Thursday, November 28, 2013
It’s official… I have a new favorite place. I have been there about ten times already (and I believe they have only been open here in Orlando for about six months).
It is a fantastic place to take people from out of town or any Foodie in general. I have introduced several different people to it and they have all enjoyed it very much.
Ladies and Gentlemen…. Santiago’s Bodega!
Santiago’s Bodega has been a staple of Key West for many years, and now they have expanded to Orlando on Virginia Ave right off of Mills. The ornately beautiful and eclectic décor is housed where Logan’s Bistro use to be, but also in the space next door…. So it is quite spacious! They offer a Dining room, a Bar with high top tables and booth seating, and if the weather is nice you can also dine outdoors.
The food is Tapas style, meaning that the portions are small and the idea is to order several things and then share. Each item runs around $10. The Salads are quite large and could serve up to four people, but the other plates usually serve two or three. All of the servers that I have had have been outstanding and helpful, and the plates are all made in house with the freshest ingredients and all pack in a ton of flavor in every bite. The plates are brought to your table when they are ready, so expect for staggered service.
Another thing that I LOVE about Santiago’s is that they are open until 2am every night! Finally Orlando has another Late Night option other then IHOP or Waffle House!
All this being said I have been saving these photos for quite some time now and feel like I finally have enough to write this review. With each photo I will list what it is and what my thoughts were on that particular dish! Enjoy the food porn!
croquettas – cayenne spiced and pan-fried patties of potatoes with ground prosciutto, provolone cheese and scallion cream $8.5
Love them! Super tasty and crowd pleasing!
saganaki – haloumi cheese sprinkled with oregano and flambéed with brandy, served with pita bread $12
Not only is it delicious, but the portion is substantial… as well as the way they present the dish is pretty cool!
pinchos morunos – spicy skewers of pork tenderloin with apple chutney $9
I was skeptical and probably wouldn’t have ordered these on my own, but my friends really wanted them and I was blown away by how good the flavor was! I could eat them all day!
bacon and basil wrapped mushrooms – with basil aioli $8
I’m certainly not going to say these were bad, but they were not my favorite. I did not love the sauce.
miniature quesadillas – pan-grilled with cheddar and jack cheeses, fruit salsa, fresh mango, and cilantro $7.5
These little guys are so cute! I just love them. Love the crispy cheese on the griddle!
tartlet – sautéed bell peppers, onions, garlic, and herbs de provence atop creamy goat cheese $8
I was expecting more by the description and was a little let down, not enough Goat Cheese!
puff pastry – stuffed with chopped portobellos, onions, and fresh thyme with béarnaise sauce $7
Now you’re talking! Yummy!
roman meatballs –with a nest of angel hair pasta $9
Just a touch on the dry side, but have a great flavor and not a bad portion size either
dates – stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped with prosciutto $10
This is one of my two most favoritest (Yes, I know that’s not a real word) dishes!
Also one of the dishes that I try to insist on even if someone thinks they don’t like Dates! They are simple… a Date, stuffed with Goat Cheese, wrapped in Prosciutto grilled and served on a toothpick… however the taste is out of this world! Sweet, Salty, Creamy…. I feel like this is the perfect bite!!!
avocado and pear- mixed greens tossed in a creamy parmesan dressing, topped with toasted pine nuts $12
A great flavor combination and good to the last bite
the wedge – iceberg, blue cheese dressing, bacon and tomato slices $9
Another great, crowd pleasing Salad
camembert wedge - topped with sautéed garlic, onions, almonds, apricots, and red bell peppers with crostini $8
This one had a great presentation but there was not enough cheese for me, doubt I would order this one again.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts – pan roasted, toasted pine nuts, aged balsamic parmesan
This is my other absolute favorite dish, and if someone thinks they don’t like Brussels Sprouts they should definitely try these first. What a fantastic, flavorful way to serve them (and they reheat well too the next day)
Another pretty cool thing that Santiago’s does is during the day for lunch sometimes they offer a “Tasting Tray” which will have an even smaller portion of three different Tapas. This is a great way for someone that is dining alone to enjoy several things for a lower price (around $12)
Now their signature Dessert is the Bread Pudding (Baked with fresh croissants and drizzled with a caramel bourbon glaze then finished with a scoop of English Custard Ice Cream and fresh berries). I can certainly see why this is the crowd favorite because it truly is delicious and decadent.
However my personal favorite is Crepes (Chocolate and Walnut filled Crepes dusted with Powdered Sugar, served with Strawberries and Fresh Whipped Cream). Just the right amount of Chocolate and easy to share.
So I encourage each and every one of you to try Santiago’s Bodega. Obviously there are some items that I have enjoyed more then others, but I invite you to try a few and formulate your own opinions. There are plenty to choose from. I definitely think you will enjoy the experience as well as you will have the feeling of trying something a little bit different then the same old places that you normally go!
Posted by d at 1:34 AM
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Seasons 52 is a national chain (Darden)
I’ve been to both Orlando-area locations but I prefer the Altamonte one because it seems to be a little less crowded
They are called Seasons 52 because not only do they have a menu that changes each season (four times a year), but they also have specials that change weekly (hence the 52)
Their claim to fame is “Seasonally inspired cooking with every item less than 475 calories”
With everyone being diet-conscience these days, this seems like a pretty smart concept.
The atmosphere is casual and there can be a wait at peak times
I dine there around once a year (or every other year)
For the most part I enjoy it
I think their Flatbreads are usually pretty good
I once had a Buffalo Burger and Fries that I thought was awful and overpriced
(won’t order that again)
The Dessert Shooters they offer are pretty awesome
However in all of my experiences at Seasons 52 I have never had anything as satisfying and delicious as the Vegetarian Tasting that I had on my last visit.
Quinoa-Citrus Salad, Soft Taco, Chili Relleno, Vegetables, Cedar Roasted Tofu, Mango Chutney $13.95
Some of the items were things I never would have expected to enjoy but they all had great flavor and were extremely fresh
Every bite was beautiful and not one piece of food was left on my plate
Overall I do like the place, more then once a year for me would be too much though
I have known a couple of people that are servers and like working there
Posted by d at 1:20 PM
Monday, November 25, 2013
I have had three experiences with Ethiopian Food in my life. The first was in New York City about ten years ago with a group of about six people. I didn’t know what to expect and although I thought it was an interesting experience all I remember is sitting on the floor and eating this food that was way too hot for me (so hot in fact that I really couldn’t enjoy any of it, and there was not enough water in the world to cool me down).
The second time was at Nile over three years ago at their old location (the new location is next door in a much larger space, and the old location is now a Hookah Bar). That experience was a little more heat-tolerable, but some of the dishes were more enjoyable to me then others, and some of the meat dishes were strange to me and still a little on the hot side.
Now fast forward to 2013 for my return to Nile, where I truly fell in love with Ethiopian Cuisine!
First off I was really impressed with the look and décor of this new location.
It sits off of International Drive just behind Buffalo Wild Wings, not visible from the road so you definitely have to look for it.
Nile opens at 5pm during the week and we were the first ones to arrive.
I had previously looked at the menu and knew that we were going to order the Taste of Nile Vegetarian Special for Two. (Portions of Cabbage, Red Lentil, Split Peas, Collard Greens, Shiro, Azifa and Tomato Fitfit $29.95)
Now as you look at this picture please note that the dish is probably 18-20 inches across, so it is actually quite large and holds a lot of food.
So for those of you who still haven’t experienced Ethiopian food it goes a little something like this. It is generally a large plate with one or several types of food which could be compared to a Stew or Curry. There are no utensils, but you are served Injera (a yeast-risen flatbread with a unique, spongy texture), which you tear into pieces to pick up and eat your food with.
The whole process can be a little weird at first, but once you get use to it you might be surprised how much you enjoy it.
On our platter were ten different vegetarian dishes, and I can honestly say that I loved eight of them (the other two were flavored with Mustard Seed and that is not one of my favorites), however that is the nice thing about getting these platters, you get to try several different things. I especially liked the flavors of the Green Bean dish and a couple of the Lentil dishes, perfectly seasoned with really nice spice combinations (plus I just think eating in this bohemian manner is kind of fun).
As you can see from the last photo we didn’t have any trouble finishing our food.
If you are looking to try something a little “out of the norm” Nile will make a unique and satisfying experience. The staff is great and the food is something you will not forget (and very affordable), so step out of your comfort zone for an evening and give them a try.
Posted by d at 9:19 PM
Monday, October 28, 2013
My final stop of the “Dive Bar tour of Atlanta” was at The Highlander.
Indoor and Outdoor seating, local Art for sale, Pool Tables and an extensive Menu for “Bar Food”.
As we bellied up to yet another bar we started by ordering the Pasta-Rella Sticks (5 Mozzarella Sticks wrapped in Pasta and Deep-Fried, served with a side of Marinara $7.95)
Jesus these were good! The Pasta Wrapper made for a crispy-crunchy shell for the Oooey Gooey Mozzarella and the thick and chunky Marinara was really tasty as well.
Then for my entrée I went with a Burger, the Caprese Burger in fact. (Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Tomato, Fresh Basil with a drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar and EVOO $8.95)
I ordered it with a Falafel Patty and for my side I had Corn Fritters.
Shortly after ordering I was told that they were out of falafel and so I switched to a Veggie Patty.
It still tasted pretty good (although I am still a little upset there was no Falafel Patty – I bet that would have been amazing). Not the best Veggie Burger but still decent, and the Corn Fritters were OK as well.
Overall I think I enjoyed my appetizer better then my entrée but the prices at the Highlander are good, the drinks have a nice pour, and I see why my friends go there as often as they do.
Posted by d at 3:56 PM