Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Top reasons to visit new Planet Hollywood Observatory at Disney Springs

High Roller App Platter,
Photo by Shad Bookout
It was very exciting to revisit the newly-renovated restaurant, Planet Hollywood Observatory at Disney Springs in Orlando, Fla. 

For those who have visited before, one of the first things you will notice is the upgraded entertainment aspect: this is not just a place to eat; it is a great place for family entertainment. Eight video projectors light up the massive sphere that is Planet Hollywood, streaming popular Disney pop videos and other music. Some tables even feature the same videos - what a fascinating option for kids! 

Soon, a D.J. will interact with guests, and those interactions will be displayed on the screen. "We are fun dining. We appeal to all ages, as well as couples," General Manager Mark Ehrli told Flavorful Excursions. Large groups will also love the new restaurant, since there is seating for 650 people, including at an expansive, covered outdoor terrace.

As for the food, it is a fun, whimsical menu of with a multitude of choices, including specialty Guy Fieri burgers, traditional Planet Hollywood dishes like L.A. Lasagna, and milkshakes like you have never seen before, featuring cake and candy toppers. 

Morgan Veggie Burger, Photo by Shad Bookout
On our first visit, we were guests of Planet Hollywood, and had a much better food and service experience than the second visit, when we came on our own. The service was outstanding on our first visit: everyone from managers to servers were passionate about where they work and assisting guests with their every need. 

The specialty cocktails are delicious, as was the mojito we tried. Some of our favorite apps were: Texas Tostadas, Hummus Trio and Five Cheese Dip. For entrees, we recommend the Bacon Mac-n-Cheese Burger, an award-winning Guy Fieri burger that we were not able to try but others loved it; L.A. Lasagna (stuffed pasta with ricotta and Bolognese meat sauce that is fried); the scrumptious and healthy Shrimp Florentine Pasta; and Morgan's Veggie Burger. Also designed by Guy Fieri, the veggie burger is a very flavorful treat for non-meat eaters, but doesn't hold together well.

Our favorite dessert was the Planet Meltdown, a chocolate sphere melted table-side by hot
Planet Meltdown, Photo by Shad Bookout
chocolate sauce to reveal a decadent fudge cake, fresh strawberries and whipped cream. The Supernova Shakes look delicious, but really aren't that tasty. The Strawberry Big Bang shake we tried didn't taste like it was made with real strawberry ice cream, and the cake topper was not great. However, I am sure that kids will go crazy for any of the shakes offered here.

As I mentioned, there were some food and service flaws on our second visit. For example, the flavor of our Prime Time American Kobe Burger was just alright, and it was overcooked. Our server did not ask how we would like the burger cooked. For a $19.99 burger, I really expect the food to be outstanding. Likewise, the Pimento Grilled Cheese Sandwich looks outstanding, but is just alright. 

The bottom line: I still highly recommend Planet Hollywood Observatory for families, as well as couples and groups meeting for drinks and apps or dessert after a movie. There is a great management team in place, and I am quite sure that any service kinks will be worked out soon. Let me know your experience in the comments below.

Also see:

Cupcake ATM and much more at Sprinkles

Top reasons to visit Disney Hollywood Studios

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Gavin DeGraw, Outstanding Food at Downtown Food & Wine Fest

Photo courtesy Downtown Food & Wine Fest
Gavin DeGraw is just a bonus when I visit the outstanding annual event, Downtown Food & Wine Fest, February 25 & 26 at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando.

For me, the main draw is the food. Last year, one of our favorite dishes was from Baoery Asian Gastropub, and I'm sure we will be wowed by the restaurant again this year. However, I am also looking forward to trying The Tipsy Cookie, Restaurant Ash, Siro Urban Italian Kitchen, Tapa Toro, Copper Canyon Grill and many other top Orlando eateries.
Me and Chef Ashley Nickell
of Hell's Kitchen in 2016

Of course, we will also check out some of the tantalizing wine options, including Fruits and Wine, Beso del Sol sangria and Kobrand.

In addition to DeGraw, other musical acts include: KC and the Sunshine Band, Spencer Ludwig, the Legendary JC's and Orange Avenue.

What are you most looking forward to seeing and eating at this year's event? Let us know in the comments below.

For more information, follow Downtown Food & Wine Fest on Twitter @DTFoodWineFest, Facebook or visit the web site: www.DowntownFoodandWineFest.com.

Also see:

Top 5 reasons to visit Orlando's Downtown Food & Wine Fest