Friday, January 30, 2009

Olive Garden's Four Cheese Stuffed Mezzaluna with Shrimp

I was craving some Vietnamese food one evening, but my dining companions weren't quite adventurous enough to try anything out of the ordinary. My suggestion was ignored, and we ended up eating at the Olive Garden in Altamonte Springs, FL.

I guess those TV commercials do work because I ordered one of Olive Garden's featured items, the Four Cheese Stuffed Mezzaluna with Shrimp. It consisted of cheese ravioli topped with shrimp in a cream sauce. Salad and breadsticks were served first, followed by the Mezzaluna. It tasted okay, but just like my last experience at the Red Lobster next door, the shrimp were tiny. I was hoping for slightly bigger shrimp for a $15 meal, but I guess Darden restaurants don't combine pasta in a cream sauce and decent sized shrimp on the same plate. I guess you need to order something without cream to get the better shrimp at an Olive Garden.
Olive Garden Salad
Olive Garden Mezzaluna
Olive Garden on Urbanspoon
We had a very entertaining waiter on this visit to Olive Garden. John Paul sounded like he had an Indian accent, and rhymed all of his food offerings. Would you like some wine? It will make you feel fine. or Would you like some tiramisu. If not, it will miss you. His rhymes were one of the best things about the meal.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cajun Chicken Alfredo at the New Patio Grill in Sanford

I ate at the newly opened Patio Grill in Sanford, FL. After a ten minute wait for a table, I ordered the Cajun Chicken Alfredo.

Unlike the pasta that I ordered at the Patio Grill in Longwood, the pasta at this location came with a salad. They also had a salad bar at this new Patio Grill that was available for upcharge of a few dollars instead of this side salad.
Patio Grill Salad
The Cajun Chicken Alfredo was served after the salad in a deep square bowl. The portion was quite large, and consisted peppers, artichoke hearts, and spicy chicken, all in over pasta in an Alfredo cream sauce. Two pieces of garlic bread were served on the side.
Patio Grill Cajun Chicken Alfredo
I enjoyed the food I ate at this Patio Grill. It all tasted good, and from the amount of people eating at the restaurant, it looks like the Patio Grill people have a winning restaurant on their hands.
Patio Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 26, 2009

Free Pizza from The Italian Way

I was doing some shopping for a few things at Raider Books in Lake Mary, FL. As I was making my purchase, the cashier told me to help myself to the free pizza and soda that the store was giving out. I'm not one to turn down free food, so I went over and got myself two slices.
Free Pizza
Slice from the Italian Way
The pizza came from a restaurant called The Italian Way located a few storefronts away from the bookstore. Formerly, this location housed two different Italian restaurants called Bernardos and Westshore Pizza. Bernardos was okay, but one visit to Westshore Pizza was enough for me. When The Italian Way opened, I never thought of trying the restaurant after the bad taste that Westshore Pizza left, but this free pizza wasn't half bad. It was a little heavy on the cheese, but not so much that the cheese dropped off of the slice. Otherwise it was a pretty tasty slice of pizza. It definitely wasn't the best I've had, but for free, I'm not going to complain.

I think I'll need to go back and give The Italian Way another try, and actually buy food next time!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Chicken & Eggplant from Imperial Dynasty

I ate at Imperial Dynasty in Longwood, FL for lunch. I ordered the Chicken & Eggplant with Garlic Sauce lunch special. It came with the chicken, rice, and a choice of a side.

Fried noodles were served first.
Imperial Dynasty Noodles
They were followed by the side. I went with some Wonton soup. In the past, I've always been happy with the soup from Imperial Dynasty, but on this visit I found it to be way too salty.
Imperial Dyanasty Wontown Soup
The soup was followed with the main dish. The Chicken & Eggplant was pretty much what the menu described it to be. There was lots of chicken and lots of Chinese eggplant, and not much else. There was a side of brown rice, but I felt the meal needed more variety. There was way too much of the same thing, and it would have been better if there was some other types of vegetables in with the chicken and eggplant. Just something to mix up the monotony of the meal a bit.

It did taste good though, so I guess that's all that matters for the most part.
Imperial Dynasty Chicken & Eggplant in Garlic Sauce

Like Sanford's China Wok, Imperial Dynasty also had posters hanging up to be one of the Top 100 Chinese Restaurants. The 2008 contest is over, it looks like Imperial Dynasty made it into the top 100 on the winners list. I don't see China Wok...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pepper Market at the Coronado Springs Hotel

Coronado Springs Hotel
I went to eat dinner at the Coronado Springs Hotel in Walt Disney World. I walked through the hotel and reached a restaurant called The Pepper Market.
Pepper Market
There were some animals baked out of bread outside of the restaurant. Here is a turtle and an alligator.
Bread Animals
The restaurant is set up where a hostess brings you to a table, and a waiter gets your drinks. Everyone is then given a card which is taken to various food counters and is stamped with whatever is ordered. There are various counters in the restaurant, including Mexican, Italian, American, Asian, and dessert. On this visit to the restaurant, I decided to go with Curry Chicken with Pineapple from the Asian counter. The only problem was that nobody was working at this counter. I went over to the Italian counter and asked the employee working there to get someone to make me food. He acted surprised and asked me "You want that Oriental Food?" as if customers ordering from that particular counter was a rare occasion. When someone finally came over to cook my food, the worker seemed really annoyed that he actually had to do his job. As he begrudgingly cooked my food, he added pre-cooked fried chicken, pineapple, carrots, peppers, sauce, and other various ingredients into his wok, and then served all of this over steamed rice.

My biggest complaint with the meal was the actual chicken. I wasn't expecting fried chicken, but I can't complain if that's the way they do it. The problem was rather than using white meat chicken, they seemed to use cheap chicken parts. I saw some dark meat. I saw some black areas. As I was eating, there was occasionally an unedible hard piece in the chicken. I really didn't want to know what parts of the chicken were served, and just swallowed it down. For the $15 that the Pepper Market charged for this rather small portion, I want white meat. A chicken breast would be nice, not the leftovers. Maybe they figured that since the chicken is fried, nobody would notice what the meat looked like under the batter.
Curry Chicken
I also noticed that overall, the menu of this restaurant changed very much since my past visit. Prices went way up, while the menu size and portions went way down. The Mexican counter seemed to be their showcase in the past (makes sense in a Mexican themed hotel), with lots of options, huge portions, and it all tasted good. On this visit, the Mexican menu was down to only two items. I saw someone ordering the fajitas, which cost a few dollars more than my chicken, and it included one tortilla filled with meat and peppers. The quesadilla wasn't much better.

The Pepper Market made some changes for the worst, and I don't think I'll be returning anytime soon.

After eating, I took a walk around the hotel and saw the duck topiarys and the swimming pool surrounding a Mayan pyramid.
Mayan Pyramid Swimming Pool
Mayan Dragon
Mayan Temple

Pepper Market on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Presidential Restaurant Reviews

Back before he was the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama was on TV doing reviews of Chicago restaurants...

Monday, January 19, 2009

B.B. King's Blues Club at Pointe Orlando

B.B. King's Blues Club is one of the newer restaurants in the Pointe Orlando Mall on International Drive in Orlando, FL. When someone mentioned that they wanted to give the restaurant a try, I pulled out a coupon book that I recently acquired and found this:
Free Fried Dill Pickles at BB King's Blues Club
We made our way into the touristy section of Orlando and reached the mall, and then followed the signs and paintings of Blues musicians into the restaurant.
BB Kings
Neon Sign
Musical Murals
When we walked in, the restaurant was mostly empty at about 5:45 on a Saturday night. I ordered a Catfish Po Boy as well as the free fried pickle appetizer. Not long after ordering, a band started playing up on stage.
Blues Band
The pickles were soon served, and the portion was enormous. If I were to estimate, they probably used at least three average sized cucumbers to make all of these fried pickles. This was my first experience eating fried pickles, and I don't know what to think of them. I love pickles, but deep frying them is just weird. They tasted okay, but I'll take normal un-fried pickles over these any day. I suppose the weirdness of deep fried pickles is probably similar to deep fried pizza.
Fried Dill Pickles
My Catfish Po Boy followed not long after the pickles. The sandwich consisted of fried catfish, lettuce, tomato, tar tar sauce (how they spelled it), and French fries. It all tasted okay, but was nothing all that great. Overall, the entire meal consisted of way too much fried food. Everything was fried, starting with the appetizer to the sandwich. I'm not used to eating like that.
Catfish Po Boy
While paying, there was some issues with the check, and nobody seemed to be able to explain the problem, so make sure you look twice on what you're paying while eating here.

On a trip that took me to Memphis, TN a few years ago, I encountered another B.B. King's Blues Club (I didn't eat there). At that location, they had someone outside of the restaurant who was probably the dining equivalent of a sideshow barker. The Orlando location could probably use someone like this to lure in customers. Although the restaurant started to fill up later on, it still didn't seem like enough people. Perhaps it's better crowd later on in the night.

B.B. King's Blues Club on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Polonia in Longwood, FL

I ate at Polonia in Longwood, FL. Polonia is a Polish restaurant located on 17-92 in a former fast food restaurant building that has housed many different restaurants. The building started out as a Captain D's, and then became several different restaurants serving various types of Asian food. I would say my most interesting experience eating in one of these incarnations was when the building housed a fast food Chinese restaurant. As I was eating my meal, two Red-Eared Sliders walked out of the kitchen and across the dining room. I've seen some interesting animals in restaurants (rats!), but this was the only time I've ever seen turtles wandering around a restaurant. Knowing that turtles and salmonella go together, I never returned to the restaurant, or the future restaurants in the building.

That is, until Polonia opened. When they opened in this location, the local Orlando newspapers all started to write good reviews of the place, so I gave it a try. Polonia broke the chain of fast food Asian restaurants by setting up a sit-down Polish restaurant, and there were no reptiles, amphibians, or rodents in sight. I've since returned to Polonia a few times, and it's generally pretty good. This visit started out with a basket of some good rye bread.
Polonia Rye Bread
For the main course, I ordered the Big Polish Platter, which came with stuffed cabbage (in tomato sauce), three pierogies, a fresh kielbasa, and sauerkraut. The stuffed cabbage was okay, but I found it to taste a bit too much like plain meatloaf. There was some rice mixed in with the ground beef, but not enough. The sauce was good though. For the pierogies, I had the choice of meat, sauerkraut and cheese, or potato & cheese. I went with the potato & cheese, and I have no complaints about them. It's amazing how much better fresh pierogies are compared to those frozen pierogies from the supermarket. The kielbasa was good and tasted like a Polish sausage should. The sauerkraut was interesting. It wasn't as tart and was very finely chopped when compared to most sauerkraut that I've eaten, but it was still good.
Polish Sampler
Overall, the food was pretty good for the most part. All that meat and the lack of vegetables was a little more than I'm used to eating in one sitting, but I guess that's the way they eat in Poland.

I wanted to get some poppy seed cake for dessert, but they didn't have any on the day I ate at the restaurant. They had apple strudel instead, but I'm not a big fan of cooked apples. Poppy cake or rolls are much better...

Polonia Polish Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pizza from a Publix Supermarket Deli

The Publix Supermarket in Lake Mary, FL has an experimental gourmet deli where they sell all sorts of ready made foods. Wikipedia briefly discusses this deli. One of the items that the deli sells that differs from the rest of the nearby Publix Supermarkets is freshly made pizza. The store has been open a while, and I have yet to eat any of the deli food with the exception of sushi, so I decided to try the pizza.
Pizza from Publix
A half cheese/half meatball pizza was ordered. I ate the cheese slices and was impressed for the most part. The only weird thing was with the basil on the pizza. It seemed they sprinkled a whole lot of basil over one slice of the pizza, and nowhere else. For a pizza coming from a supermarket though, the pie was pretty good. I have had much worse from nearby Italian restaurants that are supposed to have good pizza.
Pizza Slice from Publix

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Krystal in Lake Mary, FL

When a visiting relative was craving a White Castle Hamburger, we decided to try Krystal. The only White Castle in Lake Mary, FL that I knew of is seen in the picture below, but that house isn't serving hamburgers, so Krystal the next closest thing.
White Castle
I ordered a combo that came with a chicken sandwich (known as Chiks), fries, and a soda. After about a ten minute wait in the fast food restaurant (we were the only customers), the food finally came, and I was surprised to see that my combo actually came with three chicken sandwiches. That's more fried chicken than anyone should be eating in one sitting. One sandwich and the fries would have been enough fried food for me. The sandwiches weren't horrible, but they were kind of salty. They reminded me of the sandwiches from the Chick-fil-A next door.
Krystal Chiks, Fries, Sodas, and Old Lady Hands...
Krystal Chik
The final verdict with the miniature hamburgers was that Krystal doesn't come close to the awesomeness that is White Castle (although I can't say personally. I've never tried a White Castle).
Krystal on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sterlings Family Restaurant in Astor, FL

Sterlings Family Restaurant
I ate at Sterlings Family Restaurant in Astor, FL. I was eating with some people who had eaten at this restaurant in the past and thought it was so good, they had to go for an hour long car trip just to eat here again.

When I was looking at the menu, Sterlings had their normal menu, as well as an inserted Mexican menu. Something told me that I should have ordered some Mexican food, but the catfish on the normal menu was also tempting me. The menu didn't specify if the fish was grilled or fried, so that was going to be my decision maker between that or enchiladas. The fish normally came fried, but the waitress offered to have it grilled, so I agreed.

Tortilla chips, salsa, salad, and rolls came out first.
Sterling Family Restaurant Chips and Salsa
Sterling Family Restaurant Salad and Bread

And then the main courses were served, except for my catfish. It finally came out about ten minutes later, and was rather sad looking. It was just two fillets sitting alone on a plate, and they were completely tasteless. If they put any type of seasoning on the fish, it wasn't enough.

I should have gone with the enchiladas. Someone else ordered a chicken burrito, and it looked like the best meal to be served to our table.

Sterling Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 9, 2009

Osaka in Lake Mary, FL

I ate at the Osaka Japanese Steakhouse in Lake Mary, FL. I had the Hibachi Chicken, which started out with some soup and salad. They ruin that soup in my opinion by putting all of those dried Chinese noodles in it.
Osaka Soup and Salad
The chef soon came out and cooked at the table, serving up mixed vegetables, fried rice, noodles, and the chicken. It was tasty, and it was much more reasonably priced compared to the nearby Kobe or Yokohama.
Osaka Food...
Osaka Japanese Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Downtown Disney's Planet Hollywood

Planet Hollywood
I ate at Planet Hollywood in Downtown Disney on January 30, 2008. The restaurant at Walt Disney World is the biggest Planet Hollywood that I've seen. Compared to the Planet Hollywood in Myrtle Beach, this restaurant is humongous. The whole restaurant is housed inside of a giant 5-floored globe filled with tables and lots of movie props. Not only is this Planet Hollywood larger than Myrtle Beach's restaurant, it also has a larger menu, and everything costs a few dollars more.

My meal was started with an appetizer of Chicken Crunch. It was basically fried chicken strips dipped into a sweet batter. Sweet and chicken don't go together in my opinion.
World Famous Chicken Crunch
For the main course, I had the Garlic Shrimp. This consisted of soba noodles topped with shrimp, sugar snap peas, onions, peppers, garlic, and ginger in a slightly spicy sauce. I liked it, but at a price of $19.99, I didn't feel it was the best value for the food given. A few hours after I ate the meal was a problem though. Something in the Garlic Shrimp caused me to repeatedly burp out a horrible smell that reminded me of salami, meatballs, and Pepsi, all combined into one foul smelling gas. Beware...
Garlic Shrimp
Garlic Shrimp
After eating, I took the steps down from my 5th floor table and looked at some of the movie props. Before heading downstairs, this was my view from where I sat:
View from the 4th Floor
And here are some of the movie props I took pictures of. Here's a witch from Hocus Pocus:
Stone Witch from Hocus Pocus
Woody from Toy Story:
A giant moth from the original Dr. Dolittle:
Dr. Doolittle
A robot from some science fiction movie that I don't recognize:
One of the buildings from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Much of the sets and puppets from this movie used to be on display at MGM Studios. Rumor is that when Disney decided to update their exhibit, a few of their minimum wage employees got very lucky when they found a slew of Jack Skeleton puppets and most of Halloweentown in a dumpster somewhere on Disney property. Imagine what that stuff would go for on ebay...
Nightmare Before Christmas
And then there was this saw blade from a David Copperfield TV Special:
David Copperfield's Sawblade

And finally, in the pond outside of Planet Hollywood was The Jenny from Forrest Gump:
The Jenny from Forest Gump
Planet Hollywood on Urbanspoon


LinkWithin Related Stories Widget for Blogs