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Vespr Craft Coffee & Allures Waterford Lakes

VesprSweetTea

VesprExteriorHow much do you love coffee?  I mean “REAL” coffee?  Not the ones full of syrups and artificial flavors.  For the true coffee aficionados, I’m excited to say I’ve found a place for you.  Vespr Craft Coffee & Allures in the Waterford Lakes area will not disappoint.  It’s only been open for a little over a month but this place is definitely amazing.

Vespr would be classified under the “Third Wave Coffee” movement.  The first wave is coffee like Folger’s where you’re just drinking typical mass produced coffee.  The second wave is where people start getting fancy with their coffee with their speciality roasts.  Then we get to the third wave of coffee.  This is for the person who takes it to another level.  You truly adore coffee.  You want to know where it came from, you want that perfectly brewed coffee, you appreciate the depths of the flavor.  It’s all about the quality here.

VesprInteriorAs I entered Vespr, it came off as very spacious and minimalistic.  The gray walls had a few quotes here and there but not much else going on.  Chairs and tables against a wall here, large work table and bar stools there…I’m getting a workplace environment vibe as a opposed to a lounging on a couch place.

Before going up to the register, there’s a “sniff bar.”  Definitely stop and take a moment to sniff the coffee beans and tea leaves.

VesprSniffBarTea

Vespr offer baked goodies from bakeries around the US.  Some were locally from here in Orlando such as Iced Bakery.

VesprTreat

Unfortunately, the coffee beans are not roasted in house but they are ground to order and brewed by the cup.  The coffee here is fair trade and single origin, meaning the coffee you buy comes from one specific area and your purchase benefits the farmers.  Even though the coffee menu is limited, you’re getting higher quality coffee beans and Vespr constantly rotates the selection.

VesprSiphonsVesprSiphonCoffeeFor hot coffee, you can elect to have it brewed with a siphon or with a trifecta brewer.  I had the Marcala brewed on the Siphon, also known as a vacuum pot.  If you choose to get your coffee via siphon, it is an additional $1.50.  Getting your coffee the siphon route gives a lighter color and it removes the coffee oils.  Alicia, one of the baristas made my coffee.  It was SOOOOO cool.  I hadn’t seen such a thing before and I was mesmerized by the orange glow.  OOOOOOHHHHH!  Depending on the coffee, it takes about 90 seconds or less for the coffee to be brewed.  I’m not going to get into how it works since there’s a lot of fancy schmancy science stuff going on here between the pressure and water vapor.  Alls I know, that it’s fantastic coffee.  If you want to know how the process really works, the staff here would be happy to explain it to you.

VesprCoffee

The coffee is served in a double wall insulated glass.  I loved the presentation of the beverages here!

VesprSweetTeaThe Barrel Smoked Sweet Iced Tea ($6.5) is a new favorite of mine!  The mason jars are smoked with oak chips and a mint essential oil.  The tea is served only in-house and you prepare it yourself.  The ice is already in the mason jar.  You can definitely smell the smokiness when you open the jar.  The tea used is a loose leaf Yunnan tea (black tea) cold brewed for 10 hours.  You’ll also get one ounce of Grade A Vermont maple syrup.  This syrup has been aged for a year and what a difference it makes!  It was a fun experience putting the tea and the syrup in the jar, and then shaking it all up.  I was concerned initially if it was going to be too sweet with the maple syrup but it was perfect.  It reached a nice balance without it being too sweet.  An interesting side note is that the ice cubes are well, “cubed.”  Vespr has a Kold-Draft ice machine which produces perfectly square ice cubes.  Each cube is exactly one ounce and with it being cube shaped, the ice melts slowly.  Such ingenuity!

VesprSmokedSweetTea

 

Elderflower Champagne ($4) is non-alcoholic beverage made with natural elderflower syrup and carbonated distilled water.  The glass is sprayed with a mist of rose hydrosol.  The rose hydrosol is pretty much like an essential oil but more water based.  This is a sensory delight as you smell the roses while drinking the elderflower champagne.

VesprElderflowerChampagne

All the cups and lids are compostable.  Even the stickers are compostable.  After talking to Edd Siu, co-owner of Vespr, I saw how detailed everything was in here.  It really surprised me and I had a wonderful time.  This truly is a place focused on sustainability.  Even for the folks who aren’t crazy coffee fanatics, you’ll find something you’ll enjoy here.  Vespr will give you a unique experience, an amazing sensory journey!  (And you can feel good about it too!)

 

http://thevespr.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thevespr?fref=ts

HOURS:
Sun-Sat: 7am-10pm
Vespr Craft Coffee and Allures on Urbanspoon
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Bahama Breeze I-Drive

Jumbo Lump Crab Stack

BahamaBreezeSignBahama Breeze Island Grille, part of the Darden family, has recently introduced five new rice bowls on their menu.  They also have half off appetizers from 10pm to close, Sunday through Thursday.  I can’t say I’m a big fan of chain restaurants but Bahama Breeze has really grown on me.  The tropical atmosphere, the large open space, the music, it’s a quick break away from things (despite being right on I-drive).

BahamaBreezeCrabStackThe great thing about this happy hour deal is that it is half off all the appetizers.  Not just some but all.  So, you have 16 options available.  The appetizers here are generously portioned so it’s definitely great for sharing.  I ordered the Jumbo Lump Crab Stack and the Tostones with Chicken.  For the dieters out there, the Jumbo Lump Crab Stack is only 6 grams of fat and all full of flavor.  I loved the lump crab meat mixed in with the apple-mango salsa.  The different notes of sweetness from the mango and the crispness from the Granny Smith apple worked really well.  The chilled shrimp was a good addition too.  There was a little bit of avocado mixed in but not much.  Served with 2 flatbread crisps.

BahamaBreezeTostonesChickenThe Tostones with Chicken unfortunately wasn’t low fat.  A total of 63 grams of fat for the whole serving.  Twice fried plantains, chicken, cheese, onions, peppers, mushrooms, and tomato salsa.  Yeah, 63 grams is pretty plausible.  Nonetheless, it’s a good appetizer although you’ll want to make sure to disperse the toppings evenly.  Some bites were more cheesy versus others having all the peppers.  These were some large tostones!

As I had mentioned before, Bahama Breeze has five new rice bowls in addition to their West Indies Chicken Curry.  Shrimp Creole, Carnitas, Chipotle Beef, Vegetarian Asian Tofu, and Asian Chicken & Vegetable.  Sorry Bahama Breeze, I’m not going to go for the Asian inspired dishes.  After all, it is a ‘Caribbean and Latin’ place.  A friend I managed to drag along ordered the Carnitas Rice Bowl and I ordered the Chipotle Beef Bowl.  Each rice bowl had essentially the same components: rice, beans, proteins and some sort of sauce.  It sounded very heavy and turns out I was right.

BahamaBreezeCarnitasRiceBowlThe Carnitas Rice Bowl ($13.49) consisted of yellow rice, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), roasted pork, chorizo, sweet plantains, and corn topped with a cumin-citrus sauce.  Lots of nice flavors going on, especially the sweet plantains.  MMMM…  The slow roasted pork, the fresh corn, the chorizo. Yeah buddy…  The garbanzo beans didn’t really add much to it.  I mean, it was still good with it but if it was omitted, I wouldn’t have been upset.  The yellow rice was alright.  Not bad but it was on the verge of being overcooked.  To the point of where the rice grains are a mere few minutes away from being puffy.  Overall, a very tasty dish.

BahamaBreezeChipotleBeefRiceBowlThe Chipotle Beef Rice Bowl ($14.99) consisted of basmati rice, sautéed beef sirloin, black beans, corn, and cheese topped with a chipotle sauce, sour cream, salsa and avocado.  Boy, that was a mouthful.  Presentation-wise, it didn’t look so appetizing.  The components looked like it was haphazardly thrown in there.  Flavor-wise, it was ok.  The steak was good and tender, I enjoyed the fresh corn.  You could see the corn stuck together in both dishes.  The basmati rice was done properly here.  If you haven’t had basmati rice before, I’d describe it as a lighter, fluffy long grain rice.  The grains don’t stick to each other, it’s ‘loose’ in a way.  Needless to say, I was a bigger fan of the carnitas rice bowl.  Don’t get me wrong, this was still a decent dish but it’s more expensive and not as flavorful for me.  I really wouldn’t have minded some ancho chiles in this dish, give it a little push with the flavor.

I think if you took the toppings from the carnitas rice bowl and put it with the basmati rice, it’d be a winner.  Also, these rice bowls are huge!  I know you can’t really tell from the pictures but these rice bowls are very big.  If Bahama Breeze offered a Rice Bowl Pick 2 or 3, and have smaller portions, that’d be awesome.  So then you get to taste different dishes.  All in all, the rice bowls were good and super filling but not something I’d regularly order.

 

Fav entrées of the night:  The Jumpo Lump Crab Stack and the Carnitas Rice Bowl.

 

Some people may consider Bahama Breeze a bit pricier than they’d like to spend but come during the “Late Night Happy Hour”.  Half off all appetizers.  You really can’t beat that.

 

Random note: The Bahama Breeze website has recipes for some of the dishes on the menu (such as the mango-apple salsa).

 

http://www.bahamabreeze.com

Hours:

Sunday – Thursday: 11:00 A.M. – 1:00 A.M.
Friday – Saturday: 11:00 A.M. – 1:30 A.M.

Late Night Happy Hour
Sunday – Thursday: 10:00 P.M. – Close
Bahama Breeze Island Grille on Urbanspoon

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Oblivion Taproom Revisited

Pork Lover's Pigout

OblivionExteriorI tell people about this place all the time yet I hadn’t been here in awhile.  It’s been more than half a year since wrote my first post about Oblivion.  After a thrilling game of bowling,  I had a hankering for some good drinks and good food.  Well, Oblivion doesn’t disappoint.  What I said the first time about Oblivion still stands true.  I had great service and the food was very good.

OliverBeanBlossomPeachCiderCider lovers, you will not be disappointed!  (And all the other beer folks too, of course.)  The cider list here is quite extensive.  I ordered the Oliver Beanblossom Hard Peach Cider. I’ve had a few different flavors before and they’re all very tasty.  You’d be surprised to find out that it’s 8% ABV.

OblivionPorkLoversPigout1Soooo hungry but I really had a hard time deciding what to get.  It all sounded tasty but the pork rinds keep jumping out at me.  Fine, I’m going for it, the Pork Lovers Pigout.  Pork rinds with jalapeño cheese sauce, jalapeños and pulled pork on top.  I was really digging the pork rinds, jalapeños and the cheese sauce.  Crispy, salty, spicy, yum!  The pulled pork?  Not so much.  I know it’s the Pork Lovers Pigout but it was too much pork for me.  Or rather, the pulled pork wasn’t doing much for me.  Perhaps if the meat was smoked or had a different type of sauce to accent it more?  I didn’t use much of the salsa but the cumin-lime sour cream was good.  This was pretty much a pork rind play on nachos.  Timing is the essence with this dish since the pork rinds started to get soggy from the cheese.  Some of the pork rinds were so large, I was so glad there was a napkin dispenser.  Messy might have been an understatement with me.  Overall, I’d order this again sans pulled pork.

 

OblivionYou'reMyBoyBleuBurgerI also ordered the “You’re My Boy Bleu” burger.  This burger was really good.  Not greasy, good portion and on a brioche bun.  Pretty minimalistic, just a seasoned beef patty with lettuce, tomato and smoked bleu cheese.  The tater tots were also super tasty.  When you order a sandwich/burger, you pick your side and then you pick your seasoning.  I selected the tater tots with the Hawaiian Raw Garlic seasoning.  I was curious what made it Hawaiian but apparently, it’s just raw garlic seasoning.  It just happens to be that Hawaiians like raw garlic a lot.  Well, that’s good to know because I thought the “Hawaiian” was going to indicate some sort of sweet flavoring.  I thought the tots were really good although I didn’t get that strong raw garlic flavor.  There was some cheese sauce left from my “Pork Lovers Pigout” which went fantastic with the tots.

As a random piece of info, Oblivion does have free wifi.  I ran a speed test (out of curiosity) and got a download speed of 6,377 kbps.  Nice!

 

All in all, this is a great spot for the beer lovers and the adventurous eaters.  Be forewarned, you’ll leave here a happy glutton.

http://www.obliviontaproom.com/index.html

Tuesday – Saturday 4pm-2am
Sunday 4pm-12am
Closed Monday
Oblivion Taproom on Urbanspoon

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Sloppy Taco Palace

Sloppy Taco

A buddy of mines asked me if I wanted to go to STP.  STP?  Stone Temple Pilots?  uhhhh. no.   He tells me it’s some taco place that’s really good.  “Oh yea?”  Well, sounds like the Feisty Foodist is getting some tacos!  It’s in the shopping plaza where Agave Azul and Kim Wu are located.  It’s right over the bridge and to the left behind Chick-fil-A on Kirkman Road.  The parking lot has quite a bit of car for a Tuesday evening, which is good.

As I enter, it looks like a typical bar place.  But for the love of food, it’s freezing cold in here! WWHHHHHYYY?  I guess for the drunkards, you wouldn’t even notice the cold but for the sober chica (i.e. me) I am freezing.  Atmosphere is pretty ok, spacious on the inside, decent outdoor seating as well.  Beer selection is adequate.

The prices are fairly inexpensive, most being around 7 dollars.  A la cart items are available as well, so for those on a budget you can get a lot of food.  On Tuesdays, they have sloppy tacos (only beef or chicken) for 2 dollars each.  My server was Tiffany, she was nice although it took awhile before I was able to put my order in.  I’m just waiting….waiting…waiting….   I hope these tacos are pretty decent or else. argh.  Luckily, this place has free wifi and it’s keeping me entertained.

 

I come to the “Sloppy Taco Palace” so of course I’m going to see how amazing these “sloppy tacos” are.  I definitely recommend the beef.  The chicken was a “meh”.  The flour tortillas were slightly fried and it gave it another dimension which I appreciated.  I tend to favor more spicy food and I didn’t want to just throw some Crystal’s hot sauce on it.  That would be just wrong!  I asked the server what other sauces they had.  Surely, there’s some Cholula or something.  Unfortunately, no Cholula here but at least they had some Texas Pete Chipotle and Tapatío.  What a difference that makes!  The beef taco didn’t need any sauce but I found the chicken a bit on the bland side.  The sloppy tacos were quite satisfying and they weren’t too messy.

Another taco on the menu jumped out at me.  “Greek taco.”  Oh really?  Hm.. this could be quite tasty OR disgusting.  I’m willing to find out which.  Let’s see what we got here: chicken, romaine lettuce, onions, feta, tomatoes but no olives. NO OLIVES!  My taco could really have used some olives but they didn’t even have any in the kitchen.  It’s not a BIG deal but it definitely would have tasted even better.  Also, the tortilla was cold.  After having the slightly fried and fluffy tortilla from the sloppy tacos, I was a bit disappointed with the Greek taco tortilla.

All in all, this is a good place to go to if you want to drink and have some tasty food.  The service was a bit lackluster but aside from that note, I would return here.  With a jacket.
Sloppy Taco Palace on Urbanspoon

Be forewarned if you go their website, turn your volume down.  I’ve just saved you from a screaming “AH-YEEEEHAAAAA” in your ear.  You’re welcome.

http://www.sloppytacopalace.com/index.html