New Tastes!


Cheddar's Casual Cafe

1650 Rinehart Rd.
Sanford, FL, 32771
(407) 302-4120
View Website Here

The town of Sanford is rapidly expanding its growing list of restaurants. 

While there are a few independent places of note, like Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe, most of the expansion is coming by way of chain restaurant. 

As part of a mixed use development, the area  on St. Johns Parkway and Rhinehart Road will soon be playing host to Long Horn Steakhouse, Carrabba's, Buffalo Wild Wings and Central Florida's first  Cheddar's Casual Cafe that recently opened.

The neighborhood-style restaurant was founded in 1979 by Aubrey Good and Doug Rogers in Arlington, Texas and  has more than 135 company owned and franchise locations in 23 states.

Inside you will find an interior that includes solid cherry and walnut butcher block tabletops and cedar mill work with a granite bar top and a 400-gallon freshwater fish tank.

Cheddar's serves steaks, chicken, seafood, burgers, salads and desserts, along with a full service bar in an 8000 square foot restaurant that can seat up to 288 guests.

Since Cheddars has so much room and can host banquets, we thought we would give them a try with a party of six.

We started off with a big stack of the Homemade Onion Rings.

These onion rings have a thick crunchy batter similar to a southern style fried chicken. They come with a side of ranch and Cajun dipping sauce and were very tasty. 

We also split an order of the Santa Fe Spinach Dip.  It was nice and gooey with all the right flavors, and as good as spinach dip can be.

For my dish, I chose the Chicken Fried Steak
and had the broccoli and cheese casserole and mashed potatoes as my side.

The fried steak overall was good, however the batter was a bit thick and overbearing.

There was a big chunk of what appeared to be steak, but was actually a big chunk of batter. They also managed to stuff a piece of Texas Toast under the whole steak that got nice and mushy.

The broccoli casserole was really good though!

The Philly Cheese Steak was really good also. 

It is made with cut up Rib Eye steak and has the usual accouterments of mushroom, peppers, onions and cheese.

The Beer Battered Fried Shrimp was nothing to write home about. It wasn't bad, but again it was another item that was over battered.
One of our guests ordered the Grilled Whitefish with Lemon Pepper seasoning.

They said the fish was cooked well and had a good flavor. Whitefish is a member of the Salmon family.

My wife ordered the Steak and Shrimp.

This a center cut top sirloin that is supposed to be grilled to your liking, that comes with shrimp cooked any way you prefer.

I say supposed to be, because.....apparently The folks at Cheddars newest location couldn't  cook a steak properly if their life depended on it.

The steak was ordered "Medium"---It came out blackened and burnt to a it got sent back. Forty minutes later, they sent a steak that was actually burnt on the outside and raw in the in  the cow was still mooing raw. How they managed that feat is pretty amazing.

By the time we received the second steak, everyone at the table was done with their food, and sending it back a third time would have been futile. Our server did apologize, but we were offered no discounts in return for the terrible cuts of meat they tried to serve us repeatedly.

We did end things off on a sweeter note with a sampling of the Desert Mini's.

We had Chocolate Trifle and Strawberry Cheesecake. Both were delicious.

At the end of the day...Cheddars is comfort food at very affordable prices in a friendly atmosphere.

The menu is quite large and you can definitely find something for everyone.

Service can be spotty sometimes, but maybe that's because its a newer place.

If you stick with things like Fried Chicken, Onion Rings, Burgers, and Chicken Pot Pie....I think you will have a good experience.....Just don't order the steaks!

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100 South Eola Drive
Orlando, Florida 32801
(407) 781-2539

****Lotus is closed and is now Mingos. Same owners and phone number****

Say hello to Lotus, a new restaurant concept in Thornton Park that is seeking to elevate the areas already trendy and social dining scene. Lotus is located at the bottom of The  Sanctuary condo building in the Eola Square neighborhood. It is where The Prickly Pear used to be. 

Lotus is a Farm-to-Table Fusion concept that is aiming to appeal to the 30-plus chic and upscale but casual crowd who enjoy fine dining in a big-city atmosphere.

The Farm-to-Table Fusion menu that was created by Chef Luis J. Negrón, is a combination of local ingredients fused with styles from around the world that is seeking to create dishes that are not only visually stimulating and tasty, but health conscious as well. Most entrée selections are between 500-600 calories.

Great care was put into the cultural stylings of the menu to feature items that were representative of many cultures from Italy, the Middle East, France and beyond. 

The bar at Lotus also features stylish lighting, the (obligatory) flat screen TV, and a host of cocktail selections made with a variety of  fresh herbs, fruits and home made syrups. They also have a pretty decent wine list and happy hour daily from 4-8 p.m. The beer menu is pretty small and does not have much to offer, especially in craft beers.

Inside Lotus, you will find an interior encompassed with modern styling and energetic lighting that is accented in bright fuchsia and lime green.

There is plenty of seating inside and they also have a nice outdoor patio with plenty of seats available. The mirror at the end is not just for looks, it also creates a much larger feeling to the restaurant.
The bar area gives off a cool neon vibe with accentuated lighting and a host of fresh ingredients on display.

The Buffalo Trace Cocktail is made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, apple-lemon syrup and apple juice. It tastes like apple sauce.

The Bacardi Dragon Berry cocktail  has fresh strawberries, mint syrup, lime and soda water. It is basically a strawberry mojito.

Both drinks, along with our complimentary champagne were very refreshing and easy on the palate.

During the opening week we were greeted with a free sample of Miso Chili Braised Ribs with a green papaya slaw and Lotus Chips.

The ribs were fall of the bone tender and had a great flavor. 

The Herb Crusted Chicken was done very nicely as well. The Parmesan cream and pasta were not too rich to overpower the savory flavor of the chicken.

My dish was the Goat Cheese Pistachio Agnolotti.

The Agnolotti was cooked very well with a nice silky texture. The filling of goat cheese and pistachios made for a nice creamy bite with the right amount of crunch.

Although we did not order it, the Atlantic Salmon Burger looked appetizing. It was pulled away rather quickly from my dining guest, as they have a fish allergy.

We ended the evening with a very good Chocolate Cappuccino Cake. 

The cake was very light and moist, but heavy on flavor. The orange sorbet went really well with it too.

Whenever trying out a brand new establishment that has been open for less than a week, mistakes are to be expected.

The service was overzealous, and thats better than being forgotten about I suppose?

Our order came out wrong the first time, and could have been dangerous if my dining companion had eaten any of the Salmon Burger they did not order.....but Overall we had a good expereince at Lotus.

Tastes Of Orlando recommends you to try them out for yourself....just give them some time to work out the bugs and kinks and they should be a cool addition to Thornton Park.

Lotus is open from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Eternal Tap

116 W. Church St.
Orlando, FL 32801
(407) 601- 4946

If you have not found it yet,.... allow me to
introduce you to Eternal Tap.

A unique establishment that does not quite fit into a "one name says it all" restaurant.

Eternal Tap is located on Church Street, just past the railroad tracks if you are coming from Orange Ave. 

There is a sign outside that will point you to an outdoor patio that is the main entrance.

After a great opening, and then a shaky settling down period, Eternal Tap is seeking to establish itself amongst the top  destinations in the Orlando dining and bar scene.

What started as mostly pizza and a few bar food items with beer and cocktails, is surprisingly turning into a very fun place with lots of activities, great drinks and exciting food. 

Eternal Tap has always held a good standing when it comes to pizza. They have a nice brick oven that fires up and makes for great flavor and a pretty decent crust. With the help of Chef Jason Bruner, ET is also finding creative ways to cook more than just pizza in that oven as well.

Craft Beers, along with local and regional beers are available at their expansive bar. If Beer is not your thing, you can find your favorite alcohol available with a variety of Eternal Tap's specialty cocktails.

And if that is not enough, they have recently opened one of Orlando's only Premium Whiskey Bars. Its a unique concept named Whiskey Cellar that is located downstairs in a dark and mysteriously haunted cellar space. Premium craft whiskey like... Deaths Door White Whisky is available, as well as some of Eternal Tap's specialty Whiskey cocktails mixed with a variety of syrups, juices, and herbs.

Above ground you will find a few pool tables and some retro arcade games like Missile Command, Galaga, and Pac Man with ample space in an inviting old world atmosphere.

One of their unique cocktails I enjoyed was, a Pepsi and PopcornIt starts out as Captain Morgan Rum that actually soaks in buttered popcorn and then is filtered back to make for quite an exciting flavor.

The other cocktail we sampled, The Chilean Smash which consists of Kappa Pisco with a Jalapeño and Ginger infused Grand Marnier, was intriguingly sweet and hot all at the same time. 

We started our food portion of the evening with popcorn....yes POPCORN.

This however is a truffle infused popcorn with fresh Parmesan and sea salt.  It is pretty awesome popcorn, and if you had nothing else but drinks and popcorn at would be happy!

There are nightly chef selections of Brick Oven Sliders.

We had the meatball sliders with fresh mozzarella and a tangy tomato sauce. Very Tasty!

The Chicken Kabobs are fire roasted in the brick oven with peppers and sweet red onions and then drizzled with a house made hickory BBQ sauce.

The chicken had a nice char from the brick oven and still managed to be tender and delicious.

Next up, we split an order of Curry Chicken Salad. The chicken is roasted in the brick oven first and allowed to cool, then it gets tossed with curry sauce and craisins and is served on a bed of mixed greens.

I will have to admit, as someone who likes authentic curry dishes and East Indian food in general, this salad had a great flavor and texture and tasted pretty good. 

Since the Brick Oven is the center piece of Eternal Tap, no visit should be without one of their pizzas. 

From Wild Mushroom to Buffalo Chicken to Margarita they have a nice selection of toppings and you can even get a gluten free or whole wheat crust.

Our pie could have used a few more toppings for being a meat lovers,  but overall it was good with a
 very nice thin crust that was cooked well with that tasty brick char on the bottom.

We ended the evening by splitting a Bacon Brownie. 

The brownie is very cake like with a rich chocolate flavor that has bits of bacon throughout. It was a nice flavor combination with the vanilla ice cream, and a perfect night cap.

Eternal Tap may not be so visible from the outside, but once you go there, you will see what a great asset they have in the building they are in. It comes complete with Ghost Stories, a secret Whiskey Cellar, and now it has some pretty darn good food too.

They deserve to do well, and should....providing everyone finds them.

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