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Recently, I had the chance to have dinner at The Downwind. In full disclosure, I have eaten at this restaurant before and I have a close friend who has previously worked there. With that said, The Downwind has since made some changed to the bar, the decor, and the food. I was dining with two other people for this review and the photos did not turn out all that great. We arrive on a weeknight around 7pm and there were a number of people eating both inside and in the outdoor seating area. Just as a note, the outdoor seating area overlooks the taxi and runways of the Spruce Creek Fly-In Airport.

For the three of us, we ordered the Cheese Sticks as a starter. Though, they were not handmade, gourmet quality cheese-sticks, they were good.

Dinner for two people at the table consisted of this portabella sandwich. The sandwich was quite tasty and came with either waffle fries, potato salad, or chips. Below is the potato salad which is worth noting as it contained ham. Now this is not a big deal in itself, but when ordering a vegetarian item from the menu, we felt that it should be disclosed that the potato salad contains ham. But, the waitress was very courteous in bringing a large plate of waffle fries to replace the hammy salad.

Picture below is the Blackened Mahi-Mahi sandwich. My only complaint with this sandwich is that the bun was much too large for the piece of fish on it. Either increase the fish or decrease the bun. The waffle fries were delicious as was expected.

Overall, The Downwind has a casual, sports bar type atmosphere and serves quality food at reasonable prices. It should be noted at some point that this restaurant is located in a gated community but can be accessed by the public by telling the guard that you are eating there.

I give The Downwind three forks. Enjoy!

Quality Eats:

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I had the chance to eat at La Hacienda de San Angel, Disney’s new restaurant at Epcot a few weeks ago. The restaurant was brand new, having been open only a few days when we dined there. Everything was new and beautiful including these paintings located just inside the doors.

I value to decor of a restaurant and how well it matches the theme. This place was nicely done and gave me the feel that I was dining in Mexico. It helps that outside the restaurant is Epcot’s Mexico.

I made note that the menus were decorative.

The drink menu and such.

Funny story. We walked by the outside of the restaurant earlier in the day and asked if they had a vegetarian menu. The nice representative said yes and that they had just come up with it that morning because they had not included vegetarian choices on their menu to start off. I suppose they had already gotten a lot of negative feedback about that. She presented us with this typed on paper version of their vegetarian menu.

Here is little Duffy.

We ordered from the vegetarian menu of course. We had the Cheese Empanadas, which were delicious. They were also beautifully presented.

If you noticed on the menu, the Cheese Empanadas was supposed to come with black beans and rice. Here is a shot of the beans. Also, just a little note, the cheese that topped these items was lovely. You’ll notice that I do not have a shot of the rice because were were not given any. When I asked about this the manager came to the table and told me that because they had just planned the vegetarian menu, the rice that they had was cooked in chicken stock. We asked for the rice anyway because we are not too prudish.

We shared the main course above so that we  could each get desserts. Here is my Chocolate con Churros. The churros has a lovely caramel-like sauce. The hot chocolate was sweet and complemented the churros well.

My LW’s dessert: Tamal de Dulce. I heard it was good.

Overall, everything we ordered was delicious and presented nicely. The whole new restaurant forgot to have a vegetarian menu thing is okay because they were clearly trying to fix that. I would like for them to have noted that the rice was cooked with chicken stock prior to me having to ask why it wasn’t brought along with the meal but oh well. I will attest that too the waiter who seemed pretty young. The atmosphere was definitely fun and I would dine at this restaurant again. I give it four forks. Enjoy!

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The Boheme

The Boheme is a restaurant located on the first floor of the Grand Bohemian Hotel in downtown Orlando. We (me, my LW, and my parents-in-law) embarked on a journey to eat at this restaurant as a last night out prior to the parents departure to Europe for a month. LW read that several restaurants in the Orlando area were participating in a fund raising event where if you ordered a three course meal from a special menu of selections, they would donate a percentage to arts programs. We were very choosy about finding which restaurant to eat at and finally decided on The Boheme.

When we arrived it was of course raining and being in downtown Orlando, the options were valet or walk a mile. We ended up walking a mile and getting wet. When we arrived though we were seated immediately at a table. The design of the restaurant was, in my opinion, a mixture of elegance and richness. There were lots of bright colors and photos of exotic animals on the walls. The dining area was well laid out so that each table seemed private. The menus, pictured below, lit up when opened…

LW with the menu. I made her take this of course.

The waiter brought bread to the table automatically and it was delicious. There was a whole grain option and a warm a moist sourdough type that had pesto and balsamic reduction drizzled over the top.

This is a blurry picture of the Lump Crab Cake appetizer that I had. It was almost entirely crab meat and very little filler stuff. It was served with organic arugula and basil oil.

The other appetizer option was this Fried Green Tomato dish. There is a fried green tomato under there somewhere. It is tops with diced tomatoes and goat cheese. As much as I like tomatoes, which is not at all, I hear this dish was tasty.

Cashew crusted and oven roasted Salmon with sauteed spinach, Yukon smash, mandarin glaze and pepper sauce. I thought this dish was very good. It was very filling but tasted so good I ate it all.

Risotto with tomato, pecorino cheese herbs,vodka cream sauce and pea coulis.

Crab Ravioli with sauteed shrimp, sweet peas, asiago cheese, and a vodka cream sauce.

And when you ask for Parmesan cheese at a nice restaurant what do you get? This. Yum.

Desserts were not my style but well put together and flavorful. Mascarpone Cheesecake with blueberries.

Specialty Apple Pie with ice cream. This apple pie was rather good despite the fact that there was no chocolate on it. I was disappointed that there was no chocolate option for dessert on the menu we got to choose from.

Overall, the Boheme was an excellent place to dine. I’m not sure that it should be elegant fine dining and I’m not sure that I would go back there for the price. I suppose for the price you could go to a lot of nice places. The beginning of the meal was the best and gradually declined in amazement from there for me. I give the Boheme two and a half forks. Enjoy.

Elegant Fine Dining:

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Cheddar’s Casual Cafe is the last of the reviews from our trip to Georgia. We always make a point to stop at Cheddar’s when we are in Macon, as there isn’t one in our area of Florida. Cheddar’s is a chain place but has lots of variety and is fairly cheap. I had lunch with my wife and my father.

First of all, Cheddar’s has these delicious honey butter croissants. This is a reason in itself to visit Cheddar’s. Just walk in and order about 35 of these little guys.

Of course, because we were on a roll with the country home cooking, we ordered up some country vegetables and casseroles. I got green beans, broccoli cheese casserole, and salmon.

Ashley got fries, red beans and rice, corn, and broccoli cheese casserole. Any another croissant. Just a note here. It did not specify that the red beans and rice was in the form of a soup with sausage. This happens a lot in Georgia, though, the non specification of meat items in a vegetable.

My father ordered fried shrimp which was also a hit.

Overall, the service was friendly and timely, the food was good and fairly priced, and the atmosphere was that of a casual neighborhood bar and grill. I guess it should also be noted that there are large TV in each room that display the local sports games that are going on. Also, we arrived around 12:30p.m. on a Sunday afternoon and despite the gigantic crowd inside and outside of the restaurant, we only waited about 15-20 minutes.

All in all Cheddar’s gets four forks in the Family and Chain Places category.

Family and Chain Places:

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We love country food, down home cooking, southern food. But, we can only handle so much of it before going crazy, throwing our digestive tracks out of whack and feeling sluggish and fatty 90% of the time. We headed out on our own in Georgia to find a nice hippie restaurant and imagine our surprise when we found this:

A brand new Mellow Mushroom. Mellow Mushroom is a pizza and beer joint done the hippie way. They have tons of pizzas with colorful flair and a huge selection of drinks including organic beer (my favorite!). Full disclosure: I have dined in a Mellow Mushroom once before. I did, however, just now learn while looking at their website that the first Mellow Mushroom was started in 1974 by three college students and was located near Georgia Tech. Who knew?

Alas, the food. We ordered the pretzels for an appetizer. They were delicious, as noted by the fact that I forgot to take a photo until we had eaten some already. Oops.

Here is a nice shot of the atmosphere. This is a brand new and huge building which is very unlike the first Mellow Mushroom that we ate at in Savannah.

Our dinner was a delicious make your own pizza. We had red pepper, mushroom, spinach, and broccoli with pesto and mozzarella cheese. The ingredients were fresh and the pizza was made to order (duh).

The service was great and the waitress even went above and beyond the call of duty finding a cute little icecream shop for us to have dessert. The TV screens shown in the photo up there ^ were playing the Little League World Series and local highschool football games. I liked the atmosphere and the food at the Mellow Mushroom and give it five forks.

Enjoy!

Family and Chain Places:

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We searched for miles and miles for a decent place to stop and get a bite to eat on the way from Florida to Georgia. What happened is that we passed all of the good places and then when we wanted to eat we were in a stretch of I-75 that had no exits and no viable options for places that the two of us would be willing to eat, though there were 26 different barbaque pits or stands. Imagine our excitement when Ashley used my phone to Google restaurants and found that there was an Atlanta Bread Co. nearby. Ashley used to live in Gainesville and had eaten at the Atlanta Bread Co. that was there so we knew that it was good. We promptly set out on a journey to find it. After making several wrong turns and a few rights turns, when they should have been lefts, we pulled in to this glorious site:

We ordered up some delicious sandwiches. I got a tuna on wheat and enjoyed every bite of it. Ashley got a paninni with tomato, motz, and pepper. The sandwiches came with chips and a pickle and we both had water. Driving in a car for several hours is not the best time to drink diuretics.

The bread was fresh and soft, the ingredients were tasty, and we were glad to find this type of dining atmosphere in the randomness that is South Georgia. I had to take note of this sign:

This is clearly a chain place but one of the few that I am glad to see anytime. I give Atlanta Bread Company five forks. Enjoy!

Family and Chain Places:

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We returned to the scene of the crime: Dawson’s Kitchen. If you read Weekly Update XII on @Vermont, you would have seen some photos from a trip to Georgia that my lovely wife and I took a couple of years ago. We randomly stopped in this little restaurant when we were antique shopping and turns out they make their own peach ice cream and baked goods, and have a hot food bar most days. This trip we made sure that we arrived at the restaurant during a time they were serving the hot food. It was down home cooking and it was delicious. The three of us, including my Granny, each got a vegetable plate with a bread. I got squash casserole, mac and cheese, and collard greens. Ashley got double mac and cheese, and squash casserole. Granny copied me and got the same three things but she had their “brownest cornbread” instead of a roll. This is what delicious and fattening looks like:

This is what Ashley and my Granny look like:

For dessert we had to get the icecream that we remember having on the last trip and it was just as good. It was also frozen solid so we packed it back up and ate it when we got home.

The whole experience was just as I remembered. It felt like being at home in Georgia and getting a nice helping of casseroles, country cooked vegetables, and bread. (Even my picky Granny liked the food, it was one of the few places on this trip that Granny was satisfied with our dining choice.)  They also had many meat options including, you guessed it, fried chicken. This place is family owned and has been around for ages. It gets right what is important in southern cooking, the rich flavors, and the sizable amount of food. I give Dawson’s Kitchen four forks. Enjoy!

Family and Chain Places:

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