Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bikkuri Sushi - DJ

1915 E. Colonial Dr.
Orlando 32803

Today the question of lunch came up around 11:25, “where shall we go?” DT suggested Bikkuri Sushi so off we went in the mini. Bikkuri which means to be surprised, to be amazed, or to be frightened, occupies a small store front on East Colonial. The restaurant has about 5 tables. The chairs are amazing heavy they must be made out of cast iron. The restroom had a frightening looking add on bidet attached to the toilet.

The menu items are displayed in large picture format on the wall beside the counter where you place your order. I choose the Golden Chicken Curry and a Garlic Sushi Roll.

The curry was served in a bowl with a scoop of white rice in the center. The curry was golden brown in color it had broccoli, carrots, and chicken pieces. The carrots where crisp, the broccoli was slightly over cooked, the chicken was just right. The curry sauce was mild and did not over power the taste of the other ingredients.

The garlic sushi roll had crunchy bits of fried garlic that were surprisingly strong in flavor. The flavor was so strong that I basically could not taste anything else. I thought that the rice was mushier than most sushi rice that I have had, and I did not have the taste of vinegar that most sushi has.

Rating: **
Service: ***
Price- Curry/Sushi roll: $9.25

What others are saying:
Orlando Weekly
City Beat

Bikkuri - DT

“I’m telling you the sushi is cheap.” My friends all laugh, “Are you sure you want to eat raw, discounted fish?” Hmm. I personally have never been ill from eating sushi so I still have sushibravado (the opposite of sushihumility). My Japanese friend taught me a new Japanese word the other day, sakoi - (loosely translated) Bring it! Put your pectorals away, the food here is quite good. I have been here once before and they serve other dishes as well. My friends can attest to the Teriyaki Beef with Vegetables and the Golden Curry with Chicken. Both are served in a bowl with rice and carrots and broccoli. They report overall taste and quantity were very positive. Today I had the lunch special, your choice of two maki rolls. The choices are mundane: California, Philly, Spicy Tuna, Eel or Vegetable. I chose the Cali and Philly while my friend opted the Eel and Spicy Tuna. We chose to eat half then swap so we were each able to sample four different rolls. Each roll is eight pieces so sixteen pieces was plenty for lunch. The ingredients were fresh, the fish was cold and not mushy and the seaweed was the seaweediest. DJ ordered a Garlic roll. Cucumber, cream cheese and crispy fried garlic. We think they should call it the Garlic Bomb. Tasty, but I do not recommend you eat this one all by itself and don’t let it be the last thing you eat before you leave. If you do, they serve Bubble Milk Tea for desert. I think I’ve made up enough words for the day. Lastly, don’t plan on having the office party here. They have a significant focus on take-out so seating is limited. Actual seating occupancy is around fourteen.
Bikkuri is located at 1915 E. Colonial Drive, about 3 blocks west of Bumby.

Quantity: good
Service: good
Atmosphere: take-out
Lunch special/water: $6.50

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sorrento’s - Jocelyne's - IL Pescatore by DJ

651 N Primrose Dr.
Orlando, FL 32803

IL Pescatore is a place that I have rediscovered in the last few months. We use to go to Sorrento’s once a week for the manicotti lunch special, our visits trailed off as the restaurant changed hands and became Jocelyne’s in 1995. The lunch specials ceased and so did our weekly visits. The restaurant became IL Pescatore in 2000. I suggested that we revisit about 6 months ago and I glade we did.

Last night I got my standard dish at Sorrento’s/ IL Pescatore the manicotti and a salad with the house dressing. The house salad comes to the table accompanied with fresh baked garlic bread. The house Italian dressing – oil and vinegar with crushed spices is excellent. This is the restaurant I hold as the standard for manicotti. I preferred it when the 2 manicotti’s came out in au gratin dishes straight from the oven, but they are just as good presented on a plate. The tomato sauce is tangy and the cheese has a crusty surface. Top it off with crushed red peppers and this is all you need for a great meal.

Another member in my party had the Baked Ziti which is a huge bowl full of ziti topped with sauce and cheese then baked, how can you go wrong. I looked back over at the plate in a few minutes and it was gone. It must have been good. Other members had Fettuccini Alfraido, Ravioli, Eggplant Parmesan, and Eggplant Rollatini. All seemed pleased.

It was my birthday so I was also presented with a small cannoli which left me wanting more. The evening with friends in an Italian family restaurant was most enjoyable.

Rating: ****
Service: ***
Cost Entrée/Water: $11.50

Other Reviews:
Orlando Weekly
Orlando Sentinel

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

PR’s Mexican Restaurant - DJ

499 W. Fairbanks Ave.
Winter Park, Florida

We went to PR’s today because I thought they could handle a big crowd (14) for lunch. We got everybody at the table, but two they set at the bar right next to our table. PR’s has been a Winter Park tradition for at least 25 years. It is the place to go for lunch on Fridays if you are in the mood for fajitas. The restaurant looks just the same as I remember it when I moved to Florida in 1982. It just has more graffiti and the bike made from copper tubing is missing from the wall there are TV’s in its place. The building still rattles when trains go by on the track a few feet from the corner of the building.

The food at PR’s has been pretty consistent since those early days. PR’s is Tex-Mex with lots of cheddar cheese. Today I had one of the combination lunch specials. I choose one Enchiladas, one taco and rice. I had chicken on both the enchilada and the hard taco. The chicken was all white meat which had been shredded. The enchilada was topped with a savory ranchero sauce and then capped with cheddar cheese that was melted under the salamander. A bed of lettuce was placed under the taco which kept it from becoming soggy with the juicy from the enchilada. The other end of the plate had rice which was topped with a red sauce as well. The presentation was nice. The meal was very good.

Vegetarians can eat well here too, as the list of filling include spinach, mushrooms, veggies, and guacamole.

The thing you have to remember at PR’s is don’t fill up on the chips and endless soda before your meal arrives. I’ve learned over the years to sit at the bar because your meal will arrive sooner and you aren’t as tempted to eat the whole bowl of chips.

Rating: ***
Service ***
Price: Combo/Soda $8.50

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Caffé Positano - DJ

3030 E. Semoran Blvd.
Apopka, FL 32703

I went with a group of friends to Caffé Positano over the weekend. It is located in a shopping plaza across Hwy 436 from Hunt Club Blvd. in Apopka. I have eaten at Caffé Postitano many times over the last fifteen years or so. I enjoyed most of the meals, some more that others. Today was a good day.

I chose the Manicotti. The meal began with a salad, with the house dressing on the side. The house dressing has always reminded me of “swill from Lake Eire” a reference from an old SNL episode with Bill Murray. The dressing has a thick consistence and has unknown items suspended in the mixture. Even with that said I like it. The manicotti was perfect today, the cheese inside was cooked but still firm to the fork. The sauce was excellent. The waiter topped the dish off with parmesan cheese which was pre-shredded; it added a nice nutty taste.

Our waiter Mike was funny as usual and quite entertaining. After I placed my order and the waiter had gone, I suddenly remember my last visit to Caffé Potitano. I had ordered manicotti on that occasion as well and it had been very bad. The ricotta cheese inside had been very bitter almost to the point of not being eatable. Someone else that day had the same thing but they thought theirs had been good. I should have sent mine back that day.

Today my experience was good at Caffé Postiano, leaving me with an “I want to go back there feeling”.

Rating: **
Service: *****
Price Meal/Water $9.25

Monday, August 20, 2007

AzTex Mexican Restaurant - DJ

745 Bennett Rd.
Orlando, FL 32803

I spotted an ad in the Orlando Weekly for the Aztex Restaurant while waiting for a table at the Thai House last weekend. A new place for us to try next week!

I could not remember where a restaurant could be located on Bennett Road, except for the possible location of a old strip club. Turns out it was called Club Quest. The transformation has not quite been completed. The outside has been repainted, but the inside still looks like a former bar.

The wait staff was friendly and efficient, the chips and salsa flowed from the bar. There were two kinds of salsa: red and salsa verdé. Both were good but the red sauce had a bit of a bitter taste at first.

I ordered the Enchilada Dinner – Chicken and Cheese. The plate came with rice, pinto beans and pico de giao. The rice and beans were both ok. The enchiladas were topped with cheddar cheese. The chunks of chicken inside were large and had a good flavor. The portion was way too large for lunch. I could not finish it. I guess I should have tried the Tacos or something a bit smaller.

The overall experience was a good one. Although I don’t think it will top Paco’s on my list.

Rating: **
Price- Dinner/water: $8.49

Aztex Mexican Restaurant - DT

Aztex Mexican Restaurant at 745 Bennett Road just north of Colonial is “Mexican food with heritage and pride”. The best part about being an amateur food critic has to be trying a new restaurant and liking it. I try to have no expectations before a visit to minimize any bias. The neat thing about Aztex…the décor actually lowers your expectations. I’d call it “Post naval station watering hole goes mexican”. While we waited for our meal, the chips and salsa kept coming. While I prefer my salsa chunky, they offered a tasty red pureé. After trying the red, our waitress offered us something a little more spicy. The green. You have to watch this stuff pour out of the pitcher to again, achieve the proper expectation for minimal bias. Don’t get me wrong. For lunch, this place rocks. The service was great. They treated us like we were the only ones there. OK maybe we were close to the only ones there but hey it’s Monday and they were very nice to us. I ordered the Chicken Chimi. This fried burrito contained chicken, refried beans and cheese, topped with the red sauce, more cheese and served with sour cream and chopped lettuce, tomato and onion. I always eat everything, except today. I thought it tasted great but the portion was big enough for me to take some home. In summary, the taste, portions, cook time service and value are all good. As far as the atmosphere, if you have been looking for that perfect combination of Freddie Fender, poker night and cervesa, I give Aztex a big thumbs up!

Service: Rocks
Fresh ingredients: Yes
Atmosphere: Plenty
Chips and a Chimi big enough for two: $8.49

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Mykonos - DJ

2401 W State Road 434
Longwood, FL 32779

My most recent visit to Mykonos was with a group of 8. There was a busy weekend lunch time crowd in the restaurant, but there was a table right up front for us. The service at Mykonos is always good, with a little European attitude which is always fun.

Today four of us shared a large Greek salad with potato salad and a side of grilled chicken. We also had a side of lima beans. This was plenty large enough for 4 people for lunch. The Greek salad at Mykonos is the best I’ve ever had. The salad has a large chunk of fete cheese on top, Kalamata olives, bell peppers, onion slices. The dressing is also just right. The potato salad underneath is also the best, it is creamy and delicious. The side of grilled chicken although small at $4.00 was cooked to perfection. The side of green lima beans had a lemony flavor that most of the side vegetables here have. The meal starts with delicious warm sourdough bread with an olive oil and feta dipping sauce. It is hard to keep from eating the entire loaf. We also get a side of pita bread.

Two other diners with our group had Gyro sandwiches which also looked good. One person had the Sea Bass special which was a large portion of fish covered with a tomato sauce that had onion, garlic and raisins, among other thinks. I had a taste and it was quite good.

The restaurant is decorated with blue accents and fishing accoutrement. There is an open kitchen that seems busy all the time. The restaurant has a friendly homey atmosphere. We spent about 2 hours enjoying our meal and talking afterwards. The Orlando Weekly called it “Worthy of gods” and I would agree.

Rating: ****
Service: *****
Price salad for four/water: $21:00

Friday, August 17, 2007

Thai House - DJ

2117 E. Colonial Drive
Orlando, Florida 32803

I have not been to the Thai House in many years, maybe as long as 5 years. We started going to the Thai Place out of convenience, and we liked Boone. Now that has moved to The Villages we are in desperate need of a good Thai meal. We went back to the Thai House on a Friday evening. Arriving around 7 PM. The restaurant was full. We had a short wait of ten minutes.

The building was as I remembered. It was nicely decorated with touches of Thai decor. The wait staff all had on Thai dress that was quite attractive. The prices on the menu had just gone up about a dollar an item, but this is as expected these days.

I ordered #34 Phad Khing – Ginger, mushrooms, onions, carrot, and celery stir fried with chicken. This was served with white Jasmine rice. It was delicious. The sauce was slightly sweet and smooth. The vegetables were sliced in long pieces and the chicken was thinly sliced but was not dried out. This was just as good as Boone’s. I remember now that when we first started going to Boones I still preferred Thai House, but Boones it was closer.

I’ll go back again next week for lunch and bring my camera for a photo. The luncheon menu has entrees for $6.50.

The readers of the Orlando Weekly voted the Thai House best Thai restaurant in Orlando 2007.

Service: ****
Rating: ****
Price Entree/water: $8.95

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cindy’s Tropical Café - DJ

“a taste that satisfies”
601 Virginia Drive
Orlando, FL 32803
7:30am - 4pm M-F
11:30am – 3:30pm Saturday

Cindy’s is a favorite place for Cuban food among our group. I get the turkey sandwich platter. It comes with a side of beans and rice. I usually get a Jupina (pineapple) drink. It was good as I would expect.

Cindy’s is located in a converted 50’s style house/store. It is located at the corner of Virginia and Baltimore in Orlando. They have not done much decorating but for a good Cuban meal this is the place to go. There is a TV in the back usually on ESPN and left over newspapers to read while you wait for your sandwich. The staff is friendly and service is prompt.

The meal is always enjoyable at Cindy’s.
Rating: ****
Price Sandwich platter/Soda: $8.75

Seito Japanese Restaurant - DT

Seito is located in beautiful Winter Park Village on the south side of the cinema. They also have a new location in Baldwin Park. Today I ordered the Chicken and Vegetable Tempura Bento. I like the bento lunches because you get a decent variety and quantity at a great price. The bento box was delivered promptly with Meso soup, a typical ginger salad, white rice, three beef dumplings, six pieces of California Roll and of course Tempura. The Meso soup was unimpressive. I actually didn’t finish it, and I finish everything. The simple ginger salad was fresh with plenty of dressing. The dumplings were pan seared and the filling, which is usually a paté, had a familiar beef texture. The Cali Roll was served cold and firm and complemented the Wasabi nicely.
Not satisfied with the sushi roll teaser, I ordered the Ichiban. A specialty roll that contained more ingredients than I can remember. Rice and Seaweed (obviously) rolled with cucumber and salmon then generously topped with avocado, tempura crunch, and crossed with a sweet beige sauce. This roll was impressive and the ingredients were fresh and in good proportions. If you enjoy a sweet sushi roll, I highly recommend the Ichiban. I don’t particularly enjoy sushi rolls that sweet but I did finish it.
Service: Excellent
Quantity: Excellent
Bento and Water $8
Ichiban Sushi Roll $11

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Winnie’s Oriental Garden - DJ

1346 Orange Avenue
Winter Park, FL 32789

The slogan at Winnie’s is “The finest in Chinese cuisine”. The atmosphere is very nice one of the nicest Chinese restaurants I’ve been to lately. There were fresh cut flowers at each table and fried Chinese noodles to eat when we arrived. The Soup Nazi attitude of the owner Winnie kind of grows on you after a while. We were a big group that arrived at 12:15PM they had no trouble seating us on this particular day. They pushed 4 tables together. When Winnie discovered that we had a birthday boy with us she cheerfully delivered a red Chinese envelop with a crisp five dollar bill enclosed.

The dish I had was Chicken & Cashews $7.00 at lunch. It looked very attractive when it arrived, but was rather bland, I thought. Even with the addition of soy sauce and a little pepper chili, I still thought it was rather bland. The chicken had a strange texture and taste.

The black table cloths had been washed or dried with the white napkins and had white balls of lint all over them. Even with these problems the experience was a nice one. The check arrived with a Hershey's kiss, and fortune cookies were available on a tray on the way out.

I still long for the days when this was El Niagara a restaurant known for authentic Mexican food, back in the early 80's.

Strangely enough if you do a google search on "El Niagara Winter Park" it still come up with a listing for the El Niagara restaurant.

Rating: **
Service: ***
Price meal/water/tip: $9.00

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Dave’s BBQ @ FH – DJ

BBQ served under the trees by the helicopter pad. It was a hot day, but we were early 11:30, so there was no line. BBQ chicken straight off the grill accompanied with coleslaw or potato salad and backed beans. We went back to the office to eat.

The beans were typical FH baked beans, they were tangy and sweet. The coleslaw was a bit on the wet side but good. The chicken was excellent it was falling off the bone done but still moist. We just wish they would have these outdoor cookouts more often.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Dexter’s - DJ

558 W. New England
Winter Park, FL 32789

What was I thinking ordering a faux Mexican Dish from an American restaurant? I had the Chicken Tortilla Pie which is described as below:

Crisp flour tortillas stacked and layered with sautéed chicken breast, tomatoes, jalapenos, melted provolone, baked and topped with sour cream, chopped scallions and sun dried tomatoes.

I am still feeling the result of this meal 12 hours later. I guess you could say I got my moneys worth. The dish came out looking quite impressive. Everybody around the table said what is that! The dish at first tasted good, and then I noticed that the flour tortillas had been fried and were very greasy. The sun dried tomatoes at first were unidentifiable; they were cold straight from the refrigerator. I’m also not sure provolone was the right choice for the cheese on this dish. Before I was half way done the dish was quite unappealing.

The sweet potato chips that we had as an appetizer were also greasy. This is something I’ve noticed since Dexter’s moved from there Fairbanks location. The sweet potato chips were always good there but since they moved to the New England address (several years a ago) they have always been greasy. Could this be because the owner was always in the kitchen at the Fairbanks location?

Rating: *
Service: Excellent 3
Quantity: Way too much!