Sunday, May 31, 2009

Popcorn, King Kong, & Godzilla

winter park movie in the park 5-28-09 screen
I went to the Winter Park Popcorn Flick in Central Park on May 28. They were scheduled to be showing King Kong vs. Godzilla, but it never happened. When I got there, they gave out free bags of popcorn as seen below:
winter park movie in the park 5-28-09 popcorn
Once it was dark enough out, someone from the Enzian started talking about the movie and the title screen of the DVD was brought up. As soon as this happened it started pouring and the audience scattered. So much for the movie in the park...
winter park movie in the park 5-28-09 titles

Friday, May 29, 2009

Gnocchi from Buca Di Beppo

I ate at the Buca Di Beppo in Maitland, FL. My last visit to their location in Daytona Beach left room for improvement, but this time I enjoyed the restaurant a lot better. Just like my last visit to Buca di Beppo, the meal started out with a Mixed Greens Salad. Unlike last time, the salad was served as it was described on the menu. It wasn't just iceberg lettuce and had a mix of different types of lettuces, hence the mixed greens.
Mixed Greens Salad
Mozzarella Garlic Bread was also ordered. I won't complain about garlic bread covered with melted cheese.
Salad & Bread
For the main course, I shared the Gnocchi al Telefono. I don't speak Italian, but does that name translate to Gnocchi of the Telephone? The gnocchi were topped with a tomato cream sauce with pieces of fresh mozzarella and basil. I had no complaints about the dish. The person I shared the dish with was unfamilar with gnocchi and didn't seem to believe me when I said gnocchi are kind of like potato dumplings. When the waitress was asked, she also denied that the gnocchi contained potatoes. That wasn't good enough for me, so I emailed Buca di Beppo's cooporate email address to find out from the source when I got home. It turns out their gnocchi do indeed contain potato.

One thing I thought was interesting about the whole eating experience was how many times we were told that Buca di Beppo was bought by Planet Hollywood. During the course of the meal, the staff mentioned this at least a half dozen times. It was printed all over the menu, and I thought this was a bit strange. Plenty of other restaurant chains are connected, but none that I can think of go out of their way to point out the parent company's other stores. When you go into Carrabba's, they don't point out throughout the meal that they are owned by Outback Steakhouse.

Buca di Beppo on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kook Sports Bar

Buena Vista Palace
I was doing something at the Buena Vista Palace Hotel just outside of Downtown Disney. It was dinner time, so I ate food from Kook Sports Bar inside of the hotel. I really don't like sports bars all that much, with the TVs all over, and food that's generally not all that good. The only other option inside of the hotel was a restaurant called The Outback (not connected to the steakhouse chain) which charged far too much for what I saw on the menu. Kook Sports Bar also was really overpriced, but was far less than the Outback. Going by the location, the high price has to be somewhat expected.

Kook Sports Bar
I ordered the Blackened Grouper Sandwich. The waitress told me it was the best thing on the menu, but it tasted average to me. Nothing was wrong with the sandwich, but it was nothing special either, and definitely not worth the $14.95 price tag. It consisted of a piece of blackened grouper on a sesame bun with lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. Fries, ketchup, and tarter sauce came on the side.
Blackened Grouper Sandwich
Besides from the high prices, I had no major complaints about the food, but there was nothing special about the place that would get me to return to Kook Sports Bar any time soon. They will do fine without me with all of the Disney tourists...

Kook Sports Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 25, 2009

Knightstop Sushi

California Rolls and Inari
I was at the University of Central Florida and got some sushi from Knightstop in the Student Union. I walked in about 5:50 and they closed at 6:00 pm. Because of this, the sushi choices were a bit scarce. They had a few fancy rolls for just under $10 which was more than I wanted to spend or this box of California Rolls and Inari. Since Knightstop was closing, the sushi chef was cleaning up for the night so I couldn't request a new roll. Because of this, I ended up with the only roll left in my price range.

The California Rolls were good, filled with krab, cucumber, and avocado. They were a standard California Roll and tasted like they should. I don't like inari that much, which is why this was not the ideal roll for me. It consisted of sweetened rice inside of a fried soybean wrapper. I didn't think the inari was anything great, but I did finish all three.

Knightstop & Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Shrimp Boil at Sanford's Earth Day Every Day

Two Blonds and a Shrimp
On Earth Day (April 22, 2009), I visited an event in Sanford called Earth Day Every Day. While I was there, I ate some food being sold by a stand set up by a restaurant in Downtown Sanford called Two Blonds & a Shrimp. I've never been to the actual restaurant, but I've heard good things about them. I had their Shrimp Boil, which consisted of shrimp, potatoes, chorizo sausage, and some celery. Everything in the shrimp boil tasted good, but I didn't think the shrimp were appropriate for the type of event. The shrimp still had their shells on, so they had to be peeled. This required two hands, but since this was a fair type event, there wasn't really any seating. This meant that the shrimp had to be peeled while holding the bowl of food, along with a napkin filled with shrimp shells. Eating the Shrimp Boil turned out to be a big mess...
Shrimp Boil

Not food related, but they had this very cool solar car at the event. Also a screech owl...
Solar Car
Solar Car

Friday, May 22, 2009

Romano's Macaroni Grill

Tampa Macoroni Grill
I was in the Tampa area and ate at the Romano's Macaroni Grill in Carrollwood, FL. Although there were some other menu items that were tempting me, it seems I always end up getting the Chef's Trio on my visits to Macaroni Grill. I started with a Caesar Salad.
Caesar Salad
For the main dish, I choose something called Pasta Milano. The dish consisted of bowtie pasta, chicken, sun dried tomatos, and a garlic cream sauce. I had the restaurant leave out the mushrooms that normally come with the pasta. I liked the Pasta Milano. It definitely could have used another vegetable (spinach?), but otherwise I enjoyed it.
For the dessert, I had Lemon Passion cake. I really like those huge mint leaves that Macaroni Grill tops their dessert with...
Lemon Passon

Romano's Macaroni Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Salmon from Hibachi Express

Hibachi Salmon
I returned to Hibachi Express in Casselberry, FL for a second visit. This time I tried their Teriyaki Salmon. It consisted of pieces of salmon served over stir fried vegetables with steamed rice on the side. I had no complaints, but if I come back and eat here again, I think I will ask for them to leave out the mushrooms in the vegetables.

I took a look at Hibachi Express' website and found some of the stuff on the Welcome page kind of amusing. The place has the typical setup as a Chinese Takeout, so it seems very deceiving how the restaurant is described. I think anyone who calls up to make reservations at Hibachi Express without seeing the restaurant will be disappointed when they arrive.
Hibachi Express on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Lake Mary, FL

Tropical Smoothie Cafe
Someone had a coupon for buy one, get one free at Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Lake Mary, FL. If I want a smoothie, I will buy my own fruit and make it myself. Because of this, I don't frequent the various smoothie restaurants in the area often. When the free smoothie was offered to me, I gladly agreed to give Tropical Smoothie Cafe a try.

Upon walking into the store, the first thing I noticed was the horrible smell. Tropical Smoothie Cafe's odor was hard to describe, but reminded me of a combination of rotting meat and gas station bathrooms. If it was just me, I would have walked out right then, but the coupon holder was planning on buying a smoothie anyway. Apparently, I was told that Tropical Smoothie Cafe always smells like this. I was having serious doubts if I should be consuming any sort of food product from a store that had such a foul odor, but since I was investing no money in the smoothie, I figured I could order it and worry about drinking the smoothie later.

The first smoothie was ordered and the cashier took the coupon and money. She never asked what the second smoothie was. She just went on and proceeded to make two of the smoothies that the person I was with ordered. I had to go up and stop the smoothie maker as she started making the second smoothie of the same flavor. This seemed to upset the smoothie maker, but eventually she figured out how to make a second smoothie flavor.

And after all that, my Blimey Limey smoothie was made. It tasted like there was lots of added sweetener in the smoothie, where when I make my own, I only use fruit and juice. Other than that, the smoothie tasted okay. It still doesn't make up for the store's horrible smell and strange service.
Blimey Limey

Tropical Smoothie Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Run for the Trees

At the end of last month (April 25), I was convinced to run a 5K race called Run for the Trees in Winter Park, FL. I find these races kind of silly since they charge you $20 for the entry fee. I could run five kilometers any time I want for free, and I won't ever wear the t-shirt that is included in that fee, so I find the whole race thing kind of pointless. Regardless of my feelings about the entry fee, I still ran the race.
Run for the Trees
I finished the 3.1 miles in 25.58, and was shuttled back to the starting point where food was given out. I've run these races in the past, and I remember getting bagels. This race gave out oranges, bananas, and Strawberry Kiwi Gatorade (it was disgusting).
Run for the Trees
Run for the Trees
Run for the Trees

Friday, May 15, 2009

Toojay's Western Skillet

Western Skillet
I ate at the Toojays in Altamonte Springs, FL for breakfast. I ordered a Western Skillet, which consisted of potato pancakes topped with scrambled eggs, tomatoes, and scallions. The Western Skillet normally comes with ham, but I wasn't in a porky mood that day. From how this dish was described on the menu, I was expecting a lot more potato pancake and less egg. Regardless, I ate it all and enjoyed it.

The Western Skillet also came with two slices of Toojay's wonderful rye toast. Even when compared to more authentic Jewish Deli style restaurants, Toojay's definitely makes the best rye bread that I've tasted in the area.

Toojay's Gourmet Deli on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Umbertos in Deerfield Beach

I'm a big fan of the various Umberto's Pizza up in New York (although my last visit was disappointing). About a year ago, I was driving through Deerfield Beach, FL and spotted a place called Umberto's of Long Island. I really wanted to give the place a try based on the name alone, but I had already eaten for the night. Fast forward a bit, and I am in Deerfield Beach once again, and this time I know exactly where I was going to get food.
I stopped by the restaurant and the initial feeling wasn't the same as a visit to one of the actual Umberto's Pizzas in Long Island. No one was speaking Italian. There wasn't a huge selection of pizza choices either. The choices consisted of the standard pie or Grandma pizza. I ordered a slice of cheese pizza, and it turned out I got the last slice. My dining companion also wanted a plain slice, but the options were to wait for a new pie to be made or make another selection. We didn't have much time left in the parking meter, so a slice of pepperoni was selected.
After being reheated, we received our slices and ate them as we walked back towards the car. My cheese slice wasn't as attractive as I would have liked (too many collapsed bubbles in the center of the slice), nor did it compare to a slice of pizza from an Umberto's up north. It tasted acceptable, but not exceptional. The same was said about the pepperoni slice. It was good, but nothing great. The pizza definitely wouldn't be worth making another special trip to get, but if at the beach, I could see myself getting another slice. The one thing that the Long Island Umberto's can't compete with is being able to cross the street to eat pizza on the beach...

Umberto's of Long Island on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 11, 2009

Muffin from Starbucks along the Florida Turnpike

Starbuck's Chocolate Muffin
I ate a chocolate muffin from the Starbucks along the Florida Turnpike in the Port St Lucie/Ft Pierce Rest Area. I'm not a big fan of coffee drinks so I don't get drinks from Starbucks often, but I did like this muffin. It was chocolaty, but the chocolate wasn't overpowering. Technically, I would say it actually tasted much more like a brownie than a muffin...

Friday, May 8, 2009

More Trouble at Pollo Tropical

Pollo Tropical
I ate at the Pollo Tropical in Kissimmee, FL. As far as fast food goes, Pollo Tropical is one of my favorites. Every time I visit a Pollo Tropical though, it seems I have some sort of problem. The last time I tried going to the Pollo Tropical in Sanford, they were closed at 9:45 when they were supposed to be open to midnight. The last time I ate at the Altamonte Springs location, they forgot to give me chicken. And the latest visit to this location was no different.

I tried ordering their fajitas, but they told me they couldn't make them for some reason. I quickly read over the menu and ordered Chicken, White Rice, and Beans. After wondering why the bill came out to so much money, it turned out they charged for two $8 chicken dinners that were never ordered. It took about twenty minutes for the money to be refunded, and in the process the entire order was made three times.

My chicken, rice, and beans was good, but it could have used some vegetables. It was kind of boring...
chicken, white rice, and beans
Pollo Tropical on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Weekend Trip: Mitchell's Restaurant

Mitchell's Diner
I ate at Mitchell's Restaurant in Oceanside, NY. It was another Greek diner, so I decided to go with some more Greek food and ordered the Spanakopita. The meal started with a side Greek Salad. No grape leaves or anchovies, but it was good. It had an interesting dressing, possibly tomato based.
Side Greek Salad
The Spanakopita came out on a huge bed of rice. There was probably at least a pound of rice on the plate. I don't see how anyone could ever finish all of the rice. The spinach pie came in three sections and was pretty tasty. A little salty, but was good otherwise.
Spinach Pie
A word of warning about this diner learned the hard way by someone else dining with me. Don't get the traditional Greek salad. It's nothing like what most people would expect from a normal Greek salad, and is a big disappointment. It was basically iceberg lettuce smothered in dressing, with scallions on top.
Mitchell's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Weekend Trip: King Umberto's Pizza

I returned to King Umberto's Pizza in Elmont, NY and had my first experience where their pizza was bad. The place was packed and I think that may have been part of the problem. It seemed like they were a little flustered by the amount of people all ordering pizza at once, plus the overflow of people from their sit-down dining room next door. They still had their amazing selection of pizza, so the experience started out well. I ordered a slice of vegetarian stuffed pizza and a slice with fresh mozzarella. When the slices came out of the oven, they were very burnt. So burnt that all you could really taste was charcoal. Some of the toppings/stuffing were completely black, and forget eating the crust. It was like a rock.

I've never seen King Umberto's serve pizza like this, but it seemed every slice coming out of the oven was blackened around the edges. I'm not exactly sure what the problem was, but I hope it was a one time fluke and their pizza will return to being amazing on my next visit.


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