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Oh Sal’s Ristorante & Bar, I’m glad I’ve found you! Traveling outside the Pittsburgh area, the boyfriend and I managed to come back here twice during our short stay. Sal’s has a slight nostalgic feel with darker colors inside and the pictures of actresses from that old Hollywood era. The servers here are friendly, and you can see they help each other out.
The menu is extensive and some of the appetizers would be excellent choices as a meal alone.
The Godfather had banana peppers stuffed with pork, with shrimps and scallops in a flavorful tomato sauce on top. This was a hearty appetizer. The beans-n-greens didn’t sound that appealing but this again was another hearty appetizer. Sauteed escarole, white beans and Italian sausage. Delicious!
If you’re a veal lover, they do not have any veal dishes here. Lots of pasta, calzones, pizza, salads, and burgers, sandwiches.
I ordered the Vegetarian Calzone with ham added to it. This calzone was HUGE. Definitely did not eat it in one sitting. I ate my calzone with a side of marinara. (ask for some garlic powder, it tastes great in the marinara.)
The boyfriend ordered the Chicken Oscar. Chicken, crab meat, alfredo sauce, tomato sauce, and angel hair. It was huge. After he ate it all, he asked our server if he won a t-shirt for finishing it. Ha! The dish was good but heavy.
The next time I came back, I was determined to get a pizza. I ordered the Shrimp Scampi pizza. It was tasty, my only complaint is that I wished it had more broccoli on it. But then again, I just like lots of veggies. Although I didn’t order any of the salads here, I could see they were quite large.
The only thing I wasn’t so fond of, were the breadsticks. It tasted ok and the dipping oil was mediocre for me. Aside from that, everything else I ate was really enjoyable.
As far as desserts go, tiramisu was pretty good. Also another heavy item. I opted for a sundae with chocolate AND caramel the second time. Wild child, I know.
Finally, a new post! It seems like it’s been ages since I had posted anything. Terrible, I know. So what’s been going on with me? Work, traveling, trying to be healthy and enjoy life. During my little travels to Vero Beach, FL I found a cute little coffee shop. There’s just something I love about coffee shops. The smell of fresh roasted coffee beans, the relaxing atmosphere, it’s just a good place for a quick mental getaway.
When you walk in the atmosphere is instantly welcoming, filled with the smells of roasted coffee. I absolutely love coffee shops and this place doesn’t disappoint.
The staff is extremely helpful and friendly! There’s a food menu, drink menu and a coffee beans menu. The food menu consists of breakfast items, salads, paninis and wraps. I’m at a coffee place so you know I’ve got to try some of the coffee here! White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Espresso Drink it is! Sweet, strong and tasty. Not a bad way to get the day started.
I ordered the Kara Bean Salad with Chicken and my boyfriend ordered the Pesto Chicken Panini. The Kara Bean Salad ($7.01) is vegan and gluten free unless you decide to add additional items to it. I added chicken for an additional 2 dollars. This is a vibrant salad with spinach, romaine lettuce, shredded red cabbage, black beans, corn, mandarin oranges, almonds, Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. This salad had great texture and was very hearty.
The Chicken Pesto Panini ($7.24) has chicken, roasted red pepper, mozzarella, and pesto. The wraps and sandwiches come with multi-grain flax chips and a pickle. This was another filling menu item but not overly filling where you want to take a nap after lunch.
There are two flank steak items listed with fairly close prices. The Flank Steak Salad ($7.48) and the Flank Steak Panini ($7.71). The Flank Steak Salad has steak, spinach, romaine lettuce, sweet peppers,red onions, tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette. The Flank Steak Panini consists of french bread, steak, red onions, horseradish sauce, and RC sauce.
You’ll notice their slogan, “good coffee, great cause.” The folks at Rio Coco Cafe call their coffee 100% humanic. That’s right, “humanic”, not organic or fair trade. They have a nifty little video about it on YouTube if you have the time to watch. Basically the profits that Rio Coco Cafe earns goes to help children and teachers in Nicaragua that are involved with Project Ezra. The coffee is roasted in small batches, in house.
Overall the food is good and the service is great, but you should really come here for the coffee. If you aren’t in the local area to try the coffee, you can always order coffee from their website Rio Coco Beans.
What’s worse than being hungry? Being hungry AND indecisive. My father wanted to go out to eat yet he couldn’t narrow down what he wanted. He says he’s not picky but he doesn’t like the food I like. At any rate, I told my dad we can go wherever. He ends up parking at this Pho restaurant and decides he wants noodles. Pho from Virginia Beach? Ugh… I’m not trying to say I’m a food snob but Vietnamese food in Virginia Beach is pretty lame. In Orlando, there’s a street full of Vietnamese restaurants that are way better than any of the ones in Hampton Roads.
“How about Chinese food?” I asked my father. He willingly decides to go along with it. We end up going to Grace’s Cantonese restaurant for dim sum. Or so I thought. We got to the restaurant and it wasn’t Grace’s anymore. Judy’s Sichuan Cuisine? When did this happen!? And then my dad became reluctant and suggested we go back to the Pho place.
NOOO… I am not going back there! I’m hungry, it’s rainy! “Let’s just go inside!” I finally convinced my dad to go inside and we had a seat. The interior hadn’t changed much. We went for lunch during the week and there were only 2 other customers inside. I could tell my dad was already thinking this was going to be a bad experience.
I was impressed by the amount of items in the menu. A lot of authentic dishes and they even had xiaolongbao, otherwise known as soup dumplings. Soup dumplings in Hampton Roads! Well, we perused over the menu and finally made our decision. Beef chow fun and the fish with black bean sauce.
I loved the beef chow fun is a noodle dish. Thick flat white noodles, tossed in a flavorful sauce with onions and delicious beef. My dad commented on the good quality of the beef used here.
I ordered the fish dish as a lunch special so I got a hot and sour soup along with it. The hot and sour soup was good, nothing magnificently amazing but just good. I was surprised by the fish with black bean sauce. Usually anything with black bean sauce is very obvious since it’s fermented soybeans. This dish has a little bit of black beans but very well balanced as far as the flavors go.
As far as service goes, it was fair. For dining experience wise, the food was great, service was okay and the ambiance was “meh”. I was impressed with the quality of food here and will definitely return.
You know what, Norfolk? You continue to surprise me. I come back every so often and I keep finding amazing new restaurants. One to make note of during my recent hometown visit is “Handsome Biscuit.” It’s located on Colonial Ave in Norfolk, opened since February 2013. It’s not in the prettiest of areas. Parking can be a bit tight at times. The hours are odd. Seating is limited but don’t let any of those things stop you from coming here. Just consider yourself informed. (And there is a restroom there, but no sign.)
This place is focused on biscuits sandwiches And if that’s your main focus, you better make some damn good biscuits. SWEET POTATO BISCUITS. Need I say more? Well, probably not but where’s the fun in that? So they have sweet potato biscuits here but it isn’t too sweet. The biscuit sandwiches here are hearty, delicious and always made in house. In fact, aside from the canned beverages and peanut butter, everything else is made in house.
My friend and I ordered two sandwiches and went halfsies. The Ella Fitzgerald and the Bleu Blazer. The sandwiches here are generous sized. The Ella Fitzgerald ($6.50) biscuit sandwich contains boneless fried chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese and red gravy. I highly recommend ordering a side hot sauce to go with this beauty. The hot sauce is great, the sweetness from the honey and the spiciness from the garlic and red pepper paste worked well together. Could this sandwich be anymore indulgent?! Seriously amazingly good stuff.
The Bleu Blazer ($6) biscuit sandwich comes with fried chicken, spicy pickled red cabbage and blue cheese dressing. This one was pretty good although I wish the flavor of the red cabbage was more evident. The blue cheese dressing took over a bit but nonetheless it was good.
The sandwiches here do not come with sides. I didn’t get any since the sandwiches alone were so big. Do get the aguafresca ($1.50)! Handsome Biscuit always changes it up and when I went, it was a pear lime soda. Refreshing, not too sweet and full of flavor!
All the staff that I interacted with were just downright friendly and couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Price wise was very good considering how big these sandwiches are and the quality of them too. The only negative thing is the unhealthy factor. So much indulgence and later throughout the day, I felt pretty sluggish. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy what I ate! I would definitely come back here, just not every day.
As I had mentioned earlier, the hours are a bit odd. Handsome Biscuit is only open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am-2pm. I hope you don’t have a sweet potato biscuit addiction or you’re going to have to prioritize some things!
Check this little place out and I’m sure you’ll love it too. For the vegetarians out there, they do have other options so don’t worry if you don’t want to eat any fried chicken or pork.
Some days, I just get a craving for some good ole barbeque. Smokehouse BBQ Grill on US 1 in Vero Beach not only has some great BBQ but some amazing sides as well. Smokehouse BBQ Grill used to be called Fatboys back in the day but over time with the change of owners, the name has changed as well.
The interior is fairly basic, some booths and wooden decor. The music overheard was 80’s music.
The menu has BBQ, steaks, salads, sandwiches and homemade desserts. I didn’t order a salad but from what I saw, the salads were a good hefty size. For an appetizer I had the fried okra ($5.49). Nothing amazing to make note of, just some fried okra served with ranch. I also felt like it was overpriced for the amount we received.
When I’m at a bbq place, I gotta get some sweet tea! The sweet tea here is more like SWEEEEEET tea. Not enough tea flavor for me and tasted like straight up sugar water.
My friend and I each ordered the 1/2 rack and a Smokehouse BBQ meat. There were so many options, I really had a hard time deciding. So he ordered the Baby Back Ribs with the sliced beef ($16.99) and I had the St. Louis Ribs with the Carolina ($14.99). The Carolina is a mixture of pulled beef and pulled pork combined and tossed in the mild sauce.
The sides available are french fries, BBQ beans, mac & cheese, coleslaw, hot or cold cabbage, macaroni salad and potato salad. They also have sweet potato fries for an additional $0.50.
This is the 1/2 rack of Baby Back Ribs. sliced beef, BBQ beans, coleslaw, and garlic toast. The baby back ribs were tender and full of flavor. I could have just eaten the ribs without sauce. The smokiness was great! The sliced beef was just as how it sounds, very lean tasting. The bbq beans were alright and the coleslaw wasn’t too shabby either. The garlic toast… MMMM…. Anything garlic is excellent in my book. I really enjoyed the toast because it was full of flavor without being greasy. Eating ribs is greasy enough, I don’t like my bread oily so the garlic toast was perfect!
This is the small portion of St. Louis style Ribs, Carolina meat, Smokehouse hot cabbage and macaroni and cheese, and garlic toast. The St. Louis style ribs were great too. It really comes down to your personal preference when it comes to ribs. I thought both were really enjoyable. The Carolina meat would be great for sandwiches. The hot cabbage was my favorite item of all. Seriously, amazing tasting cabbage!! Tender braised cabbage, bacon, and onions with a slight sweetness. Anything with bacon is amazing, am I right? The macaroni and cheese was a bit underwhelming for me.
The sauces they have here is Mild, Hot, Sweet, and Mustard. I made a mixture of about 40% Hot, 40% Sweet and 20% Mustard.
Man, so much food! But I couldn’t turn down the homemade desserts. Smokehouse BBQ Grill has cookies ($0.50 each), banana creme pie, coconut creme pie, peanut butter pie, key lime pie, pecan pie and peanut butter with chocolate chips pie for $3.50 each. The server said the peanut butter pie was the most popular but she liked the banana creme pie the most. Sounds like a fine idea to me! Wow, this is some good pie! They always say a good crust makes a good pie and this certainly was tasty. Along with a side of coffee, I was a happy camper.
Overall, the food is good here although certain items are slightly overpriced. The best thing was the cabbage, I think it’s worth just ordering on its own and nothing else. Well, maybe some pie too.
You 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.)
I had a sampling of their menu so the pictures you’ll see are not the actual portion sizes.
First, 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.
Next, 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.
The 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.
During 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.
Ok, 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.
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!
My 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.
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.
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.
Tiki 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.
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.
There’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.
Alas, 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.
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.
If 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.
Everything 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.
The 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.
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.
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.
For 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.
Last 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.
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.
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well, in that case, ya better eat good! It’s a bit strange for me since I work nights. Is it technically still breakfast? Do I count it as dinner for me? Regardless of what I should classify my meal to be, I aim for it to be a tasty.
Whenever I find myself craving breakfast food after I get off of work, I end up at First Watch in Maitland. First Watch has been around since 1983 and it’s easy to see why. I have consistently had great service and consistently good food. The interior isn’t much to brag about but when I come here, I’m not going for the ambiance. It’s clean, bright and simple. No frills.
First Watch has a breakfast and lunch menu. Most of the food I’ve ate here has been from the breakfast menu. One of my favorites is the Florida French Toast. I love all the fresh fruit on here. Banana, kiwi, strawberries, what’s not to love? Yummy sourdough french toast with a delectable very berry compote. This is definitely a great way to start the day!
For those not into the sweets for breakfast, I always recommend the Chickichanga. It’s always great tasting and fun to say. A flour tortilla filled with eggs, chicken, chorizo sausage, green chilies, Cheddar and Monterey Jack, onions and avocado. Delicious and hearty! Topped with Vera Cruz sauce and sour cream. The taters are good with the Chickichanga.
Both of these meals aren’t the most healthy items, needless to say. For those who are more health conscious, there are plenty of options. Give First Watch a go and start your day off right!
First Watch Maitland
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CRAVE is a chain restaurant with eight locations in the U.S., two of which are in Florida. The Orlando location is located near Mall of Millenia.
I had heard some pretty good things from some of my friends and decided to check it out. Their tagline is “Fresh. Vibrant. American.” It definitely was vibrant in here. I really was fond of the atmosphere here. It felt like someone from Pier 1 Imports came in here and decorated this place. It’s very spacious inside, high ceilings, and warm inviting colors.
The menu had a good variety of food with sushi, salads, burgers, tacos, pasta, flatbreads, etc. I selected the Kogi Beef Tacos as an appetizer. The tacos contain beef short rib, kimchee, spicy mayo, green onion, and cilantro. I found the Kogi Beef Tacos too salty. Where’s the flavor of the kimchee? Where’s that pungent smell? I just get a lot of saltiness.
The only item I was really fond of during my visit here was the spicy lamb burger although I would hardly call it spicy. I enjoyed the unique flavors and this would be something I’d reorder again. I always enjoy a good tzatziki sauce and the combination of goat cheese and carmelized onions definitely made this burger. The french fries were more thin than I had preferred. The burger is a good portion size.
The Quingio is a fruit sushi roll consisting of soy paper, apple, mango, grapes, cream cheese, topped with strawberries & coconut with a blueberry sauce. It sounded intriguing but unfortunately this is one of those items that sounds way better than it tastes. The cream cheese was overpowering, it made the roll salty and I did not get enough sweetness from the fruits. Less rice and less cream cheese would have made this more enjoyable.
The service here was fair. Not impressionable, not terrible, just fair. The atmosphere is great. The food was very much a hit or miss in my book. In general, I would find it hard to come back and pay full price. CRAVE does have some good happy hour specials Sunday through Friday. I most certainly would not go out of my way to come here. Being a the location so close to Mall of Millenia, there are plenty of other establishments I would go to first.