the side portions.

My collard greens and mac and cheese were both very good while my pork chop was fried to a nice juicy crisp. I had actually wanted the smothered pork chop, and the staff were kind enough to bring a small cup of the gravy and onions to smother my pork chop in after inquiring.

Overall, a very enjoyable lunch and will likely return to this neighborhood spot to try some of their sweet potato pie.

On Wednesdays, they have a $5.00 Wednesday plate special including Smothered Steak, Rib Tips, BBQ Riblets, Fried Wings, Turkey Necks, Beef Stew, And Meat Loaf.

Closed Tuesdays.

Nikki's Place on Urbanspoon

Entrance
Entrance
Interior of Nikki's Place
Interior of Nikki’s Place
Menu at Nikki's Place
Menu at Nikki’s Place
Menu at Nikki's Place
Menu at Nikki’s Place

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Fried Tilapia with rutabaga and collard greens
Fried Tilapia with rutabaga and collard greens
Fried Pork Chop before being smothered
Fried Pork Chop before being smothered
Smothered Pork Chop with mac and cheese and collard greens
Smothered Pork Chop with mac and cheese and collard greens
Nikki's Place Owner and Chef, Nick Aiken Jr.
Nikki’s Place Co-Owner and Chef, Nick Aiken Jr.
Orlando City Mayor Buddy Dyer with Nikki's Place Owner and Chef, Nick Aiken Jr.
Orlando City Mayor Buddy Dyer with Nikki’s Place Owner and Chef, Nick Aiken Jr.

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Soco, which stands for Southern Contemporary, is the new restaurant in Thornton Park, opened since September 24, 2014 led by Executive Chef Greg Richie.

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We were more than happy to join in for a media preview tasting of small plates at Soco.

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Crab-Stuffed Deviled Duck Eggs contains crisp bacon, lemon and truffle. It was a delightfully creamy and fresh appetizer.

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The Slow-Roasted Barbecue-Glazed Pork Belly Biscuits was served with Jalapeño jelly and chow-chow. The flavors were delicious but the Barbeque glaze could be minimized as it created an overpowering of sweetness at the end. The slow-roasted pork seemed to be a little rushed/cooked too long as it was a little dry and tough. The biscuit itself was thick, crunchy and honey sweet.

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Soco-Style “Chicken and Dumplings” are lobster dumplings topped with carved chicken breast, local mushrooms, edamame, and soy butter. When the dumpling is split in two, half was eaten with the mushroom and the other half without. The dumpling was sweet and had a cream cheese texture without the mushroom, as the mushroom would add an overpowering saltiness that covers up other tastes of the dumplings.

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My advice is to cut the mushroom into smaller pieces and distribute it throughout each bite of chicken and dumplings.

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The Cornmeal Crisped Oysters were served on pieces of chicharrones (pork grinds) with pickled green tomato relish and herb cream. The oyster melts in your mouth once you get past its crispy fried cornmeal covering and leaves an ocean aftertaste.

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Soco is also known for their wines and whiskey cocktails, such as the Manhattan-ish and White Julep.

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The Manhattan-ish contains Elijah Craig 12 year, Grand Marnier and Averna.

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The White Julep is super sweet with simple syrup added to Jacob’s Ghost White Whiskey and fresh mint.

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Last, but not least, is the dessert we had to try before parting ways with Soco. House-Made “Moon Pie” is a pie version on moon-pies served with a really sweet RC® Cola Vanilla Ice Cream Float. It contains rich dark chocolate ganache and a thick marshmallow whipped topping. The crust falls apart into a sandy texture in your mouth and provides a lovely vanilla taste. With or without the RC® Cola Vanilla Ice Cream Float sauce, it is quite delicious!

For this visit, my favorite dishes were the Soco-Style “Chicken and Dumplings” and House-Made “Moon Pie”.

Soco is open 11am-3pm for Sunday Brunch and daily 5-10pm.

They are located at: 629 E Central Blvd, Thornton Park, Downtown Orlando, FL.

To make a reservation, please call (407) 849-1800.

For menu items and prices, visit Soco online at: http://www.socothorntonpark.com/our-menus/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Take a step inside Highball & Harvest, Orlando’s newest Southern-cuisine inspired restaurant at the Ritz Carlton at Grande Lakes Orlando resort, and you might think you’ve been transported back to a 1920s style speakeasy – dark wood decor, a craft bar, and a lively atmosphere that may be one of the best kept foodie secrets in town.

We first introduced you to the new concept taking place of the Vineyard Grill at the Ritz back in February, and now the plans have come to fruition.

Intricate details and meticulous planning went into the creation of Highball & Harvest, right down to the custom logos imprinted on the napkins and dining ware.

Near the entrance, a new, expansive bar greets you.

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Here expert bar chefs serve up signature seasonal hand-crafted cocktails and there is even an interactive cocktail bar “chefs table”, where the bar chefs can instruct while muddling tableside and handcrafted cocktails are infused with seasonal fruits and herbs.

The ambiance at Highball & Harvest is rustic, yet refined, definitely a suitable place for an after hours cocktail or meeting with friends for some fine Southern inspired cuisine.

The restaurant emphasizes farm-to-fork dining led by rising young Chef de Cuisine Mark Jeffers, a Daytona, Florida native who pulls his culinary inspiration from his hometown as well as his extensive travels around the South, from Low Country-infused Charleston to Cajun-spiced New Orleans.

Chef Jeffers’ dishes are hyper local, infused with Floridian citrus and ingredients from nearby purveyors and the resort’s own 7,000-square-foot Whisper Creek Farm, which opened in October 2012 and continues to expand.

“The dishes we create at Highball & Harvest are designed to give restaurant-goers a sense of nostalgia while enjoying southern classics infused with regional flavors,” says Chef Mark Jeffers. “We start with locally sourced products and allow the quality of the ingredients speak for itself.”

At a recent media preview, I was delightfully surprised, and at times enchanted, by the restaurant’s modern take on traditional Southern offerings.

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Chef Mark Jeffers of Highball & Harvest with the Southern Spreads “tackle box”

Take for example, The Southern Spreads ($16), consisting of chunky pimento cheese dip and smoked fish dip served with pickled veggies, benne seed lavash, and grilled sourdough presented in a kitschy, converted metal tackle box. The pimento cheese, which we lathered across pieces of lavash bread, was velvety smooth and satisfying.

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One of their signature cocktails, the dill or no dill ($11), is a refreshing and cool libation crafted with Sipsmith gin, elderflower liqueur, cucumber, dill and lemon – perfect for hot Florida summer days.

The pastry team’s presentation of the Parker House Rolls, made from Khorasan wheat, an ancient grain from Egypt and the fertile crescent of ancient Mesopotamia, is heavenly and almost didn’t need any of the herb and apple butters that it came with. Truly one of the best breads I have ever had and a must seek out item when you visit Harvest & Highball.

Crab cake and Fried Green Tomatoes Appetizer
Crab cake and Fried Green Tomatoes Appetizer

Drawing from both Chef Jeffer’s New Smyrna Beach and Southern upbringing, the crab cake and fried green tomato appetizer ($16) is a unique, yet delicious take on the traditional fried green tomato dish – the textures of the tender jumbo lump crab and the crispy fried green tomatoes worked very well together, especially when served together with the corn chow chow and the cajun remoulade sauce.

Other notable appetizers include Dale’s Deviled Eggs, named after the proprietor of local Lake Meadow Naturals Farms from whence the eggs come from, as well as the pork belly sliders and the playful chicken biscuit with pickled watermelon rinds.

Booker's Skirt Steak
Booker’s Skirt Steak

For our entree, we chose the Booker’s Skirt steak ($30), marinated overnight in Booker’s bourbon whiskey and served with grilled corn and tomato salad, potato puree, and a dash of charred onion vinaigrette. The steak was perfectly seared and had a wonderful flavor to it thanks to the whiskey marinade.

The pastry team, led by Executive Pastry Chef Stephane Chéramy, is highlighted once more for the desserts section – truly divine pastries from the key lime tart to strawberry shortcake with bubblegum marshmallow showcase the true depth of culinary skill possessed by the food and beverage team at the Ritz Carlton.

Highball & Harvest’s most unexpected offerings:

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  • Parker House Rolls, made from Khorasan wheat (Egyptian old-world grains) and served warm and moist with less gluten than typical bread, a complimentary bread presentation made from scratch by the resort’s 30-person pastry team.
  • Signature dishes: Pig-n-Potatoes, an all-day breakfast dish of poached egg, potato hash, and tender pork cheeks with sweet peppers, caramelized onions, H&H Hot Sauce, and hollandaise sauce. The Southern Spreads, pimento cheese dip and smoked fish dip served with pickled veggies, benne seed lavash, and grilled sourdough presented in a metal tackle box. Smoked Lamb Brisket with boiled peanut “baked beans” and collards.
  • Raw Oyster Bar with signature house-made H&H Hot Sauce. Chefs shuck oysters by hand and teach diners all-things-oysters.
  • Signature cocktails include: “The Last Wish” served over an ice sphere with orange peel, the “Doc Holliday” with house ginger beer and blueberry jam, and the “Back 40 Punch”, a refreshing take on a bourbon cocktail mixed with sweet tea and lemon.

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SHRIMP & GRITS
Canaveral Red Shrimp / Anson Mills Grits /
Charred Tomato BBQ / Arugula / Fennel / Crisp Onions 16/25

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H&H PIMENTO CHEESE BURGER
Double Short-Rib Patties / Bacon /
Mustard / Pimento Cheese / Spicy pickles 18

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CHICKEN FRIED CHICKEN
Potato Puree / Garlic Kale / Watermelon 27

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GRILLED LINE-CAUGHT SWORDFISH
Beluga Lentils / Cilantro Coulis / Mango 32

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BLACKENED GROUPER
Hominy Ragout / Andouille / Pickled Okra 29

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H&H PIG-N-POTATOES
Poached Egg / Potato Hash /
Pork Cheeks / Hollandaise 17

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STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE
Strawberry Sorbet / Poached Rhubarb / Bubble Gum Marshmallow 9

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BABY DONUTS
Cappuccino Ice Cream / Chocolate Hazelnut Spread 9

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WARM CHOCOLATE CAKE
Bourbon Pickled Apples Chutney / Madagascar Vanilla Ice Cream 9

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H&H KEY LIME TART
Winter Park Honey Infused Oranges / Margarita Sorbet 9

The opening of Highball & Harvest at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes marks a series of improvements and renovations to the resort in the coming months. JW Marriott Orlando will open Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen in Spring 2015 spotlighting charcuterie, Whisper Creek Farm ingredients, and beer from Whisper Creek Farm: The Brewery opening in September 2014.

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Executive Pastry Chef Stephane Cheramy
Executive Pastry Chef Stephane Cheramy

Highball & Harvest
(407) 393-4422
The Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes
4012 Central Florida Parkway Orlando, FL
www.highballandharvest.com
HOURS
Daily – 6:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Bar – Daily – 11 a.m. – Midnight

Highball & Harvest on Urbanspoon

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We recently dropped by Winter Park’s Cask & Larder – run by James Beard Award nominated Chef-Owners James and Julie Petrakis – for a Southern style Sunday brunch.

Joining us for brunch was our dear friend and my high school classmate, Jachima of the divine Tampa food blog Pie’s Palate. She had just finished the Disney Princess Half-Marathon that morning and was looking for something tasty to try in town.

I suggested visiting Cask and Larder for their highly acclaimed brunch – and it turned out to be a rather truly splendid meal, with some of the best dishes I’ve had all year. Do visit for brunch soon as the menu does change often.

We spoke to Cask and Larder’s Chef de Cuisine Rhys Gawlak about the dishes to inquire more insight into the deliciousness:

Smoked Sausage with Maple Bourbon Glaze
Smoked Sausage with Maple Bourbon Glaze – $6

Cask and Larder Winter Park

Steak and “Huevos Rancheros” – chilaquiles, red beans, fried egg, cancha corn -$18

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“For our Steak & Huevos Rancheros, the steak is a hanger cut, also referred to as a pillar steak, which we rub with a coffee rub. The coffee rub is of course the coffee along with orange, cinnamon, clove, garlic, and brown sugar. Next to the steak is the Rancheros part of the dish. Slow cooked red beans highlighted with herbs de provence act as a resting pool for the chilaquilles. For the chilaquilles we make a red chile sauce out of guaillo and pasilla peppers which is spread between layers of white tortilla and cotija cheese then baked. As if there were any more room on the plate for something, two fried eggs are nestled in there between the steak and chilaquilles. The final touch is a sweet and spicy brittle made from Peruvian cancha corn.” – Cask & Larder Chef de Cuisine Rhys Gawlak

Cask and Larder Winter Park

Chicken and Waffles – Nashville hot chicken, cornbread waffle, cheddar, sweet relish, chive crème fraiche, smoked honey – $14

Cask and Larder Winter Park

“For the Nashville Chicken and Waffles, we took Bell & Evans chicken thighs that we brine, smoke, dredge, fry, and finally toss with a smoky spicy “Nashville Hot Chicken” rub. The rub was developed as an homage to the original “Hot Chicken” from Nashville, TN. If you have not youtubed “Prince’s Hot Chicken“, you should…it’s the real O.G. The waffles are a cornbread recipe that has been tweaked to cook in a waffle iron. There is white cheddar in the waffles as well as garnishing on the plate. On the bottom of the plate is a dill creme fraiche which is to cool you down from the spice. Also to cut the spice a bit and round out the dish, we finish it with a sweet and sour combination of house smoked honey and dill pickle relish.” – Cask & Larder Chef de Cuisine Rhys Gawlak

Cask and Larder Winter Park

Cask and Larder, truly the finest brunch in Orlando, done with a distinctly new Southern flair.

Cask & Larder
565 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
(321) 280-4200
http://www.caskandlarder.com/

Chicken and Waffles with Bourbon Maple syrup at The Coop

Update: Saturday April 19, 2014 –

The Coop has officially opened! Here are a few shots from our recent visit on a Saturday afternoon. The line, of course, was out the door…

The hours are:

Monday – Friday
11-2 and 5-9

Saturday
11-9

Sunday – Closed

The phone number is: 1-407-THE-COOP ((407) 843-2667) – They are not taking to -go orders yet, so you’ll have to wait in line for now!

Looking at the line at the Coop
Looking at the line at the Coop
Outdoor line
Outdoor line
Interior of The Coop - mismatched chairs and tables, family settings...
Interior of The Coop – mismatched chairs and tables, family settings…
The line at The Coop, inside!
The line at The Coop, inside!
Counter service - reminded me of Boston Market a little bit...
Counter service – reminded me of Boston Market a little bit…
The menu in the back.
The menu in the back.
I think it would help to label the dishes
I think it would help to label the dishes
Assembly line / Fast Casual concept
Assembly line / Fast Casual concept
Fried Chicken with Cinnamon bread pudding and mac-n-cheese sides at The Coop - the chicken was a bit too peppery today
Fried Chicken with Cinnamon bread pudding and mac-n-cheese sides at The Coop.
Shrimp N Grits
Shrimp N Grits with Tasso Ham
The Fried Seafood Basket at The Coop
The Fried Seafood Basket at The Coop
My friend's Fried Green Tomatoes and Mac-N-Cheese
My friend’s Fried Green Tomatoes and Mac-N-Cheese
Chicken n Waffles and watermelon from The Coop
Chicken n Waffles and watermelon from The Coop

Overall impressions on first visit, definitely worth a try, despite some missteps. The assembly line nature at the counter could be improved to enhance overall experience – it all seemed a bit rushed once getting to the front. The fried chicken was a bit too dry and there seemed to be a bit of a heavy hand with the black pepper today. The mac and cheese was fabulous, though, as was the shrimp and grits with tasso ham. I am sure they will figure out all the kinks and have a lot of success in the coming days, though.

The menu

Photo Apr 19, 4 28 40 PM

Photo Apr 19, 4 28 18 PM

Photo Apr 19, 4 28 25 PM

Photo Apr 19, 4 28 32 PM

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Original Date posted – February 13, 2014

For the past year or so, Chef John Rivers of 4 Rivers Smokehouse has been quietly tilling away at the kitchen in search of the perfect recipe for fried chicken, quietly testing his recipes and hatching ideas in creating a new refined Southern menu for The Coop (http://asouthernaffair.com/), and the results are astounding.

To say my mind was blown when tasting some of the dishes at a recent preview of the menu is an understatement. The chicken and biscuit, for example, may sound innocuous at first, but the fried chicken, made with dark thigh meat instead of white breast meat – which tends to be dry, was tender and juicy while the biscuit itself was a little sweet and fluffy and together with the bourbon maple syrup – it was divine. I do reckon that bourbon maple syrup that they’ve come up with is going to be a favorite in any Southern kitchen for years to come.

Chicken and biscuits made with juicy fried dark chicken thigh meat
Chicken and biscuits made with juicy fried dark chicken thigh meat

John Rivers wants The Coop to be a place known for its refined, not “gourmet”, Southern comfort food, something that you’d feel welcome to eating at home on your porch on a weekend Florida afternoon, with dishes like the low country shrimp and grits, made with savory, flavorful grits cooked in a chicken/shrimp broth and tender sausage and tasso ham made from a home recipe. The menu has hints of both New Orleans Cajun cuisine and Carolinas low country southern food from the shrimp po boy sandwiches to the Charleston Shrimp Perloo, a dirty rice dish that’s a cousin of the jambalaya and more distantly the Spanish paella. The Coop is much more than about just fried chicken.

No wonder Visit Orlando – the official Tourism Bureau for Central Florida – among its list of “Top 10 Reasons for Visiting Orlando in 2014” included The Coop, the only local restaurant among a sea of theme park attractions and developments. Get ready for a very delightful March when The Coop opens its doors in Winter Park for the first time – it will be a year for fried chicken all around. The phone number is 407-The-COOP and the address is 610 West Morse Boulevard, Winter Park, FL 32789 – I suggest you bookmark it in your GPS/Google Maps now. The COOP will be open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and will be closed on Sundays. For more information, visit www.asouthernaffair.com.

Chef John Rivers presenting the Coop's Chicken and Waffles
Chef John Rivers presenting the Coop’s Chicken and Waffles
Chicken and Waffles with Bourbon Maple syrup at The Coop
Chicken and Waffles with Bourbon Maple syrup at The Coop
Shrimp Po Boy, influenced by New Orleans cajun cuisine
Shrimp Po Boy, influenced by New Orleans cajun cuisine
Charleston Shrimp Perloo - a rice dish from the Carolinas
Charleston Shrimp Perloo – a rice dish from the Carolinas
The Coop's Deviled Eggs
The Coop’s Deviled Eggs
Broccoli salad with cranberries, pine nuts, red onion
Broccoli salad with cranberries, pine nuts, red onion

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Low Country Shrimp and Grits with house made Tasso ham and sausage

Mac and 3 Cheeses - Gruyere, Parmesan, and Cheddar cheese
Mac and 3 Cheeses – Gruyere, Parmesan, and Cheddar cheese
Creamed corn fixin'
Creamed corn fixin’
Cornbread - really good - fluffy, light, sweet, some flakes of corn detected
Cornbread – really good – fluffy, light, sweet, some flakes of corn detected
Possible Menu at the Coop
Possible Menu at the Coop

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

PImento cheese, a southern classic
PImento cheese, a southern classic
Chicken Pot pie, so cute so little, so delicious
Chicken Pot pie, so cute so little, so delicious
Fried okra, very delicate fry
Fried okra, very delicate fry
Whoopie Pies - red velvet cake, peanut butter, and more
Whoopie Pies – red velvet cake, peanut butter, and more

SONY DSC

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The Coop: A Southern Affair on Urbanspoon

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Cask & Larder, sister restaurant of The Ravenous Pig, debuts their lunch menu this Thursday July 11, 2013.

Chef Rhys Gawlak, a master at artisanal butchery and charcuterie, oversees Cask & Larder’s lunch and brunch services offering a vibrant daytime experience with fresh, homemade dishes.

Lunch service will be open to the public on Thursday, July 11 and continue Wednesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

I had the chance to preview some of their new lunch menu items today (check out their full lunch menu here), and it appears that the new outlook for lunch in Winter Park/Orlando is looking up – absolutely delicious and exciting.

lamb ribs 15 - green tomato yogurt, burnt coriander honey
lamb ribs 15 – green tomato yogurt, burnt coriander honey

I started with their lamb ribs ($15), fall of the bone tender slabs of lamb with a honey glaze and a very interesting green tomato yogurt sauce with burnt coriander. This dish was so good I had to share it immediately not just on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/etc. but also with my fellow foodies in the room. “MMmmmm’s” were heard all around – no words needed to express their feelings about this dish.

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C & L LEMONADE 10
enlightened grain tea and sage infused vodka,
house pink lemonade, fever tree ginger beer

Cask and Larder is self titled as a “Southern Public House”, and so it’s no surprise to see a menu that has Nashville style hot chicken sandwich and New Orleans style muffuletta sandwiches, but all with a very local Orlando flair to it with locally sourced ingredients from Central Florida’s farms and fresh seafood from Florida’s coasts.

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Rabbit meatloaf ($14) with potato puree, marinated mushrooms, crispy haricot verts, pickled quail egg

Po' Boy sandwich ($13) celery seed hoagie from Old Hearth Bakery, crispy and soft oysters and bacon (fried pork belly chunks), green tomato chow-chow
Po’ Boy sandwich ($13) celery seed hoagie from Old Hearth Bakery, crispy and soft oysters and bacon (fried pork belly chunks), green tomato chow-chow

For my main lunch item, I had the Po’ Boy sandwich ($13) celery seed hoagie from Old Hearth Bakery, crispy and soft oysters and bacon (fried pork belly chunks), green tomato chow-chow. The textures and flavors of the soft oysters and crunchy fried pork belly and green tomato salad all went so well in the fresh, fluffy hoagie bread, perfect for sopping up any juices from the sandwich. Needless to say, this one was devoured to the very last bite.

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For lunch, they offer sorbets and ice creams made in house, and you can even opt for a dessert flight. Mine came with white chocolate, raspberry sorbet, and salted caramel all with a nice crunchy cookie sand on the bottom.

Cask and Larder features southern cuisine using seasonal, fresh and local ingredients so their menus change accordingly – check their site and call to be sure.

To make a reservation please visit opentable.com, or call 321.280.4200

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