New Tastes!

Hotels

Sushi 101 from RA Sushi

So...You’re sitting at a local sushi restaurant, and as a sushi novice, you don’t know what to order. You read words like Nigiri, Sashimi, Maki, etc.. and you wander…what does it all mean?
Well the folks at RA Sushi have put together a quick guide to deciphering the menu so you don’t embarrass yourself in front of your hot date.


Sashimi is raw fish sliced into thin pieces.

Nigiri is a specific type of sushi comprising of a slice of raw fish over pressed rice.

Maki is sushi rolled up using a bamboo mat, typically with seaweed.

Edamame is a fancy word for soy beans and tempura is a fancy word for fried. If you’re nervous about ordering raw fish, ask for a vegetarian roll, like RA Sushi’s Crunchy Yami Roll.


If you want to really impress your date, you can drop some sushi knowledge on them by letting them know that technically the word sushi refers only to the rice and not the fish.....and lastly...Never rub your chopsticks together!

Arigato.
Read more ...

The Meatball Shoppe

7325 Lake Underhill Rd.
Orlando FL. 32822
(407) 270-6505



East Orlando's newest dining spot is a little place called The Meatball Shoppe. I say little enthusiastically though, because the shop is small inside, but full of great flavor and great character. That great character is attributed to the owners of this establishment - Isabella Morgia di Vicaria, a first-generation American, born of Italian heritage in Brooklyn, NY. and her Husband Jeff Morgia.

Isabella and Jeff have over thirty years of time and experience combined in the restaurant and food industry. Isabella’s Bella Cucina, a catering company that the couple operates, has been in business since 1992 in Central Florida. A few years ago, Isabella and Jeff were thinking of ways to bring something new and innovative to Central Florida... and The Meatball Shoppe was born. With the aquiring of a location for The Meatball Shoppe, Isabella’s Bella Cucina also acquired a larger kitchen facility that will make it possible for the two companies to support each other. The Meatball Shoppe will also serve as a retail space for Isabella’s Bella Cucina.

Isabella believes her meatballs are special and are a representative of the best of many cultures including the Mediterranean and Latin American Countries. Jeff says his love of meatballs comes from the nostalgia 
that takes him back to when he was growing up, and they’re warm, inviting and are universally loved by all. 

The concept of The Meatball Shoppe is to bring you the classic and traditional Italian meatball and then take it in a different direction. The menu is based on tradition fused with innovation that brings new life to the ‘classic meatball’. Patrons can expect to find a combination of an old world style with a retro feel and fresh originality.

When ordering you first choose "How would you like them" your options are "On Top", "Alone" and "Smash". If you select "On Top" you then you select a side you would like your meatballs on top of. Choices include Creamy Polenta, Penne Pasta with choice of sauce, Gluten-Free Pasta, Pasta Aglia Olio and a White Bean Ragout. If you want your meatballs by themselves, you would choose "Alone" and they are served atop a bed of arugula. The "Smash" option gives you the meatballs smashed on freshly baked focaccia.

Next you select the type of meatball you would like. The list of meatballs includes Nonna’s traditional Italian meatballs, Vegetarian, Gluten free Jeffy’s sausage,  Mediterranean grass fed lamb with pita bread and tzatziki sauce, Spicy pork, Chicken Marsala and a Reuben ball topped with a traditional Reuben Sauce.

Your next step is to pick a sauce. Sauces  available are Roasted Tomato Sauce, Isabella’s Signature Pesto, Creamy Provolone , Rich Marsala Mushroom Sauce, Spicy Pork Sauce. You can mix and match all you want, but the sauce selections go hand in hand with your meatball choice. You can also get a fried egg to top everything off, if you choose.

I had the opportunity to go to a blogger and foodie meet up recently, and I got to sample a bit of everything at The Meatball Shoppe. Everyone really enjoyed the flavors and creativity of all the meatballs we sampled. They were firm and seasoned well and the sauces and sides were quite tasty too. 


I ordered Jeffy's Sausage meatball smashed on focaccia with creamy provolone sauce and a fried egg on top. That was a pretty damn good sandwich.


Nonna's traditional Italian with roasted tomato sauce.








Mediterranean grass fed Lamb with pita bread and tzatziki sauce on top of creamy polenta.






Vegetarian Meatball on top white bean ragout.









Chicken Marsala Meatball with Marsala Mushroom Sauce. 







The Meatball Shoppe is open Monday to Saturday, for lunch or dinner from 11 AM to 8 PM. Stop by and say hello to Isabella and Jeff and enjoy great company along with great food.They will satisfy the kid in you with fun, delicious meatballs and satisfy your more sophisticated adult palate with gourmet flavors.

Meatball Shoppe on Urbanspoon
Read more ...

Meg O' Malley's Irish Pub

812 East New Haven Avenue
Melbourne, FL 32901
(321) 952-5510

Since I have a lot of extended family living on the space coast, I find myself in Brevard county at least twice a month. We often get together for family functions and to eat and socialize. Every so often we will go out to eat, but its mostly chain restaurants because the dining scene in Brevard county is underwhelming. There are a few noteworthy spots dotted along the coast line though, and that's why I was excited to try Meg O' Malley's Irish Pub for a recent birthday dinner.

Meg O' Malley's is located in one of the more scenic and happening spots in Brevard county, in the more trendy downtown Melbourne. You could say that Meg O'Malley's is a typical Irish pub, but it is worthy of much more. On most nights they have Irish music playing and bar patrons participating in sing a longs. The atmosphere is lively and fun, and the food is pretty good too. 

In addition to some great Irish beers and cocktails, the menu is full of great Irish pub fare. Starers include items like lamb sliders, corned beef sliders, potato balls and a cheese & ale crock. Mains range from traditional pub sandwiches like the Kilkenny and a Dubliner chicken sandwich to a variety of burgers. Of course there is your standard fish and chips, bangers & mash, and corned beef and cabbage as well as roasted lamb shank and pot roast.

Our first starter was the Potato Balls. Made of mashed potatoes, chopped corned beef, scallions and Farmhouse cheddar rolled up, breaded and fried. Really tasty, especially with a pint of Guinness.

The Cheese & Ale Crock is a must have starter. It's a mixture of Irish ale, Farmhouse cheddar, and Dubliner cheeses served with an assortment of breads for dipping (Irish soda bread, brown bread, and garlic toast)

The Kilkenny sandwich is an Irish Reuben with sliced corned beef, Swiss, cabbage, and 1000 Island dressing on grilled rye bread. This sandwich was good, and loaded with meat too.

The Shepherds Pie
has ground beef in a rich broth with root vegetables and sweet peas, topped with colcannon and served with buttered cabbage and brown bread. For $2.00 extra, you can have it topped with macaroni and cheese.

It's hard to find good Fish & Chips. It seems simple enough, but I've had my fair share of bad fish & chips. I was excited to find that Meg O' Malley's fish & chips were rather exceptional.

I enjoyed the Corned Beef and Cabbage with corned beef brisket served with buttered cabbage, sweet carrots, whole grain mustard, brown bread, and choice of colcannon or boiled red bliss potatoes.

For our birthday celebration, we received a free order of MOM's Bread Pudding made from an old Irish recipe topped with whipped cream and a warm drunken raisin sauce. 


Meg O' Malley's provided exceptional service for our party of five, and everyone really enjoyed the food and atmosphere. They draw a pretty good crowd most nights of the week, but if you plan on going there on the weekends, be prepared to wait. As you might imagine, Meg's has one of the best St. Patrick's day celebrations on the east coast. Festivities usually last all week long with a street party on the weekend.

Meg O' Malley's is open from 10:30 am until the wee hours of the night as they like to say. Sundays they open at 11:00 am and feature an a la carte brunch special.

Meg O'Malley's on Urbanspoon
Read more ...

Brunch at American Gymkhana

7559 W Sand Lake Rd.
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 985-2900

You have probably noticed that "Brunch" has become the cool social thing to do on weekends. You have also probably noticed that lots of restaurants have been making a push to serve brunch over the past year. But I bet when you think of a typical "Brunch", you are not thinking Indian food. 

Say hello to brunch at American Gymkhana, the all new modern Indian restaurant and lounge on Orlando’s famed "Restaurant Row" in the Dr.Phillips neighborhood. If you recall, I recently visited there and really enjoyed the food and and just about everything that is American Gymkhana. You can see my review Here, in case you missed it.


With the recent boom in the restaurant business that Orlando has had the past few years, the brunch craze soon followed. You have an endless selection of waffles, omelets, bacon, mimosas and biscuits & gravy. Some places have even refined the brunch theme to include extravagant items like Spanish tapas and a gourmet crepe station, but I can almost guarantee you no one is serving Lamb Vindaloo. This is what makes American Gymkhana a special treat for brunch.


For $25.00+ tax & tip, you get your choice of an outstanding selection of some pretty darn good Indian dishes, and that includes one side item and two cocktails. Selections include things like Lamb Vindaloo, Angrezi Chicken, Gymkhana Club, and they even have a Gymkhana version of chicken and waffles and french toast. Side selections include your choice of masala potato wedges, black cardamom & hickory smoked lamb bacon, warm spice granola & berry parfait, daily bread basket and a kale & cashew salad.


The cocktail choices feature an orange-mango mimosa lychee mimosa, peach bellini mumbai Bloody Mary. If you prefer something non alcoholic they also have brunch mocktails which are basically virgin drinks with freshly squeezed juices. If that was not enough, American Gymkhana also features a live DJ. Yes They have that too, because really nice groovy house music is always a great accompaniment to any meal.



You can sit anywhere you like, but go for the veranda if its available. Its a great spot to eat, drink, relax and jam out to sounds of the live DJ. 




My wife ordered the Gymkhana Club. This is a sandwich made with sharp English cheddar, mint coriander chutney, spiced potato,red onion and tomato. Very delicious and unique. 


For her side, my wife chose the Kale & Cashew Salad. The salad was light and refreshing with light vinaigrette dressing.




As a southern guy, I had to order the Banjara Chicken & Waffles with spiced fried chicken, garlic yogurt, a buttermilk tadka waffle and a variety of house made syrups and butter. This was simply outstanding.


My side choice was the Masala Potato Wedges. Another twist on an American classic from Chef  Aarthi Sampath. These wedges were lightly fried and crispy and full of flavor.

Our drink selection included an Orange Mango Mimosa and a Mumbai Bloody Mary. Both were very good, but the Mumbai Bloody Mary was a game changer. Hemant Pathak, the beverage director for Junoon in New York and for American Gymkhana, has created a couple of really good cocktails that set his tastes and standards apart from others.

The Mumbai Bloody Mary is his version of the classic Bloody Mary, with a  blend of house toasted spices and curry. By using other ingredients instead of the standard Tabasco or Worcestershire sauces normally used, this Bloody Mary mixture is one that you will remember. Its hot and fiery, but full of flavor. 

Flavor is the key ingredient at American Gymkhana. Whether you go for brunch or dinner, you will not be disappointed. Chef Sampath certainly knows what she is doing in the kitchen and she knows how to excite your taste buds. For $25.00+ tax and gratuity, this is one of the best brunch deals in Orlando. 

American Gymkhana on Urbanspoon
Read more ...

Clearwater Beach Uncorked 2015

Pier 60
Clearwater Beach, FL
View Website Here

CLEARWATER BEACH UNCORKED

Clearwater Beach Uncorked is delighted to announce sponsors and special guests at its 4th annual wine and food beachfront spectacular to be held on February 7th and 8th, 2015, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., beneath the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa.

Clearwater Beach Uncorked will donate a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales to the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership. This year’s sponsors include: Publix, Duncan Hines, Florida Department of Citrus, Hefty, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Planters, Organic Girl, Reynolds, and more
.

Chefs will whisk away from the Publix Aprons Cooking Stage. Appearances by Food Network retro rad Chef Emily Ellyn, Publix Aprons Chefs Jim Hendry and Tony Logerfo, Duncan Hines Corporate Chef Joe DiPaola with a special appearance by Hefty NASCAR driver Eric McClure and Gerald Walen, author of Road Trips for Beer. Wine and craft beer enthusiasts will love the launch of the delectable Brew-B-Que cooking session with Food Network Chef Emily Ellyn.

Tickets to the Grand Tasting event will provide access to the premier destination for foodies, wine lovers and craft/micro-brew beer aficionados. Enjoy fabulous food from the area’s most delicious restaurants, ‘boutiquey’ hot-spots, and world-class hotels. Taste over 100 wines from across the globe and enjoy the best brews available. 

Sip, savor and be seen on Clearwater Beach at this paparazzi-filled event nestled on one of the most exquisite beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Guests of the event will enjoy a perfect beach weekend coupled with light bites of sweet and savory fare to compliment a vast array of enviable and recognized wines and craft beers to satisfy every palette. Meet with wine specialists, brew masters along with the best and brightest chefs from across the Bay-Area during this week-long gastronomic experience.

Clearwater Beach Uncorked, described as the finest beachfront culinary event on Florida’s west coast, is brought together by sponsors: Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa and Publix. Clearwater Beach Uncorked will bid the ultimate pre-Valentine’s Day beach getaway complete with delicious tastings from the area’s most renowned restaurants, along with savory wines, craft beers, and microbreweries.  For more information, visit http://clearwaterbeachuncorked.com.

Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort offers remarkable elegance with the tropical, carefree experience on Florida’s west coast. Views of the Gulf along with extensive floor plans in luxurious one- and two- bedroom suites provide the perfect getaway addition. For more information or reservations, please visit http://clearwaterbeach.hyatt.com.

The USF Sarasota-Manatee College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership (CHTL) is one of the fastest growing colleges in two of Florida’s fastest growing industries. For 10 years, this USFSM program has offered a collection of learning tools for managers in the hotel, restaurant and tourism sectors, including planning, finance, accounting, economics, technology, marketing, branding, and more. For more information visit www.usfsm.edu/chtl.

To Purchase your tickets: 







Read more ...

Duffy's Sports Grill


951 Market Promenade Avenue
Lake Mary, FL 32746
(407) 878-3604
View Website Here


As a fan of certain South Florida sports teams, I have heard a great deal about Duffy's. Somehow, I ended up never going to a South Florida location, but my friends were always telling me to go to Duffy's. So, as you can imagine, I jumped at the chance to do a menu tasting for the newest Duffy's location in Lake Mary.

What is Duffy's you ask? Well..Duffy’s is a sports grill, that is based in Lake Worth, Florida and operates 26 full-service, casual-dining restaurants, all of which are located in Florida. Established in 1985, the Duffy's brand has become a regional market leader known for top quality casual dining with an emphasis on freshly prepared ingredients and grilled items. Duffy’s boasts a distinctly upscale sports environment complete with satellite programming, more than 75 TVs per location, and framed authentic sports memorabilia throughout each restaurant.

With a reasonably priced menu of tasty food, and all day 2 for 1 drink specials, I started to see what all the fuss was about. Duffy’s menu features freshly prepared ingredients and grilled items that has everything from Chinese chopped salads to Churrasco steak. Guests will enjoy signature favorites such as Duffy’s BBQ baby back ribs, half pound certified Angus beef burgers, grilled-to-order steaks, and a variety of salads and pastas.

A Pineapple Mojito and a Caribbean Breeze cooler were the perfect way to get the evening started.






The appetizer list at Duffy's is pretty impressive, but there is something for everyone. 
The Guacamole was pretty tasty and had a bit of spice. 



Wings come in a variety of flavors, like Asian sesame, sweet Buffalo, spicy orange ginger and firecracker to name a few. 





The Korean Beef Mini Tacos at Duffy's are legendary. Decently seasoned beef gets topped with a cilantro and onion relish and a spicy chili garlic sauce.



The large order of Sesame-Crusted Ahi Tuna is seasoned and coated with sesame seeds and seared in sesame oil, served with cucumber salad and Soba noodles with Asian dressing.


A newer item, the Roasted Artichoke & Goat Cheese Flatbread with balsamic, onions and roasted red peppers was pretty extraordinary, especially for a sports grill.

Don't worry, the Coconut Crusted Dolphin Fingers are really Mahi Mahi dolphin fish. These are deliciously hand-breaded in sweetened coconut and Panko bread crumbs and fried golden.

I'm a sucker for a good burger, so the Hangover Burger was my entree choice. With a sunny side up egg, pepper-crusted bacon, two slices of American cheese and a half pound burger, you will not be disappointed.

The Churrasco Steak is a certified Angus skirt steak with chimichurri, black beans, rice and plantains. Duffy's did an exceptional job bringing a Miami favorite to an upscale bar menu, as this was a very good version of Churrasco.

A Crunchy Fried Cheesecake is a great ending to any night, especially when it is served with two scoops of vanilla ice cream, Ghirardelli caramel sauce,whipped cream and a cherry.


Duffy’s arrival in Lake Mary is actually the second Central Florida location. The first one opened up last year at 4158 Conroy road, at the mall at  Millenia. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner and offers a great combination of high quality food, affordable prices and great hospitality with great drink specials. Duffy's is big on providing a community atmosphere and really does a great job of it by offering something for everyone. 

Locals will want to join Duffy’s free MVP loyalty program to earn generous rewards and exclusive benefits. MVP Members begin earning points and rewards on their first visit and can take advantage of discounts such as the Afternoon Break, which gives between 20 and 50 percent off of food purchased on weekdays between 2 and 4 pm. MVP's earn one point for each $1 spent and when they accumulate 100 points, a $10 credit for food and beverages is automatically loaded on their MVP card. They can even earn points faster on Tuesday when members earn Double Points. Everyone who joins can look forward to free offers and gifts sent via email.

Duffy's has re-imagined and elevated the sports grill dining experience. All of the food we sampled was delicious and the drinks were made properly. As far as sports grills go, Duffy's is pretty hard to top. 

Duffy's Sports Grill on Urbanspoon
Read more ...

Marlow's Tavern

1008 S. Orlando Avenue (17-92)
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 960-3670
View Website Here



Marlow's Tavern is a slightly more upscale and gourmet take on a neighborhood grill and bar. It's a great place to meet up with family and friends, but it is also intimate and cozy enough for a date and dine.

Based in Atlanta, the restaurant chain has thirteen locations in Georgia and currently there are two in Central Florida, with plans for more. The first Marlow's tavern opened up at Pointe Orlando on International Drive in 2012 and the Winter Park location opened up in 2013. The Winter Park location took over a former Mc Donalds, and they are making good use of the old Mc Donalds indoor playground by turning into an indoor patio-bar.


The menu at Marlow's features a selection of American tavern fare with a combination of classic dishes that include everything from burgers to wraps to shrimp and grits. The inside design is focused on modern comfort utilizing a black and white motif to create a sleek fashionable look. That overall look and design is accented by black and white photographs and Chicago style brick walls at most locations.

A neighborhood feel is also accomplished with an open kitchen that invites diners to observe the chefs at work and communal tables surround the bar areas. Each Marlow's also features several flat screen TVs that  are discreetly incorporated, “in-the-round”, allowing guests to enjoy a variety of shows while they dine.

I recently met up with some family members here to have a family dinner and celebrate a few birthdays towards the end of December. Although the atmosphere was a little odd at first, the food was really good.


J.T.’s Kettle Chips are crispy potato chips topped with Gorgonzola cheese, bacon, Roma tomato and scallions, and are a great way to start your meal.




While I applaud the effort, the Truffled Parmesan Fries really lacked any serious flavor, they were OK, but just kind of plain.





I was however, impressed with the Prime Rib French Dip. This was moist, tender and flavorful down to the last bite.





Burgers are a strong point for Marlow's and the Tavern Burger is no exception. Thick, juicy and delicious. 





The Roast Turkey Club with organic turkey, avocado spread, baby arugula, Roma tomato, apple-wood smoked bacon and provolone on a Toasted Ciabatta bun was simple yet good.



I am a big fan of Shrimp & Grits, so I almost always try them out if they are offered at any restaurant. The white cheddar grit cake and spinach combined with succulent shrimp at Marlow's is top notch.

The Buffalo Chicken Wrap may sound ordinary, but with spicy chicken, shredded lettuce, tomato, jalapeno jack cheese, ranch dressing in a grilled tortilla, I can assure you its no ordinary wrap.



We didn't have room for dessert, partially because we really enjoyed the Stella on draught.





Overall Marlow’s is a great meeting place for all seasons. They have spacious and open areas that allow guests to enjoy cocktails and great foods at a reasonable price. Check them out sometime soon. Marlow's is open from 11:30 am to 12:00 am.


Marlow's Tavern on Urbanspoon
Read more ...