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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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The Hyppo Downtown Orlando

TheHyppoPistachioCoconut

TheHyppoExteriorIt’s getting hot out there and what better way to cool off then to get a delicious frozen treat.  How about a gourmet popsicle?  What madness is this?!  It’s true, organic popsicles in downtown Orlando.   Close to Lake Eola and underneath Post Parkside, you’ll find the Hyppo.  Small little place but tons of flavors inside.  The Hyppo has interesting flavors such as the Cucumber Lemon Mint or the Mexican Hot Chocolate.  Some of the pops have dairy in it, which are labeled on the board.  They are constantly rotating the selection here, so you’ll have plenty to chose from.  The “Elvis” is a popular hit, it’s made with peanut butter, banana and honey.

TheHyppoFlavors

The interior has mint chocolate green walls, two tables and seven chairs.  Pretty small place, so it’s good to get a pop and walk around the neighborhood.  The gourmet pops are flash frozen and the texture is soft yet firm.

TheHyppoPistachioCoconutPineappleGingerTheHyppoPistachioCoconutThe Pineapple Ginger was alright for me but not a favorite for me.  The ginger was prevalent but not too strong.  I thoroughly enjoyed the Pistachio Coconut.  With the creamy coconut flavor and the tastiness of the pistachios, I was a happy camper.  Neither overpowered one another, it was a nice delicate balance.  The Champagne Mango was also another delightful treat.  Just so you know, it doesn’t have any champagne in it.  It’s actually a type of mango,  Ataulfo mango.  The name is a bit misleading especially when you see a flavor like Riesling Pear.  The Riesling Pear pops are made from fresh pears blanched in a Riesling wine.

TheHyppoColdBrewedCoffeeTower

The Hyppo has cold brewed drip coffee which they get from Credo.  It’s a fun process to watch.

The original location is in Saint Augustine and the pops brought over from there.  Each pop is $3.50 including tax.  You can get extra fancy and get it dipped in chocolate for an additional dollar.  For those can’t get enough of the Hyppo, you can actually order the pops online.  How awesome is that?!

The Hyppo has only been open 3 months but they’re already looking to open another location in Orlando.  The Hyppo is a wonderful addition to Orlando and I look forward to trying the other flavors!

http://www.thehyppo.com
https://www.facebook.com/TheHyppoOrlando

HOURS:
Sun-Wed: 11am-10pm
Thurs-Sat: 11am-11pm
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Frank & Steins revisited

Frank and Steins

Frank and Steins seems to be more enjoyable every time I come here.  I can honestly say that the first time I came here, I didn’t think much of it.  Service was average to poor and the food took awhile.  Well, it’s Friday night and I think I’m going to see what’s going on Downtown.  Might as well grab a bite to get my night started!  It’s pretty crowded, as expected but I found a spot at the bar.  I’m not a big beer drinker so I get a cider.  Don’t you beer snobs give me any grief!  I selected the Crispin Cider, quite tasty.

 

Time for a different dog.  You know, it’d be pretty fun if they had a hot dog punch card.  Like one of those ‘wall of beer” cards?  Yeah, I would totally take the challenge.  Not in one sitting of course, that’d be a horrible morning.  Moving on…  The menu never changes here but there are plenty of options and you can always customize your dog.  I selected the OFD.  It’s got a “Spicy polish Vienna dog with chili, nacho cheese, fresh jalapenos, and crispy fried onions.”  I’m sold!  Spicy chili cheese dog?  YES!  Might as well get some Jalapeno kettle cooked chips to round out my spicy experience.

THE OFD

Warning, this is a messy dog but you’ll surely enjoy it.  Great flavor, honestly I wouldn’t add anything else to it.  I guess I might have to make it a personal challenge to myself to try all the Signature Franks.