September, 2013

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LOTUS in Downtown Orlando

LOTUSporkbellytaco

LOTUSexteriorYou may have heard about LOTUS, a global fusion restaurant that opened up fairly recently in downtown Orlando.  Right on Eola Drive, it’s at a great location.  What you may not know is that it’s a farm-to-table fusion restaurant.  What this means, is that the restaurant aims to get their food locally sourced.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good farm-to-table restaurant but when you come in here, that’s not the first thing you notice.  The menu doesn’t mention anything about their philosophy or where the food comes from.  (Aside from the line that states they make their own doughs, breads, and desserts.)

LOTUSinteriorLOTUSloungeThe decor is more modern and it’s geared to the 30’s crowd.  Large bar area, a little seating area in the front.  Very spacious place but the neon green and pink lights weren’t doing it for me.

 

 

 

I had a sampling of their menu so the pictures you’ll see are not the actual portion sizes.

LOTUSlotuschipFirst, the lotus chips served with a curry dipping sauce ($6).  It’s not something you see often on a menu, especially in Orlando.  The lotus chips had a firm yet soft texture since the chips aren’t thin.  It was pretty good.  The curry dipping sauce was the winner between the two.  I could taste the coconut milk in the curry sauce and the curry sauce had a deceptively light heat.  Good balance of flavors for this one.  It’s great for sharing.

LOTUSporkbellytacoNext, I tried the Pork Belly Tacos with Harissa Aioli ($9).  For $9, you get 3 tacos.  The grilled dough was thicker with a hint of sweetness.  The harissa aioli wasn’t as prevalent but I still enjoyed the pickled onions.   Another good appetizer.

LOTUSrubyredshrimpThe third item I sampled was the Ruby Red Shrimp with a Chili-Strawberry Jam.  This was a tasty item!  It was a fun spin on a crab ragoon.  Imagine if you will, a wonton filled with creamy goodness of shrimp and assorted yummyness.  It made me think of a compact tastier version of a Seafood Newberg.  The “tie” around the wonton was a green onion and the “stick” was from an asparagus.  The chili-strawberry jam was a nice accompaniment to the ruby red shrimp.  I loved the visual presentation and the flavors with this dish.

LOTUSvangoghmangoDuring my meal, I ended up ordering a cocktail.  The Van Gogh Mango ($8).  It’s a tasty tropical delight with the mango puree, lemon juice, and san pellegrino orange.  With that being said, happy hour is 4pm-8pm daily.

LOTUScornishhenOk, back to the food.  So, next I had the Cornish Hen.  This was a stellar dish, a beautiful Cornish hen on top of a delicious mushroom risotto with a cranberry reduction and yellow tomato juice foam on the side.  It’s like a mini-Thanksgiving dinner in my mouth.  Lots of flavors, but still enjoyable for someone who can’t handle spicy food.  At this point, all my meals have been pretty tasty.

LOTUSsearedmahi

The seared mahi with togarashi miso had lot of great textures going on.  I liked the carrot puree on the side and the fresh fruit slaw on top.  Again, another flavorful dish!

LOTUSskirtsteakMy next entrée was my least favorite one of all.  The grilled skirt steak with a truffle shallot chimichurri and goat cheese crema.  It’s one of those “well, it had sounded good” kind of dishes.  It wasn’t terrible but it just didn’t have enough flavor.  Le sigh.  Well, everything I had tasted up to this point was pretty good.

LOTUSchocolatecake

Last but not least, I had dessert.  A chocolate cake with a blood orange sorbet ($5).  I thought the blood orange sorbet was fantastic.

At the end of my meals I met the executive chef of Lotus, Chef Louis Negrón.  You can definitely tell he’s got a passion for food!  Overall, I enjoyed Lotus mostly for the food.  Great flavors, great techniques, nice presentation, and the menu had a good variety.  My main criticism is that for a restaurant that boasts being a farm-to-table fusion restaurant, why is it not more evident?  If I were to just wander into the restaurant, I wouldn’t realize it’s a farm-to-table restaurant.  I’d think it’s just a trendy restaurant downtown.  Also, the servers didn’t seem too knowledgable when I asked specific questions about the dishes.  The prices of the entrées are ranging from $10-$20.  Since I know the concept of the restaurant, I can understand it being more expensive.  Had I not known, I would probably think it’s more overpriced than it ought to be.

 

All in all, good food, good location, trendy decor, and good happy hour specials.

http://www.lotuslounges.com/
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Tiki Bar & Grill in Sebastian

TikiBar

If you’re ever in the Treasure Coast area and want to go somewhere for an all around good time then Tiki Bar & Grill is an ideal choice.  Located on Indian River Drive, Tiki Bar & Grill has an enjoyable view day or night.  It is outdoor seating with live music every weekend.  The pricing is pretty good too, nothing over $10.

TikiBarGrillGarlicShrimpTikiBarGrillFishTacosTiki Bar & Grill’s menu consists mostly of sandwiches and bar food.  All of the entrées come with two sides.  You have your pick of cole slaw, french fries, potato salad, or macaroni salad.  I had the Garlic Butter Shrimp ($9) as an appetizer which was more garlicky than I had anticipated (yum!).  Served with toasted bread on the side, you make your own little crostinis.  My friend ordered the Fish Tacos ($9).  The fish was blackened mahi accompanied with spinach, onions, tomatoes and cheese.  This was a tasty meal.

TikiBarGrillBuffaloChickenSandwich

I had the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich ($8.50) which consisted mozzarella cheese, bacon and blue cheese.  It was a good sized sandwich and full of flavor.  The bun was nicely toasted and the blue cheese wasn’t overwhelming.  I’m a saucy gal but this had enough flavor that I didn’t need to douse it with something.  The cole slaw was pretty good as well, very “KFC-esque.”  I’m pretty content with the sandwich I ordered along with the Watermelon Mojitos that I drank.

 

TikiBarGrillViewTikiBarGrillDockThere’s an area where you can play cornhole, enjoy your drinks, watch some sports games.  Or if you’re more like me, just enjoy the water view.  The music playing the evening I went was all classic rock.  Definitely a relaxing atmosphere.  This really is a place where you can go and just feel like you’re getting away!

 

 

Be sure to check out Tiki Bar & Grill’s website for latest news like live music performances and any other event they may have.

http://sebastiantiki.com/index.php

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Big Bang Bazaar Indie Craft Show Maitland

BigBangBazaarSign

BigBangBazaarMaitlandCivicCenter

I had seen tickets for Big Bang Bazaar Craft Show on Living Social before and hadn’t purchased it.  Indie Craft Show…  What does that even mean?  Well, one of my friends had a ticket and I had opportunity to check it out.

 

BigBangBazaarMaitlandSo it’s usually held at the Maitland Civic Center.  Be forewarned, parking can bit tight.  And it was really crowded inside.

So, how would the Feisty Foodist describe the Big Bang Bazaar?  “Etsy in your face.”  For those who are unfamiliar with what ‘Etsy‘ is, it’s a website where you can buy vintage and homemade items.  It can be anything from jewelry, artwork, clothes, household items, and all sorts of random stuff.

BigBangBazaarKnits

 

BigBangBazaarRedRoosterJewelry

There were lots of vendors here and definitely a lot of variety of things being sold.  It almost made me think of the vendors at MegaCon.  Artwork, clothes, and what not.  So like a girlier version of MegaCon.  Also lots of neat things, like recycled gift cards made into jewelry from Red Rooster Jewelry.

 

BigBangBazaarRebeccaWilliamsArtHere’s is some artwork that I thought looked pretty nice.  You can check out more artwork from Rebecca Williams at The Art of Rebecca Williams.

 

I even got some soap samples from Lucky Day Soaps.  You can actually contact Christy Conner and have custom soaps made.  How cool is that?  And if you’re interested in making some of your own, she’s got some recipes listed on her site as well.

BigBangBazaarLuckyDaySoaps

So, it’s definitely something cool to check out.  Lots of unique items.  Many local vendors.  And…. I managed to find a TARDIS!!

BigBangBazaarTARDIS

I went to the Big Bang Bazaar event on September 7, 2013 but fear not, there’s another one coming up for the holiday season. December 7 & 8, 2013 from 11 am to 6pm.  Tickets can be purchased at the door for $5.  Kids under 12 are free.

BigBangBazaarHoliday2013

https://www.facebook.com/bigbangbazaarFL

NAPA at the Peabody Orlando

PeabodyOrlandoNapaGrilledBeefFilet

PeabodyRubberDuckyAlas, magical dining month in Orlando is here!  I previously had a post regarding Magical Dining Month where select restaurants in Orlando offered a three course meal for $33.  It really is an amazing deal.  Thanks to Visit Orlando, I had the opportunity to taste the menu at NAPA at the Peabody Orlando.  There are actually two Peabody Hotels, one of which is in Memphis, TN and the other is right here in Orlando, FL. I hadn’t been to the Peabody before but passed it many times on I-drive.  This was a great opportunity for me to check out NAPA.

 

The Peabody Orlando offers free valet parking for up to 3 hours if you dine at one of their restaurants.  There’s the NAPA, Capriccio Grill, and B-Line Diner.  NAPA is more California-based, specifically more wine country-inspired.  The Capriccio Grill is an Italian Steakhouse and the B-Line Diner is 24 hour restaurant featuring classic American diner fare.

PeabodyOrlandoRocksFrontBarPeabodyOrlandoRocksBackBarBefore I went down to NAPA for dinner, I went up to the ROCKS lounge.  Very open and relaxing environment.  Definitely a great place for an after-work drink.       PeabodyOrlandoRocksBurningI had to try the signature cocktail here.

 

 

The Rocks Burning: Absolut Mandarin Vodka, serrano pepper, orange & cranberry juice and freshly squeezed lemon juice.  There’s a definite kick with the initial sip but then it turns into a delicate heat.

 

PeabodyOrlandoNapaEntranceIf you’re facing the big colorful wall, NAPA is actually downstairs to the left and Rocks is up the stairs on the right.  Once you enter NAPA, the ambiance totally changes.  No televisions here, wine bottles used as decorations on the wall, dim lighting.  It’s a very nice intimate feel, great for a date night.

PeabodyOrlandoNapaInterior1 PeabodyOrlandoNapaInterior

Click here for the Magical Dining Month Menu at the Peabody Orlando.

PeabodyOrlandoNapaBreadBasketThe servers Hafid and Raphael brought out the bread.  We had the multigrain cranberry and a focaccia olive bread.  The multigrain cranberry is a dense and hearty bread with a nice crust.

PeabodyOrlandoNapaBibbLettuceEverything on the menu looks amazing.  For the appetizer, you can select either the Bibb Lettuce or the Fall Squash Bisque.  The Bibb Lettuce Salad was a delectable surprise.  It was a fruitier salad, with the kumquats and pineapple vinaigrette but I think my favorite part of the salad were the spiced hazelnuts.

 

PeabodyOrlandoNapaToastedSageMarshmallowPeabodyOrlandoNapaFallSquashBisqueThe Fall Squash Bisque was a hit among the other guests.  I found it a tad sweet for my personal liking and would have preferred some more savoriness.  Nonetheless, it was still delicious.  It was a fun presentation as the server poured the soup into the bowl which already has the marshmallow and toasted sage in top.

 

PeabodyOrlandoNapaGrilledBeefFilet

For the entrée, you have three options.  The Grilled Beef Filet, Cioppino, or the Forest Mushroom & Roasted Shallot Lasagne.  Each entrée was excellent in their own right.  The Grilled Beef Filet, mmmm.. I’m still salivating thinking of this dish.  The smoked bacon risotto was cooked perfectly.  The huckleberry demiglace just accompanied the beef filet wonderfully.       PeabodyOrlandoNapaCioppino

 

The Cioppino is a great option for seafood lovers.  It is one of the signature dishes at NAPA.  Mussels, calamari, lump crab, rock shrimp, mahi mahi, fennel, leeks, spicy tomato broth, and a paprika rouille.  That was a mouthful, literally.  Lots of flavor, the seafood wasn’t overcooked.  The paprika rouille was a nice addition.  Again, another hearty and flavorful dish.  If you love a good bouillabaisse, then you’ll certainly enjoy the cioppino here.  For those who wish to make the recipe at home, I’ve provided one here.

PeabodyOrlandoNapaForestMushroomRoastedShallotLasgneFor the vegetarians, fear not there is an entrée for you as well.  The Forest Mushroom & Roasted Shallot Lasagne.  My fellow diners and I were blown away by the flavor of the lasagne.  The lasagna pasta was slightly al dente, lots of mushrooms.  The spicy tarragon tomato sauce just hit the spot.

 

 

 

PeabodyOrlandoNapaWarmAppleCrumbCakePeabodyOrlandoNapaNuttyBrownieLast but not least, can I forget dessert?  The two options available are the Warm Apple Crumb Cake and the Nutty Brownie.  The Warm Apple Crumb Cake is served with granny smith apples, candied walnuts and vanilla ice cream.  It was a nice light dessert after all the amazing food I just ate.  The Nutty Brownie, wow.  I loved the Bailey’s Anglaise.  This was such a fluffy brownie, just spectacular.   PeabodyOrlandoCappucino

And what better way to finish off my meal then with a cappuccino?

  The food at NAPA was incredible, I had an amazing evening with great people and just an overall great experience.  Everything you eat here will be fantastic.  Be sure to check out NAPA and the other restaurants in Orlando for Magical Dining Month.  It’s a great way to try all these different restaurants at a discounted price.  This really is a great deal and you will get high quality food. For those who want to have a little staycation in September, Visit Orlando offers Stay and Dine packages at select hotels in the area.  Like the Peabody Orlando which offers the Superior Room and dinner for two at Napa or Capriccio Grill, for $159 per night.

Buen provecho!

http://www.visitorlando.com/magicaldining/restaurants/

http://www.peabodyorlando.com/dining/napa/

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