Jan
20
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in Florida, Nepalese, Orlando, United States on January-20-2018

Tiffins is a unique, fine-dining restaurant on Adventure Island in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. As with all reservation-able spots in Disney Parks, you can make your reservation up to 30 days in advance, and you definitely should do so as otherwise your wait around prime meal times could be quite long.

The service and food here is top-notch as one would expect from a fine-dining establishment, and the prices match that experience as well. (I’m hearkening back to a few years ago when Disney ticket prices were going up and a response from someone at Disney was “we are not in the discount business.” So expect to pay a lot for your meal…but there are few places here that offer such a fine-dining experience that hopefully the food and experience itself will be worth it for you.

I had the Lamu Libation cocktail per our waiter’s recommendation…he said it’s unique flavors will give more of an experience matching the theme of the restaurant…and you might as well go for unique…I did and wasn’t disappointed.

Cocktail

Cocktail

Black-Eyed Pea Fritters were up next. Three of them came served on a bed of yogurt and “peppadew” purée. Also tasty but didn’t blow us away.

Black-Eyed Pea Fritters

Black-Eyed Pea Fritters

I also had the selection of artisanal cheeses. This was a lovely display of cheeses served on a ceramic cheese board. Everything was really tasty…the chef chosen “accouterments” included a fig-bar, roasted almonds, and a flat bread. The waiter had described the bread a little differently and I thought the board would be more filling. There wasn’t a lot on the cheese plate and I was using it, with the fritters, as my meal as the only vegetarian dish on the main menu was the Autumn Vegetable Harvest which I didn’t want. For vegetarians, they do have a separate bread service available (at $10), a salad and Beets and Burrata as the other vegetarian choices.

Selection of Artisinal Cheeses

Selection of Artisanal Cheeses

My wife loved the Autumn Vegetable Harvest…it was the perfect dish for her tastes. (Though $29 is a whole lot for vegetables, regardless of the artistry the went into the preparation.)

Autumn Vegetable Harvest

Autumn Vegetable Harvest

We also shared the Aloo Ko Achar potatoes side. It’s described on the menu as Nepalese Potatoes, with Lime, Fenugreek, Cilantro and Sesame. It sounded like it would be really flavorful and a unique Nepalese regional dish. In practice it was large fingerling potatoes, skin on, with some spices. Felt like a regular potato dish with a little bit of spices.

Aloo Ko Achar - Potatoes

Aloo Ko Achar – Potatoes

We closed out the meal with the Whipped Cheesecake which came, as our waiter promised, disassembled, ie dollops of cheesecake filling with separate bits of crust like material. This was tasty and beautiful to look at. (Though now I have a suspicion that any food described as “disassembled” may not have been assembled to begin with.)

Disassembled Cheesecake

Disassembled Cheesecake

Overall we appreciated the atmosphere and service quite a bit. it was nice to take a break from the crowds of the park to have a more exclusive fine dining experience. The food was top notch though not all of it was to our taste and the vegetarian options were a little limited.

Tiffins, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Orlando, FL
2901 Osceola Pkwy.
Discovery Island (In Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park)
Orlando, FL 32830
https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/animal-kingdom/tiffins/

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Jan
20
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in Brunch, Coffee, Florida, Leesburg on January-20-2018

Leesburg has a few standard American diner options for breakfast and we ended up at Bloom’s as it promised in-house baked goods. We weren’t disappointed! It’s a cute place and everything we had was great!

The coffee was super good. Coffee at places like this is either hit or miss and Bloom’s did it right. Strong and full of flavor.

Coffee

Coffee

The baked goods on display (all made in house) are undoubtedly the source of many dessert based fantasies. One of us ordered the cinnamon bun and it was so impressively large that we almost had to have our table enlarged to accommodate it. (okay, not really…but it was big!)

Cinnamon Bun

Cinnamon Bun

I had a “Build Your Own” omelet. (misleading as THEY actually build it…but you get to decide what goes in it. I had onions and cheddar cheese, made with egg whites. It was prepared perfectly (not always a given with egg whites. It came with house made jam (delicious), a couple of truly legitimate southern biscuits as my bread option (delicious with the jame and butter) and potatoes. These potatoes were thick round discs of potato…PERFECTLY cooked, crispy on outside and tender on the inside. One of the best breakfast potatoes I’ve had.

Egg White Omelet with Potatoes and Biscuits

Egg White Omelet with Potatoes and Biscuits

Our kid had a plain waffle (not too exciting from our adult point of view but he liked it and it looked perfect.)

Plain Waffle

Plain Waffle

And my wife had oatmeal as her gluten free breakfast choice along with a side of vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli and carrots.)

Oatmeal and Side of Vegetables

Oatmeal and Side of Vegetables

The prices were also very reasonable. Much less expensive than similar standard diners (or the chains). We were super-happy with our choice to come to Bloom’s for breakfast. Everything from the food to the price was spot on. You can’t go wrong here for standard breakfast and baked goods.

Bloom’s Baking House and Restaurant Leesburg, FL
610 W Main St.
Leesburg, FL 34748
http://www.leesburgeats.com/blooms.php


 
Jan
19
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in Florida, Mexican, Orlando, United States on January-19-2018

We were happy to get a table at Frontera at dinner time just a couple hours after our plane landed in Orlando. We were in the mood for fine-dining Mexican and that’s what Frontera promised to be.

I started with the Play With Fire cocktail which is infused with jalapeño and is supposed to offer bit of a kick as a result, prepared with my choice of tequila or mezcal. I went with the waiter’s choice of Mezcal (a smokier liquor that the waiter assured me was the staff’s choice for this drink.) The first one that came wasn’t smokey and had no hint of the jalapeno. I think the bartender made it wrong…they brought a second which did have that promised smokey flavor but still wasn’t particularly spicy as one would expect from a drink called “Play With Fire” and whose second ingredient is jalapeño. A little disappointing.

I had the Grilled Zucchini, Mushroom and Potato Enchiladas…there are a few vegetarian items on the menu including a Zucchini tostada, a mushroom trot and a couple of salads.) I thought the flavor was good in the enchiladas but it was a VERY heavy dish (heavt as in rich). I couldn’t finish it. (My wife felt the same way about the dish she ordered…very heavy.)

Enchiladas

Enchiladas

We also had a side of chips and salsa. (Generally speaking I think Mexican restaurants should automatically give chips and salsa…it feels like the official amuse bouche of the Mexican food world…so a bit of a bummer we had to separately buy chips and salsa.) The 2 salsas it came with were really tasty…a chipotle red and and “herby” verde. Loved them both, though the chips themselves were a little off in terms of taste and texture.

Chips and Salsa

Chips and Salsa

They were nice enough to create a vegetarian version of the tacos from the kids menu for our kid (A nice plate with a couple of house-made flour tortillas with cheese in them and a side of beans, rice and carrots. It actually looked like the tastiest and somewhat lightest dish on the table and he was happy with it.

Kids Tacos

Kids Tacos

Well we definitely got a fine dining experience but weren’t overly happy with what we received which is disappointing when going to a super pricy restaurant.

Frontera Cocina, Disney Springs, Orlando, FL
1604 Buena Vista Dr.
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
http://www.fronteracocina.com/


 
Jan
17
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in Allentown, Brunch, Pennsylvania, United States on January-17-2018

I like a good, standard diner and if you’re in Allentown, Pennsylvania, that’s what they specialize in here! Though with most “standard” diners having almost identical menus, it takes a little bit to stand out amongst the crowd. Chris’s was fine but not so much “stand out.”

The coffee (and yes, dear friends, all restaurants that serve breakfast should be initially judged on their coffee) was your standard diner coffee. The good news is I could taste it (which isn’t always a given at these kinds of places where you often get browned water. So a couple of points for being able to taste the coffee, though it wasn’t particularly strong.

They have a unique dish called “Carnegie Potatoes” which is described on the menu as potatoes with milk, onions, roasted red peppers, sour cream, fresh parsley and cheddar cheese, and is served potato pancake style. That’s a pretty exciting description for a potato in any form lover like me…however, in practice it really was mashed potatoes served flat. A little bit tasty but there was very little presence of the listed ingredients besides potatoes.

Carnegie Potatoes

Carnegie Potatoes

I had the standard 2 egg breakfast, made with egg whites. They served it to me with bacon after I had stated I was a vegetarian. It came with an english muffin which, as often happens at these kinds of places, was under toasted.

Egg White Breakfast

Egg White Breakfast

Our waitress was great. She was very personable and dealt very well with our large party at a time when the restaurant was packed. (It was a holiday weekend weekend no available seats.)

Chris’ did the intended job but we’re still on the lookout for a truly standout “standard” diner in the Lehigh Valley.

Chris’ Family Restaurant, Allentown, PA
5635 Tilghman St.
Allentown, PA 18104
http://www.chrissfamilyrestaurant.com/


 
Jan
16
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in Los Angeles, Studio City, United States on January-16-2018

Oh, I shout it from the mountain-tops! Everything at Firefly is good! Yay-ye let it be written in the sacred permanent record! My wife and I enjoyed “date-night” here at Firefly Studio City and we couldn’t have been happier with our choice.

I started with the “Moving On Up” cocktail which was super good with cucumber in gin. It was sweet, smooth and awesome.

Moving on Up Cocktail

Moving on Up Cocktail

I also had the cheese plate which I confidently describe as so out-of-control good. I get myself a lot of cheese plates at New American restaurants and this one was right at the top of the list. I want to live with these cheeses on this cheese plate. It was served at the perfect temperature (so often cheeses on cheese plates are served too cold…) along with honeycomb, spiced and candied nuts and various dried fruits. Yum. I mean serious cheese-loving yum.

Artisinal Cheese Plate

Artisinal Cheese Plate

My wife, the artichoke lover in our family, loved the artichoke dish. She said it was delicious and so flavorful and so creamy. (That’s a direct quote) It’s served with a lemon and a “lemon smock” (possibly a term we just made up) which you could squeeze the lemon inside without getting the juice or the seeds anywhere. I’m going to invest in lemon smocks. (and possibly other clothing for fruit.) She didn’t know an artichoke could be so flavorful.

Artichoke

Artichoke

They were nice enough to give us the arugula salad with goat cheese that was on the tasting menu (but not typically order-able separately which came with some kind of marinated cherries that were insane. (Insane in their good taste, not behaving n a crazy manner.

Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese

Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese

It was nice that they gave us that item from the tasting menu as this is one of those “no substitution” places which can be tough when you have specific dietary needs. (One of us is vegetarian and one of us gluten free.)

I had the Summer corn Risotto. This was the perfect dish and one of my favorite corn dishes ever…corn and rice mixed with cheese like a risotto normally is and little bit of truffle oil. It was seriously good and it came with a couple of extra dollops of different kinds of spreads which were good though perhaps not necessary because the risotto is so good on its own.

Summer Corn Risotto

Summer Corn Risotto

Without a reservation, we were quickly seated in the fairly comfortable and spacious bar and lounge area which is surrounded by bookshelves. There’s also a proper dining room (with a fireplace in the middle) that requires reservations. It looked like a cool place to sit.

We’ll definitely be back here. Make a reservation for the dining room and bring your salivating mouth with you.

Firefly, Studio City, CA
11720 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604
http://www.fireflystudiocity.com/