Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Sun Shoppe Cafe

Friday lunch, I joined the boys. For probably close to three years now, Friday lunches at various places in Melbourne have been a "thing" which started off mainly focused around Mustard's Last Stand (yes, I LOVE the pun!). They've expanded, and I've been many times. This week, the fare was The Sun Shoppe Cafe, which has a false reputation as being a coffee shop, even though they have breakfast-all-day and lunch menus as well. They're in downtown, across the street from Salsas (which sucks). There were seven of us, and at least three or four ordered the spicy tuna melt (myself included). It's a good sandwich, although I sub out the grilled rye for grilled pumpernickel and skip the sprouts (I'll never understand why people think they go with tuna!). The interesting things about the meals are that a) they serve you a sliver of pickle instead of a spear, so you get something similar to a Vlasic Stacker (LoL), and you get tortilla chips instead of potato chips (which are awkward to eat by themselves). Everyone enjoyed their meals, and we all tried a piece of Bryan's blueberry scone, which is one of the best I've had (too bad they don't have more flavors!).

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Olive Garden

So the new Olive Garden commercials have been calling my name, and since BK, Tori, and I are all fans of the place, we met at the one in Vero on Wednesday night for dinner.

We actually all arrived within five minutes, which is pretty good. We spent rather an obscene amount of time deciding what to order (and by 'we' I mean them, since I was ordering the commercial's entree, LoL). The wine that they offer you to try was actually decent (I usually dislike their choices). I should have paid more attention, but I know it was a Zinfandel of some sort, and that Tori did not care for it.

They had the salad, but as I had salad for the bulk of last week, I opted for the chicken and gnocchi soup, which I've been meaning to try. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and would recommend it. The breadsticks were about par, and the entrees took a fair bit of time to arrive. However, when they came out, the server mentioned that BK's chicken was too small and that the chef was preparing another piece (he had ordered the stuffed chicken marsala with mashed potatoes). Tori got the chicken parmigiana, which came with the least amount of sauce ever, so she had to ask for more. She enjoyed the chicken quite a bit, tho. My lasagna rollatini with chicken was excellent. I was a bit hungry so I wanted to dive into it too fast, and of course burned by tongue in the process. But I enjoyed it and took home some. However, I don't understand the pricing. It was about $14, but to get it with sausage instead of chicken, it would have been $10. I'm not sure why chicken is so much more than sausage these days, but it's not the biggest deal. Olive Garden has raised their prices in general over the past year, which is kinda sad, since it makes Carrabba's much more appealing, LoL.

While we were finishing up nibbling on our dinners, the server came out with an entire new entree for BK. So apparently it ended up being a BOGO situation, and he would have dinner for the next night as well, LoL.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Auntie Anne's

My best friend and I were spending the day in Orlando.This included trying out the newest thing at Auntie Anne's. In case you haven't been lately, they now have a Pepperoni Pretzel, which is a typical pretzel covered in cheese and pepperoni slices. It's a hair more expensive than the other varieties ($3.09 before tax), but worth it. It tastes just like you'd imagine, LoL.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Al Capone

I was in Florida by myself for a couple weeks, so I was able to see some friends and go some neat places. Tori, BK, and I went to Kissimmee to see Al Capone's Dinner & Show. We were originally planning to see something different, but with 50% off coupons, this show won out. It wasn't ideally managed, but it was a darn good time. When you purchase your tickets, you're told that when you go to enter, you need to knock three times and give a password (which actually varies slightly from group to group, since I'm an eavesdropper...). After doing so, a little window in the door was slid open, and a woman peeked through (we're set in Prohibition-era Chicago, by the way), taking our ticket. The door opened, and mug shots were taken before we were led to our table (from which we had an excellent view of the stage). Weasel, our server, took our drink orders (soft drinks, coffee, wine, beer, and several cocktails are included in ticket price) and let us know about the buffet set-up. The buffet was vast, and I'd recommend the lasagna and the breadsticks. Steer clear of the pasta salad and the fettuccine, as I didn't like the alfredo and Tori didn't like the marinara. The ham was sweet, the turkey was dry, the pot roast was good with the mashed potatoes, and the macaroni and cheese was decent. The lemon cake that was served later was average. The show itself was pretty entertaining. The cast was four females and two males, and the first act was far more humorous than the second. The jokes are pretty much your standard for dinner theatre, although there is a good bit of improv in the second act. I won't spoil the plot for you, but I will say that the resolution is a bit cheesy.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Palace Cafe

I headed toward Arnaud's Remoulade for lunch (recommended by two sources for lunch) but ran into the person I sat next to in the panel that I abandoned. Turns out that the chair did show up during the second paper, so I could have stayed. She was presenting at the next session, so wanted to eat at a nearby place for lunch (Palace Cafe), and was enjoying a pecan-crusted fish. I joined her, and ordered the Pasta St. Charles, which was shrimp and andouille sausage with penne, Creole-mustard cream sauce, with a crawfish and cheeses on top. It was a little heavy, but since I was flying later I decided to go ahead with it. It was fantastic, and I couldn't finish it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Arby's for a Quick Bite

It was a couple hours after I presented, and I just wanted to veg, so I grabbed Arby's and headed to the hotel. I did stray from my usual, and went with the roasted chicken club (pretty good, needs honey mustard tho) and the mandarin peach tea (which was too sweet, I nursed it for about four hours and never finished it).

Felix's Restaurant and Oyster Bar

Another day, I went to Felix's Restaurant and Oyster Bar for lunch, which was recommended in the paper I got from the last session on Wednesday night. I felt bad taking a 4-person table, but all the 2-person tables were full, and I didn't want to sit at the counter. The server was friendly and prompt. I ordered a half shrimp po'boy and jambalaya. The jambalaya was about average, nothing too special. The po'boy was fairly standard as well. Problematically, the tartar was clumpy in a container on the table, so I didn't use any. This left my sandwich rather dry (since I got it "no mayo"), but still good. It was a hair expensive for lunch (it ran $14 with tip), but it's a famous place that I hadn't been to, so I deemed it worth it.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cafe Beignet

The next day, I went for lunch at Cafe Beignet on Bourbon. I'd been there before (for breakfast) during one of my previous trips to New Orleans. This time, I ordered the Bourbon Croissant, which was tuna, bacon, and white cheddar on a croissant with tomatoes and pickles. It came fairly quickly, and as I enjoyed the courtyard and took a few pics (but not many, since we already have pics of the jazz figures and fountain), I enjoyed the meal. There were a few pieces of hard-boiled egg in the tuna, but they were large enough to pick out without a problem.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cafe Fleur de Lis

I was in New Orleans by myself for a few days at a conference, and ate at a few places while I was in town. The first session, on a Wednesday, started at 12:30. This gave me a chance to go to the Quarter to grab lunch. Now, there's this amazing little po'boy place near the Marriott. A couple colleagues and I went there several times when we were in New Orleans for ATHE (2007), but I couldn't find it for the life of me this time. I think it might have closed, since I walked a good deal of the area in which it should have been. Anyways, I ended up at Cafe Fleur de Lis on Chartres, which ended up being a great find. I ordered a ham-egg-cheese bagel, since breakfast is what they were known for, and it was only $6. It was quite good, although the bagel was a little dry and the sandwich as a whole was a bit greasy.

Monday, April 13, 2009


We headed into downtown Napa for tapas. Intriguingly, Zuzu was set-up like a Spanish place, had Spanish decorations and Spanish words, but the food was Mediterranean. And overpriced. And not that great. We got three dishes and called it a day. Jonathan ordered an olive plate (which had like six types of olives), and I ordered an onion soup with goat cheese. We shared queso frito, which is pan-fried manchego cheese with poblano chiles (which was the horribly overpriced item when you only get two pieces). We also shared a glass of a dessert wine, which was even too sweet for me, so it was disappointing. Overall, the entire experience was disappointing.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Snacks in Napa Valley

We had a spur-of-the-moment afternoon snack at Taylor's Refresher after visiting Napa Valley. The place had a really local feel to it, and although it was early for a Friday dinner, the place was rather packed with families (at backyard picnic tables on lush grass). Families all in polos or nicer, which was amusing. We shared a cheeseburger (toasted egg bun!), garlic-butter fries, and spicy tomato soup. Well, the burger was good. Tasty. Fresh. The fries were decent, had a good flavor and texture. The soup failed a little bit... it was very thick, almost like a spaghetti sauce. The spice was there, but not too apparent. We ended up taking it home and eating it the next day as a snack, with matza (which I've been snacking on a lot lately, since it's "season" for it, LoL) and crackers.

We would gladly go back for full meals sometime, since it was delicious.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mongolian BBQ

Another Thursday night, another opportunity to get together with some friends. Jim, Vivien, Andy, JB, and I headed downtown for some Mongolian. There's a place called New Mongolian BBQ that we've been meaning to try since we first saw it. In the front window you can see the cook creating meals on a huge hot stone with a point sword, and it looks awesome. But, let's start from the beginning.

We enter, they quickly seat us, and they bring out 5 small bowls of soup, a platter of sesame dough sticks, a pot of rice, and glasses of water. The dough sticks weren't very good, as they were kinda.... unleavened, for lack of a better word. The soup was egg-drop-ish with carrots and tofu. I enjoyed the temperature at which it was served, but otherwise it was kinda "eh." At some point, a pitcher of water also appeared at the table, which allowed us to refill our (small) glasses whenever we needed. There was a station where you could get eggrolls, which were good but kinda hollow... as in 60% of the eggroll was the wrapping.

We headed up to the buffet line, where you put ingredients into a bowl and then give it to the cook to stir-fry, so-to-speak. There was beef, lamb, pork, tofu, and chicken. There were noodles. Broccoli, baby corn, cucumbers, pineapple, cilantro, green onions, onions, green peppers, celery, and probably some other things came next. Finally, you added on your sauces.

There were 7 or 8 different ones, and there were "recipes" on the wall to indicate how to mix them to create the "original," "chef's choice," and "spicy" combinations. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in creating a good "spicy." I made the "chef's choice" on my first run, while several others tried "original" and Andy tried making a double batch of "chef's choice." Neither Andy nor I even tasted a sauce, which was strange when you consider how much minced garlic went into the mix. We chatted about why nothing was spicy, and before you knew it we were on our second trip up. JB was able to create a good mix, but he had very few vegetables on his plate, so I think the meat just soaked up the spice. Jim and I ended up with "barely taste it" mixes (I added chili oil to mine, he added chili sauce). It turned out to be a good thing that there was a pitcher of water on the table, as I had to add soy sauce to both my dishes in order to make them tasty, and then they were rather salty, LoL.

After you pick up your cooked meal, you can add garlic powder or sesame seeds (garlic powder helped a lot with the bland flavor). Oh, and there was also a soft-serve machine (vanilla only), which was a nice touch. To review, you got a meal cooked to order, plus ice cream, eggrolls, sesame dough, soup, and rice, all for just $9.99/person. It's a good deal for the money, but could be a lot better if someone could figure out a good mixture of sauces. I'm thinking maybe a teriyaki-barbecue combo could be good...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Food at California's Great America

We were at California's Great America for Jonathan's company's Family Day. 9,000 employees and families were there, so they staggered lunches in two different locations. We were fortunate that we arrived to eat right when a couple of our friends were leaving, since we were able to eat at their table. This was great, since it was rather crowded. It was typical picnic food - hot dogs, bbq chicken, ziti, potato salad, salad, rolls. Coke fountains provided refreshing beverages, and there were ice cream sandwiches and push pops for dessert. The chicken was actually quite delicious (the sauce was good and thick). 

Later in the day, we met up with a group of friends for a few rides, then headed over to the "New Orleans" section of the park. No idea how that fits in with anything else (the other areas are Nickelodeon, Action Zone, All American Corners, County Fair, Kidzville, and Celebration Plaza), but they had funnel cake over there, and three were purchased. JB and I only had a couple bites, mostly because I was curious as to how whipped cream, strawberries, and apples tasted, as my previous experiences are only powdered sugar. Well, they tasted like a fancy french toast dish at IHOP, but the funnel cake itself was the greasiest I'd ever had.