Sunday, August 24, 2014

Maoz Vegetarian



I was excited to hear that the Millenia Mall was getting a Vegetarian Restaurant in their Food Court. I was even more excited to find out that it was going to be a Maoz, which I had heard of in New York City. They specialize in Falafel Sandwiches, Fries (Regular and Sweet Potato) and Salads.
I was also excited to get a notification that there was a Groupon that included 2 $10 vouchers for about $11, so not only was I saving almost 50% but I would also get to enjoy them twice!




So the way it works is first you pick either a Sandwich or a Salad, then they carry it down the line and you can add whatever toppings (Chickpeas, Beets, Tomato/Cucumber Salad, etc) and Sauces (Yogurt Sauce, Tahini Sauce, Garlic Sauce, etc).




My first visit I decided to start with the basics and get a Falafel Sandwich and a side of ½ Regular Fries and ½ Sweet Potato Fries. They asked what toppings I wanted on my sandwich and unsure of myself I added tomato/cucumber salad and roasted broccoli and cauliflower. I also got a couple containers of Tahini Sauce to drizzle over it.




Although the taste was pretty good it was difficult to eat and very messy. I knew that on my next visit I would get a Falafel Salad instead because not only would it be less messy I also felt that you might get more that way.

The Fries were worthless to me. Not crispy at all, and very little flavor. Blah!




My second visit I indeed ordered a Falafel Salad, and this time I did it up right. I added Tabouli, Tomato/Cucumber Salad, Chickpea Salad, Beets and then had them add Tahini Sauce.




This was more like it – all of the flavors that I had liked the first time, and with it being a Salad I definitely felt like the portion was larger.



I also got a side of their Rice Pudding and it was really rich and creamy.



Maoz Vegetarian is slightly pricey, but so is everything in the Food Court so it really falls in line with all of it’s competition. Getting a Falafel Salad is the way to go. I try to avoid Malls, but at least now I know that if I have to be there then I do have somewhere that I can get something decent to eat!

Maoz Vegetarian on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Noodles & Company



My friend wanted to try Noodles & Company, which had recently opened in the Restaurant Row area of Sand Lake Drive. We went there for an early mid-week dinner and were pleased to find that it wasn’t too crowded.



Although I must admit that I was a little overwhelmed with the menu posted on the wall it didn’t take me long to decide on something.



This is a fast-casual restaurant where you order and pay at the counter then it is brought to your table when it is ready.



I decided on the Wisconsin Mac & Cheese (A classic blend of cheddar and jack cheeses, cream and elbow macaroni – there #1 seller Regular Size $5.59), then for an additional $2.59 I topped it with Parmesan Crusted Chicken, and for just $1 more I added a cup of Tomato Basil Bisque (rich and zesty tomato soup with cream, sherry, fresh basil, garlic and Italian parsley).




Now on to the food….
I liked the presentation and the portion size of my Mac & Cheese as it was brought to the table. I took my first bite and thought to myself “Mehhhh”. Flavor-wise it was just average. I have been lucky enough to have had some really good Mac & Cheese in my day, so something that is just average isn’t good enough for me.
The Parmesan Crusted Chicken was also not what I expected. I thought it would be ‘Fried” with a Parmesan Crust, instead it was like a Grilled Chicken Breast that had a layer of Parmesan between the Chicken and the Grill. It was not bad, it was just not what I had expected.




Now the Tomato Soup….. It was rich in flavor and tasted amazing!
It would almost be worth going to Noodles & Company just for the Soup!




Now my friend had ordered the Bangkok Curry (Sweet coconut curry, broccoli, carrots, red bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, a light portion of rice noodles, served on cabbage with black sesame seeds) with Slow Braised Pork.
Now I had a bite of her dish and it was fantastic. The combination of all of the ingredients and the Pork itself were really magnificent.



Although I didn’t particularly care for the dish that I ordered, I do feel like Noodles & company is a nice place that offers a ton of possibilities to customize your own unique dish. Order carefully. I look forward to returning and trying something else!

Noodles & Company on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 15, 2014

Casa Tina



My friends from Tampa love Mexican Food (as do I) and on a recent trip to their house they decided to take me to a restaurant they had recently discovered in Dunedin called Casa Tina. They both swore by it and said that I was going to love it. They know me pretty well because indeed I did.
Located in charming downtown Dunedin, when you walk in to Casa Tina it seems as though it has been a favorite of locals for many years (In fact while we were at the hostess station waiting to be seated we noticed that Hulk Hogan and his family were dining there). The décor is eclectic and there is plenty to look at. I also must state that they have the most uncomfortable chairs I have ever sat in, so try to get a booth if possible.




As with most Mexican restaurants they brought out Chips and Salsa. The Salsa was very fresh and definitely packed a punch.




Then for an appetizer my friends ordered the Wild Mushroom Quesadillas Albanil ($9.95). When it arrived my initial thought was that they had brought out the wrong appetizer, but it was correct. Not looking like what you would expect of a Quesadilla and instead looking more like a Taco, however there were three of them and three of us so we each had one. They were really fresh and tasty.




Then for my entrée I had El Burrito (flour tortilla filled with rice, beans, choice of protein, topped with a mild chipotle salsa, cheese and sour cream $10.95).
This was also served with refried beans and rice. I chose Chicken for my protein, and I must say that it was indeed the right choice. I sometimes question the quality and cuts of Chicken used at certain restaurants, however this Burrito was filled with tender all-white meat and all of the accoutrement that was served with it was top notch as well.



If I found myself in that area again I would gladly return – I would just prefer a booth which would hopefully be a little more comfortable on the back.

Casa Tina on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 11, 2014

Middle East Market and Deli



Middle East Market and Deli has been family owned and operated for 17 years. It is located on Orange Blossom Trail across from the Florida Mall.
They do not offer much atmosphere, but they do offer fresh in-house-made Lebanese cuisine.
You order from the counter and then they let you know when it is ready.
Everything is served on paper plates with plastic forks so don’t expect anything too elegant.
Although the staff is very friendly they might forget some of the items you order and they often take their time preparing your food. This would be excusable if it was prepared fresh, however when you see them taking something out of the microwave it makes me wonder.



This being said, everything I have eaten there has been delicious.




Their Gyro and Shawarma is tender and full of flavor.




Their side items and Salads are also very good.
On my last visit there was an Eggplant and Chickpea dish that was really tasty.



The prices are a little high, but not outrageous.
Regardless of what you order you should plan to leave with a distinct flavor of Garlic, so be prepared.

Middle East Market & Deli on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Schumann's Jager Haus



So before a concert at the Arena we were downtown and came across Schumann’s Jager Haus. We love German food and decided to give this place a try. It is a very large space and it actually seemed more of a bar then a restaurant, however there were tons of tables so we grabbed a seat and checked out the menu.




We started off with appetizers.
First we agreed on Kartoffelpuffer (Potato Pancakes, Sour Cream, Apple Sauce &5).
These were enormous. This is one of my favorite go-to German restaurant appetizers, however I was not really impressed. They were so large that there was no crispiness to them and they were kind of doughy in the center. Unfortunately not even the Sour Cream or Apple Sauce could save them.




Next out was Bavarian Brezeln (Large Soft Pretzel with Dragons Breath Pilsner Fondue $9). Now once you dipped this Pretzel in the Cheese Fondue it actually had quite a nice flavor to it, however the serving size was way too small for the price, and there was way too much Fondue for just one Pretzel. Had there been two Pretzels it would have been well worth it because the flavor really was good.



Then for our entrees we had both the Jager Schnitzel
(Chicken Cutlet with Mushroom Demi-Glaze, Green Beans and Mashed Potatoes $15)




and the Schnitzel Cordon Blue
(Chicken Cutlet, Black Forest Ham, Gruyere, Green Beans and Mashed Potatoes $16).



Both Schnitzels were just OK. The Sides were bland, the Cutlets could have used a little more seasoning but both Sauces were pretty good.
Overall Schumann’s was underwhelming. It is a very large place and I know the rent can’t be cheap so I am curious to see how long they can make it. I have no reason to go back.

Schumann's Jäger Haus on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Khasiyat



Oh My God – I love Indian Cuisine, but sometimes I’m not quite sure about the Meat in certain dishes so when I know that it is Vegetarian the only thing I have to question is “Will it be too Spicy for me?”
When it is a Vegetarian Buffet then I am in pure heaven because although there is certain to be a dish or two that pack too much heat for my palette, but I know there will be several that I really enjoy!
A place that I really enjoy is off of the beaten path on Lancaster Drive (between Orange Blossom Trail and Orange Avenue) called Khasiyat.
I feel like if you didn’t hear about it from someone that you would never go there because it is definitely not on any major street.
You wouldn’t think much of it by the looks of the outside, and although there are no frills to the décor it is larger then expected.




During the week they have a lunch buffet, and all of the dishes are flavor-packed and 100% Vegetarian.




What I like to do is get a tiny sampling of each dish, and then for my second trip fill the plate with my favorites.





They have many savory and a few sweet things to choose from, but the buffet has had slightly different items each time I have gone.




With each meal they bring out a Dosa, which is huge (Look at the photo and know that the paper plate it is served on is full size). It is a thin crepe rolled around a spiced mashed potato filling, and if you have never tried it you definitely should.


Highly recommended and you will definitely leave full.

Khasiyat on Urbanspoon