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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.
Bahama 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).
The 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.
The 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.
The 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.
The 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).
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
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So I finally stopped in to see what Greens & Grille was about. Why has it taken me so long?! Well, let’s see…Whenever I drive past this place, it looks closed. That dark tint threw me off and then the restaurant didn’t really stand out to me. The sign looked gimmicky or perhaps TOO healthy. I don’t know, there was just something that never made me stop in to eat there. Also, I didn’t know anyone else who had ate there before. Finally someone I knew ate there and just raved about it. Well, you don’t have to twist my arm to get me to eat food! Maybe bone marrow. Maybe. As soon as I walked in, I see the menu on the wall to the left. It’s got nice, vibrant colors in here. As soon you walk up to the counter, the employee takes your order. It’s not till the end of the line where you pay for your meal. In between the trip from the ordering station to the register you’ll pass the salad station and then the grill station.
I was a little overwhelmed at first. It seems so simple, salad or sandwich but the choices were abundant. If you weren’t feeling either option then you could also order some grilled items. I selected the “steak house salad”. The menu description reads: ‘Mixed greens, candied almonds, sliced egg, cranberries, grilled onions, bleu cheese with aged sherry thyme dressing served with flank steak.’ There’s always a moment of ‘will the description match the dish’ and in this instance, it really did. I thoroughly enjoyed my salad. The portion was generous, the flavors were great! I kept eating more than I should have but it was just so good! Even the candied almonds were amazing. Instead of just roasting whole almonds or roasted pieces, they used sliced almonds. The great part about this was the fact that it was candied all together so there was a layering effect and then broken into pieces. Thus more flavor achieved and easier chewing. My flank steak was very tender and flavorful. I tried some of the baked mac and cheese, pretty tasty as well.
I like how Greens & Grille uses half sheet trays as trays for the customer. How resourceful! The employees were quick and attentive. My only quip would be that the outdoor seating was so crowded. I thoroughly enjoyed this place and will definitely return for more!