Monday, October 8, 2018

Kelly's Homemade Ice Cream in Orlando, FL

I stopped for ice cream at Kelly's Homemade Ice Cream in Audubon Park. I had a waffle cone with two scoops: peach and pistachio. I enjoyed the pistachio most of the two flavors, although it was interesting that it wasn't the typical green color of pistachio ice cream. I'd return for more ice cream!

Monday, October 1, 2018

St. Johns River Steak & Seafood in Sanford, FL

I ate at St. Johns River Steak & Seafood located in the Sanford Marina. This location has been host to several different restaurants, none of which seem to survive very long. This includes two which have been featured on this blog before: Limoncellos and Efes Turkish Restaurant. Downtown Sanford has been booming lately and the marina is being redeveloped, so hopefully this bodes well for the survival of St. Johns River Steak & Seafood.

I ordered the Key West Combo. This dish included jerk mahi and shrimp in a honey mustard sauce, along with conch fritters, rice, and broccoli. The mahi and shrimp were very good, although I've had much better conch fritters elsewhere.

There was a birthday at our table so the restaurant brought out a huge slice of chocolate-peanut butter cake. For a surprise slice of cake, there were no complaints!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

4R Cantina Food Truck at Disney Springs

4R Cantina Food Truck recently opened at Disney Springs. Similar to the other 4 Rivers locations, smoked meats were served here but with a Mexican twist. They had standard items including tacos, quesadillas, and nachos, but the one item everyone was talking about was the taco cone.
I had the Brisket Barbacoa Taco Cone. The cone was made from a deep fried tortilla spiraled into a cone shape. This was filled with shredded brisket, lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, queso, cilantro, jalapeno, and lime. It was all very tasty and the cone shape made it mobile with the food truck's lack of seating. My complaint about the whole thing was the shape of cone and getting to the bottom. There was plenty of good stuff like guacamole and sour cream at the top, but it was hard to mix up those ingredients to the bottom since the cone got narrower and narrower. Regardless, I very much enjoyed my taco cone!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Cedar Rapids, Iowa Food (350 First, Blue Strawberry Coffee Company, White Star Ale House, Need Pizza, Grin n Goose, La Cantina, Newbo City Market, Parlor City Pub, and Great American Popcorn Company)

Last summer I visited Cedar Rapids, Iowa for a week. I wrote a blog post on my food travels there, but for some reason never published it. Better late then never. Here is my thoughts on Cedar Rapids food from Summer of 2017...

350 First:

This was located on the top floor of the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Cedar Rapids where I was staying. After flying in, I had dinner here. The restaurant had lovely views of the city. There was city skyline in one direction and a massive Quaker Oats factory in the other. I ordered the Pastrami Ruben. The sandwich was good as far as ruben sandwiches go. It was pretty standard and was served with fries and a pickle. The almost three hour process that I took to have this sandwich wasn't nearly as good as the sandwich. The kitchen was hopelessly backed up. The servers were flustered. Managers were placing the blame for the restaurants issues back onto the customers. Don't eat here at dinner time if there's a convention going on in the hotel...

Blue Strawberry Coffee Company:

Visited this coffee shop a couple times for food because it was quick and convenient to where I was staying. One visit was for breakfast and one for lunch.
I had the Big Boss Burrito on my first visit here. The burrito was filled with bacon, egg, cheese, potatoes, green peppers, and onions. The whole thing was pressed on a grill. Sour cream and salsa were served as sides. I liked it!
I had the Grilled Asparagus Sandwich on my second visit to the Blue Strawberry. This was basically a grilled cheese with mozzarella and provolone. Grilled asparagus, roasted red peppers, and basil were grilled into the sandwich. It was okay, but sounded better on the menu's description that it actually was. Asparagus was too round and separated the bread too much to work on a grilled cheese.

White Star Ale House:

This was a restaurant recommended by the front desk at my hotel. Overall, it ended up being an okay restaurant, but was very forgettable. The menu was generic and while the food was good enough, it was nothing that made me want to go rushing back.
I had the Roasted BBQ Pork Shanks with Baked Cheesy Potatoes as my side. The barbecue sauce was spicier than expected, but good. The pork was nice and tender and came off the bone easily. Cheesy potatoes were sort of bland.

Need Pizza:

There were two restaurants serving pizzas in downtown Cedar Rapids. Need Pizza seemed to be doing much more business than their counterpart, so the assumption was that they were that better restaurant.
I shared a pizza topped with pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, kalamata olives, and mushrooms. The pizza was okay. Not the worst pizza ever, but not something I'll be craving any time soon. There was a bit of a cheese overload on the pie, which I do not enjoy. I guess Iowa isn't really known for their pizza...

Grin n Goose:

Grin n Goose was one of those restaurants where my initial reaction was to wonder if they were focusing more on food or alcohol here. Luckily they did food well.
I had the Turkey Club. The sandwich consisted of an Asiago bun filled with sliced turkey, lettuce, tomato, garlic aioli, bacon, swiss, and American cheese. I had French Onion soup as my side. The sandwich was as expected, while the soup was better than expected. Sometimes French Onion soup is basically bread with a little onions and liquid poured over it. Thankfully in this case, there was much more of the soup than the bread submerged in it. Plenty of gooey cheese topped the bowl...

La Cantina:

I had Mexican food at a restaurant called La Cantina. I ordered the Enchiladas de Mole. The chicken enchiladas were topped with a mole sauce alongside refried beans, rice, and sliced onions. It wasn't my favorite mole sauce ever, somewhat lacking in the chocolate flavor found elsewhere, but it was still pretty tasty. It was also a good value for the price.

Newbo City Market/Roaster's Coffeehouse:

This was Cedar Rapid's big food hall. I tried some Beer & Cheese soup from a booth called Roaster's Coffeehouse.

Parlor City Pub & Eatery:

Brisket Sandwich with onion rings. This is not something I'd reccomend. Meat was chewy. The roll was stale, and the rings were soggy.
Grant Wood is from Iowa. American Gothic was standing near the restrooms in here.

Great American Popcorn Company:

Ice Cream from a popcorn store!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

NY Food (Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery, Veselka, Totto Ramen, Sunnyside Pizza, Halal Truck, Shiro, and Dave's Bagels)

Continuing from my recent trip which took me around New England, New York was the next stop on the journey:

Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery (Manhattan):

This place has been on my radar for a while. They specialize in Knishes and have been around since 1910!
I had a Spinach Knish. Spinach was mixed into the potato in the knish. I very much enjoy knishes, and this was no exception!

Veselka (Manhattan):

I went here almost immediately after visiting Yonah Schimmel's. Pierogi are hard to resist and Veselka is one of my favorite restaurants in New York. Their Sunday Brunch was happening and I tried the bacon, egg, & cheese pierogi. The waiter told me I wanted them fried. I should have gotten them boiled. The amount of crispiness from being deep fried made them seem like empanadas more than pierogi. Filling wise, bacon egg and cheese in a pierogi was really good!

Totto Ramen (Manhattan):

Google listed this as a highly rated ramen shop in the city. They specialized in a type of broth which I had never had called Paitan. This is apparently a chicken based broth.
I had the Miso Paitan Ramen. It was noodles in chicken paitan broth, topped with miso, egg, scallions, bean sprouds, onions, and pork. Delicious!

Sunnyside Pizza (Queens):

This is a pizzeria in Queens that has good New York style pizza, available by the slice.
I had a slice of cheese and an eggplant/ricotta slice. I do enjoy that they put sesame seeds on the crust.

Halal Truck (Queens):

I had a Lamb/Chicken combo from a random Halal food truck in Sunnyside. They made the standard NY Halal cart fare a little more interesting by adding bell peppers and onions in with the meat. Served over rice and lettuce, topped with white and hot sauce.

Shiro (Grand Central):

I had an Eel Avocado Roll from a fast food sushi restaurant in Grand Central from Shiro.

Dave's Bagels and Grill (Queens):

I had an everything bagel with lox cream cheese.

Friday, August 31, 2018

New England Food (CT, VT, NH, ME, and RI)

During the same trip up north where I visited Springfield, I also ventured up to several New England states that I had never been to or had spent very little time in. This included Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Rhode Island. We'll start out in Connecticut:

Jumbo Buffet (Bloomford, CT):

A friend decided that he wanted a Chinese buffet for lunch. Buffets aren't really a thing in this area like they are in Florida. The only one that was listed nearby was called Jumbo Buffet. It turned out to be a standard Chinese takeout storefront with a buffet table in the middle of the restaurant. It didn't look very appetizing to me, so I ordered fresh food off the menu. I started with a scallion pancake appetizer, mostly because these are hard to find back home.
I had the Hunan Chicken combo for the dinner. Served with fried rice and an egg roll.

The Gables Inn (Stowe, VT):

Moving on to Vermont, my first meal was breakfast in Stowe. The place I stayed overnight recommended The Gables Inn for breakfast, which was another hotel down the road. It was basically someone's house where they added a few rooms behind their home and served breakfast on their porch.
I ordered the Vermont Breakfast. This came with pancakes, local maple syrup, a slice of ham, and two poached eggs.

Ben & Jerry's Factory Tour (Waterbury, VT):

Up next for food in Vermont was the Ben & Jerry's Factory Tour.
Pretty nifty tour, although no pictures were allowed of the actual factory floor. Here's the sample of ice cream they gave at the end of the tour.

Gaku Ramen (Burlington, VT):

I tried the Black Garlic Tonkotsu Ramen here. It was noodles, pork, mushrooms, scallions, bamboo shoots, with a soft boiled egg in a pork based broth. It was a pretty substantial bowl of ramen.

Boston Brothers Pizzeria (Conway, NH):

My one and only meal ever in New Hampshire. I stopped in Conway for lunch and ended up at Boston Brothers Pizzeria. The cheese slice was large and affordable. My initial choice was one of their specialty pizzas, which they were out of.

Portland Lobster Company (Portland, ME):

Moving on to Maine. While in Portland, I had the stereotypical food for the state. I had to get some Maine lobster. I ate at Portland Lobster Company and ordered a lobster roll. It was served with fries and coleslaw. The location was really nice on the water. Lobster is the most overhyped seafood there is in my opinion...

Gorgeous Gelato (Portland, ME):

Got some lemon gelato in a waffle cone from a place called Gorgeous Gelato.

The Holy Donut (Portland, ME):

Potato doughnuts are a thing. I stopped into The Holy Donut in Portland where they advertised that their doughnuts were made with mashed potatoes. I tried their Maple Bacon Donut. The consistency was different from a typical, non-potato doughnut. The inside was slightly denser and was really moist. I liked it. The maple glaze and the salty bacon balanced itself nicely. Definitely ranks as one of the best doughnuts I've had...

Tom's BaoBao (Providence, RI):

Moving on to Rhode Island. My tour of states I hadn't been to was running short on time, so my only adventure in this state was stopping in Providence for dinner. This city looked like it had seen better days and most restaurants were closed, but I did find a place open called Tom's BaoBao. I started with a pork bao.
They also had hand pulled noodles. Topped with cucumber slices, scallions, and chili powder. The noodles were really good and shadowed the bao.

And that's my food tour of Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Rhode Island. It was a tasty food adventure!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Springfield, Massachusetts Food (Red Rose Pizza, Luxe Burger Bar, Cafe Du Jour, Nadim's Mediterranean Restaurant, Theodore's BBQ, Sun Kim Bop, Downtown Farmers Market, and Student Prince)

I spent a week in Springfield, Massachusetts during a convention I attended in the city. Here's some of the food I ate:

Red Rose Pizza:

They had huge pies for reasonable prices. Their medium pie fed three people with leftovers. Their biggest pie could have probably fed ten people. I ate here twice. On my first visit I split a pie topped with pepperoni, sausage, bacon, and black olives. The pizza wasn't NY style, served in square slices with a medium thickness crust. The crust, cheese, sauce, and toppings were well proportioned and I was very pleased with the pizza.
On my second visit I started with a side salad. Exactly what I expected.
We ordered a pizza topped with pepperoni, sausage, and bell peppers on this visit. I don't know if it was a different cook, but this pie was disappointing. It was messy looking, had a bit of a cheese overload compared to the rest of the pie, and didn't hold itself together worst of all. Even after it cooled, the pie kept on falling apart.
So 50% good pizza depending on who's making it?

Luxe Burger Bar:

I had a build your own burger, topped with an egg, guacamole, onions, lettuce, and pickles. Can't say I was impressed. Toppings were very inconsistently spread (guacamole only made it to a quarter of the burger) and came served with much of the lettuce on the plate. I ordered Cheddar Tater Tots as my side which were initially forgotten, then were lukewarm when finally delivered to the table.
Some restaurants I ate at during this trip had multiple visits. Luxe Burger Bar did not earn that honor.

Café Du Jour:

This was a coffee shop across from my hotel. Came here for breakfast one morning and had a bacon, egg, and cheese croissant. I also noticed they served Lahmajoun (I believe - I initially learned this food as Turkish Pizza). I ordered one of those as well topped with sesame paste.
Came back and had spinach and feta another day. The sesame was better.

Nadim's Mediterranean Restaurant & Grill:

I had the Lebanese Stew. Big chunks of lamb, beans, and other veggies were cooked until tender in a tomato based broth. The stew was served with rice. It was delicious. A little on the expensive side, but still delicious.

Theodore's BBQ:

 This was another restaurant I visited twice. I had the brisket on my first meal here. The brisket was served over a slice of bread, topped with barbecue sauce. Beans, collards, coleslaw, and cornbread was served as sides.
I had the Texas Sausage on my second visit, served with the same sides.

Sun Kim Bop:

This was a fast food Korean restaurant. I had the Bibimbop. This rice bowl was topped with an egg, spicy pork, and various vegetables. It was a good portion, affordable, and delicious.

Springfield Central Downtown Farmers Market:

This was a small Friday morning farmers market. I bought a loaf of bread and blueberries.

Student Prince:

This was a German restaurant that looks like it's been around forever in a good way. I had the Wurstplatte, which came with a bratwurst, knackwurst, and a boar & cranberry sausage. The sausages were served over spatzle and sauerkraut. Of the three sausages, the boar & cranberry was the highlight.

This concludes my visit to Springfield. My overall impression was that the city has seen better days and seems to be in transition right now (MGM Casino is taking over several blocks of downtown). While the food options were a bit slim, there definitely were some highlight restaurants!


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