Thursday, December 29, 2011

Acapulco Mexican Restaurant

We ate at Acapulco Mexican Restaurant on the Sunday evening before Christmas. We were in St. Augustine to see the lights (which were nice enough) and decided to stop here for dinner. It was just OK. I probably would not go back.

First, the bright side: we had good service and sat in a window right on the street (as requested). Our waiter, Dazaev M, was very attentive and did a good job.

Then there was the food. It was OK, but just OK. I had the Enchilada Mixtas, several enchiladas. Mediocre at best. My friend Tommy had the Enchilada Fajitas. They were OK, but just OK. I would not go back. It's more of a touristy place than a place for really good Mexican food.
Acapulco Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Lulu's Oceanside Grill

We had dinner recently at Lulu's Oceanside Grill in Ormond Beach. We were staying nearby and found this place on with a fairly good recommendation as well as a "thumbs up" from Watch Me Eat, another blogger. They were right, it was pretty darned good.

We started out with the crab fritters and they were yummy. I had the Grouper Fish Tacos and they were excellent. My friend Tommy had the Jerk Chicken Wrap. We both enjoyed our meal here and recommend it.
Lulu's Oceanside Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 26, 2011

4Rivers Smokehouse

Perhaps it was my high expectations, but I came away from my recent visit to 4Rivers Smokehouse in Longwood disappointed. Or maybe it's all the hype? But the lunch I had there left me wanting for something spectacular and all i got was a mediocre sandwich with average coleslaw and beans. Let me explain.

I went with some work friends for lunch. We got there early (before 11:30) because I'd heard they have long lines. We just barely got inside the door and had about a 10-15 minute wait but by the time we left the line was well out into the parking lot. I would not wait again for what I got. 

I ordered a "Signature Sandwich," the Texas Destroyer. The only destruction was to my expectations. There was a decent portion of smoked brisket which was, for the most part, quite yummy. It was topped by two onion rings, some jalapenos, and a slice of provolone. On my first bite, the onions all came out in one long mess.... I could not really taste the provolone but it was there. My main complaints are two. First, I tasted some of the burnt ends that were in the sandwich. They were overly sweet from the rub. Very, very sweet. Second was the homemade BBQ sauces. They too were overly sweet. Now, that is a texas style, but the sweetness really masquerades the flavor of the meat, so I was not a big fan of them. Some of the brisket just by itself was good. But as a whole it was just average.

As for my sides, the beans were a bit soupy. I'm sure there were some bits of smoked meat in them, but mostly it was more of a soup. The coleslaw was average, nothing special. My friend enjoyed their meals but none of them were overly impressed either. Would I go back? If I didn't have to wait in line, maybe, but if I had to wait, it would not be worth it, I'd rather head around the corner to Chef Henry's for some really great food.

One high point, however. Just before we finished one of the employees came around with small samples of the pulled pork. I tried some and it was very good, a nice flavor, a hint of smoke, tender and juicy. After that, i made the mistake of putting on a small bit of the house BBQ sauce--that totally ruined it for me, the sweetness overpowered the flavor of the meat. Too bad. So, when I want some good BBQ, 4Rivers will not be at the top of my choice list, sorry. Over-hyped for what  you get.
4Rivers Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Country Aire Bar & Banquet

We journeyed from to Country Aire Bar & Banquet in Stratford as it was the only place that we could find to accomodate our party of 17 on somewhat short notice. And it turned out to be a good choice as they have an excellent fish fry--that was our whole reason for going there.
So on the Friday after Thanksgiving, a large group of my family made the 10 mile journey there and had a great Fish Fry--exactly what a Wisconsin Fish Fry should be. I was in luck, they also had a seafood buffet, and it included the beer-battered, deep fried haddock that is the staple of Wisconsin Fish Fries. And it had a bit more, it had some Haddock with cheese (strange combination, but it was actually quite good) and popcorn shrimp. So I got to sample quite a bit of stuff and it was all good. But I got to sample all the staples of a Fish Fry: the deep-fried, beer-battered fish, french fried, cole slaw (excellent, too) and rye (or in this case, marble) bread. It was all very good.

The facility is rather large, with a large dining room on one side, a bar in the middle, and a large banquet hall on the other side. I'd imagine they do lots of wedding. No matter, it was a good choice, they were very accomodating, our waitress was fast, friendly, and efficient, and we had a great family outing, a great family time here.  Yumm, definitely good eats!
Country Aire Bar & Banquet on Urbanspoon

Daily Grind

We stopped by Daily Grind on a recent Saturday. It was lunchtime but we found they were only serving breakfast. No matter, we decided to stay. And it was a good thing because our meal was fantastic!

Daily Grind is a small, somewhat eclectic place in the heart of downtown Marshfield. It's really a coffee bar that serves a limited breakfast and lunch menu. With free WiFi and a cozy atmosphere, it's a great place to just hang out with friends, I'd thing. Tommy and I were shopping and called my sister Donna to join us. We got over our "breakfast only" initial disappointment and all settled on the breakfast burrito--it was a very good choice as it was excellent! A large tortilla was stuffed--and I do mean stuffed--with all sorts of goodness. It had a definite Tex-Mex feel to it, chilies, cheese, olives, bacon, onions, and all manner of good things. It was awesome, we all agreed. It was topped with some shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream. All in all, this was great and I'd have it again. 
Daily Grind on Urbanspoon

Susie's Home Cooking

Is there really "home cooking" at Susie's Home Cooking? You bet! We made a good choice when we decided to stop here. Warm and inviting, it feels like (and is) a small town diner inside--with great food.

We had to start with the deep fried cheese curds. They were all they should have been, with a nice beer-batter coating, fried and tender and delicious.
For his meal, my friend Tommy tried the Pasty. A Pasty is an upper Michigan treat, a pie dough of sorts that's stuffed with all sorts of goodness. This was stuffed with meat, onions, celery, and rice. It was excellent--really very, very good. I would go back to Suzie's just to have the Pasty again--it was that good. I wish I could have gotten a dozen frozen and taken them back to Florida on the plane with me. Yes, it was that good.

I started with a salad, and it was pretty typical, iceberg lettuce with a few bits of red cabbage and carrots for coloer. Nothing too special, but what you'd expect to find in a diner. however, the dressing was homemade, a raspberry viniagrette, and very good.
For my main course I had what I consider to be a diner staple, a Patty Melt. It was all I expected it to be. The patty appeared to be hand made and it was cooked perfectly. The grilled onions and the cheese made it just perfect. I loved it.
So, next time I'm driving from Milwaukee to Marshfield and need a bite to eat, I will remember the food at Suzie's. Definitely worth stopping for.
Susie's Home Cooking on Urbanspoon

Silvano's Ristorante Italiano

We ate at Silvano's Ristorante Italiano recently, and it was a pretty good meal. I had a coupon and a taste for some Italian food. It's a pretty nice place, very Italian looking. Not huge but a warm and inviting space.

We started out with a glass of wine. I will say that the price of a glass of wine seemed a bit steep for the pour. Our meal started with a salad. The salad, as well as the accompanying bread, was very good. It was lightly dressed and the greens were very fresh.

My friend Tommy had the Penne Vodka for his main course. It was pretty good, though seemed a bit heavy on the tomatoes and light on the cream. Still, it was better than most.

I had the Veal, thin-sliced cutlets of veal cooked nicely in a lemon-cream sauce served on a bed of fettucine. It was good and I managed to eat it all.

All in all, it was a pretty good meal, and if I lived in the area I'd probably return. However, I live in Lake Mary and we do have better Italian food close by, like my favorite, Cafe Positano. Not to take away from Silvano's, it's still way above most chains the the food seemed genuinely Italian. Give it a try, let me know what you think! 
Silvano's Ristorante Italiano on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mikado Japanese Cuisine

I went to Mikado Japanese Cuisine with a few coworker for lunch recently, and we were all in agreement--very good! It was a very pleasant surprise. I'm not all that familiar with Japanese cuisine, but they have an extensive sushi and sashimi menu--besides other things--and we all left very satisifed. We all agreed: we'd return again, it was very good.

I ordered a lunch special, two sushi rolls, and it came with a choice of soup or salad. I had the salad. It was very good. An assortment of greens was dressed with a ginger dressing. Now, for my taste, the ginger could have been a bit stronger, but still, it was very good and nicely refreshing.

For my lunch I had two sushi rolls, both cooked. One with chicken, one with shrimp. Both were very, very good! The accompanying wasabi was expecially good as well. For about $10, I had a really good meal. I'd come back here again, anytime. The service was extremely attentive as well. Excellent job, excellent food. Yumm!
Mikado Japanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tutto Bene

We had dinner on a recent Sunday late afternoon at Tutto Bene in Lake Mary. We were pleasantly surprised and had a much better meal than I've had recently at another nearby Italian Restaurant, by far.

Tutto Bene is located very close to the Seminole State College Campus and, judging from some of the items on the menu board, I'd guess they cater to a nice College population as well as the area. We were hungry and adventurous, and sure brought our appetites with us!

We started with appetizers. First there were Garlic Knots (not pictured). They were very garlicy, something my friend Tommy does not like. But I liked them, though i found them just a bit heavy. The marinara to go-with was very good.

Then we had Fried Mozzarella Sticks. They were served with the same marinara which was fine with me as I really liked it. The mozzarella sticks could have been friend just another 30s seconds or so, they would have been better. Still, they were plenty good.
On top of that, we also ordered the Fried Ravioli. Again, they were very good, not overcooked, jsut right. And again, served with the same marinara--still just as delicious. These were pretty darned good.
For my main course I had the Penne ala Vodka with Chicken. Wow, this was very good. You could tell that this dish was cooked to marry the flavors, and it had a lot of very good flavor. I liked it a lot.
I also ordered a side salad, which our waitress almost forgot, but it had it right after my entree arrived. It was a good salad, nice and fresh. The best part of it was the dressing, a house Italian. It was very good and full of nice flavor.
For his dinner, my friend Tommy had the Chicken Cacciatore. It, too was very good, and a nice portion.
Finally, we ordered a Cannoli. All I can say is "yumm." It was very sweet but also very good. However, the chocolate sauce it was trimmed with did taste like bottled stuff from the store. Still it was good.
Tutto Bene on UrbanspoonWe had a nice experience and dinner here. I'd come back. They have a nice menu and the wine and beer prices are very reasonable as well.

Romano's Macaroni Grill

I had lunch recently at Romano's Macaroni Grill with some coworkers. It was a pretty decent lunch and a fair price. There were five of us, each with coupons. Our server handled it well without even batting an eyelid. I ordered the "choose three" for $10. The items I chose were (1) a Fresh Greens salad with Italian dressing, (2) the Whole Wheat Fettucinne Pasta, and (3) a half Roasted Turkey Sandwich.

You can see above what I was first served, two of the three elements of my dish. I thought that a bit odd. The Salad and the half Sandwich arrived but you can see there is an open space. However, within a minute or two a manager arrived with the missing element, the Whole Wheat Fettucini, below.
My guess is that there was some miscommunication in the kitchen or with the waitress, but it all eventually arrive.

The salad was nice and fresh and tasty. The sandwich was good, though maybe just a bit dry--it could have used a touch of may or something. The past was very good with crisp broccolini and cherry tomatoes. The sauce for the fettucine was a bit thin--actually very thin, but the dish was tasty.
Overall, this was a nice meal at a good price.
Romano's Macaroni Grill on Urbanspoon

Bananas Modern American Diner

We recently ate at Bananas Modern American Diner on a Sunday afternoon. It was the weekend before Halloween and the wait staff were somewhat costumed up for that. But we had a decent meal here, though the service was a bit slow. Nonetheless, the food was generally pretty good and I'd eat here again.

Bananas is a diner, and it does have somewhat of that type of look and feel. We were promptly greeted and initially shown a seat by the window, in the sun. But when we asked, we were shown a nearby booth which seemed better than sitting in the hot Florida sun, even if it was a nice autumn day.

Upon ordering drinks, we also chose to get an appetizer of the Beer Battered Onion Rings. They were done nearly perfectly, nice, thick slices of onions in a tasty beer batter and fried just right. But the star of the dish was actually the horseradish dijon dipping sauce--it added just the perfect amount of zing to these nearly perfectly cooked onion rings. This was a real hit.

For his meal, my friend Tommy had the Daddy's Burger with fries. A burger was cooked and trimmed with blue cheese, smoky bacon, and caramelize onions. Lettuce, tomato, and onion were on the side. The bun was nicely toasted as well. Tommy ordered the burger medium, but it came out well. Our server did offer to replace it, but he ate it. It was still rather tasty, just a bit overcooked. The fries were very ordinary, however, and a bit on the starchy side, if you ask me. But the burger was plenty good.

For my meal, I ordered the Buffalo Burger with a chicken breast for the meat. A chicken breast was served on a toasted bun with provolone cheese and a spicy buffalo wing sauce. The portion of buffalo, sauce, though tasty, was very skimpy, as you can see in the picture. There was not much of it. The chicken breast was cooked through, and just barely. Instead of the fries, I asked for and got a side salad. It was served with a truly amazing Wasabi Viniagrette that was out of this world. It had a nice wasabi bite to it and was just wonderful. It's one of the best salad dressing's I've ever had. Overall, it was a nice meal.

As I mentioned, our service was a bit unattentive. It was the middle of the afternoon and some of the wait staff, our waitress included, were doing some cleaning and other housekeeping activities such as changing out the ice tea station. That's what kept here occupied. One thing I did notice is that there really didn't appear to be any sort of manager or anyone in charge, and I think the service suffered for that. There seemed to be no direction in the front of the house, just people doing whatever they normally do. No on really keeping tabs on the diners and the dining room.  Nonetheless, it was an OK experience here and I'd come back again another time.  
Bananas Modern American Diner on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cozee Cafe

We went to Cozee Cafe in Lake Mary on a recent Thursday evening and had a nice meal. Mitchell provided us with very good service. It was a nice November evening and we sat outside.

We decided to start with an appetizer, the Queso Dip. It was just passable and really could have used a bit of zing. It was more like melted velveeta with a few bits of peppers added. It wasn't bad, just wasn't really what I'd call restaurant quality. Fortunately, the rest of the meal was better.

For his dinner, my friend Tommy had an Omelet with mushrooms and cheese. It was served with fried potatoes and toast. It was pretty good. He mentioned that the mushrooms seemed like maybe they'd been pickled, though they weren't bad, but probably had been cooked ahead and then held. Too bad, had they been cooked fresh, it would have much better.

For my dinner, I had the special, a Blackened Chicken Sandwich. The chicken breast was tender and juicy and lightly blackened. It was served with cheese, tomato, onion, and lettuce, on a nice ciabatta roll. It was actually a very good sandwich and I enjoyed it a lot. It was werved with fries which I thought could have been cooked an additional 30 seconds or so, they were not quite crispy on the outside and just cooked inside, but overall they were still plenty good.

Overall, we enyojed our meal here and believe this newly expanded place has nice potential. A few rough edges and room for improvement, but they really tried to please us and took good care of us with fast, friendly, and efficient service. The outdoor dining on a beautiful evening was a great way to end an evening too. Nice job, overall.Cozee Café on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 23, 2011

RedBrick Pizza

After my last visit to RedBrick Pizza in Sanford, I wrote that I would probably not go back because I was underwhelmed. But I went back to give them a second try after getting an email telling me they were under new management and a similar comment on my previous blog post. So, almost two years to the day later, we once again ventured to RedBrick Pizza to give them a second try. It was later in the evening, past 7 PM on a Saturday evening, and we were in search of a light bite to eat.

The place was not very busy when we entered, maybe three or so tables occupied. But we were promptly greeted and our order promptly taken. Also, it arrived rather quickly. We'd barely uttered the words "medium pepperoni with mushrooms" when we saw our pizza being made. So, the service was friendly, the restaurant was clean, and the food arrived promptly and nice and hot.

Our pepperoni and mushroom pizza was OK, but just OK. I guess the first thing that confused me was how the pizza dough was made. RedBrick says they are "gourmet" pizza, but they use a machine to press out the dough into a nice, neat, round with a nice, neat, precise raised edge. The dough was just OK, nothing really set it apart, and I think a hand pressed/made crust is far superior to a machine made crust. The sauce and cheese and toppings were good and the pizza was cooked properly. So it was a good pizza. But just not a great pizza. It was served hot and fresh and fast and for the just-over $11 price, not too bad, but it just did not strike me as gourmet. However, if I was looking to have a decent pizza cooked properly and served fast, I would come back. Still, the experience was not enough to convince me to change my vote, sorry. It was OK, but there is much better pizza in the area. Of course, those places (like Caffe Positano and Terra Mia) are usually much more busy and much harder to get into, but there's a reason for that. And a reason that RedBrick was so not-busy on a Saturday evening.  
RedBrick Pizza on Urbanspoon

Bahama Breeze Island Grille

My friend Tommy and I went to Bahama Breeze Island Grille in Altamonte Spring for dinner on a recent Friday evening. I knew we'd have to wait, and sure enough there was a 45-60 minute wait. But it was a pleasant evening and we found a nice spot on the large patio and had a few drinks while we were waiting.
Eventually we were seated and we started off with the Firecracker Shrimp appetizer. This was pretty gosh darned good, though not the best I've had, buttermilk battered shrimp that were deep fried and served with a fiery, creamy red pepper remoulade. Still, I'd have it again. The shrimp could have been cooked just a half minute less, but they were not way overdone either. The remoulade was great and a nice accompaniment. I liked this dish a lot.

For his meal, Tommy decided on soup and another appetizer. For the soup he had the Bahamian Seafood Chowder. The soup had a cream base and contained shellfish and vegetables, and was topped with a few fried shrimp. It was very good. I know, because I had a taste.
Then he had the Chicken Empanadas. They were the normal fried pastries with an adobo seasoned chicken filling that also had with mushrooms, sweet peppers and onion. Ut was served with a seasoned sour cream and black bean roasted corn and fresh tomato salsa on the side. The empanadas were good and the salsa was very good, it had a nice and bright flavor. Another hit!
For my main course, I had one of my favorite dishes, one I've eaten at a number of restaurants, Shrimp and Grits. It was good, though not great. The shrimp were cooked pretty well, but again, maybe 15-30 seconds overcooked. However, they were not way beyond cooked and so were not at all rubbery, something I abhor. The grits were good enough though just a bit clumpy and not quite as creamy as they should have been. I think they could have suffered a bit of stirring and a few more drops of cream before being served, then they'd have been nice and creamy. The accompanying green beans were very lightly steamed and were good. Overall, this was pretty good, though nothing set it above some of the other shrimp n grits meals I've had. 

Our experience here was pretty good. Our server, Amber, was attentive and helpful. We enjoyed the meal and the prices seemed about right for what we got.Bahama Breeze Island Grille on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Outback Steakhouse

We had a very nice dinner recently at the Outback Steakhouse in Sanford. We started with drink. I had a beer but my friend Tommy had the Margarita. He said it was absolutely delicious. After a long, hard day of work, I'm sure it was.

We started with the Grilled Shrimp on the Barbie and they were wonderful. We had them wood-grilled and the flavor and aroma of the wood was apparent. And, they were cooked right, just done, not overcooked. They were lightly seasoned and accompanied by a remoulade sauces that was fantastic.

For my main course I had the Alice Springs Chicken, a wood-fire grilled chicken breast topped with sauteed mushrooms, crisp bacon, monterey and cheddar cheese, and finished with a honey mustard sauce. I had my accompanied by broccoli. The meal was delcious. The chicken was nice and tender, and the broccoli was just lightly steamed. I love mine with a bit of lemon juice. It was a very good meal, I enjoyed it.

My friend Tommy had the Outback Special, a 6 oz. sirloin filet that was grilled on the wood-fired grill. It was accompanied by a loaded baked potato. I had a taste of the steak and it was indeed delicious, cooked just as ordered, tender and juicy, with a nice wood-grill flavor and aroma.
There is a reason that we keep going back to Outback time after time, and that is consistency. Their food is always consistently good. I've have some of the best shrimp ever at Outback (unfortunately, that item, the Shrimp on the Barbie, is no longer on the menu--dang!). But whatever I've had there, it's always good, the service is always good, and the meal is a fair value for the price. I guess I'll keep going back!Outback Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Tuesto Café

Wow! My friend Tommy brought home a sandwich from Tuesto Café today and it was mighty fine.
The sandwich we had was a the Pulled Roast Pork sandwich. The pork was roasted very well, tender and juicy. It was served on a Cuban type roll with swiss cheese, onions, mayo, and mojo sauce. It was an excellent sandwich. The pork was so tender and juicy, it was amazing. There was not a lot of other seasoning and that allowed the flavor of the pork to shine through. Nice job.
Along with that we had the Potato Ball. A round ball of potatoes was stuffed with a delicious ground beef filling, then breaded and deep fried. It was delicious! Based on this experience, I'd certainly go back--again and a gain. It could be a very addicting place and a great lunch or "quick bite" place. Tuesto Café on Urbanspoon