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I was first introduced to the marvelousness that is 4Rivers Smokehouse about 3 years ago when visiting their location on Fairbanks Avenue located in Winter Park, FL. This location became so incredibly busy that they actually had to move to a much larger location a little further down the street. As the demand for their succulent BBQ continued to grow, they proceeded to open their second and third locations in Winter Garden and Longwood, Florida.
4Rivers is currently rated the #1 BBQ establishment in Orlando and rightfully so. They offer some of the best BBQ this side of Texas! Their signature menu item, which also happens to be my go-to meaty entrée, is the 18-hour slow smoked beef brisket. You can’t help but watch them slice this juicy masterpiece. Be careful not to drool.
Other magnificent meats offered include their southern pulled pork, juicy Texas sausage, pulled chicken and smokehouse turkey. You can order any of these tasty options on a sandwich, in a quesadilla, or part of a dinner plate. One of the best values I have found is their set of 3 Smokehouse Sliders – just pick your meats and load them up with some of their mouth-watering sauces!
BBQ isn’t complete without some pretty rockin’ sides and 4Rivers has it covered! Their mac-n-cheese is super creamy, the smokehouse corn is fantastically seasoned, their baked cheese grits are rich and smooth, the cornbread is moist and their biscuits are buttery. And make sure to order a side of their amazing Krispy Kreme bread pudding, you won’t regret it.
They’ve created some awesome signature sandwiches too. One is affectionately dubbed the Texas Destroyer. They pile their tender smoked brisket, onion rings, jalapenos and provolone cheese all onto a soft bun and then smother it with their signature 4R sauce. I’ve also had the pleasure of trying their fried pork cutlet sandwich which is topped with chipotle aioli! Admittedly, you can put chipotle aioli on anything and I will eat it but on this sandwich, it was just the icing on the cake. The pork, being the main event, was juicy and fried wonderfully and the aioli delivered an ideal amount of heat.
In the mood for wings? Fear not – 4 Rivers offers perfectly smoked wings which can be ordered in either 6 or 10 increments. Add a side of their wonderful BBQ sauce and you can’t go wrong. Oh, and you can’t forget their St. Louis style ribs. These can be ordered in either full or half rack servings, sure to satisfy anyone’s cravings.
On one of my more recent trips I tried a bowl of their brisket chili. I was completely blown away before I was even done with my first bite! It starts with a layer of Fritos on the bottom that’s topped with a huge serving of their out-of-this-world brisket chili and that is finished off with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese. I would dare to say this is my favorite item on their entire menu. The combination of seasonings and huge tender chunks of their smoked brisket create pure perfection!
4Rivers not only prepares crazy good BBQ, they also create some of the best desserts Central Florida has to offer! Being blessed with the luxury of space, their Fairbanks and Longwood locations have a Sweet Shop attached where you can watch their pastry chefs create some pretty amazing confections. I’ve devoured so many of their treats I’ve lost count. Their chocolate covered cake balls are to die for and their cakes and cupcakes are moist and decadent. Love ice cream? Well you must try some of their amazingly creative flavors - the red velvet alone is worthy of a trip! Any of their spectacular creations would be a delicious end to any meal at 4Rivers.
So don't wait, run to your nearest 4Rivers Smokehouse! Just look for the never-ending line, you can't miss it.
Florida Hospital recently launched their Healthy 100 Program which aims to provide people with the tools they need to live longer, healthier lives. They have now expanded this program to include Healthy 100 Approved Menu Items. Sixteen local restaurants across Central Florida will be participating by offering appetizers, entrees, side dishes and even desserts that are approved by the Healthy 100 program. To announce this expansion, Florida Hospital joined forces with the great Mrs. Paula Deen in an appearance at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre in Downtown Orlando. Some lucky attendees, including myself, were able to learn healthy eating habits from the Queen of Southern Cuisine as she prepared her very own Healthy 100 Approved chicken fajitas!
Besides helping unveil the enhancements to the Healthy 100 program, Paula also shared her personal journey with diabetes. She made a point to talk about how denial was a big factor in her diagnosis. Having grown up around food, she never anticipated that something she loved so much would have such a negative impact on her life. However, instead of letting the disease prevent her from continuing to cook and enjoy food, she now acts as a spokeswoman for the disease by speaking out about the prevention of diabetes and how to live with it. She is an inspiration to many and her honesty and openness was refreshing to witness. She admitted she still likes to occasionally indulge in fried chicken, but fully stressed the importance of moderation. Her words of wisdom: Never deprive
yourself of anything! Stating that if she can do it, anyone can!
With a personality as big as Paula’s, I shouldn’t have been surprised that she had us laughing all the way through her demo! At one point, she opened the fridge on the set which was completely empty, to which she said, “That’s moderation at its best!”
When cooking up her Healthy 100 Approved chicken fajitas, Paula demonstrated how eating healthy doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor. We were fortunate enough to sample some and they were fantastic – so full of flavor and had just the right amount of heat. The only things missing were the fat and calories!
Here is the complete list of the Healthy 100 Approved Menu Items and where they are being offered across Central Florida:
· Grilled Chicken Nuggets at Chick-fil-A
· Southwest Quinoa Salad at Citrus Club
· Don Carlos Taco at Cocina 214
· Salmon Cake, Lima Beans at Healthy Bites Fitness Cuisine
· Admiral Salad at Infusion Tea
· Hummus and Tabouli Plate at Nadia’s Café
· Power Chicken Hummus Bowl, Power Breakfast Eggwhite Bowl with Turkey at Panera Bread
· Miso Seafood Appetizer at Rangetsu
· Chicken and Wild Rice with Butternut Squash and Brussel Sprouts at Savion’s Place
· Broiled Cod with Heirloom Tomatoes at Second Harvest Food Bank
· Baked Chicken Empanada, Baked Chicken Tenderloin, Vegetable Medley at Simply Divine Food
· Ginger Dressing, Seared Salmon Crystal Roll, Imari Sushi Balls at Sushi House Orlando
· Peruvian Potato and Quinoa Crusted Swordfish at RusTeak Restaurant
· Grilled Portabella Mushroom Sandwich at The Taproom at Dubsdread
· Turkish Bulgar Salad Pea Soup at White Wolf Café
· Frozen Yogurt (Various Flavors) at Yogurtiamo
Who's already thinking about having Cocina's Don Carlos Tacos for lunch? I know I am!
Visit Healthy100.org/Healthy100Approved to print out your own list of the Healthy 100 Approved Guidelines and Menu Items!
For more information about Florida Hospital’s Healthy 100 program, visit www.healthy100.org.
And remember to be on the lookout for The Healthy 100 Approved logo across Central Florida!
Since I'm from Louisiana and always on the search for great seafood, I was excited to discover TJ's Seafood Shack in Oviedo, Florida, about 30 minutes North of Orlando. They specialize in the freshest and finest seafood this side of The Gulf – anything from catfish and cod to lobster rolls and shrimp po-boys. The owners, Tim and Mary; a brother and sister pair, are very passionate about providing their customers with the very best and it shows in every dish they serve. Speaking of, here are some of the
mouth-watering items we were privileged to try.
We dove right in with an appetizer sampler consisting of moist hushpuppies, crisp onion petals dredged in homemade breading, irresistible sea salt sprinkled sweet potato fries, and freshly fried pickle coins. These are all served with TJ's homemade sauces – dill, creole, and cilantro. For a little piece of Heaven, make sure to dip the fried pickles into the dill sauce, you can thank me later.
Next we were served their smoked mahi mahi fish dip which is masterfully crafted from a few simple ingredients - perfectly (and I mean perfectly) smoked mahi, jalapenos, cream cheese and some secret
seasonings. You are going to want to slather this on everything! It is mind-blowingly good! It’s smoky and creamy, leaving you wanting an endless supply.
Just as I was thinking it couldn’t get any better, they brought out their Louisiana-style Yumbo Gumbo! It was full of shredded chicken, Andouille sausage and more of their secret spices. They served it with just the right rice to gumbo ratio, which is sometimes difficult to find. It also had just the right amount of heat which would make my grandma proud! I made sure not a drop was left behind!
I was beyond elated about our next dish - fried catfish! Catfish has such a great distinct flavor and TJ’s knocks it outta the park! They dredge theirs in cornmeal breading, fry until golden brown and serve them in bite size pieces. This is some of the best catfish I’ve had outside of Louisiana. Incredibly crunchy French fries and homemade tartar sauce come along side and definitely should not be overlooked!
One of my favorite sandwiches is a shrimp po-boy, so I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into TJ’s! It
arrived toasty warm; overflowing with deliciously fried jumbo shrimp drizzled in their yummy creole sauce. The bread was crusty on the outside and fluffy on the inside creating pillows, if you will, for the delightfully fresh crustaceans. The creole sauce added a new level of happiness, melding with the shrimp beautifully. Definitely one of best po-boy’s I’ve ever had!
Then arrived the dish I had been looking forward to for quite some time, their famous tilapia fish tacos covered in their equally as famous cilantro sauce! The tilapia can be ordered either blackened or fried, we opted for the former. They arrived and I immediately wanted to crawl inside their soft tortilla shells! The tilapia was flakey, wonderfully seasoned and nicely complemented by the cilantro sauce. Each taco was juicy and flavorful - it can get messy, but it’s totally worth it!
And last but certainly not least we tried their sautéed Maryland style crab cakes. Every bite was full of tender crab meat and the tasty remoulade sauce made for a perfect flavor combination.
I’ve also heard great things about their 100% Angus beef cheeseburger but since we were stuffed to the gills we decided to save that for our next visit, which I hope is very soon since I’m dreaming about their mahi dip right now.
Their dishes were all outstanding but it's the level of hospitality that comes along with them that puts TJ’s above all the rest. And they are actually already adding to the success of their shack. They recently acquired a food truck that serves some of the same great seafood, like their famous fish tacos and also new additions like their shrimp and grits that you can only get from the truck! Visit their website www.tjsseafoodshack.com for their locations and a schedule of events!
This was my first visit to TJ’s Seafood Shack and I am absolutely hooked! The food and the atmosphere make it impossible not to return!! I’ll see y’all there! Oh, and save me some catfish!
On my latest trip to Miami I had the pleasure of experiencing the South Beach Food Tour, a definite Must-Do when visiting South Florida. It is one of the many food based tours offered through Miami Culinary Tours. Each tour is hosted by a very knowledgeable guide based out of Miami. Our tour guide was phenomenal. She was so well-versed about not only the fantastic foods offered throughout this splendid city but also the culture, architecture, and history that has played such a huge part in making Miami the great city it is today! No matter which tour you pick, know that you will be experiencing some of the best dishes this city has to offer!
Alright, who’s ready for the food?
Our tour began at 660 located inside the beautiful Angler’s Boutique Resort. We were escorted into their trendy lounge where we were able to mingle and eat our first dish of the tour - a delightful scallop ceviche.
This was a perfect introduction to Miami cuisine. The scallops were extremely fresh and flavorful with citrus and cilantro undertones. It left us all begging for more!
After saying goodbye to our lovely hosts at The Angler’s, we took a short walk to our next location - the Bolivar Restaurant, a location famous for creating Peruvian-Colombian fusion dishes. We sampled a delectable beef and potato empanada, a crunchy tostone topped with deliciously marinated chicken and a fabulous side of salsa verde.
We were also served a classic Colombian beverage which consisted of Colombiana Soda and Aguila Beer. It was crisp and melded perfectly with our mouthwatering appetizers.
This was definitely one of my favorite stops on our tour! I cannot wait to return to try more!
Since we needed to make room for more yummy samplings we strolled over to the Essex House in the Art Deco District.
Built in 1938, it’s one of the many buildings in South Beach still displaying Streamline Architecture. This particular style uses nautical motifs like porthole windows to depict ocean liners and airplanes. It’s also one of the only hotels in Miami that has not undergone any restorations and still displays an original mural and all original tile work. Imagine all of the people that have walked across those tile floors!
After a little more sight-seeing we headed to Serafina, where we relished in the fantastic ocean breeze from their outdoor seating.
This charming restaurant, housed in the Dream South Beach Hotel, offers authentic Italian cuisine. Here we enjoyed a generous serving of chilled gazpacho and wonderfully crusty bread, perfect for dipping. I cannot think of anything more pleasant on a humid Florida afternoon!
Once leaving Serafina, we went right across the street to David’s Café to sample their divine café Cubano and guava pastries. Café Cubano is a type of espresso which originated in Cuba after espresso machines were first imported from Italy. It is now served all over Miami. While we were ordering we heard one of David’s more outgoing patrons say "It's what puts the hair on your chest." And boy was he right! I will admit I’m not a huge coffee fan so just one sip was more than enough for me. It provided a great, strong flavor like nothing else I've ever tasted. I could however snack on their
scrumptious pastries all day - flakey layers of Heaven filled with guava goodness!
Since we were nicely rejuvenated we walked through more of the Art Deco District. We passed The Carlyle Hotel where scenes from the hilarious movie The Bird Cage were filmed and then of course the famous Versace Mansion.
Our strategic wandering then brought us to Jerry’s Famous Deli. Jerry’s offers your typical delicatessen menu items, anything from gigantic corned beef and pastrami sandwiches to delicious desserts. We were able to sample their gloriously moist raspberry and cream cheese filled rugalas which would make an extraordinary end to any meal! And Jerry’s is open 24 hours a day! You can’t ask for more than that!
After drooling over corned beef and brisket we continued on to Charlotte Bakery for their famous empanadas! Each one is hand made in house with only the freshest ingredients. They offer a wide variety of empanadas, depending on the ingredients and location of origin. We devoured their beautifully browned and doughy Argentina chicken empanadas. They were absolutely heavenly! The folks at Charlotte Bakery definitely lived up to their reputation!
We made a quick stop at MomoCha Teahouse after and had a glass of their bubble green tea. It was completely revitalizing - ideal in the Florida heat!
The final stop of our tour was at Milani Gelateria, one of the best gelaterias in all of Miami, and for good reason – the product they offer is beyond compare. All of their flavors are created from the finest ingredients. I sampled their incredibly creamy Dulce de Leche which is imported from Argentina! That’s right - Argentina!!
This just shows the pride and dedication they take in providing their customers with the very best! We could not have asked for a sweeter end to our tasty tour of Miami!
We all had a great time! How could we not? The weather was beautiful and the food was outstanding! Who’s ready for the Little Havana Food Tour?
Visit www.MiamiCulinaryTours.com or call 1-855-642-3663 to book your tour today!
As I’ve said before, I will go anywhere for an amazing meal. However, this time, amazing was right in my own backyard! A short hour and a half drive brought me to Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida. Driving up, you see a very unassuming white building, but once you step inside you are transported to a very magical place. The lobby is illuminated by red tinted lights with velvet lining the walls. This is certainly not a t-shirt and jeans kind of place but surprisingly the prices are completely reasonable. You won't have to spend more than $35 to leave with a belly full of their fabulous steaks and sides. We had a reservation for 7:30 pm on a Tuesday night but arrived around 6:45 pm. They were very accommodating and got us seated within 15 minutes. The restaurant consists of a series of small dining rooms. We were seated near the back of one of these dining rooms and found ourselves immersed in a very intimate atmosphere. The servers, the majority of whom have been there for over 20 years, are more than attentive and can answer any questions you have about their very extensive menu or wine list.
To ensure you understand every aspect of ordering the ideal steak at the temperature and cut you prefer, they provide you with multiple descriptions and charts explaining each option in great detail. Their steaks are dry aged twice as long as the industry standard and your particular steak is hand cut only after having placed your order!
My diner date and I started with two glasses of Riesling since I am undoubtedly a white wine person. He continued to venture his way around their enormous wine list throughout dinner, with the help of our server.
Along with your entrée come multiple yummy appetizers and sides. First they bring out their famous French onion soup au gratin. I am not exaggerating; this is THE best French onion soup I’ve ever tasted! I dare someone to find a better one! It was blanketed by a blend of five cheeses and was accompanied by garlic and spelt toasts. It provided the perfect balance of onion and cheesy goodness. I made sure to absorb every last drop!
The next course was the salad course. I opted for the house salad with their homemade ranch dressing. Although I’m not a salad person, I did enjoy dipping my crisp cucumbers in their creamy house dressing. My lovely dinner date ordered the house salad as well and all he left behind was the empty plate.
The next course was the most important, the entrée!! I choose the 8 ounce NY Strip Steak cooked medium. It came sizzling to the table which was music to my ears. It was prepared beautifully – seared to perfection, providing fantastic flavors and just right amount of pink in the center. It was juicy, tender and seasoned like no other steak I’ve ever tasted. Alongside my extraordinary steak came fried onion strings. At first glance they look like plain ole’ onions, however, after my first bite I was taken to a whole new place of delight. I could taste the buttermilk and splendid seasonings they used to bread these gloriously crispy onions. When combining both my magnificently cooked steak and my flavor packed onion strings into one bite I swear I could hear angels singing – absolutely life changing! Shaved carrots and brilliantly grilled zucchini also came alongside but were sadly left unfinished since I refused to leave any morsel of steak or onion string behind.
They also bring out their marvelous baked potatoes when delivering the main course. You can order your tater with as many topping as your heart desires. I chose sour cream, bacon and chives. This was certainly one the freshest and creamiest potatoes I’ve ever consumed. It was as soft as butter and completely melted in my mouth.
You would think this would be enough to satisfy us, but we simply could not resist their white truffle mac n cheese after seeing it delivered to one of our neighboring tables. Truffle mac n cheese is a common occurrence on many steakhouse menus but the entire dish is usually overpowered by the truffle oil – that was not the case at Bern’s. This side dish was absolutely heavenly – creamy and topped with crunchy breadcrumbs. The truffle oil melded with the velvety cheeses wonderfully. We tried our hardest to finish every single piece of perfectly cooked pasta. This was an additional cost but positively worth every penny.
Before heading upstairs for dessert (I’ll explain in a bit), your server will ask if you would like a tour of the kitchen and wine cellar…the answer should always be Yes!! Bern’s is home to the world’s largest restaurant wine cellar! Literally wall to wall wine - definitely a must-see! They start off with a tour of their extremely busy kitchen, describing each station while in action. Their kitchen operates like a very well-oiled machine – from salad preparations to the grill that produces their flawlessly cooked steaks. Everyone has a particular job and they perform it impeccably.
After finishing the kitchen tour, it’s time for dessert and at Bern’s they have a very special area on the second floor in which you must have dessert. This in itself is an incredible experience. It's called the Harry Waugh Dessert Room. There’s a winding hallway of enclosed booths each comfortably seating between 2 to 8 people. Each booth provides you with the privacy to eat as many delectable desserts as you desire – and for us that meant three desserts in total, one Brown Sugar, one King Midas, and one Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle! They have the largest dessert menu of any restaurant I’ve ever been to, which makes it very difficult to choose one or even just two desserts; a fact we used to justify our splurging.
The Brown Sugar was a sampler consisting of chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake, a cookies and cream ice cream sandwich, and a warm brown sugar blondie.
The King Midas was moist carrot cake topped with exquisite macadamia nut ice cream and hot fudge. This is seriously some of the tastiest ice cream I’ve ever had. It was super creamy and full of flavor!
And last but definitely not least is the Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle. Milk chocolate mousse and peanut butter cream are layered with peanut pralines on a chewy chocolate brownie crust! It was without a doubt my favorite! The rich peanut butter cream and crunchy pralines were great companions for the chocolate mousse. It was simply unforgettable!
Bern's is unlike any other steakhouse. It is an out of this world culinary experience that you have to see to believe. So, free up about three hours and get yourself to Bern’s Steakhouse! You can thank me later.
1208 South Howard Ave.
Tampa, Florida 33606
Last October one of my closest friends decided he wanted to road trip across Tennessee for his birthday with our first stop being the fabulous city of Memphis. Our goal – to eat as much phenomenal BBQ as we possibly could! We knew we were only able to spend one day in Memphis before heading to our next location, so we started our BBQ sampling right after stepping off the plane! Before even picking up our luggage, we hopped over to Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Que in Terminal B of Memphis International to try their famous BBQ spaghetti.
We arrived at 9 a.m. and the line was already forming! This tasty dish was a combination of spaghetti, seasoned pork and Interstate’s own BBQ sauce, a tomato and vinegar based sauce with a hint of spice. The seasonings in both the pork and the sauce provided a great kick. It was definitely worth the wait and is a must try when visiting the Memphis airport!
After a few touristy hours at Graceland we headed to our next stop, Corky’s Bar-B-Q, a location famous for its pulled pork and ribs. We got there around lunch time and were seated immediately. To begin, we started with their amazing bread rolls! They were still warm from the kitchen, fluffy on the inside and crusty on the outside. And, after adding a thin layer of butter, they were even more remarkable.
For our appetizer we ordered a Memphis tradition, the BBQ Smoked Sausage and Cheese Plate. The hickory smoked sausage was out of this world wonderful – it was juicy and had a great snap! Pickle spears and pepperoncini peppers came alongside and melded incredibly well with the smokiness of the sausage and creaminess of the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses.
For my entrée I ordered their BBQ pulled pork sandwich. This marvelous pile of pulled pork comes topped with their famous BBQ sauce and coleslaw (I opted to have the slaw on side). After trying this lovely pork creation, I completely understand why it is so famous; it was everything you want pulled pork to be – lean, tender, succulent and bursting with flavor. Corky’s was a huge success and excited us even more for our next stop of the day!
We checked into The Peabody and saw the Broadway Musical “Memphis” at the Orpheum Theater before heading to our next stop, Central BBQ.
I had heard some pretty astounding things about their BBQ nachos so I knew I had to give them a try – and they lived up to the hype! The tortilla chips were topped with their divine pulled pork, BBQ sauce, cheese sauce and shredded cheese! And if that wasn’t enough, they were then finished off with a light dusting of Central’s BBQ seasoning. They were absolutely heavenly, some of the best nachos I’ve ever had! The chips stayed crisp the entire time while eating them and the tanginess of the BBQ sauce mixed perfectly with the spiciness from the cheese sauce and BBQ seasoning. The pulled pork itself was excellent as well - flavourful, moist and seasoned wonderfully. I also ordered their beef brisket plate. The thinly sliced brisket was fall apart tender and had a great smoky flavor. It was accompanied by two of their homemade sides. I went with the house made kettle chips and their creamy mac-n-cheese – both were very well executed. This was, without a doubt, one of the best meals we had all day.
Wandering around Beale St for a while put us in the mood for our final stop of the day, Charles Vergo’s Rendezvous. I have to admit, I’m usually not a huge fan of ribs; they generally are full of fat and come covered in a sauce that’s too sweet for my liking. However, after experiencing the pork ribs here, my opinion drastically changed.
They use a dry rub at Rendezvous instead of the usual wet BBQ sauce. It’s an unbelievable combination of oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder and paprika. The ribs are first based with a touch vinegar and then the rub is shaken on. This is where I was also taught how to correctly eat a rack of ribs – resting your teeth against the bone and gently pulling the meat away. Since these ribs were cooked so flawlessly it took no effort to get the meat off the bone. They are simply the best - moist, tender, juicy and seasoned beyond perfection.
I could not have asked for a better way to end our incredible tour of Memphis BBQ!
I cannot wait to return to Memphis! However, hopefully next time we will have more than just one day to fill our bellies with BBQ goodness!
It was the night before Christmas Eve and my friend and I were heading to The Mall at Millenia in Orlando. We finished our last minute shopping and decided it was time for dinner. We were a little nervous wondering if we would be able to find a restaurant that didn't have an hour long wait. Low and behold, there was Brio. I’ve been to their sister restaurant, Bravo, many times so I was certainly intrigued. We walked up to the podium and crossed our fingers...they sat us immediately!
After taking our drink order, our waitress brought over our bread basket. My first impression of a restaurant always comes from the bread...and this bread was yummy; warm and fluffy on the inside and crusty on the outside - perfect for melting butter! After serving such great bread, I knew only good things could come. We ordered the spinach and artichoke dip and the lobster bisque for apps. Both were delectable! Their lobster bisque is some of the best I’ve ever tasted! It was very flavorful and absolutely enough for two people. The spinach and artichoke dip was extra creamy and the flatbread that’s served with it is also delicious.
For entrees I ordered the Pasta Brio, rigatoni topped with grilled chicken, mushrooms and roasted red pepper sauce, and my friend ordered the Gorgonzola Crusted Bistecca, an 8 oz filet topped with Gorgonzola. When our dishes arrived, we quickly dug in....annnnd then I realized I wasn’t brought the actual dish I ordered. I was brought was the Chicken Pomodoro Classico, which was actually my second choice. It consisted of angel hair pasta topped with perfectly grilled chicken, ripe tomatoes, pine nuts, fresh basil, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. It was delish!
Since our waitress wasn’t the one who brought over these entrees, she noticed right away this wasn't the dish I ordered. It took her about five minutes to bring the dish I had actually ordered and then let me keep both! Even though The Chicken Pomodoro was really tasty I still preferred the Pasta Brio. It was absolutely heavenly! The rigatoni, the seasoned grilled chicken and velvety red pepper sauce put it over the top! It was a wonderful pasta combination!
We couldn't leave without having a little something sweet, so we decided we would try their Dolchino Sampler. It came with five of their individual desserts - each being about the size of a shot glass. My favorite was the Milk Chocolate Caramel Cake. The moist chocolate cake was layered with chocolate ganache and caramel and then topped with chocolate frosting – completely decadent! When the bill came our waitress explained that dessert was going to be on the house due to the entree mix up! It felt like Christmas had come two days early! Excellent service and an excellent meal, what more could we ask for?! We will definitely be back!!
Brio Tuscan Grille
4200 Conroy Rd
Orlando, FL 32839
When I first learned of Balthazar, one of the top rated restaurants in New York City, I knew I had to dine there. However, my trip was planned spur of the moment and getting a reservation wasn’t going to be an easy task. Luckily, we were able to get an 11 p.m. reservation on a Saturday night. I’m always up for a great meal no matter the time of day, so needless to say, I was elated!
We arrived promptly at eleven and the dining room welcomed us with its warmth and laid back atmosphere as we were escorted to our corner booth. Our server was extremely kind and attentive. She offered several recommendations and gave us plenty of time to peruse the menu. Our water glasses were always full and every crumb that dropped from our glorious bread basket was swiftly swept away. Balthazar is a French-inspired bistro, offering items such as French onion soup, escargots and their famous steak frites – which ended up being my entrée of choice.
It arrived and I swear I could hear angles singing! Not only was the food delectable but the presentation was gorgeous. My frites were crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside and seasoned with just a pinch of imported French sea salt - addictively delicious. My steak was cooked medium to medium-well, seared on the outside and just the right amount of pink on the inside. It was delightfully seasoned and came with a gracious portion of marvelous garlic butter. I used the last few of my pristine fries to absorb the flavorful juices left behind by my steak. One word: Heaven.
After that amazing entrée, I couldn’t even begin to fathom how scrumptious dessert was going to be. We ordered the crème brulee which, of course, was fabulous! It was warm, unbelievably creamy and was accompanied by two of the best ginger snaps I’ve ever tasted. They were soft, chewy, and had the perfect amount of ginger. The chefs here are remarkable, creating edible masterpieces on a daily basis!
They also have a bakery attached to the restaurant where you can get some of the finest breads and pastries the city has to offer. Of course, I took some goodies home with me.
We had an extraordinary time! Balthazar exceeded every one of my expectations! I sadly do not live in New York City. However, if I did, they would surely be my number one staple.
80 Spring St
New York, NY 10012
I absolutely love New Orleans, Louisiana. So, when my birthday came around last year, I decided it was time for a trip to The Big Easy! We had an incredible time, due largely in part to the food! I knew before arriving we were going to be having dinner at Jacques-Imo’s Café at least once while we were there. It is located just a few minutes outside of The French Quarter in a suburb called Carrollton. This one-of-a-kind restaurant is located inside of a renovated two story shotgun house, which are staples in southern Louisiana. A shotgun house can be described by this one statement: You can shoot through the front and out the back door without hitting any walls. This not only adds immense character, it also provides a very welcoming environment. Jacques-Imo's has become so popular, art galleries have sprung up in the area looking to take advantage of the crowds and the business they bring. Most stay open later in the evening so hungry restaurant goers can peruse the art work while waiting for their table. It took about an hour for us to be seated which gave us more than enough time to stroll through the galleries.
I first saw Adam Gertler on the Food Network's Best Thing I Ever Ate describing the Shrimp and Alligator Sausage Cheesecake offered at Jacques-Imo’s Café and I knew I had to try it! I was a little skeptical at first, not knowing what to expect. However, before even finishing the first bite, I was in love! It was unbelievable, having a quiche-like consistency. The creamy texture balanced perfectly with the buttery crust. The pieces of shrimp and alligator sausage were distributed evenly throughout the entire slice giving it a great rich taste. The sauce was spicy and velvety, a fantastic match for this remarkable creation. It is unlike anything else I've ever had!
I was well prepared for the appetizer portion of our meal; however, I was still a little undecided about my entree. Everything on this menu sounded amazing, which made my final decision very difficult. It ultimately came down to our server's recommendation: the fried chicken. She said it was one of their most popular dishes, and I can see why! It was juicy, flavorful and seasoned to perfection. This is some of the best fried chicken New Orleans has to offer! They give you a breast, thigh, and wing with two sides and a house salad! So much fabulous food! It smelled so heavenly that guests walking or sitting near us continued asking if it tasted as good as it smelled. I answered “Yes!” without hesitation every time. For my sides, I ordered red beans and rice and seasoned corn. Both very good!
The dessert menu was rather small, having only two options. We chose the crème brulee. It was warm, creamy and torched to perfection, certainly large enough for two people.
This has definitely become one of my favorite restaurants in all of New Orleans. The atmosphere and the food are going to be very hard to beat!
8324 Oak St
New Orleans, LA 70118
I recently traveled to Nashville for the Country Music Association Festival, so naturally we were on the search for amazing food! Our first stop was Prince's Hot Chicken Shack. I had been wanting to try their chicken for quite a while. I am originally from Louisiana and love spicy food, so needless to say, I was excited!
The menu at Prince's is small and straight to the point. The fried chicken comes mild, medium, hot and extra hot. You can get white meat, dark meat or both. I love restaurants with small menus because you always know the food will be fresh and flavorful! I wanted a little taste of everything, so I ordered both with medium heat. My friend David ordered the white meat with mild heat. Later, I would realize his was a much smarter decision! We waited about 30 minutes for our chicken, which we were more than happy to do.
Finally, the food came and before digging in we could tell it was, in fact, very fresh. We also got a huge whiff of cayenne pepper. I dove in, thinking it couldn't be that spicy. I very quickly discovered how wrong I was! I usually like it the hotter the better, but this medium chicken was too hot for me. It felt like I could actually breathe fire, like a dragon from a Disney movie. Nevertheless through all the heat, I could still taste the amazingly seasoned fried chicken. This is when I really wished I had ordered the mild. But David, being awesome as always, offered me some of his. It was fantastic! The chicken was spiced just right! Not too hot, just the perfect amount of kick. We also ordered a side of fries which came sprinkled with cayenne pepper. They were lovely, also the perfect amount of spice.
As we were leaving, we gave our table to two gentlemen who had planned much better than us. They brought their own beverages...a gallon of chocolate milk! They knew what they were in for. I definitely plan on returning to Prince's the next time I find myself in Nashville. However, I will make sure of two things: One, that I order the mild chicken and two, that I bring myself a gallon of chocolate milk to wash it all down.
Prince's Hot Chicken Shack
123 Ewing Dr
Nashville, TN 37207