Saturday, July 13, 2019

Poutine at a Canadian McDonalds in Victoria, BC

I was in Victoria, British Columbia while on a cruise ship stop. While sightseeing, we spotted a McDonalds with a maple leaf on the sign. Out of curiosity, we went inside to see if Canadian McDonalds have any interesting menu differences compared to the US for horrible food.
Canadian McDonalds does have a menu difference. They serve Poutine. I had to try some going in with the lowest expectations. My low expectations were met with some of the worst poutine I've ever sampled. It was so bad half the box ended up getting thrown out. The fries tasted stale. The gravy didn't have much of a flavor. The worst offender was the cheese. I'm pretty sure these weren't cheese curds and were instead chunks of mozzarella. McDonalds, you make Canadian food look bad...

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Cruise Ship Food Aboard the Norwegian Bliss

I recently went on a cruise aboard the Norwegian Bliss from Seattle to various ports in Alaska and British Columbia. While I did eat off the boat, this post will focus on food aboard the ship.

Garden Cafe:

This is the main buffet on the Norwegian Bliss. While the Garden Cafe did a good job with their food for the most part, sometimes certain foods were hit or miss. I found the breakfast buffet got repetitive with the same several items repeating themselves over and over again with certain items that they could never get right (good luck finding a piece of crispy bacon on this buffet). Breakfast also seemed to lack certain items which seemed standard on every other cruise I've been on (lox/smoked salmon at breakfast). Lunch and dinner buffets had a nice selection with a good number of items that changed from day to day. There was an after hours buffet in the Garden Cafe which was quite sad. Seemed like hamburgers, hot dogs, and a few select leftover items from dinner.

Various Breakfast Foods:

There were certain genres of food that the Garden Cafe did consistently well. For example, they always had really good Indian food. I'd rank the Indian food at Garden Cafe up there with some of my favorite Indian restaurant lunch buffets!
Tried some of the items when Garden Cafe had a seafood themed dinner buffet. Fish cakes, seafood casserole, and salmon bisque.
There was also an Asian noodle soup station which I enjoyed. There seemed to be some daily variation here in terms of broth and noodles. I saw udon, ramen, and pho.


The Local:

This was the only restaurant serving food 24 hours a day on the Bliss. I enjoyed almost everything I ate at The Local with one exception.

Rachel Sandwich and Pretzel Bites.
Caesar Salad
Watermelon Greek Salad and Turkey Pot Pie
Fish & Chips. This was the only meal from The Local that I didn't enjoy. The batter on the fish was thicker than the fish itself and was soggy rather than crispy. The french fries were also on the soggy side.
Taco Salad. Beef, beans, salsa, guacamole, and cilantro served over rice, all in a taco bowl.
Watermelon Greek Salad. This was one of my favorite salads I had on the Norwegian Bliss. The sweet watermelon mixed with the salty feta, kalamata olives, and vinegar was very nice.
Carrot Cake

The Manhattan, Taste, and Savor:

These were the three main dining rooms on the Norwegian Bliss. These were the fanciest restaurants on the boat which didn't have an upcharge. Each location had a different name, but each had the exact same menu for each day. Like the Garden Cafe, some foods at these restaurants were hit or miss.

Breakfast was consistently better at Taste and Savor compared to the Garden Cafe. You got service, presentation, and items that didn't make it to a buffet.

French toast:
Bagel with lox.
Eggs Benedict.
Strawberry Yogurt Parfait.
Smoked Salmon and Dill Spinach Pancakes. This was my favorite breakfast aboard the ship. I am a big fan of savory pancakes, and this combination of spinach-green tinted pancakes, salty fish, and sour cream topping was delicious.
Breakfast Casserole. This seemed like an interesting variation on an English breakfast. Baked beans and sausage topped with a poached egg. Not my favorite, but it was interesting regardless. 

I think I preferred breakfast in these restaurants a bit more than dinner. Dinners weren't necessary bad, they just had the feel of mass-produced convention center type food. I had an appetizer with every meal in these restaurants at dinnertime. Here's some of them:

Fig and Goat Cheese Flatbread:
Baked Brie:
Matzo Ball Soup (I question the Kosherness of this soup):
Stuffed Mushrooms:
Tostadas - I think nachos would be a more appropriate name since these were basically tortilla chips topped with stuff:
Spring Rolls:
Vegetable Tempura Rolls:

Here's some of the dinner entrees I ate:

Lamb Shank:
Shrimp and Grits:
Eggplant Parmesan:

Pad Thai:

Various desserts from Taste, Savor, and The Manhattan:

Overall, the food on the Norwegian Bliss was decent. There were definitely some hits and misses when it came to menu items, especially at dinners in the dining rooms. Definitely better food compared to what I've had on Carnival ships.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Yeoman's Cask & Lion in Kissimmee, FL

I had lunch in the new Sunset Walk shopping center at Margaritaville in Kissimmee. I ate at Yeoman's Cask & Lion. This British themed restaurant sits beneath a replica of Big Ben. Big Ben fits perfectly for a resort complex with a tropical theme! The menu here seemed to be mostly burgers and sandwiches. There was a small portion of the menu which served stereotypical British food.
I ordered a sandwich called the Brie Castle. It was a fancy grilled cheese made from brie and muenster. Besides the cheese, there was pot roast, arugula, apple slices, and caramelized onions. Overall, the sandwich was mostly good. All the components made it much more interesting than a basic grilled cheese. A corner of the sandwich did have some pot roast that was fatty and inedible, but the rest of the sandwich was covered in nice and tender pot roast. Fries were served as a side.
Besides the little bit of chewy pot roast, I enjoyed my lunch here. I'd return to give them another try.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Las Vegas Food #2: In-N-Out Burger

This post is going to be controversial. I'm going to talk about my first visit to an In-N-Out Hamburgers. I'm going to say I wasn't impressed with everyone's much hyped burger chain...
I decided I had to try the In-N-Out Burger I spotted along the Las Vegas Strip. I've been hearing about the wondrous food miracles that In-N-Out does with their burgers for years. With all that hype, I'm sure I was setting myself up for disappointment. I know In-N-Out is known for their secret menu, but I figured I'd order some of their published menu standards since it was my first visit.
I ordered the Double-Double (left). The person I ate there with had a Cheeseburger (right) with only meat and cheese (super picky eater). Fries came as a side for both. My Double-Double had two beef patties, cheese, onions, lettuce, tomato, and sauce. It was adequate. It tasted like a mediocre fast food burger to me, above the monstrosity level of Burger King, but about even with a McDonald's burger. The Double-Double wasn't the worst thing I've had, but not something I'll be craving from Florida for years to come. Don't get me started on the fries though. They were bad. They were soggy, had no character of their own and desperately demanded to be drenched in condiments to make them somewhat okay.
Since my visit to In-N-Out, I've discussed my thoughts with fans of the restaurant. I've been told I would have enjoyed it so much more if I had ordered off the secret menu. In my mindset though, my first experience with the restaurant should be with the regular menu. If I was that impressed, I'd go rushing back to try the secret menu items. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. In-N-Out, you did not live up to your legendary hype...

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Las Vegas Food #1: Buffets (Le Village Buffet, Flavors, Spice Market, & Paradise Garden)

I found some very cheap flights and went on a very short trip to Las Vegas. Of the many eating options in the city, Las Vegas does have a reputation for buffets. Upon arriving, I saw advertised that there was a deal where you got unlimited 24-hour access to five buffets in various casinos in the Harrah's chain for $49.99. I was only going to be in the city for about 36 hours total, so this seemed like a good way to go. Timing wise, I was able to get four meals out of this deal, working out to under $13 per buffet before tax and tip. 

Le Village Buffet in Paris:

I arrived in Las Vegas early in the morning. This meant it was time to have breakfast. I stayed in Paris, so after arriving at the hotel, I bought into the buffet deal for a late breakfast at Le Village Buffet. This was the only highly themed buffet I dined at. It was set in a Paris street, with a cloud filled sky up above. The restaurant would have fit right in at Epcot.
Le Village Buffet was somewhat themed foodwise. There was all the standard breakfast items you would expect, along with more French breakfast items such as crepes (which I did not sample because of huge lines), quiches (which I did sample, both the meat and vegetarian versions, both of which were good), and smoked fish (smoked salmon and smoked trout- I enjoy smoked fish).
One major disappointment. There was no French toast on the buffet. I wanted very much to say I ate French Toast (which isn't French) in a casino buffet pretending to be Paris in the Nevada desert. Besides the lack of French Toast, this was actually the best of the buffets I sampled in Vegas. Read on...

Flavors in Harrah's:

This was buffet #2 for lunch. Of all the four buffets I sampled, this was the most unappealing, heading towards the Golden Corral level of food. The cigarette stench from the casino floor also drifted into the buffet, which is a bit disgusting. Wonder how long it will be for all these casinos in Las Vegas to go smoke free?
The buffet was vaguely internationally themed, with various world cuisines. Everything I tasted here was really mediocre. Not impressed. Flavors lacked the flavors...

Spice Market in Planet Hollywood:

Spice Market was buffet #3 for dinner. Similar to Flavors, Spice Market was also internationally themed. The food on this buffet seemed better quality with a better variety. I'm not sure if this is the difference between lunch options and dinner options on buffets owned by Harrah's.

First plate of food included a trip to the Mexican section of the buffet, with quesadillas, rice, beans, and guacamole.  From the American section of the buffet, I had some BBQ ribs (meat wasn't very tender).
Plate #2 mostly consisted of the Mediterranean section of the buffet. This seemed to be what they were pushing in all of the buffet's advertisements. There was lamb skewers, tabouli, roasted vegetables, stuffed grape leaves, and large cubes of feta. Just like the ribs, the lamb was a bit too chewy.

Paradise Garden in The Flamingo:

My final buffet in my 24 hours was at Paradise Garden in The Flamingo. This was my second breakfast buffet in Las Vegas. They had pretty standard breakfast items, although I preferred Le Village Buffet for breakfast. I found it interesting that they had French toast on the buffet in this restaurant, but the French themed buffet did not.
I had a strawberry filled crepe here as well.
Desserts were interesting, especially for breakfast. They were very colorful tarts. The weirdest one was the fruit tart which came with a syringe of raspberry syrup.

Overall, this was a good deal for food for my short time in Las Vegas. Breakfast buffets seemed to definitely be done better compared to the lunch and dinner buffets I tried, which were sort of hit or miss. After this trip, I can cross the Las Vegas buffet thing off my list...


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