Monday, December 13, 2010

Polonia Polish Restaurant- Longwood

I had never even heard of a Pierogi until my 3rd year of college. That's when a young kid named Skrypczuk (it took me a long time before I finally memorized that spelling) moved in next door. One night he asked me if I wanted to eat with him and naturally, I thought, 'Free food, and I don't have to help cook?? Sign me up!'

So goes my first introduction with these delicious little potato-pillows. That night we had them with peppers, onions and sour cream. I was upset it had taken me so long to finally enjoy the best thing a Pole has given mankind right after a bevy of terrible jokes. Flash forward many years later, and here I am, still hangin around with Skryp (easier) and still enjoying pierogies. Last Saturday, we were at a little place on 17/92, called Polonia Polish Restaurant.

This store is maybe the size of a 7-11. Small, quaint, no frills. Just good cookin and great service. When you enter the establishment, you come upon a deli counter. For those of you who would rather purchase a homemade delight for a take and bake evening, there's plenty of keilbasas, blintzez and fresh baked goods ready to go. We, however, were there to enjoy the all that the cafe had to offer us. Following the host around the corner, there's seating for maybe 40 people give or take a 4-top. It was Saturday afternoon, so the crowd was small but we noticed that beneath the tables, in the center of the dining area, there was a wooden dance floor. I'm guessing there's some crazy Polish partying going on in this joint when the sun goes down.
Decorations lined the walls reflecting Polish heritage: pictures, art work and the blazing red and white symbol of their homeland.
Since it was still early, we dined off the lunch menu. Not a lot of gimmicks. Not a lot of bells and whistles, just classic fare. Soup, salads and potato pancakes were a few options as a starter. Many varieties of kielbasa, pierogies and stuffed cabbage for the main course. There were also plenty of sandwich options available too.
We started with a helping of the potato pancakes. However, before they arrived our server (who was possibly the best server I've had at ANY dining establishment in recent memory) brought us a basket of fresh bread. This wasn't your typical yeast roll/french bread though. I dove into a sweet, moist selection with poppy seeds on the crust. It tasted like the finest of Hawaiian rolls. We all enjoyed a few pieces before the potato cakes were brought out. Three burger-patty sized cakes flattened, crispy and ready to go. They came with a side of sour cream and homemade granny smith apple sauce. The apple sauce was a little different than what Mott's gives you. It had small chunks, like if you were cleaning a carrot and those little strands go flying off? It was like that. A mound of apple strands with a rich, brown color and light texture. I had never tried potatoes with apples before, but I'll tell ya what--I'll do it again.

We devoured our pancakes and even scooped another bite or two of the leftover apples before our lunch was dropped off.
Skryp and I got basically the same thing, two pierogies, one stuffed cabbage and kielbasa. That's their Polish Trio...his was the platter though, which came with all of the above plus a side of sauerkraut.
The kilebasa was awesome and the stuffed cabbage was a first for me. I like trying new things, but wasn't sure if I'd enjoy this selection. I was pleasantly surprised. It came out about the size of a burrito with your choice of sauce drizzled on top. I got mine half and half, with the regular red sauce, which was good, but not very--what's the word...overwhelming? It didn't add much to that half of the cabbage, but it didn't take away from it either. The other half had this rich mushroom sauce, THAT was the winner. So good! Creamy with lots of diced up mushrooms drizzled all up on it. The cabbage was soft; stuffed with meat, onions and who knows what else. It all tasted delish. The wife got a plate of pierogies. They had three varieties that day (I suppose it differs as they make them fresh). You could take the regular potato and cheese, there was spinach with farmers cheese, and a mushroom filled one as well. She got 4 regulars and two spinach. I had one spinach and one regular with my trio. They came with some nice caramelized onions on top and lots of sour cream on the side.
As we were finishing up this Polish feast, our server swung by with the dessert...assorted babkas. There were a few different kinds to choose from. Too bad none of us left room for the sweets, but it definitely gives me a reason to go back. Speaking of going back, whenever we decide to enjoy some pierogies for dinner at home, we'll make sure to swing by Polonia's to pick up a portion of theirs, homemade. The ones we find in the grocer's freezer aren't bad, but they don't even compare to the real deal.
After all was said and done, with a coke I think we got outta there spending about $25.00 including tip.

So if you like the sausage, you like the potatoes, you'll like the Polonia. Just a short drive from downtown.

750 South Highway 17/92
Longwood, Florida
(407) 331-1933

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe' - Sanford

We had to make our reservations 4 weeks in advance. I didn't think it was necessary, but apparently, this joint hidden in Sanford, FL is one of the nations best to enjoy Germany's finest...
Months ago a coworker was telling me about her trip to Munchen for Oktoberfest. I said that's something I would love to see firsthand. Of course, I'm not going to Germany anytime soon, so obviously it'll have to wait.

Not quite.

She went on to say that there is a little gem of a German Restaurant in Sanford she had been to that really did a good job of bringing that experience to the states, it's called Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe. She'd attended what's known as Schunkel Abend. A few times a week they dust off the lederhosen and pay homage to Oktoberfest.

First off, if you're going to might as well plan on going on an evening they're holding Schunkel Abend and you'll want to make reservations ahead of time. Of course, this charming little cafe is probably a nice place for lunch or a quiet dinner on those dates they don't have anything going on. However, if that's the case, make sure to make a follow-up visit on one of the event nights. You'll be happy you did.

When we arrived, we walked up to the hostess stand and found her talking to another lady about the wait was obvious this other patron didn't have accommodations already made as she eventually stormed off in a huff.

What do you expect? From the looks of the patio dining alone, this place was probably at capacity. After a very short wait, we were brought to our table right next to the stage. What a great spot. We could see the entire dining area. Many smiling faces sitting around us, enjoying their dark biers and schnitzels, all the while swaying back and forth to the authentic sounds of the entertainment on stage. That night, we enjoyed th musical stylings of an older gent, (the musician lineup varies) fully hosen, playing the accordion (amongst other instruments).

As I mentioned before, the dining area was quite full. As we sat down, I had the feeling that it would probably be a bit of a wait before we saw our server. However, not a few minutes after we were seated, a friendly waitress came over to take drink orders, help us with any questions we had and drop off a nice little bread basket. Questions indeed, Hollerbach's offers 50 different German beers and wine (as well as a full liquor bar). After that, not a few minutes went by before she was back, stocked full of steins of all shapes and sizes. I went with the liter to start...and to finish...and in the middle--I got pretty drunk.

As we sat back and enjoyed the music, our entertainer switched back and forth between a few different instruments, but the accordion seemed to be everybody's favorite. We sang happy birthday, Edelweiss, did the chicken dance and of course, the old Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi!

When it came time to order, the menu was surprisingly diverse. Of course you had your wide variety of German sausages, krauts, schnitzels and all that. However, they also had salads, seafood and sandwiches. I started with the appetizer of the gourmet potato pancakes. Good LAWD! They might have been the best thing I've eaten all year. They're topped with smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and sour cream. You get two pancakes, the size of a burger patty and they are making me drool just thinking of them. In hindsight, although my entree was very tasty, I would have been happy just ordering another round of these.

For dinner, I wanted to try and get a good sample of what they had to offer, so...why not go with the schlachtaus platte fur zwei? I'm guessing that translates to butcher shop platter for two? Who knows, it had 3 different kinds of wurst, a ham loaf, smoked pork loin and three sides: their famous heaven and earth potatoes (which is a house recipe of mashed potatoes mixed with sauteed onions and apples…not bad) sauerkraut and red cabbage. The menu says it's a feast for two, or one really hungry person!

The assorted wursts (Knock, Brat and Weiss) were all plump and juicy...the ham was also tasty, with only a few fatty spots that had to be put to the side. I don't do cabbage, gave it a try, hated it, but that's just me. Same goes for the kraut--hate the kraut, loathe the kraut. If kraut is your bag, you'll probably have a different experience.

The food was a hit all around the table, my friends let me try their dishes (some terrifically fried chicken) and we shared ours. With the abundance of meat, there were plenty of leftovers to enjoy the following day. That, of course, cannot be said for the boot the table next to us ordered. Ah yes, das boot...infamous really. This 3 liter leviathan is not for the faint of heart. Once ordered, the musician made a special announcement like there was a general on deck. The group all stood up, acknowledged the rest of us with a silent nod and went to work. One at a time they would stand, drinking till they couldn't drink no mo, hand off to the next victim and sit down. It was definitely a team effort. As the beer line slowly got lower, with each hand off, the crowd would go into a frenzy chanting, "Chug, chug, chug!" Hoping to see the last of it disappear. If I remember correctly (and only lord knows if I do, I alone was 3 liters deep) it was a small girl that finally took the bull by the horns and killed the mighty beast. Whadda gal!

As the night wore on (our reservation was for 7:30) the long tables of drunken patrons began to slowly thin out. It occurred to me that making a reservation for a late dinner would probably be a little less necessary. However, by then it was 9 o clock and lets face it, if you're going for the party, you wanna be there when it's popping, not dying out.

I should tell you that The Willow Tree Cafe isn't just the patron of my praise, they have a very impressive list of accomplishments worthy of mentioning. In 2010 they've garnered: Best restaurant in Sanford on and the #1 spot for German/East European restaurant in the Orlando Sentinel's foodie awards. Oh, local awards aren't nuthin to brag on, huh? Well what about the number 2 spot in the NATION on's list of America's Top German Restaurants in 2009? That do anything for ya?

Go for the show, go for the food, go for the beers as big as your head, just remember, they ain't no Hollerbach girls (it seemed funny after 3 liters of beer, lay-off).


Willow Tree Cafe

Sanford Historic District

205 East 1st Street

Sanford, FL 32771

(407) 321-2204

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lac Viet Bistro - Orlando

If you're familiar with the Colonial Town section of Orlando, you know that's where to find the most authentic Oriental cuisine in the city. This is also where you can find a little place called Lac Viet Bistro.
Located on 50, just down the block from the retro Publix downtown, Lac Viet doesn't look like much from the outside (with the exception of an EXCELLENT statue). An old building worn out by intense heat and pounding rain, but once inside you'd have thought someone pulled the old switcheroo on ya--it's almost inconceivable. The ornate details, authentic decorations and friendly staff make you instantly forget your first impression walking up.

We went on a Friday night but had no problem getting a table right away. This was not due to a lack of customers. Certainly not. There were many patrons there that night, several of them with large families and groups of 6 or more. Lac Viet just has lots of space and are able to accommodate everyone, hooray!
The waiter arrived, asked us if we had any questions and took our drink orders. After he left, I got up to wander around a bit. As I mentioned before, the details and decorations were very well done. A water feature teeming with goldfish, several traditional musical instruments and art work donned the walls surrounding us in very tasteful fashion.
Our drinks were dropped off shortly thereafter and we ordered an appetizer. We went with something easy, the spring rolls. They were light and delicious. Packed full, but the cabbage and veggies were so fresh they didn't leave you feeling heavy. This is exactly what an appetizer should do right? Not fill you up, make you more hungry.
At the recommendations of our friends we all tried the same thing for dinner, Pho Bo. This is a beef noodle soup and you get to choose the proteins to add to it. I went with the Bo Vien beef meatball, Tai eye-round steak and the skirt flank. We also ordered a side of fried rice, as we were told it was the best in the city.
After a beer or two our entree arrived. Since we all got different variations of the same thing, you'd have thought we were all competing in our own apple bobbing competitions. I mean, I could have gone swimming in this soup bowl it was so massive (and we only ordered the regular size!). Along with the steaming plate of fresh fried rice, dinner was served.
The Pho Bo comes with a plate of bean sprouts, fresh basil leaves, lime wedges and jalapeno peppers to add at your discretion. My friend and I also asked for the house hot sauce. It was a welcome addition if you enjoy the heat.
The soup was awesome. It was layered with so many flavors--what with the the lime juice and jalapenos giving it touches of sweet and hot. The bean sprouts added a crunchy texture and the savory meats were just oozing their juices into the rich broth (not to mention the heaping amounts of noodles swarming at the bottom of the bowl). After a few minutes I realized I hadn't even given the fried rice a try yet.I had a small side plate and scooped some on there, gave it a whirl with the hot sauce. Yes, between the ample amounts of chicken, egg, carrots and peas, this fried rice was definitely leaps and bounds above the dishes I am used to (side note, I usually only get fried rice when I eat mall Chinese, but still, I mean, this...was good!).
After a couple of bites I thought I'd, "do me," as the kids say and added the fried rice to my soup. Brilliance. I just took this dinner to the next level.
We enjoyed good conversation and good food for what seemed like hours when I realized I had barely dented my meal and was already pretty full. The waiter asked if we wanted to take home the leftovers, but I declined. Our friend got hers and it looked like two more meals worth in the to go container.
We got the bill and I was amazed. Appetizers, beers, two HUGE meals and a side of the best fried rice this stink town has to offer came out to just around 40 bucks...WITH TIP. We weren't there for happy hour, we didn't have a BOGO coupon, nuthin, just amazing food on the cheap.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention-- they also have a dish near the exit with the best selection of your grandpa's favorite hard candies. Game-Viet-Match.

So, there ya go..Lac Viet Bistro. Amazing Vietnamese food, amazing prices and authentic decor.

Tell'em Daniel sentcha.

Lac Viet Bistro
2021 E Colonial Dr, ORLANDO, FL 32803
(407) 228-4000

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Agave Azul - Metrowest

I'm going to get straight to the point, Agave Azul should change their name to Chimichurris, or something of the like. Confused? Let me bring you up to speed. For what seems like months now I've been hearing about this place that seemingly serves up some of the finest Mexican food in town. I had no idea where it was, I didn't know what to expect. All I know is, I finally got around to checking this place out, and boy--was I surprised. First off, as we are rolling into the parking lot, I immediately notice we're in a strip mall...great. A strip mall restaurant, why don't we just go to Quiznos? So kinda had a bad first impression walking up. They have a decent outside seating area, lots of tables with some nice lighting fixtures, but I dunno--if I am eating outside I'd like it to be a step up from eating inside. When all you're doing is eating next to a giant parking lot, it just doesn't come across as that appealing. So, we make our way inside. This, in essence, would be the exact point where Alice goes through the door and finds herself in Wonderland. Everything changed. You enter what seemingly is a Hollywood, upscale establishment lit up by blue lights that create a nice hue all around. The decor is all top notch and the architecture feels like something from Miami's South Beach. The host's stand is in front of an elegant waterfall partition, separating it from the dining area. On the left is a nicely displayed set of fine tequilas. On the right, a trendy looking bar where most of the patrons were dressed to impress. It was then that I felt relieved to have ditched the flip flops and shorts and wore something a little classier than Cocoa Beach gear.
So we put our name on the list. The wait wasn't terribly long even though the place was pretty packed. I was worried we'd be sitting around for a while when all of a sudden, our booth was ready.
The host led us around the wall to a quiet little spot with a view of the entire dining room floor. This place was much bigger than I thought. However, the dull roar of about 50 people eating and chatting didn't create the need to talk loud or say, "Whaa? Huh?" as our conversations went on.
We looked at the menu, and decided to get the Agave sampler to start. This came with chicken nachos, a shot of ceviche, wings and a few other items. A couple of margaritas were also ordered, they were big and pretty good. It all came out together, but not before the chips and dips (complimentary) were placed on our table shortly after being seated. I didn't know what the white sauce was, but it sure was unique. One might describe it as a touch of sweetness added to sour cream. The pico de gallo was fresh as was the salsa verde.
The agave sampler came out and really lived up to the old saying I just now created, "You can't spell sampler without ample (bad I know)." The queso dip was good and plentiful, the wings tasted fine but nothing jaw dropping. The chicken nachos could easily suffice four mouths or so. I actually didn't care for them all that much though. The chicken and cheese were both delish don't get me wrong, but however they decided to prepare it was devastating to the chips' integrity. As I tried to scoop up a notch (singular for nacho, duh) it only bent back and limped under the toppings. You basically had to scrape the chicken and cheese off with a fork and eat it that way. Friends enjoyed the ceviche, I didn't try it.
As we finished the appetizers, the server came back (numerous times I might add, the service was very attentive) with our entrees. I had ordered Joel's Plato Favorito which came with a cheese covered grilled chicken breast, a blackened shrimp skewer, and two enchiladas: one filled with potato and one with beans. It was all good, the potato enchilada was a little different almost like a Mexican pierogi. The chicken was amazing. Rice and beans, both up to par. However, it was the Arrachera that stole the show that night. A skirt steak cooked perfectly topped with chimichurri sauce, paired with a vegetable medley. The sauce was unlike anything I had ever had. I wish I could describe the taste to you but no words could do it justice. The lemon, garlic and basil amongst other sweet tidings were dancing like a fiesta on my tongue. The color was nice and rich, just like the taste. Layer that on top of a seasoned skirt steak and it was basically, like buttah. I feel like, in the grand scheme of things, I had lost. My companion's order definitely beat mine. Don't get me wrong though, Joel and his "Plato Favorito" didn't disappoint...but while my entree was like Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, hers was The Last Crusade.
At the end of the meal, we got our to go boxes and paid the's a little on the pricey side. A group of four with drinks and appetizers came out to a little over hundred bucks, but it was definitely worth it. The colorful interior, trendy bar set up, waterfall in the waiting area and criss-crossing blue lights everywhere made it a very memorable experience. Although it was a bit of a hike to get there, this strip mall destination surely leaves one satisfied.

Agave Azul
4750 S. Kirkman Road,
Orlando, FL 32811
407-704-6930 or 407-704-6931

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

4 Rivers (4R) Smokehouse - Winter Park

When you think of good barbecue, a few cities may come to mind: Memphis, TN--Austin, TX--St. Louis, MO--Winter Park, FL???

You read it right...word on the street was, this little hole in the wall on Fairbanks Ave. was slinging slathered sandwiches, dinner platters and delicious home-cooked sides to a line out the door all day every day. So, I finally made the trek out to taste for myself.

Before I make with the food critique, lemme just tell this to you straight...I am not, and have never claimed to be, a BBQ expert. I love all sorts of sauces, be it tangy and sweet or make you cry, hot. This also goes for meat--brisket, pulled pork, baby-back ribs, it's all good. So I don't want you to think I have any type of expertise on the subjacue at hand. That noted, I can rightfully say that Bubbalou's, to me, is pretty 'meh' when it comes to their meals. Same goes for Sonny's. It's like comparing a McDonald's burger to one from 5 guys. Sure they're both tasty, and I won't turn it down--but given a choice, I'd prefer the latter. This, my enemies, is whereabouts I place 4 Rivers' product. A superior sauce and meat, with sides that taste like you got them at a family picnic, not out of a buffet style chafing dish. So take my words with a dollop of sauce, lump it or lather it. This is what I think about a smokehouse named 4R.

As you're driving west down Fairbanks Ave...coming from 17-92, you might find yourself wondering, what's with all the people standing around that wooden-looking building? Take a right and pull into the parking lot out back. As you make your way to the door, you pass by the outside dining area, which is actually the only dining area...then you wait. This place is so popular, that it is not uncommon to have to stand outside for a while before you can make it in to order. Feel like getting a leg up on the pack? Call in ahead of time, that might shave off a few minutes. Supply and demand in all its glory folks--sure this place wants to feed you, but you have to be patient...because EVERYBODY wants in on this.

There were 3 or 4 people already waiting outside of the door to get in when we walked up to the take-out window. We gave them our name and order details and luckily, as we timed it quite well, only had to wait a few minutes before our bag of sop-loving barbecue was ready. Before we made off with the loot though, I wanted to give this place a better look.

Stepping inside it was immediately evident that this place was not an eating establishment before. The waiting/ordering area was about the size of an apartment's kitchen and the line snaked up one wall, against the cold drinks on the far side, then back toward the exit. Maybe 15 or so people could be in there at any given time. If you are in a hurry, this place isn't for you. Your patience needs to be not unlike the delicious sauces and slow-smoked meats that are awaiting your tongue's pallet...remember, good things come to those who wait.

The staff was friendly, despite the fact they were crazy-busy. While we were there, I saw about 5-6 people darting around behind the prep line and a few others walking around making sure the dining area was clean and had plenty of napkins. I ordered, as recommended, a pulled pork sandwich with a side of mac and cheese and BBQ beans. They have all sorts of other sides to choose from, but my friend told me these, although typical, were not to be missed. There are many other items on the menu that looked equally amazing, specifically the Texas Destroyer sandwich and The Smokehouse Prime Rib sandwich, which comes doused in homemade horseradish.

I got outta there, no drink, for less than 8 bucks...add a tip and you're still getting outta there without burning a ten spot. So the price is definitely nice. If you want to add a huge piece of cake or an order of chocolate awesomeness (yes, that really is the name) for dessert, that's only gonna add a few more dollars, plus the portion is hefty, plenty to share.

When we got home, it was time to see what all the hub barb was my meal all ready to eat and dove in. The pulled pork was juicy and tender, not to mention ample! The poor bun had its work cut out for it, trying to maintain its integrity against the forces of the meat and sauce. We had some extra regular and hot barbecue on the side for dipping, both were quite complimentary. The hot barb wasn't so bad that it'd make you sweat, but it definitely gave you a touch of that lame thing Emeril does. Okay so the sandwich is good, but a meal can live or die on its side items--so lets see what's going on with this mac and cheese. Straight up, killer. It wasn't your typical style of mac and cheese (although, I do love it) this was your homemade, cheesy mac and cheese. Big, fat, elbow macaroni noodles choking for dear life because of the cheese's suffocating grip on each one. Creamy and tasty, the noodles were cooked perfectly...nothing worse than overcooked noodles. Am I right? Am I right? This guy knows what I'm talking about. After the mac and cheese we had the barbecue baked beans...good LAWD--tell'em Uncle Jesse. This was almost like a whole other meal in itself. The sauce, was rich and deep. The beans must've been loving life, just chilling in a vat of that thick, dark goodness. There were smoky flavors, sweet flavors, some tid bits of meat in there too. I think you probably coulda put the beans on a hoagie and made a sandwich out of them alone!

4 Rivers for me, was an eye opening experience. I was always under the impression that in order to get good seafood, you need to be close to the ocean, if you want good pastries, you need to be at a bakery before noon and if you want good barbecue, you need to be in Texas or Mizzou or one of those fine BBQ states, not so. Debunked. Good barb can be served in the middle of the hoity-toityest part of Orlando. Slather on friendly service, affordable pricing and a fine selection of new and old BBQ standards and you got yourself, well...a place where you will need to be patient cuz the line--it's out the door.

4R Smokehouse
Hours: M-T 11am-8pm/Friday and Saturday 11am-9pm/Closed Sunday
Address: 2103 West Fairbanks Orlando FL ~ 407-474-8377 Fax: 321.972.5641

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Tilted Kilt - UCF

I know, I know--its been a while since I updated around here. What can I say? March is always a crazy month for me. What with the big NCAA tourney keeping me preoccupied for 3 weeks straight, I'm finally back in action. So, I apologize. I know how the 3 people that actually read this thing must have been holding their breath in anticipation of my latest gastronomical affair.
Down on University Blvd. in East Orange County there used to be, quite possibly, my favorite "Bar and Grill" style establishment...Bennigan's.
Now their food wasn't so out of this world delicious (don't get me wrong, I always enjoyed whatever I ordered) but, their prices were decent. If you happened to be in their email club you'd get some sorta coupon at least once a week that would save you considerable dough. So, when they went belly up and the building became just a shell, I would often drive by and wonder, what's next for you my love...what's next?
Well just a little while ago, they started remodelling the guts and finally a "Coming Soon" banner appeared atop the awning. The Tilted Kilt was on its way.
I had never heard of this chain before, so naturally I Topeka'd it and found their web site. You can imagine my disgust when I discovered it was a bar and grill, with a gimmick like Hooters! Scantily clad girls, showing off more skin than Heidi Montag, serving delicious fried food and cold drinks. The horror!
Naturally--we had to check it out.
It's hard to give a read on this place just yet, we went for lunch on maybe the 4th day they were open, which also happened to be a Friday Pay Day for UCF employees...the place was SLAMMED. We walked in around 1 pm and it looked like every table was occupied as well as about 90% of the bar and high tops. As luck would have it, a spot opened up just as we finished putting our name in and that fifteen minute wait vanished.
We sat down and our server stopped by to take drink orders. I asked her about happy hour, and from what I recall it was pretty weak. From 4-7 pm, everything's a dollar off...that's more like a pleasant hour if you ask me.
So, looking at the menu you'll find an assortment of your basic bar food. They have deep fried apps and burgers, sandwiches and wraps as well as pizza--all with a Scottish twist (It seems everybody relates a kilt to the Irish when it's the Scots who have been wearing them all these years). Their entrees looked pretty good too, a meatloaf sandwich stuck out in particular.
I ordered a chicken wrap...which was a jalapeno tortilla (awesome) packed with fried chicken, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese--the usual wrap stuffing. You could take your chicken plain, or dipped in one of three sauces. I took the sweet and spicy selection, the TK sauce. It was just that--sweet and just a little spicy. If you have ever gotten those new chicken nuggets at Wendy's, it's basically the same thing. So you got that with a side of fries--I opted for bleu cheese instead of the ranch dressing that came with it...I chose--wisely. Other items ordered included: a humongous burger...two patties, each one was 10 oz. of beef with fried onion straws, bacon and cheese. There was also the "lighter" option with only one 10 oz. patty. A pulled pork sandwich dressed with cole slaw was the last plate selected.
Now, as I mentioned, this was like day 4 of the place being open so obviously you're going to hit some bumps along the way. Our lunch was no different. After we placed our order, the server stopped by no less than 12 times to apologize for the wait. We kept telling her, "no worries." She was either guilt ridden or we looked like a buncha jerks. It came down to the point that I almost felt like avoiding any eye contact with her so she WOULDN'T come over to apologize again. The thing is, as a group of guys eating in a place that is basically a strip club with no nudity, you aren't really in any rush to get outta there if you know what I mean (wink-wink nudge-nudge). While we waited a few other servers popped by our table asking us how we were doing, how we liked the new joint...all very friendly, and although our stomachs were getting antsy, we just hung loose until the food finally arrived.
The burgers were massive, and the wrap was plenty big too. My friend and I split the pulled pork sand and the wrap and went half-sees on them. The fries were nicely seasoned, kind of like how Bennigan's used to spice up theirs, and the pulled pork was juicy. I don't even like cole slaw, but it really set it off on that sandwich.
The two burger eaters crushed their sandwiches with ease, although, I think any "mortal" would have a hard time finishing off the double, it was just that big.
When it came time to pay, my bill was 12 bucks after tip (that's with a water, no soft drink) so the price is kind of steep compared to surrounding establishments of the like.
A the end of the day, I would say...yes--I'll check TK out again. However, I think the prices might drive that place into the ground prematurely if they don't start some daily specials or improve their happy hour. For even wonderful scenery such as the Tilted Kilt's, can't be adored by way of an empty wallet. (You didn't think I'd REALLY try to take a pervy pic of the servers did you?)
The Tilted Kilt
Orlando, FL, 32817

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Colorado's Prime Steak - Sanford

It's hard to find a place to eat when you don't know what you want. This was the situation a few Friday nights ago when Kim and I hopped in the car and just started driving around. We were deep into the Lake Mary/Sanford area when we spotted a glowing sign off the side of the road.

Colorado Prime Steak is a modest little place but by the looks of the parking lot, I had a feeling that I was in for something good. I'd guess there were maybe 30 spots total, give or take a few...with perhaps two available when we pulled in.

The place smells like a champ as you approach the door. You know when you go to the mall, and you happen to stroll by the Abercrombie store and you get a whiff of that pungent cologne they are pumping out into the walk way? Well imagine that odor is replaced with the aroma of sweet, smoked meats. This is what greeted us as we entered...delicious.

Walked in and the hostess promptly sat us down. This was a surprise. I thought, judging by the lack of spots in the lot, we'd have a little bit of a wait on our hands. Nope, despite the number of cars outside, there were still several tables available.

Sat down at our booth and had a chance to size up the interior. Lots of small farm equipment hanging from the walls, a collection of Ansel Adams portraits, some metal-work art and a deer head as big as a house. Apparently "Buster" is the mascot for CPS, and watches all as he rests against the back wall of the bar.

Like I said, it was a Friday night so I expected the place to be busy. However, our server was quite attentive, even with the 10 top table next to us running her around.
We started with an appetizer, the rib basket. Nicely smoked half rack with a plate of fries. Juicy and flavorful, the ribs were awesome and the fries had a nice seasoning, went quite well together. I was getting nervous that the basket seemed to be taking a little longer than expected. One thing I hate when dining out is when you order an app. and it's served at the same time as your meal. However, throughout the night, our server was on point and everything came out at a nice pace so as not to cramp the other plate's style. That said, my salad came first, then the app and then eventually or main entrees.

After perusing the menu, Kim decided on the smoked prime rib and I chose the Silver City chicken. When the plates arrived, it was evident that they didn't skimp on the portions...but how would it taste?

After a few bites, I could tell Kim was not too pleased with her selection. She said it tasted too smoky. I scoffed, too smoky you say? No such thing, I tried a bite and it was a delight. Savory, tender meat and the smoked flavor was deep, like the poetry of Shel Silverstein. Apparently she ordered it hoping for a milder taste than what she got. Not a chance, this baby was probably chilling in the smoker for eight hours--engulfed.

My Silver City chicken was huge and delicious. Melted cheese on top of onions and mushrooms that were nice and juicy. It almost tasted like they poured the best part of a French onion soup on the chicken with melted cheese on top.

We each had a loaded baked potato on the side, awesome. Hard to mess up a baked potato I know, but what can usually be considered a "same ol same ol" starch was actually a lot better than I expected. I think they must have rolled the whole spud in salt before heating it up, because even the skin tasted good.

After settling up our tab, we got outta there under $40, including a nice tip for the server, who was still getting mangled by that huge table next to us. We both got water which, of course, always shaves a few bucks offa the top.

Looking back, there's not a whole lot to say about this place in a negative light. They forgot Kim's mixed veggie side, but we didn't even realize it until after we had left, seeing how the huge prime rib plate was enough for two anyways.

The service, atmosphere and food were all warm and inviting. The clientele was obviously that of the Bass Pro Shop persuasion. That didn't surprise me though..after all we were in Sanford.

In hindsight, I wish I would have tried the steak, since it is a part of the restaurant's name. Oh well, gives us a reason to go back, a full rack of them ribs wouldn't be too shabby either.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Crazy Buffet - Altamonte Springs

Crazy Buffet--Hard to decide where to start. With their name? Their food? Their reputation?
Howabout we just start at the start and work our way to the end... ya?

As you walk up to Vari Asian Crazy Buffet, which is (if you like to be proper) their full name. You are greeted by none other than your 80's-style revolving door. It's been a while since I've gone anywhere that had a door like this, let alone a restaurant.
After filing into the waiting area you find a nicely lit place. There's lotsa oriental decorations: giant fans and hanging lanterns--as well as an indoor Koi pond ala Kobe's steakhouse. We were taken by the host to the seating area which was expansive. No lack of tables here. So when the host sat us right on top of another party, I was a bit surprised. Oh well, I guess having to listen to their whole conversation about whether or not a human could live in an atmosphere made of strictly CO2 (couldn't make that up) was better than having to listen to the loud "God Warrior" a few tables away. Every time this guy opened his sushi hole, the dining room became loud with an evangelical sermon instead of the quiet white noise that is buffet banter. Not that I have any problems with people and their views on religion. I just don't wanna hear it at level 11, echoing across the room. Maybe he just doesn't care about my serious conversation regarding the weirdos eating behind me!
The waitress took our drink order and told us the ins and outs of the place. You got your sushi bar, your flat iron grill they use to cook up the concoctions you create from the assorted items available (chicken, shrimp beef, different veggies and noodles, sauces and spiciness). They also offered fillets cooked to order. So we asked for a few steaks, medium rare, and went to peruse the rest of the selections while the man prepared the meat.
Although I don't particularly love it, a diverse sushi selection greets you at the beginning of your crazy journey. Hard to deny that, when a ton of unique looking and uniformly lined up rolls are on display, it almost looks artistic. I tried a tempura shrimp roll with wasabi and was good. Friends got a few rolls as well and had no complaints. The tempura vegetable option however, man--that was just about the grossest thing I've eaten in years...and I've been to Arby's!
What seemed to be just a nicely fried round of zuch-suit-riot (Zucchini if you don't speak Cherry Poppin Dadese) was actually stuffed with what I could only describe as sweet tuna salad? It looked weird, tasted off key and went straight into my napkin not unlike Jerry Seinfeld's Mutton.
As we continue down the seemingly, never ending line of buffet options, we find the raw bar. Nothing out of the ordinary as far as selection goes. Peel and eat shrimp, oysters, clams and crab legs with lemon wedges to spritz as well as cocktail sauce for dunking.
I'll be the first to tell you that I am not a well-versed crab handler. In the fact that, I cannot successfully open a crab leg dinner from start to finish, without at least one major blowout. This meal was no different. As I was wedging my fork beneath the crab claw to forge out that ample nugget of sweet crab meat, I was thinking, "Why aren't there any crackers or cocktail forks to assist us?" It was about that time the resistance of the claw finally snapped in my favor, shooting shcrabnel all over the table, my lap and my plate. Oh well. Better luck next time. Of course, allow me to clarify that, although the crackers and mini forks were absent, the taste was not. Their crab was clean, crisp and sweet. I think this was the first time I'd ever tried it cold before, actually. I'm used to it steamed and then dipped into a king's ransom of butter (which was also available just a little further down the line). I thoroughly enjoyed this selection and went back for seconds, twice!
Like any good Chinese buffet, there was also plenty of ooey-gooey selections.
Honey, Teriyaki, Barbecue and the almighty General Tso's chicken as well as crispy Peking Duck. In the past I've come to expect a very sub par plate of food when it comes to these buffet dishes (with the exception of the duck, not a very common buffet item). Most of the time they have been lying out, getting dry and losing their crispyness only to sop up more and more sauce resulting in a soggy bite. I was pleased to discover that not only were the chicken choices moist and delicious, the duck was crisp and succulent as well. Great Success!
Like I said, Peking Duck isn't your run of the mill buffet item. So I was happy to discover that amongst the long line of chaffing dishes offering up more common fare like: spicy shrimp, fried rice, chicken wings and noodles. The duck, as well as the options to ask for a made to order steak or hibachi grill dish, lends to the reputation that Crazy Buffet is an expensive option for a meal out. After all was said and done, between me and 2 others we had: 3 dinners and 3 soft drinks which came out to right around $60.00. So that was a bit of a surprise. I thought we'd be in the $90 area (Otherwise known as, this better be worth it) for sure.
There's so much more than I could possibly care to write about at this place. The steak was cooked well (medium-well that is), the steamed crab was also good (even though I thought their drawn butter tasted a little weird). The made to order grilled selections came out just the way they should, with their own version of that famous white sauce everybody seems to love. It wasn't until the time was nigh for the sweet treats to be devoured that I was again impressed by what they had to offer.
Ice cream and cakes, macaroons and tarts are child's play. Rice Krispy treats and donuts are a little better, but the top dog on this menu was the chocolate fondue station with optional S'mores bar. A crock pot of melted chocolate sat next to a pile of Stay Puft marshmallows and some graham crackers. On the far side were a couple bananas, if you preferred to go that route. I decided to take matters into my own hands. I got the chocolate, found some peanut butter, dumped that in and stirred it around. Next? Simple: dipped that Rice Krispy treat and immediately knew--I've made a mistake. Four portions later, it was too late. I had gone too far...I was now uncomfortably full. Like the passed out kid at a Phish show, I need to know my limit. Oh well, too late to worry about it now.
We settled up our bill and waddled out to the car. I poured myself into the seat and began my typical eater's remorse cycle. Why? Ugh! I disgust me...what was I thinking?!?

After all is said and done, Crazy Buffet is an interesting dining option. Friendly servers, interesting patrons and a wide variety of mall Chinese, Sushi and much more makes this place worth a look. Not sure about a second, but at least one.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Skyline Chili - Ft. Myers

Cincinnati, Ohio...let that just settle in there--yeah. Cincy. Anything come to mind? Perhaps Eric Davis and that batting stance, Ickey Woods or Dr. Johnny Fever? I feel like that, unless you're from the area it's just not a place you're going to up and say, "Case closed, we're going to Cincinnati for vacation!"

I'm sure they have a rich tradition there, peppered with a fine history and unique citizens. I just figure, if I'm going to have to go to Ohio, I'm gonna at least get on some roller coasters.

It wasn't until I ventured south to the Naples/Ft. Myers area that I was introduced to something that city can really be proud of. Who knows maybe even develop a theme park like Hershey's did.

Skyline Chili is something special. It's not your spicy/hot chili you know--not that Tex/Mex style with the smoky flavors you're used to. No, Skyline is a Greek style recipe that actually comes out quite thin with more of a Cinnamon aroma and taste to it. Seems when I asked around, people either loved it or hated it--not a whole lotta gray area there. Well I love it. It's delicious and I don't care if you can sip it through a straw, I'm ordering seconds.

Your experience begins with a greeting and a personal bowl of oyster crackers as you sit down. I figure, you're in a chili joint, save the crackers for the chili, right?
Wrong, eat'em up. In fact--take the hot sauce they leave on the table and give it a little kee-yick. The trick is, to look for the crackers with a small hole in them, on the side or top. Then fill it to the rim with brim and voila, tasty app right there for freebies.

When it came time to order I got the Skyliner, a chili cheese sandwich and a Chilito. The Skyliner was perfect. A mini dog on a bun swimming in chili and cheese, as well as, "MO" which is mustard and onion. The chili sandwich is the same as a Skyliner, hold the hot dog. The Chilito was a soft tortilla wrapped with chili and cheese all up in it and on top of it.

Every bite was that much better, honestly. Their shredded cheddar is lighter than a cloud. I wager if you threw that cheese in the air, the only way it's coming down is if it starts burping. Add on the fact we made it to the place about 15 minutes before they closed so chances are, we were getting bottom of the barrel ingredients and it still came out better than any meal I've ever gotten at Applebees.

A more popular dish they serve there is chili 3 ways or 4 ways or 5 for that matter. That's where you take your noodles, your chili, your cheese, your onions or what have ya and make a delicious spaghetti treat. The more ingredients you top on, the larger denomination you'll be ordering.

The decor is all Ohio gear: banners, posters, basketballs and pennants representing Ohio and The Queen City (in case you didn't know, Cincinnatians refer to their home as "The Queen City" too).

I can forgive the lack of individuality on the nickname though, seeing as they did come through with possibly the most unique chili I have ever tasted in my life. I'll give'em a pass. If you're in SW Florida, I'd say give them a pass too, a pass on through that is! Get it? See what I did there? Pass on through...bah--stimulate the economy and your taste buds people. Skyline Chili, good stuff.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Brooklyn Pizza: UCF

I always said that a bad slice of pizza is still better than no pizza at all. So how fitting to kick off my new blogventure with the food so many people adore.

Today I went to Brooklyn Pizza on UCF's main campus.
Before we get to the product, lemme tell ya about what this place is like. You walk in the front door and find a seating area with a few tables and rock band set up on a flat screen.

Place your order and walk around a slight bend from the kitchen area to stumble upon what seems to be an abandoned night club.
This place is MASSIVE.
A movie screen hangs from the wall. Loads of tables surround the room and more video game systems like XBOX 360 and a Wii are hooked up to a couple other flat screens.

BP has been up and running at UCF for a little while now, so I was a bit surprised that it was so dead. Occupancy said around 290 heads could cram into this joint, but including me and the 3 friends I went with, there were maybe 10 other students eating. That naturally lead to a short wait time for our food to be served.

BP's lunch special is: two slices and a drink for 5 bucks--add a little extra dough (wocka wocka) if you wanna throw some pepperoni or any other toppings on there. The pieces are extremely big. If you're familiar with Lazy Moon pizza, it's about the same size. The crust is thin (New York style, duh) and the grease factor only came in at about one napkin's worth to sop up both huge portions. The toppings were plentiful and the cheese was nice and gooey. The only thing bad about my dining experience today was the chance encounter with a bald Scott Stapp and Creed playing on the big screen while I ate. They also gotcher parm, crushed red pep and oregano to add just as any good pizzeria should.

If you take a look at the picture, you can see my sunglasses resting on top of the crust...that can give you a good idea of just how big the portions were.

So, I'd say that if you're in the mood for pizza, and lets get real, who isn't--I'd def. give this place a try. Price is right, lotsa entertainment factors to add to the visit, and to top it off, Shakira's video for She Wolf was playing on the big screen too, so you got yer dessert right there.

UCF - Ferrell Commons
Orlando, FL, 32816
Mon - Sun:
11:00 am - 12:00 am