Eat

Funky Bananas Diner

Bananas Diner

TEDDY’s RATING: 

After taking in a show at the Orlando Fringe Festival, I thought it appropriate to take in a meal at Bananas Diner, near downtown Orlando. Why was it appropriate? Well, the shows at the Fringe Festival and the atmosphere at Bananas are kind of the same: funky, off-the-wall, unusual to say the least.

Bananas DineBananas calls itself a “modern American diner.” I don’t know if I would say that. They do have a lot of comfort food on their menu like burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, soups, ribs, chicken and waffles and their ever-changing macaroni and cheese which is different based on seasonal ingredients. They also have breakfast all day which includes biscuits and gravy, pancakes, waffles, eggs benedict, omelets, even Spam and eggs and their unique stuffed French toast coated with Rice Crispies and stuffed with strawberries and cream cheese.

The décor isn’t your traditional diner décor. Mainly because this place is owned and operated by drag queens. Yep, drag queens. (Another reason why it was appropriate to visit there after the Fringe.) The walls are decorated with huge poster-size photos of “women.” They even have drag shows at different French Toasttimes throughout the week and late night on weekends, the “girls” are servers. We were there on a Saturday afternoon and our server (not a drag queen) wasn’t that great. It wasn’t very busy in there, yet it took a long time to get the food. The waiter was friendly at first, but then became kind of aloof, which was odd.

I had the chicken and waffles which was good, but the chicken wasn’t very tender. Bananas is supposed to have amazing milk shakes, but that day they only had strawberry ice cream, so choices were very limited. You are also supposed to get complimentary cotton candy at the end of your meal. We were not offered any.  We’re giving this 3 paws instead of 2 only because of its uniqueness.

Bananas Diner is open Monday through Thursday 9am-12 midnight and Friday and Saturday 24 hours closing at midnight on Sunday.

Dates of Visit:  May 2013

http://bananasdiner.com/

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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Tavern on the Bay

Teddy at Tavern on the Bay

TEDDY’s RATING: 

If you’re a sports fan, you’ll love Tavern on the Bay. But even if you’re not, and I’m not, I still had a good time there.

Tavern on the Bay says that they are the only waterfront sports bar in Naples. They have 13 plasma TVs and Southwest Florida’s largest big screen HD TV at over 130 inches! Puts you right in the game, I guess! They also claim to have Naples’ best Happy Hour from 3pm to 7pm Monday through Friday.

It’s a great location, right on the bay. And is accessible by boat. We sat outside on the patio so we could watch the sunset. We ordered the sliders. The portions were huge, big enough to share. We got the BBQ pork, meatball, Cuban and All-American burger. They all were quite tasty.  They also have chicken wings, flat bread pizzas, burgers, salads, sandwiches and other entrees.

Tavern on the Bay          Sliders

They have a large selection of signature drinks including the Soco Hurricane, which I got (pineapple juice, sour mix, grenadine and Bacardi Rum). It was good, but I not as potent as I would have thought. I also tried their frozen Mudslide (vanilla whipped vodka, Kahlua and Bailey’s) and again, not that potent. Still both tasted good. Some of their their signature drinks are: Neapolitan Cosmo, Grand Slam Margarita, Classic Mojito, Blueberry Brain Freeze, Frozen Chocolate Razz and the Tavern Rum Bucket.

Soco Hurricane          Mudslide

Tavern on the Bay has gotten mixed reviews online. But I thought it was pretty good. And if you’re a sports fan, you’ll probably enjoy it even more.

Dates of Visit:  January 2013

http://www.tavernonthebay.net/

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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Cigar City Brewing

Cigar City Brewery with Teddy

TEDDY’s RATING: 

I don’t drink beer. But while on a business trip last month, a colleague wanted to go, begged to go, to Cigar City Brewery after dinner one night. The rest of us in the party tagged along to see what all the fuss was about.

Cigar City Brewery is located in Tampa, Florida. They believe that “beer should reflect the environment.” So, they’ve taken classic beer styles and have crafted flavors that create a “state of mind in liquid form” to reflect the essence of Florida.

Cigar City BrewsUsing local ingredients whenever possible, their beers may incorporate tropical fruits or be aged in cigar box cedar. (Tampa was once the world’s largest cigar producer.) To Cigar City Brewing, beer is more than beer. It’s a labor of love for the product, the people who make it, and the state of Florida.

The names of their beers also reflect the brewery’s sense of humor. Here are a few: Jai Alai, Florida Cracker White Ale, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Brown Ale, Puppy’s Breath Robust Porter, Patio Tools Irish Stout, Peaches & Cream Lager, Right Side Up Pineapple Lager and S’mores Brown Ale.

I do like hard ciders and Cigar City Brewing had a nice cider with a hint of apple that I did enjoy.

While they do have food in their pub, others online have not rated the food very highly. But you go to Cigar City Brewery for the beer, not the food.

Not all beers are available every day, so check their website, Facebook page or Twitter to see what’s on tap. There are also weekly tours and tastings. You can find the dates and times of the brewery tours on the website as well.

Dates of Visit:  May 2013

http://www.cigarcitybrewing.com/

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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Rib City-No knife required

Rib City with Teddy

TEDDY’s RATING: 

I usually don’t like to write about chain restaurants, but in this case, I just have to. While researching a trip to Naples, Florida, I saw mention of Rib City and thought about giving it a try. They claim that “if you have to pick up a knife to eat our baby back ribs, then we’ll pick up your meal.”

We got there after lunch and before dinner, so there was a shift change and there was only one waitress on duty. She was super friendly and apologized several times for taking so much time. But the food came out promptly and piping hot.

Rib CityI ordered the baby back ribs platter which came with two sides, cole slaw and French fries. I like sweet, creamy cole slaw and this did not disappoint. I also like sweet barbeque sauce and again, I was not disappointed. Considering these were lunch-sized portions, they were huge. Plenty of food, and very good food. For dessert, the waitress recommended the coconut cream pie. Again, wonderful. Super huge and delicious.

The menu includes all the traditional barbeque options: pork, beef, ribs (baby Rib Citybacks and St. Louis), chicken and turkey. Sauces: Sweet, Tangy, Hot or Carolina Mustard. Sides: French fries, corn on the cob, cole slaw, baked beans, apple sauce. Desserts: Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie, Southern Pecan Pie, Coconut Cream Pie, Chocolate Chocolate Mania.

Rib City started out as a small family-style barbecue in 1989 in Fort Myers, Florida. They branched out into nearby Cape Coral and several other Florida cities. They now have locations in Colorado, Utah, Missouri, Tennessee and Illinois.

Dates of Visit:  January 2013

http://www.ribcity.com/rc/index.php

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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Breakfast at Blueberry’s

Teddy at Blueberrys

TEDDY’s RATING: 

Had it not been for the fact that we couldn’t find Peace, Love and Little Donuts that morning, we probably wouldn’t have gone to Blueberry’s. But even though we didn’t get donuts that day, we had a nice breakfast here.

Pigs in a blanketThis restaurant kind of reminded me of Joey’s Pancakes in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. It’s not a chain restaurant and tries to come across as being “homey.” The breakfast was very good, but not as good as Joey’s. (If you read my post about Joey’s you’ll understand why.) At Joey’s you feel at home. You get your food quickly, but you’re never rushed and the wait staff is extremely friendly. I didn’t find that at Blueberry’s. The service was a bit slow and yet they tried to rush you out.

I had pigs in a blanket, three pancakes with sausages. The pancakes were light and the Pancakes with eggssausage not spicy. There is an extensive menu. In addition to several types of pancakes, they have crepes, waffles, Eggs Benedict, French toast, breakfast sandwiches, skillets and, of course, eggs any way you like them.

For lunch they have sandwiches, salads, chicken grillers, wraps, and burgers and Reubens. The dinner menu includes chicken pot pie, pot roast, meatloaf, pasta dishes, steak, ribs and some all-day breakfast items.

Their website boasts that they were voted “Best Breakfast” in 2012. But they don’t say by whom or where.

Blueberry’s is open 7 days a week, from 7am, but not for dinner on Sunday.

Dates of Visit:  January 2013

www.blueberrys-restaurant.com

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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North To Alaska Part 4

Denali Express

This day we boarded the Denali Express train taking us from Denali National Park down to the cruise ship port in Whittier.

You would think that a 10 hour train ride would be boring and uncomfortable. But this one wasn’t. The seats were very plush. Everyone had a great view of everything with the glass-domed observation railcars. And there was a Princess Cruise Line “guide” of sorts who told us a lot about the area. His name was Paul. And as it turned out, he was celebrating his 48th wedding anniversary that day. His wife, Doris, was a cruise line employee as well.

Train Interior          Teddy on train

I saw probably the most moose I’ve ever seen in my life while riding on the train. Besides the moose, there was quite a lot of beautiful scenery traveling the almost 300 miles from Denali to Whittier.

Train around bend          Train-scenery

The train had a nice dining car where I tried another unusual meal: macaroni and cheese with reindeer kielbasa. It was quite yummy.

There are two different itineraries for cruise-tours on Princess (and I’m sure other cruise lines do the same thing) where you can either cruise before or after your land portion. We choose after so that we could relax on the latter half of our vacation. The land portion did tend to be hectic, changing hotels every night. So we were glad to be able to have the last seven days be onboard the Island Princess.

Island Princess

TEDDY’s RATING: 

 http://www.princess.com/

At this point, I have to say that I wasn’t all that happy or impressed with Princess Cruise Lines. I had been on a Princess ship way back in the early 1990s on a cruise of the Mediterranean. But since I’ve sailed on Royal Caribbean, I much prefer that line. But Princess had more offerings in Alaska, so we went with them. There were just a lot of little things about Princess that annoyed me, things that I wouldn’t have encountered on a Royal Caribbean ship.

Ship-Atrium          Ship-Pool

The first was that embarkation was unbelievably slow. We got on the ship much later than expected, which meant we got to dinner much later and in turn missed the first stage show that night. Then when they had the mandatory muster (drill in case of emergency, wearing your life jackets, etc.), the audio didn’t work where we were so we had to wait until it got fixed and then listen to the entire presentation again, all while standing cluttered with about 100 other passengers in a hallway.

Teddy-desk          Teddy-balcony

But anyway, we were onboard the ship looking forward to seven days of cruising to Glacier Bay and the three ports: Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan.

Dates of Visit:  June 2011

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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North To Alaska Part 3

Lodge property

Continuing where I left off a few weeks ago, here’s Part 3 of my adventures in Alaska.

The next stop on the journey was Denali National Park and on this day I was celebrating my birthday. More on that later.

Lodge property          Teddy at Denali

Lodge room          Lodge

TEDDY’s RATING: 

http://www.princesslodges.com/denali-lodge.cfm

The drive from Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge to the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge was about 2 hours.  Our room was wonderful, with a view of the river below.  This is supposed to be the largest hotel in Alaska. Like the Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge, the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, though affiliated with Princess Cruise Lines, is not exclusive to the cruise line.  You can stay there even if you’re not booked on one of their cruises.  It’s a vast piece of property with the hotel, restaurants and shops.  This is where I took the Gravatar photo of me in the fur coat!

Denali Park Sign

TEDDY’s RATING: 

http://www.nps.gov/dena/index.htm
http://www.denali.national-park.com/

The Denali Natural History Tour started at 2:30pm, so we had a great lunch at the King Salmon Restaurant. We boarded an old school bus for the tour of the park. At the park’s front entrance, we saw a moose with her babies and there were plenty more moose to see along the way. Of all the animals that are abundant in Alaska, I saw more moose than anything. Not any bears, a few sheep, but lots and lots of moose. Thirty-nine species of mammals make their home in Denali along with about 170 species of birds, 10 types of fish and one amphibian, the wood frog.

Denali National Park and Preserve is, of course, named after the centerpiece of the park, Mount McKinley. Mount McKinley is also called “Denali,” which means “The High One” in the native Koyukon Athabaskan tongue. The park will be celebrating its 100th birthday in 2017. There are six million acres of land, but there’s only one road through it.

Denali National Park          Alaska Salmon Bake

For dinner that night, my birthday dinner, I had totally yummy elk sliders at the world famous Alaska Salmon Bake restaurant. You can eat exotic in Alaska without eating salmon. As you know, I’m not a fan of seafood.  On my birthday this year, 2013, it will be 100 years since the first man reached the summit of Mt. McKinley’s South Peak.  He was a native Alaskan named Walter Harper.

The following day we would board the train for the 10 hour journey down to the port of Whittier where we would embark on the next leg of the tour aboard the Island Princess cruise ship.

Dates of Visit:  June 2011

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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Psychedelic Donut Delights

Peace Love Ext

TEDDY’s RATING: 

As I’ve written before, I always like to promote small businesses. And when a small business is really worth promoting, that makes it all the better. Not only are the donuts at Peace, Love and Little Donuts delicious, but the owner has such enthusiasm for his business and his product, you can’t help but promote both.

Peace Love DonutsPeace, Love and Little Donuts is located in Naples, Florida and is owned and operated by a part-time private pilot, Mark Couch. When I told Mark about my blog, he was very interested in finding out my thoughts on his donuts. He was super friendly and told me all about the business and why he started this venture. (He’s a Gulf War veteran who was looking for a career change.)

These donuts are smaller than your average donuts, about two and one quarter inches in diameter, so they’re a bit expensive for their size. But what you’re paying for are the unusual flavor combinations.

There are 32 different flavors, but not all are available every day. Prices range from $0.85 to $1.29 per donut depending on the toppings, or lack thereof. The donut flavors are inspired by desserts and other sweet treats: apple pie, blueberry cheesecake, banana split, s’mores, Nestle Crunch, strawberry shortcake and pina colada. There’s also raspberry Peace Love Donutslemonade, lemon ginger, chocolate coconut, Boston crème, chocolate pretzel with sea salt and Devil’s Food.

If you read the reviews on Trip Advisor, Urban Spoon and Yelp, you’ll see people raving about the maple bacon donuts. I love maple, bacon and donuts, so I gave this one a try. It was an interesting collection of flavors, definitely worth trying. Not that I’d eat a dozen of them, but really good. I also tried the apple pie and raspberry lemonade, both of which were quite yummy.

I’m not a coffee drinker, but there are people who rave about the coffee served here. It’s called “Intelligentsia” and apparently isn’t served in very many establishments.

The only negative I have to say about the place is that it’s hard to find. Your GPS will tell you that you’ve arrived, but if you didn’t know that the place was part of Wayne’s World BP gas station, you wouldn’t see it. There are no large signs near the road because businesses in the area are restricted as to what signage they can post.

The Naples location has a Facebook page, but no website. You can read more about Peace, Love and Little Donuts on the website for the three Pittsburgh locations.

http://www.peaceloveandlittledonuts.com/home.html

Dates of Visit:  January 2013

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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Kick up your heels at Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant

Exterior

TEDDY’s RATING: 

For quite a few years now, I’ve been in love with Celtic music – Irish, Scottish, even Canadian bands like The Chieftans, Solas, Altan, Leahy, Off Kilter, The Corrs and the Celtic rock band, Enter the Haggis.

Irish dancersWhat does this have to do with travel and food? Well, Raglan Road is an authentic Irish pub in Downtown Disney where you can enjoy a traditional Irish meal and be entertained by traditional Irish dancers and musicians. Two of my favorite things: great music and great food.

Raglan Road was constructed using salvaged pieces of Irish taverns and churches. The four bars are each over 130 years old. All of this adds to the authentic atmosphere and charm of Raglan Road.

Now, the Irish aren’t that famous for their culinary creations, but Raglan Road’s updated menu of old world favorites is definitely worth tasting. And there are a lot of choices on that menu. Master Chef Kevin Dundon has taken classic Irish dishes and pumped them up with a contemporary flair. It’s more Sod the Stewthan corned beef and cabbage. The menu includes Shepherd’s Pie, Fish and Chips, chicken and wild mushroom pie, bangers and mash, beef stew and several lamb and seafood options. For dessert try the amazing Strawberry and Apple crumble, the bread and butter pudding, Triful Sinful or the Black Forest Kiss.

I couldn’t decide between the Shepherd’s Pie and the Stew. I opted for the stew because the pie contains lamb, which I’m not that crazy about. But I am going to try the Shepherd’s Pie next time for sure. The stew was full of beef, carrots and potatoes and flavored with a hint of Guinness. For dessert, the crumble with vanilla ice cream was quite delicious.

Irish DancerAnd don’t forget the libations – beer, wine, specialty drinks and a wide variety of whiskeys. You can even have flights of beer or whiskey, a great way to try new flavors. I had Jay’Gail Sangria which was a blend of Magners Cider, Peach Schnapps, fruit liqueurs and juices. Yummy. With dessert, I asked for an iced Bailey’s coffee, not on the menu, but they made it for me. Also, yummy.

The service was exceptional. Our waiter, Todd, was very knowledgeable about the different beer offerings as well as the dinner menu. Our food arrived piping hot and very quickly.

Of course, since Raglan Road is part of the Walt Disney World Resort, you can expect high prices. But I think the delicious food is well worth it, plus you get free entertainment. There’s live music and Irish folk dancers “river dancing” seven nights a week. I think the price is quite reasonable for dinner and a show.

Date of Visit:  February 2013

http://www.raglanroad.com/

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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Brook’s Gourmet Burgers & Dogs

ExteriorTEDDY’s RATING: 

Naples, Florida is a very affluent city. You expect to see lots of high-end shops and expensive restaurants on every street. And mostly you do. But there are a few small places where you can dress very casually and enjoy a burger and a beer. One such place is Brook’s Gourmet Burgers & Dogs.

InteriorWhen Todd Brooks moved his family to Naples from Kansas City he was looking for a location for his new restaurant that was small and personal, a place where he could get to know his customers. He found that in Lindburgers, a Naples landmark restaurant for over 25 years. Brooks renovated the building a bit, created a menu of 20 unique burger and hot dog options, and Brook’s Gourmet Burgers & Dogs was born.

The menu includes all beef hot dogs, Black Angus beef burgers, as well as turkey, bison and chicken burgers. With unusual combinations like Todd’s Way – bacon, three cheeses and a fried Western Burgeregg; Greek – onion, feta cheese, kalamata olives, green peppers and Greek dressing; Farm – barbecued pulled pork, fried egg and cheddar cheese; and the Reuben Burger, which is a Reuben on a burger, of course, you’re sure to find something to your liking.

I’ve read that the menu used to include a Twice Baked Potato Burger and The Donut Burger where two glazed donuts replace the bun. Yikes! Those two weren’t on the menu when I was there. I tried the Western Burger – onion ring, cheddar cheese, bacon and barbeque sauce. Delicious and overwhelming!

The portions were huge and the prices reflect that. The service was exceptional, very friendly staff.

Dates of Visit:  January 2013

http://www.naplesburgers.com/

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my other blog:  http://ilovebritishtv.com

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