Tuesday, December 16, 2014

El Paso - Tampa

My friend and I love going to Mexican restaurants and are always looking to find one that is new to us. Well she recently introduced me to one of her favorite “new” places called El Paso in Tampa.

On a side note she pointed out that the logo on the door was practically a direct rip off from the “Old El Paso” brand of salsa. I thought it was kind of funny.

The interior was quite cute and spacious, and the server was friendly and efficient.

Like most Mexican restaurants they brought out complimentary chips and salsa, and it was pretty good with a slight kick.

We both opted for what the menu called “Super Lunch”
A little bit of everything: 1 Taco, 1 Burrito, 1 Enchilada, 1 Quesadilla. Served with Beans and Rice. $8.75
It was delivered quickly and was very satisfying. Nothing on the plate was amazing by any means, but it was all quite good and the quality of the ground beef was above average.

I would have no problem going to El Paso again.
In fact I think I would enjoy it.

El Paso on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 12, 2014

Southern Moon

I have been seeing reviews for Southern Moon Smokehouse and figured that it was something that I needed to try. When I looked it up on line I realized that Southern Moon has taken over the residence of the BBQ joint that use to be there (went out of business) next to the Winn Dixie on Curry Ford.
My friend that joined me at the last incarnation of this building joined me again for this one to see if and how things have changed.

The décor was pretty much the same, and I must say that I think the layout of the building is a little strange. The environment seems a little stale and the place is so big that it doesn’t seem to be very busy. (Please let the food be good)
My understanding is that they had a local food truck business and this is them branching out and opening their own restaurant. (Not sure of any specifics)
The server and the guy (who I’m assuming is the owner) that seated us were both extremely nice.

As we looked over the menu we noticed that BBQ-wise you just ordered your meat by the pound. We saw several appetizers and sides that caught our eye and decided to just order a few things a la carte.
We started with Fried Green Tomatoes and Pork Skin Nachos.

The Fried Green Tomatoes (6 corn meal battered and crispy fried juicy green tomatoes served with horseradish bama sauce $5.99) were rather hearty. Not being a fan of horseradish I didn’t care for the sauce. I did like the crispness and the quantity and had they been slightly more seasoned they would have been just about the best fried green tomatoes I have ever had.

However the Pork Skin Nachos (pork skin nachos with house cheese sauce, brisket, chili, sour cream, cilantro and jalapeno $8.99) were definitely the winner of the “Favorite Appetizer” award. This was an interesting concept to both of us using the fried pork skins as the tortilla (making it carb free LOL) and the flavors of the meat and cheese sauce were really satisfying and filling.

Knowing we would probably be full from the appetizers we just ordered a couple of sides and then a dessert to share rather then ordering big plates.
2 Potato Fries (sweet and beer battered yukon gold waffle fries served with out house balsamic ketchup $3.99)
The fries themselves were ok (but nothing special) but unfortunately neither of us liked the balsamic ketchup. We thought it had too much balsamic and we wished we could have just had regular ketchup instead.

Mac & Cheese (elbow macaroni tossed with our 4 cheese blend cheese sauce, topped with our house seasoning $3.99)
Loved the fact that it was served in it’s own cast iron skillet, but the flavor was not that great (a little on the bland side). This being said I am probably just a Mac & Cheese snob and it is one of my favorite things in the world, so this one was just a little underwhelming to me.

And finally the Seasonal Bread Pudding (country loaf baked in custard, ask you server about tonight’s flavor $5.99)
Either we didn’t ask about the flavor, or else I can’t remember what it was.
What I do remember was that the portion was large and it was neither good nor bad. By this point in our meal we really didn’t need anything else, and it was not memorable enough for us to order it again.

I am anxious to see if Southern Moon can break the curse of this building and be a success. The service is good and the appetizers were great. I’m not sure if this is the best location for traffic. Hopefully they will have good marketing and can get the customers to come in because I would really like to see them succeed.

Southern Moon on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Peking Duck House - New York City

We decided to head to Chinatown for a late lunch and a little shopping.
We messaged our friend who was familiar with the area and the cuisine and she said we should absolutely go to Peking Duck House.
Although there is nothing but a flag with the name and logo from the outside, it has been there since 1978 and has great reviews.

The interior is simple and elegant.
We were lucky to arrive at an off time because from what I hear there can be quite a long wait.

We were seated immediately and hot tea was brought out while we looked over the menu.

We started with two appetizers.
Chopped Duck Meat with Pine Nuts served on a bed of fresh lettuce ($12.50)
The menu description did not do this dish justice. It was served in a lettuce wrap style and came with an amazing sauce. The portion was also quite large.

We also had an order of Scallion Pancakes ($4)
These were unlike anything I had ever ordered. This was also a large portion, and rather then what we think of a pancake this was actually more like a doughnut. It was super crispy on the outside and doughy (and scalliony) in the center. Also completed with a nice sauce I really loved them.

For his entrée my friend ordered the Crispy Duck ($17.50)
It was served with buns and he was very happy with his choice.

I ordered the Sesame Chicken ($16.50) and couldn’t have been more pleased with my choice.
Although I realize that Sesame Chicken is kind of standard and generic, this is what I was craving. It was probably the freshest, most flavorful version of this dish that I have ever had (and it’s going to make the cheap Chinese-Buffet sesame chicken that I am use to completely unacceptable). LOL

As you can see from this photo we ate just about everything and left completely satisfied.

Our bill (with 2 drinks) was just over $60, which we thought was extremely reasonable for the quality and quantity that they serve.
Peking Duck House = Delicious!

Peking Duck House on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Kashmir - New York City

Pakistani food that is open until 4 or 5 in the morning…. Yes, Please!
Right around the corner from the hotel we were staying at we noticed Kashmir (and their neon sign that reads “Nice and Spicey”) and immediately knew that we would be trying it at some point.

We actually enjoyed it so much that we ordered it to go on two separate occasions.
They offer a wide variety of meat and vegetarian dishes, with large portions at an inexpensive price.

For those of you that don’t know what Pakistani food is, it is very similar to Indian cuisine.

Everything we ordered packed quite a punch so definitely expect a lot (and I mean a lot) of spice.

The Samosas and the Baklava that we ordered as side items were also very good.

Highly recommended.
You get a lot of bang for your buck, and I promise you that it will not be lacking in flavor.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

44 SW Ristorante & Bar - New York City

While walking back to our hotel we were heading down 9th and were just going to eat at the first place that really caught our eye.
We had no particular type of cuisine in mind however as we passed 44 SW Ristorante and Bar the hostess walked up to us on the street and told us that they were family owned and had been open for 43 years.
After a quick glance over the menu we decided that with this longevity they must be doing something right and decided to give them a try.

After being seated in the charming dining area they brought out a basket of fresh bread while we perused the menu.

We decided to start with two appetizers.
The fresh Bufala Mozzarella (roasted peppers, roma tomatoes and fresh basil $15)

And Minature Fried Ravoli (filled with ricotta & spinach with pesto $11)

Both appetizers were quite good and by this point we knew we were in the real deal.
My friend ordered the Chicken 44.
(sliced chicken, goat cheese, spinach, mushrooms in garlic & oil, penne $20)
It looked delicious and he was very happy with it.

I didn’t want a pasta dish because I felt the need for something a little lighter so I decided on the Chick and Apple Salad.
(goat cheese and walnuts &17)

Wow this was a good salad!
First of all I couldn’t believe the generous amount of perfectly grilled chicken that was on it. The flavors of the apple, goat cheese and walnuts combined with the dressing was outstanding, and I feel like this is one of the most satisfying salads I have ever eaten in my whole life.

However just as we were really starting to enjoy our meals it happened.
Directly behind us at the bar (pictured in the floral shirt) this “know it all” type guy (who was obviously trying to impress the two ladies who were seated next to him) was talking so loud (and being obnoxious) that it started to ruin our experience.
He was overbearing and completely ruined our dining experience, so we quickly got our check and couldn’t wait to get out of there.
(I wouldn’t normally mention this type of thing in a restaurant review, but it did affect our experience so I thought I should mention it)

Even with the annoying man we still really enjoyed our food and thought that it was a great restaurant. I would definitely return, and think you should give it a try.

44 SW Ristorante & Bar on Urbanspoon