Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Orlando's Best Comfort Food

The Coop in Winter Park, Fla., is one of those restaurants that frustrates me. Not because of the quality of food, service or anything like that. Rather, I am irritated with myself for waiting so long to try it! I have now found my new favorite spot in Orlando for reasonably-priced comfort food.

Led by Chef John Rivers, which operates the 4 Rivers Smokehouse chain, The Coop's lineup features Fried Chicken (which you can purchase by the bucket), New Orleans Po-Boy, Chicken Pot Pie, Mom's Meatloaf, Chicken n' Dumplings, Fried Catfish & Grits, and a number of other Southern-inspired apps, sides and salads. The atmosphere is decidedly casual. You order at the counter, and servers pile up your food on a tray. I was worried about our food being cold by the time we got our drinks and sat down, but it wasn't!

First, let me tell you about the yummy Fried Chicken. It came out looking dark, so I was worried about the taste. I shouldn't have been. The breading was tasty and crispy, and the inside was surprisingly moist. We loved the coleslaw and homemade mashed potatoes, but the gravy - we could eat that by the gallon. However, the accompanying biscuit - billed as "the best in Orlando" - was not, in my opinion. I have had better Southern biscuits at many restaurants in North Carolina, Georgia and elsewhere - biscuits that are lighter and not so dense.

The Chicken Pot Pie was our other favorite dish. While the crust was a bit tough, we loved the flavor of both the crust and the filling. It had all the essential ingredients of a perfect pot pie - plus a kick of heat. I am still thinking about it. I would also highly recommend the Organic Roasted Chicken, which is very moist and flavorful. It may simply be seasoned with salt, but that is fine in this case. You must also try the Anson Mills Creamy Grits. We loved both the flavor and the texture.

We also love the value The Coop provides. Nearby Rollins College students could eat here, and it wouldn't break the bank. Most entrees with two sides are priced between $8.99 and $9.99.

If you are looking for other top Winter Park restaurants, see:

Yummy TV Dinner and More at The Porch
Go to Blu for Upscale Food, Great Service
Excellent Food, Wine and Atmosphere at Carmel

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Delicious, Authentic Fare at Greek Village

I love the small, independent restaurants that have been around for years - for a reason. Greek Village in Lake Mary is one of those. It has the trifecta of food done right, a beautiful atmosphere and excellent service. The staff is extremely friendly and was very accommodating when I needed a dish made over because of a food sensitivity.

Our food on both visits was very tasty. The chicken in the Chicken Gyro, marinated in wine and Greek spices, was very tender. The Lamb Gyro was also very flavorful and tender. I love the seasoning on the Greek Fries, and will be likely be back just for those. The Lamb Slouvaki was very tasty but the lamb was tough and chewy.

If you love Greek cuisine like I do, I recommend trying this place out.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Our Best Day in Cocoa Beach

Beach helicopters Merritt Island, Cocoa Beach Florida
To celebrate our anniversary, my husband and I decided to take a helicopter ride and spend a relaxing day in Cocoa Beach, Florida. While I was extremely nervous about flying on a helicopter for the first time, I knew that seeing the beautiful shoreline and ocean from above would make it all worthwhile. 

I was not expecting, however, for the owner and pilot of Beachside Helicopters in Merritt Island to make the flight so comfortable and fun. He explained everything about the helicopter before we took off, and, once we were in the air, acted as our personal tour guide. We saw the Cocoa Beach pier, a hospital that looks like it is floating on the water, cruise ships and the Kennedy Space Center. Plus, the 15-minute flight was affordable at $49 per person. You can take longer flights and see different views at varying rates. I'm glad I overcame my nerves to try a helicopter ride - we can't wait to go back!

Jazzy's Cocoa Beach, Cocoa Beach Florida, helicopter ride, Beachside helicoptersAfter the fantastic helicopter ride, we ate lunch at Jazzy's Mainely Lobster and Seafood in Cocoa Beach. A fellow food blogger recommended this spot, which reminds me of a small outdoor seafood shack. Perhaps we should have ordered the Maine Lobster Roll - one of the dishes the restaurant is known for. Our meal was very tasty, but nothing that made it stand out from other seafood restaurants. We both ordered the special of the day: Grilled Snapper Sandwich. The snapper was cooked perfectly and was delicious.

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing on Cocoa Beach. I would highly recommend a similar day for a date, fun with family or friends, or to give as a Christmas gift.