Friday, March 27, 2015

The Good and Bad at Fleming's Steakhouse

We were happy to try Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar after receiving a gift card, since the upscale menu is too pricey for a weekly visit. Even with the gift card, we set out to save some money by heading to Fleming's Winter Park location during Happy Hour, which is daily from 5:00-7:00. The Happy Hour specials are great: $6 for certain cocktails and apps, and $7 for Fleming's burger. 

Unfortunately, we were not able to enjoy the specials, despite arriving only a half hour after Happy Hour started. The tables at the small bar area were already full, so we asked if we could order from the Happy Hour menu in the dining room. We were told we could not. I almost walked out. I know this is standard practice for most restaurants that offer Happy Hour: the specials are only available for a limited time in the bar area or on their patio. The policy still frustrates me. Would you rather have me as a customer who spends some money at your business - and then becomes a loyal customer - or none at all?

After deciding to stay and order from the regular menu, our experience got better from there. Yes, there was some sticker shock, but I expect that at a nice steakhouse. The atmosphere was great, and our server was very attentive. The bread with two different dipping butters was delicious. We ordered from a special three-course menu that featured a salad, an app, an entree and dessert. The Mushroom Asparagus salad was so unique - we have never had flavors like that paired together before, and really enjoyed it. The Butternut Squash Ravioli appetizer sounded so delicious, but we were really let down by the lack of flavor and spice. This dish could have been better with a touch of cayenne pepper or herbs. 

Of course, we had to have some steak, and opted for the Filet Mignon with Roasted Carrots. The shrimp appetizer with chorizo dipping sauce was cooked perfectly and the sauce was delicious. It truly was the best steak we have had in a long time. The Almond Cake was so tasty; we just felt the dark chocolate on top was not needed with all the other flavors on the dish. We would probably return to Fleming's just for dessert and a cocktail - if we could enjoy it during Happy Hour.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Go to Blu for Upscale Food, Great Service

Our first experience at blu on the avenue was outstanding, to our surprise. We were only surprised because it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, when we knew a lot of locals and tourists would be strolling around Park Avenue. We were worried about the parking and how long it would take to get our food.

We needn't have worried. The place was popular but not packed at 4:00 on a Saturday afternoon, and we had the most friendly, professional server we could have hoped for. We really liked the atmosphere, too. 

But we were most impressed with the quality of food and the Happy Hour Specials. We found out that, from 4:00-7:00 p.m., we could get a dozen oysters for $10. What a deal! And these are huge, fresh delicious oysters. The drink specials were also great: $5 Old Fashioneds, white sangria, and select wines, $4 Stella draughts and $4 well drinks. My husband opted for the Old Fashioned, and was so impressed that the restaurant used top-shelf liquor for his drink. 

We also tried the blu Lobster Cobb Salad, which is one of the most creative and tastiest salads I have tried. While I would never typically spend $17 for a salad, I decided to splurge. The salad came with a healthy topping of Maine lobster, tomatoes, avocado and cheese, and the entire thing was wrapped in a beautiful package of prosciutto and cucumber, which paired perfectly with the salad. As someone who often orders salads, I really enjoyed having new flavors tied together in such a unique way. And I brought leftovers home.

What do you enjoy eating at blu on the Avenue? I would like to know what to order next time we visit!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Why we love Red Robin's Fruffles

By Guest Blogger Shelby Gurley

Check out Red Robin's new chocolate Fruffles. These creamy fudge brownies are elegantly cut to resemble Red Robin's infamous steak fries, and then dipped in decadent chocolate. 

But, instead of regular tomato ketchup, this sweet and salty treat is dipped in whipped cream and berry "ketchup". What makes this treat special is the salt. By putting salt on the chocolate, it contrasts the flavors, so it really enhances the richness of the dessert.

Have you tried the Fruffles? We would like to know what you think of them - and Red Robin's burgers - in the comments section below.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Find Excellent Mediterranean Fare in Downtown Orlando

Steak Schwarma
Guest blog by Shad Bookout

I had the pleasure of eating at Whitewood Mediterranean Grill in downtown Orlando recently for a business lunch. Even though it was after the lunch rush, the restaurant still had an air of fun about it.

Steak Flatbread
We all loved our dishes. We tried the Steak Schwarma with grape leaves and hummus, the Steak Kabob with Tabouleh and French fries and the Steak Carmelized Onion Feta and Balsamic Drizzle Flatbread. These were all very tasty dishes, that were a great value and large portions for lunch. 

Plus, the service was great. I will definitely visit this restaurant again.

Where: 1 South Orange Ave., #4, Orlando

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fuji Sushi is Stil One of Our Favorites

I have gotten in the habit of eating just average sushi. Sushi that is pretty good, but I only pick it up or eat out because it is close to home, such as Mikkado Sushi in Lake Mary. This is a fact I was reminded me of on our recent visit to Fuji Sushi Japanese Cuisine in Winter Park, Fla., with friends.

I savored each bite because I had not tasted sushi so fresh and delicious, with such unique flavors, for so long. I tried two rolls that were new to me: the Honolulu Roll, which featured crispy coconut shrimp, chopped peanuts and mango, with a sweet misco
sauce. It is one of my new favorites and the sauce paired perfectly with this roll. I also had the Louisiana Roll, which included cooked crawfish, avocado and sesame seed. I expected this to be spicier and more flavorful, but I still really liked it.

Friends tried the Alaska Roll, a delicous combination of raw salmon and cream cheese and the Black Widow Roll, which has soft shell crab, scallions, spicy mayo and eel sauce. This is another really tasty roll. The Volcano Roll is another one of our favorites - especially that delicous sauce on top. 

Let us know your favorite sushi spot in Central Florida!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Where to Celebrate Valentine's Day in Orlando

There are so many romantic restaurants to choose from in Central Florida, that we wanted
American Gymkhana
to tell you about just a few that you may not have thought of. While some are five-star, upscale restaurants, others provide a very nice atmosphere on a budget.

Here are some of Flavorful Excursions' top choices:

1. Bull & Bear, inside the Waldorf Astoria. We had the most romantic dinner date and best food in Central Florida when we ate at this steak and seafood restaurant. Every appetizer, entree and dessert is unique and executed perfectly. Because of its price tag, this is a restaurant to reserve for special occasions.

2. Emeril's Tchoup Chop. This is a another restaurant that foodies will appreciate. We love the new chef's Hawaiian-inspired and healthy dishes, such as meat and veggie skewers from its Robata grill and the Ahi Tuna Poke Rice Bowl. Don't forget dessert, which is different every night. One recent feature was Baklava Cheesecake! While it is an upscale eatery, there are some affordable apps and happy hour specials that will help you stretch your dollars further.

Emeril's Tchoup Chop
3. Shula's 347 Grill. We have romantic dinners here often, in part because it is close to home but we also love that we can have an affordable meal in an upscale atmosphere. Servers and staff and always professional and friendly. While you can spend more to order Shula's delicious filet or scallop entree, you can save money by choosing one of their delicious burgers or the Mahi Sandwich. Its Happy Hour app and cocktail specials are also not to be missed. Just make sure you leave room for dessert. They make the most delicious Apple Cobbler and Creme Brulee, and we love their homemade sorbets.

4. Highball & Harvest, inside the Ritz Carlton Orlando, is a true farm-to-table eatery that has gotten rave reviews. Chefs pick produce from the garden on-site to use in the Southern-inspired dishes, such as Shrimp and Grits and Chicken and Dumplings. I can't wait to try this restaurant for myself.

5. American Gymkhana. This is another new restaurant that I haven't yet been able to try, but have heard wonderful reviews about its food. And it's atmosphere is perfect for a special occasion. The restaurant serves modern Indian and fusion cuisine and it is featuring a special $65 6-course tasting menu for Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Where Alton Brown Will Eat in Orlando

When Alton Brown arrives in Orlando for his Alton Brown Live Show at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts this Saturday, February 7, he will want to check out all the local eats.

While restaurant suggestions on Flavorful Excursions' Facebook page have included upscale restaurants such as The Ravenous Pig, K Restaurant and the Rusty Spoon, those are not the places we predict he will eat. Judging by his stops in all other cities along his tour, Alton looks for the local diners, the hole-in-the-wall places that have been there forever, and those with delicious, fatty and fried foods.

Based on that criteria, we believe the great culinary educator and TV personality will choose Donut King in Winter Park. The shop has been a fixture in Sanford for years, and recently expanded to Winter Park. Alton will love Donut King's version of the cronut, and anything chocolate. Other possible breakfast stops include The Coop and Cask & Larder. Even though Cask & Larder is more upscale than many restaurants Alton visits, it has - some believe - the best Southern brunch in town.

Beefy King will likely be Alton's lunch stop, we predict. More than 42 years old now, Beefy King is known for the best roast beef sandwiches in Central Florida. Other possible stops include 4 Rivers BBQ and Hawkers Asian Cuisine. While we don't think Alton will travel to Maitland, he should also check out the decades-old Kappy's Subs. Locals know it has the best greasy fries, hot dogs, cheeseburgers and sandwiches around.

Where do you think Alton Brown should eat while in Orlando? Please below or on our Facebook page: