Thursday, October 23, 2014

NY Pizza: Pronto Pizza, King Umberto, Sunnyside Pizza, and Hyatt House

I went on a trip to New York fairly recently. Like all good trips to New York City, lots of food was consumed at some of the city's countless eating establishments. One food that New York is known for is their pizza. Because of this, I consumed far too much pizza while visiting. This post is my recent NY Pizza highlights:

Pronto Pizza was my least favorite of the slices I tried during this trip. They are located near Bryant Park and may or may not be connected to a larger, nationwide chain also known as Pronto Pizza.
I tried a slice of plain cheese and a white slice topped with spinach. Both were very cheese heavy. The crust was somewhat soggy on both slices. The cheese had a weird, cheap tasting flavor to me for some reason. I don't think I'd get pizza here again.

Pronto Pizza on Urbanspoon

Sunnyside Pizza was a much better pizza experience compared to Pronto Pizza. Sunnyside Pizza is located in Queens, directly across from a stop on the 7 train.
This tiny restaurant pretty much consisted of their kitchen and a couple tables by the door.
I tried a slice of Grandma pizza and cheese. The grandma was different from what I've had elsewhere. I think all other Grandma pizzas I've experienced up until this point have had thin crust. This particular grandma pizza had a thick, Sicilian-like crust. It was topped with a chunky tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil. The cheese slice was nice and thin. The sauce and cheese both had good flavor with a good ratio to one another. I did enjoy the crust on both slices. Sunnyside Pizza put sesame seeds on the edges of the pie, which I do enjoy.

Sunnyside Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

King Umberto in Elmont has been discussed on this blog in the past, but I ended up there again twice during this particular trip to the New York area. I had a stuffed vegetable slice and a fresh mozzarella slice. I do enjoy King Umberto's stuffed slice, filled with spinach, broccoli rabe, and cheese.
The second visit to King Umberto on this trip consisted of a slice of cheese and white. I think I caught Umberto on a bad day because both of these slices were forgettable.

King Umberto on Urbanspoon

A couple days later I ended up at the Hyatt House Hotel a bit upstate in Fishkill, NY. I was attending an event there, and pizza was involved. I don't think the hotel itself made these pizzas and most likely had them delivered. Regardless of where the pizza came from, these pepperoni slices were tasty. I'd rank them above Pronto Pizza.
I enjoyed eating far too much pizza during the time I was in New York!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Krispy Skremes at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in Orlando, FL

I went to the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in Orlando near Millenia Mall to try their Halloween/Autumn doughnuts. They have all sorts of doughnuts known as Krispy Skremes decorated for Halloween, including Jack-o-Lanterns and spiderwebs. They also have Ghostbusters doughnuts to celebrate the movie's 30th anniversary.
I liked their Pumpkin Cheesecake Doughnut. It was stuffed with a pumpkin cheesecake filling, topped with creme cheese icing and gingersnap cookie crumbles. Also pictured is the Pumpkin Spice Doughnut.
The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man Doughnut and Ghostbusters Doughnut were also tasted. The Stay Puft Marshmallow Doughnut was a marshmallow Kreme-filled shell topped with white icing, decorated with Stay Puft Marshmallow Man’s familiar face and a sugar piece hat. The Ghostbusters Doughnut consisted of a marshmallow Kreme-filled shell topped with white icing, a decorative green “splat” inspired by Slimer, and a Ghostbusters logo sugar piece.
Jack-o-Lantern Doughnut!
They had a doughnut decorating station set up and I created this Ghostbusters Doughnut. Should I be proud of my slime placement on this doughnut?
Now for the important part! Everyone likes free food. Make sure you wear a costume to Krispy Kreme on Halloween. It will get you a free doughnut!

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Snow Buckets in DeLand, FL

I was in Downtown Deland and got dessert from a shop called Snow Buckets. They specialized in snow cones and are located in the space once occupied by an ice cream shop called Cone Heads. I really didn't know what to expect from Snow Buckets' snow cones. Would they be the lower end snow cones consisting of chopped ice and syrup? Would they be the delicate, finely shaved ice found in Hawaiian shaved ice? Asian style shaved ice topped with fruit and condensed milk was also a potential option here. Curiosity of what sort icy dessert was served was my main reason for stopping here.
It turned out Snow Buckets served the classic snow cone. First they coarsely chopped ice into a cup. Syrups were then selected. I chose passion fruit and guyabana. I was sort of expecting them to pour one syrup over half the cup and the other over the other half, but the two syrups mixed right on top of each other. This created in interesting flavor combination that tasted like neither passion fruit or guyabana.

I now know what sort of snow cones are served at Snow Buckets...

Snow Buckets on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 3, 2014

Carmel Cafe in Altamonte Springs, FL

I had lunch at Carmel Cafe in Altamonte. Carmel is a chain with several restaurants throughout Florida. They have had locations in the Orlando area for a while now, but this was my first experience with them. This location took over a space formerly occupied by a Friendly's. Carmel put much effort into leaving no trace of which restaurant this building once housed. When you are seated in the restaurant, they bring an iPad to your table which stays there during the duration of your meal. You can use the iPad to see photos of all the menu items. If you're afraid of social interactions with real life humans, you can also order your food on the iPad to avoid talking to your server if you wish. I can't say I'm a big fan of restaurants that push electronics at your table. Much like Chili's and certain Outback Steakhouses, these get annoying. They flash advertisements at you while you're eating and minimize the need for actual servers.

I ordered one of Carmel's Lunch Combos which came with a flatbread and a salad. I tried the Black Olive Caesar as the salad. This was a typical caesar salad, topped with olives and tomatoes.
I picked the Grilled Lemon Chicken and Artichoke Flatbread. Parmesan and arugula also topped the pizza. The chicken had a nice, strong lemon flavor. The artichokes were few and far between. I did enjoy the warm arugula over the flatbread. It gave the pizza a bit more character. I was also getting hints of cinnamon with certain bites. I was not expecting this, but I did enjoy the random bursts of flavor.
Carmel Cafe was an okay eating experience. Not the best, not the worst. I'd be willing to give them another try eventually.

Carmel Café & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 29, 2014

Dunkin' Donuts' Fall Lineup/National Coffee Day in Winter Park, FL

I was invited to the Dunkin' Donuts in Winter Park on University Blvd to try some of the new Fall foods on their menu. I'm always a fan of pumpkin flavored stuff, so I was looking forward to trying some of their seasonal menu items.

The Spicy Smoked Sausage Breakfast Sandwich was the first food item which was sampled. This consisted of a spicy split sausage link with egg and American cheese, served on an English muffin.
The Pumpkin Pie Donut came next. This doughnut was filled with a pumpkin pie flavored buttercreme. It was frosted with white dipping icing and sprinkled with grahmn cracker topping. This was good, but the filling and icing was very sweet.
The Pumpkin Donut wasn't nearly as sweet as the Pumpkin Pie Donut. Out of the two pumpkin flavors, I preferred this doughnut.
While on the subject of doughnuts, I was also able to try the Pumpkin Munchkins. Same as the pumpkin donut, only in a much smaller size.
The Snack 'n Go Chicken Wrap was filled with chicken, bacon, and ranch in a folded tortilla.
The Pepperjack Bagel Supreme was a bagel smothered in melted pepperjack cheese. The cheese had a nice, spicy kick, which I enjoyed. This was spicier than I was expecting from a fast food restaurant.
Dunkin' Donuts also served several varieties of their coffee. We tried their Dark Roast Pumpkin Coffee, Hot Pumpkin Mocha Latte, Pumpkin Creme Brulee Latte, Iced Hazelnut Swirl, and the Iced French Vanilla Swirl. I'm more of a tea drinker and not much of a coffee connoisseur, so I'm not the best judge of good coffee. The Hot Pumpkin Mocha Latte was my personal favorite. It tasted much more like a hot chocolate than a coffee to me.

Being that Dunkin' Donuts served coffee at their sampling event, it is appropriate that today, September 29, is National Coffee Day. That means Dunkin' Donuts is giving away a free medium cup of hot Dark Roast Coffee at all of their participating Orlando stores! Go get your free coffee!

I had fun trying the foods at Dunkin' Donuts. I vote that they bring back that pumpkin cream cheese that was served a couple years ago which wasn't brought back this year. That was my favorite pumpkin flavored food that I remember trying at Dunkin' Donuts in recent memory.

  Dunkin' Donuts on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Smokey Joe's BBQ in Sanford, FL

I had lunch at Smokey Joe's BBQ in Sanford (not to be confused with Smokey Bones right up the street). This restaurant took over the space formerly occupied by Boston's Fish House. I wasn't a big fan of Boston's when they first opened but their food did seem to improve over time. I guess everyone's bad experiences when they first opened stuck in people's minds because they eventually closed. Now it is Smokey Joe's turn to try their luck at running a restaurant in this location. Normally barbeque restaurants are have pretty standard fare, and Smokey Joe's was no exception. They had plates where a meat and sides were chosen. There were sandwiches. Pretty much what you would expect on the menu for a place serving barbecue in this area.
I had the Pulled Pork Plate. This came with meat, two sides, and Texas toast. I picked the mac & cheese and fried okra as my sides. Everything looked good, but I was less than pleased after tasting the food. With the exception of the okra, none of the items on the plate were hot. In fact, just about everything was about room temperature. This made me a bit wary, especially when it came to the pork. It tasted alright, but was nothing noteworthy. The mac & cheese was served at a similar temperature and lacked flavor. The cheese part of the mac & cheese was barely noticeable. The fried okra was the only thing which was hot, hopefully because it was freshly made. Unfortunately, the batter was far to salty (and I like salty foods). The Texas toast was also forgettable.

There was nothing about Smokey Joe's that gave me any reason to go back. There are far too many other good barbecue restaurants in the area to deal with forgettable and cold food. Hopefully this place will be like Boston's Fish House and will improve their food. If not, I see them being open for less time than Boston's was...

Smokey Joe's BBQ Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Crown Colony House at Busch Gardens Tampa

I was at Busch Gardens Tampa and ate lunch at a restaurant called Crown Colony House. This restaurant is located in the Egypt section of the park and overlooks the animals in the Edge of Africa section. The Crown Colony House is a cafeteria style fast food restaurant.
I noticed this sign while waiting in line for food. I found this a bit amusing. Busch Gardens is really trying their best to make deep fried food sound healthy. With ZERO grams of trans fat, low saturated fat, Omega 3 fatty acids, and a good source of monounsaturated fat, how could deep fried food be bad for you? Let's eat it every day!
Since the oil used in deep frying has all of those pros with apparently no cons, why not indulge? I had their combo with came with deep fried chicken tenders, deep fried french fries, and a slice of pepperoni pizza (not deep fried but not good for you regardless).
This was typical theme park food. The pizza was mass produced. The chicken was mediocre, as were the fries. At least I was getting lots of my Omega 3 fatty acids though! I always heard fish was a good source of Omega 3s. Why bother when you can get the same stuff from deep fried foods? Thanks for the education Busch Gardens!

Crown Colony Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Brown's New York Deli in Maitland, FL

I had lunch at Brown's New York Deli in Maitland. Apparently this restaurant has been here for over a year, but somehow I never noticed them during my countless drives past.
As soon as we were seated, a plate of pickles and coleslaw were brought to the table.
I had the Turkey Ruben for my meal. It consisted of sliced turkey, cheese, sauerkraut, and thousand island dressing on toasted rye bread. Fries were served on the side. The sandwich was good, although it didn't contain the sickening stack of meat that I've seen at some of the more famous delis actually in New York. The amount of sandwich fillings here was much more biteable and more appropriate for one person to eat in a single serving.
After the sandwich, meringue cookies were served alongside the check. Meringues seem like they are either good or bad whenever I try them. There's never a meringue cookie that is just okay. These meringues fell in the good category. They were light and airy with just the right amount of crunch.
I enjoyed my meal at Brown's. I'd return here again!

Brown's New York Deli on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

World Gourmet in Altamonte Springs, FL

It was suggested that we try a relatively new Chinese buffet in Altamonte Springs called World Gourmet. It was dinner time and the parking lot didn't seem to have enough cars. That isn't a good try for a buffet, but we went in anyway. It looked like World Gourmet put lots of work converting the restaurant from its former occupant to a buffet. There were big wooden boats that doubled as buffet tables. There were nice fish tanks filled with fancy gold fish. All that work, but I got the feeling that most of the diners in here were friends/family of the owners.
On my first trip to the buffet, I tried some California rolls, beef with broccoli, fried rice, krab rangoon, spare rib, and a sesame ball. Not the best food, nor the worst. It was pretty standard Chinese buffet fare.
Plate #2 had a very monochromatic color scheme. There was an egg roll, some sort of custard, another sesame ball filled with red bean paste, then some orange slices and cookies for dessert.
Overall, this was a very middle of the road Chinese buffet. Not the best and not the worst I've visited (and I've seen a couple very scary Chinese buffets). I felt kind of bad for the owners of the restaurant because they seemed to be trying and yet the customers weren't there. I doubt they were making money on the evening I visited...

World Gourmet on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 21, 2014

El Taco Amigo in Deland, FL

I had Mexican food for lunch from a restaurant called El Taco Amigo in Deland. They are located downtown in a building shared with an auto repair garage. You order at El Taco Amigo from a window outside. There are a few tables on the porch next to the window.
They had a good sized menu consisting of a section of tacos where you got to choose the style and type of meat. There was also a section offering meals and combinations.
I tried three of their tacos. For the meats, I tried a chorizo, a pork pastor, and a polio. The three tacos were served on corn tortillas, topped with cilantro and cabbage. Slices of lime, radishes and hot sauce were served on the side. The chorizo and pastor tacos were my favorite and I liked them equally. The meats actually tasted very similar and I was unable to tell which one was which. They did have a slightly different appearance, so I know I did get two different tacos. Regardless, they were equally tasty! I'm not up on my spanish enough to know if polio was a typo on the menu rather than pollo, but the shredded chicken taco was the most boring of the three tacos. Luckily I didn't catch any polio from it.
I enjoyed my meal at El Taco Amigo. I would most definitely go back here again for more tacos!

El Taco Amigo on Urbanspoon


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