Saturday, August 31, 2013

Taste of Sanford 2013

We went to Taste of Sanford the other night and once again got stuffed. It was a nice affair, fairly busy though not packed. So without further ado, I'll tell you about the food I had, the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

First off, the good.  My favorite "bite" of the evening was from Carrabba's Italian Grill, which recently opened a Sanford location. Without a doubt, they had the best bite: two goat-cheese stuffed ravioli with an alfredo and sun-dried tomato sauce, and some grilled chicken marsala. The depth of flavor of the mushrooms and the marsala was very, very good. It was by far the best thing I put in my mouth that night. Nice job, Carrabba's, and welcome to Sanford!

Also good:

  • The Meatball sub from Firehouse subs. It really was wonderful and the meatball itself was very good.
  • Debary Plantation had a nice bite as well, but at the moment, my memory is failing me. What was it? I remember it being good, however. 
  • Mr Fed's catering from Orlando had some awesome brisket, and his home-made BBQ sauce really rocked!
  • Chianti's had a decent sausage marinara with ziti, but the garlic knots really stole the show.
A few places came in "middle of the road" in my estimation:
  • The Breezeway had it's signature pork sandwich--thankfully a much scaled down version. It's really a good sandwich, i must admit.
  • Corner Cafe had a repeat of last year, and the year before, and the year before.... bacon wrapped figs and celery soup. Good stuff, but what else do you have there? 
  • Dockside bar and grill made me want to visit again. 
And a few places really were disappointing:
  • Colonial Room had a chicken and dumplings with a dumpling that was so dense it could have stopped a bullet.
  • Buck's had an apple stuffed chicken breast. The stuffing was tasty but a bit watery, and the chicken was pretty tough, unfortunately.
I must also mention best coffee:
  • Caffe Di Riverwalk. This is an excellent coffee and sandwich shop in Sanford, a real "mom and pop" place where you'll get the best service and food--I was glad to see them there.
And a new kid on the block, the soon to open "The Port Steak & Seafood."  They were quite impressive in that one of their offerings was Oysters on the half shell--the real deal. They were shucking them right there. Though I am not an oyster fan, i heard lots of great comments. This place will open in about two weeks right on the marina in Sanford. They have a location in Haines City which has an 87% "like" on, quite a good rating. I will look forward to visiting once they're opened, the menu looks great and I wish them all the best.

There were lots of great desserts as well, but I did not partake. Some of them looked fantastic and I heard lots of great comments. 

I was a bit disappointed that there were not more local Sanford restaurants there--after all it is called "Taste of Sanford." Specifically, I noticed that the three restaurants voted the "best of Sanford" in the recent issue of Seminole Magazine (and the best Middle Eastern) were not there:

  • Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe
  • Marco Dino's Ristorante
  • La Sirena Gorda Cabana
  • Tony's Deli
As a matter of fact, outside of Caffe di Riverwalk and The Vineyard Wine Company, none of the restaurants voted in the "Best of Seminole" were in attendance. I know it can be expensive for a small business to undertake such an effort, but I think the Chamber of Commerce should do more to foster and encourage local places to participate in some way. They can have a caterer from way down in south Orlando, but not a few local places just down the block? What's with that? 

All in all we had a great time and had some great food--and some just OK. But it was a great event and I plan on attending next year again, it's well worth it. I hope to see more local Sanford participation in the future, too. Get a move on that, Chamber of Commerce!