Saturday, December 29, 2007

Kohinoor - dj

249 State Road 436 West #1093
Ethan Allen Plaza
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714
“Fine Indian Cuisine”

Kohinoor has been a staple for Indian food in the Altamonte Springs area for at least the last 15 years, probable more. The food is always good here. I remember when this place opened it was decorated with the chairs and tables from the closed Darbar Indian restaurant down off of Sand Lake Road near I-Drive. They now have new tables and chairs and the dining room looks quiet nice.

We usually come here on the weekend to have the buffet ($8.00). It is always good. Today they had the usual fare; Butter Chicken, Curry Chicken, Channa Masala – chick peas cooked with onions, potatoes, and a variety of spices. There was also yellow dal fry and many other things to choose from. It was all excellent. The salad area had riata, onions, onion chutney, and the hottest little green peppers. We topped our meal off with a sweet lassie a yogurt drink.

The Gulab Jamun for dessert is always fabulous. It is a pastry ball that is made from fat free milk and fried and then is soaking in a honey rose water syrup. It is so good I always have to go back for another.

The dinning experience is always a good one here.

Rating: ****
Service: ***
Price: fare

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Udipi Café - dj

1275 S. Highway 17-92
Longwood, FL 32750
“Authentic South Indian Vegetarian Cuisine”

The Udipi Café is the latest reincarnation in the old Clay Oven on 17-92 in Longwood. The building looks tired. I would have thought that the new owners would have spruced the place up a bit, but sadly they have not. The ceiling has a myriad of things hanging from it; a fancy chandler that looks out of place, ceiling fans and more chandlers. We were the only Caucasians in the restaurant and it was full at 2PM on a Sunday afternoon, usually a good sign. We observed one of the customers coughing over the buffet without the slightest concern for turning away from the food or covering her mouth.

Since we were here and a buffet was available we had the lunch buffet $9.95. The food from the buffet was good, but I felt there was not enough selection. The basmati rice was dry and crunchy. Our waiter brought around a dosai that was also very good. It was stuffed with the usual curried potatoes.

For desert I had the Gajar Halwa. It was the best thing that I had at this restaurant. It is made of grated carrots and milk that is cooked down till it forms a dry mixture.

Next time I visit I’ll chose from the menu and get just the items that I want.

Rating: **
Service: ***
Price Weekend Buffet: $9.95

What others are saying:
Scott Joseph
Orlando Weekly

Friday, December 21, 2007

Cubans on the Run – dj

481 N state Road 434 Suite 101
Altamonte Springs, FL
Monday – Saturday 10:00am – 9:00PM

Cubans on the Run is a humble little Cuban restaurant near the corner of 434 and 436 in Altamonte Springs. You walk up to the counter and place your order. There are about 10 little tables with plastic chairs. The counter person was very cheerful and happy. She took my order and I had a seat by the window. About half of the customer that came in placed there orders to go. Next to the order station there was a hot station that had various hot meals that included roast pork, beef stew, and Ropa Vieja (shredded beef).

My order was called from the counter in about 7 minutes. I had the Turkey breast sandwich “Turkey, Swiss Cheese & Mayo grilled to perfection!!” I would have to agree with this description it was cooked perfectly. The bread was crisp on the outside and warm in the inside. The side of Black Bean Soup was also very good. Their black bean soup had a scoop of rice on the bottom, then a scoop of beans, and another scoop of bean juice. It was topped with chopped onions.

Rating: ***
Service: ***
Price: 7” Sandwich 4.50, Black Bean Soup 1.69.

Angel’s Bananas Foster Cheese Cake

Just before we all headed out for the Christmas break DT pulled out the Bananas Foster Cheese Cake that Angel had made. It was very good. It had a chocolate cookie crust and chocolate syrup drizzled on top. The cheese cake itself was creamy banana. Some of the comments were “One of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth” and “I could tell it was good just as the spoon neared my mouth”. It was the perfect Christmas gift.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wilfredos Restaurant - dj

1421 N. Orange Ave
Orlando, FL 32804

It was a special occasion night; I wanted a little place with lots of atmosphere. Wilfredos was the natural choice, a little Italian restaurant with good food and waiters in tuxes. I called for a reservation the night before. The window seat that I wanted had already been booked with a large party, so we got the other window. It was almost like being there by ourselves, tucked away from the rest of the patrons.

There was a long list of specials, maybe 5 choices. We ended up choosing from the menu; an eggplant parmesan and chicken picatta. The house salad was topped with purple lettuce for a different look and the house dressing was just right. Our dishes arrived in good time and looked fabulous. The eggplant was topped this mozzarella cheese and a meaty tomato sauce. The chicken picatta was served with a lemony butter sauce topped with capers and a side of fresh mixed vegetables. This was also excellent.

We finished off the meal with a perfect tiramisu with two spoons.

In summary, if you are in need of a special occasion dining spot you can’t go wrong with Wifredos. This restaurant occupies the location that use to be Gargi’s. They moved across the street next to Lake Ivanhoe, Gargi’s may have a better view of the lake, but the food at Wilfredos beats the view across the street any day. After the meal you can stroll along the Lake Ivanhoe for a view of the City Beautiful.

Rating: ****
Service: ****
Price: entrée 16.00-24.00, tiramisu 5.95.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pho Hoa Noodle House - dj

649 N Primrose Drive
Orlando, FL 32803

Pho Hoa is a franchise restaurant, out of Sacramento California, that does not taste like a chain. It is located on Primrose next door to Il Pescatore Italian restaurant. The dining room is your standard fare, disco ball included.

The menu has 112 items listed. This includes a section that explains the how and why of Pho. There are soups for beginners all the way up to the Adventurer’s Choice. As you go up the scale the ingredients become more exotic.

I choose my standard Vietnamese dish a Bun, rice vermicelli with grilled chicken. I also ordered a vegetarian summer roll. The summer roll was very good packed with ingreadients; the peanut sauce that comes with it was not quite as good as some other places I have eaten. The noodle dish had lots of julienned carrots and cucumbers. The chicken was boneless but did not seem to be breast meat. It had been chopped but I had to pull the pieces apart. The flavor was good but the presentation was lacking.

Rating: **
Service: **
Price: $11.00

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Punjab Indian Restaurant - dj

7451 International Drive
Orlando, Florida 32819

We have not visited the Punjab Restaurant in a while, but we were in the Disney area and decided to make a return visit on the way home. The Punjab has always been one of our favorite Indian Restaurants. It turns out that our visit coincides with the eve of their 20th anniversary. The restaurant opened in 1988 at this location. There use to be a good landmark, to find the restaurant on I Drive it was behind the Dunkin Donut shop. Now it is behind the Everything for 1.99, not such a good landmark on I Drive.

The restaurant has changed little over the last 20 years, including the food. But they might just have the best Indian food this side of Brick Lane in London. We started our meal with Vegetable Samosas – crispy fried patties stuffed with spiced potatoes and peas. They were delicious; they were not a bit greasy, even though they were deep fried. Many years ago we ask the owner at what temperature they cooked them to get them that way. He just said “not to hot and not too cold just right”. We had Mango Lassi’s to drink. They were so thick that you could not drink them through the straws provided. They were to die for. For the main course we had our usual at the Punjab. Mater Panir – Homemade Cheese cubes cooked with fresh Peas in curry sauce and Aloo Gobi – Cauliflower and Peas cooked with Herbs and Spices. The food was fabulous it is amazing that it could be so consistent over all these years.

We had a conversation with the owner’s wife about our 17 year old children. There was a couple over in the corner that we would swear had been coming to this restaurant for the last 20 years as well. They also appeared to have a 17 year old son.

This restaurant might be a bit hard to find, but it is well worth looking for this diamond in the rough.

Rating: *****
Service: *****
Price Entrée: 12.95
Lassi: $3.50
Vegetable Somosa (2): $3.00

Saturday, December 15, 2007

IKEA Orlando – dj

4092 Eastgate drive
Olrando, FL 32839

The IKEA restaurant is located on the second floor half way through your voyage through IKEA. As you enter the store be sure and pick up a map, you will need it to find the short cuts so that you can go directly to the restaurant. If it’s your first visit you might want the full experience of following he arrows on the floor and going through the entire store.

We were visiting on a Saturday night when we heard the restaurant was closing in 30 minutes at 8:30 PM so we decided to go over and have a bite before we went home. The menu consists of 6 special things. Tonight it was Swedish meat balls, Apple Salmon, Chicken Marsala among other things.

I had the Apple Salmon. The plate was first covered with vegetables; Carrots, Yellow Carrots, and Snow Peas. The salmon was nice and flakey the sauce did not have much taste. The vegetables had that spongy feel of frozen vegetables. They were not bad but were not quite warm enough. I also had a Pomegranate sparkling drink which was very nice.

The restaurant really a café had a very European feel. The lighting was from IKEA of course. The glasses were Anchor Hocking made in the USA. I ask in the cookware section if they sold these glasses they did not.

This was a welcome break from the rigors of shopping in IKEA, and quite cheap.

Rating: **
Service: Self-serve
Price: Entrée 5.99, Drink 1.59 Total $8.12

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Los Charros - dj

946 W. State Road 436
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714

This is my favorite Mexican Restaurant in the Orlando area. I go here at least 3 times per month. It is located in a building that has had several failed restaurants; Miami Subs, and some sort of ice cream shop most recently. Los Charros has been in the building for the last 2 or 3 years. It is painted bright orange and yellow on the outside and located across 436 from Kohl’s. The inside is nicely decorated with paintings of a Charros a Mexican cowboy on a horse. There is a fountain on the center of the dining room that creates a nice white noise. Of course there is also the ever present Mexican music playing over the speaker system.

I usually find a dish in a restaurant that I like and stick with it. But at Los Charros every dish I have had is good. The chicken flautas verdes are crisp and not greasy perfectly fried. The enchilada verde is excellent, the dish is hot and tangy from the tomatillo/chili sauce and topped with lettuce cheese and sour cream. The soft chicken tacos made with shredded chicken and thick meaty corn tortillas are heavenly. There are 7 or so vegetarian item to choose from including a potato burrito that is quite good.

For lunch there are 14 specials from $5.50 to $6.50.

Tonight I had the House Enchilada Special. Three chicken enchiladas topped with a white cheese sauce with rice and a small salad with sour cream on top. The Mexican rice is always good at Los Charros. The enchiladas were packed with shredded chicken topped with a creamy white cheese sauce. This is a favorite of one member of my family. I’m still not sure which item is my favorite. I’ll go back again next week to try and figure that out.

Rating: ****
Service: ****
Price: $8.50