Adventures in Dining

Just another weblog

Chipotle Mexican Grill, July 28, 2007 July 29, 2007

Filed under: Ocoee — hpandaw @ 6:06 pm

One of the goals of this blog is to help us open our eyes to new, different, and oft-overlooked culinary options. This week we opted for a place that many would consider a chain and therefore a bit of an antithesis to our mission. To be sure, Chipotle is indeed a far-reaching enterprise with locations spread across the country like pock marks on Edward James Olmos’ million-dollar puss. Heck, that bastion of gastronomic tedium, McDonald’s, once held a majority ownership stake in the bid-ness. But if their drink cups are to be believed, Chipotle’s goal is to remain “un-chain-like”, and use their size as a catalyst for good in the food supply chain. Cups rarely lie to me, so I took their promises at face value.


Politics aside, we threw open the doors of the Ocoee location with a burning in the gut and a chip on our shoulder. The former due to our noon-time hunger, the latter chiseled from satisfactory experiences with Moe’s Southwestern Grill and especially Tijuana Flats, both in the same general area geographically and culinarily. The joint was perhaps 25% occupied at the time, with a couple parties ahead of us. By the time we left, the line had gone through several longer versions and more than 60% of the interior chairs were occupied. The patio was forbiddingly suffocated by a blanket of summer Floridian atmosphere.


Walls were decorated with black and white photos of street scenes, most notably the first Chipotle location in Denver, CO. Some people may find that offensive- Denver watching over you while you eat- but it didn’t really bother us that much. Partition half-walls were wrapped in corrugated steel which provided a clean, sanitary feel. This was accented by isolated pin-spots and exposed HVAC ceiling ductwork barely hidden behind an IKEA-esque woodwork. The latter looked like the skeletons of bookcases pivoted on their X-axis. Tables were similarly topped with stainless steel and accompanied by chairs in a complementing light-colored wood. Industrial-meets-Sweden. There were a couple piece of art that resembled modern stabs at mezzo-American statues. Employees dressed in black with baseball caps. One grill worker wore a shirt that exclaimed “I marinated the chicken last night”, while another boasted “I made the salsa today”. If these are euphemisms for after-hours shenanigans, I don’t want to know.


You can read the full menu on their website. The better-half opted for a vegetarian burrito, stuffed with black beans, cilantro-lime rice, tomato salsa, shredded jack-and-white cheese, guacamole, and sour cream. I always like the feel of the bloated, steamed flour burrito shells, slightly tacky and with a healthy resistance when palpated. Not unlike the warm cranium of an infant in his second hour. The missus describes the burrito as having a slight heat, possibly due to the tomato salsa. The guacamole, complete with large avocado pieces, was a highlight. Freshness abounded in all ingredients. Not “the best” burrito she’s had, but tasty and complete. A little difficult to eat since it weighed in at roughly the size of an adult Chihuahua’s brisket. She opted for a fork instead of the less-dainty peel & gorge tactic.


My choice was the three tacos. Naturally, these were vegetarian and contained similar ingredients (down to the steamed shells) to the burrito, minus the rice and guac. Each was a skosh larger than a CD and came in either soft (my choice) or crispy (boo) versions. I opted for the roasted chili-corn salsa in addition to the tomato. I detected a slight sweetness and definite heat from this version. ‘Twas too piquant for the lass to enjoy. Your mileage may vary. A nice touch on both dishes was knowing that the beans and cheese were truly vegetarian. The establishment also proudly displays their list of meat purveyors and describes how they are working towards a goal of provide 100% organic ingredients.
tres tacos

We didn’t get too wrapped up in the chain-that-isn’t concept, but both agreed that it was a model we support. While it’s not a perfect system, they recognize their shortcomings and lay out their ultimate plans. The menu is simple, the ingredients come off as fresh, and the décor comfortable if a little cold. A return visit is in order, and I look forward to trying some of the whispered “off-menu ordering”.


As a reminder, it’s pronounced “chee-POHT-lay”, and most definitely not “chee-POHL-tee”. The T comes after the L, dear readers. So what’s your take on the not-a-chain Chipotle?


Samba Room, July 24, 2007 July 25, 2007

Filed under: Sand Lake — hpandaw @ 2:29 pm

We’d eaten at the Samba Room once before, and had been favorably impressed by the service but rather underwhelmed by the food itself. We decided to give the Samba Room another, try, though, so we made reservations for 7:00 on a Tuesday evening. I don’t think that reservations were necessary, as the restaurant volume never got over 40% while we were there, but we’d rather be safe than sorry.

We are big fans of the mojitos at the Samba Room, so we grabbed 2 seats at the bar and settled down for a drink before actually entering the dining room. We’d read online that some mojitos were 1/2 price before 7 pm, so we were excited to take advantage of this offer. Mojitos usually cost $8 there, so half price was a good deal.

My husband ordered the Mojito Con Pina, a mojito with fresh mint leaves, pineapple juice, and a sugar cane stick for swirling. I ordered the Mojito Dos Coco, a mojito with fresh mint leaves and coconut rum. After tasting both of them, we quickly decided to switch mojitos. I really like the taste of pineapple juice, and my coconut mojito was stronger than my husband’s mojito. He preferred the taste of the coconut mojito and, since I was driving, the switch worked out well all the way around.

We were disappointed when we got the check to see that we’d been charged full price for our mojitos! I know it said that only “some” were 1/2 price, but I wish that the bartender had said something about this when we arrived. Half price mojitos are a nice selling point, and one that they should talk up more; it would also prevent people from expecting a discount that they weren’t going to get.

After finishing the drinks, we decided it was time to move on to the main dining room. The hostess asked us whether we’d like to be seated on the patio outside or inside. Now, the last time we’d been here, we had opted for the gorgeous lake view of the patio, only to realize that this was a poor decision. I am one of those people who goes ballistic if I see a bug hovering around my food or drink, and sitting on the patio about drove me batty last time. This time, we asked to be seated at one of the tables near the window, so that we would get all the advantages of the view, without the disadvantages of the bugs. Here was the view from our table:

Our appetizer was the Peruvian Fried Calamari with a chimichurri tartar sauce. This was okay, but not great, and here is why. The calamari itself was very soft and tender, and it tasted fresh. The breading, though, was slightly under-seasoned. The calamari was topped with tiny colorful pieces of red, orange, yellow, and green peppers, along with red onions. When eaten together, the small pieces of pepper and onion added a much-needed kick to the calamari. The chimichurri tartar sauce tasted like avocado mixed with cream and parsley. I looked up chimichurri sauce online, and it doesn’t seem to have much in common with what we were served.

While the tartar sauce here was nice and creamy and mellow, it just didn’t work that well with the calamari. The calamari was breaded, and kind of oily, and adding the fat of the avocado to the fat of the calamari breading tasted very mild and quite rich. A nice citrus sauce would have been great with this, as it would have really cut through the grease. The best calamari we ever had was at a restaurant in Sonoma Valley called Deuce, and they served their lighter-than-air calamari with a lovely lime aioli sauce. It was heaven on a dish.

We then moved on to our entrees.  My husband’s entree was an entire fried yellowtail snapper, which was the special for the evening.  The server told us that it cost a dollar less than it actually did, so, again, we were disappointed when the check came.  A dollar is not a big deal, but still…

This item was HUGE.  I’m sure it looked very creative and flashy, but I couldn’t get over the fact that an entire fish face was watching me throughout dinner.  Those breaded-over eyeballs were quite creepy, and I was strongly reminded of the extremely unappetizing Dancing Fish at Bluezoo.  My husband was not bothered by the presentation, though; he thought it looked interesting.

The yellowtail was stuffed with a rice/bean/sausage combo, which was not good, because he doesn’t eat meat unless we’re on vacation.  To be fair, he didn’t ask whether the fish had any meat included in it (which is what I did with my entree), but the server also probably should have mentioned this in the description.  He said that the sausage added a nice smoky taste to the rice, which he reported as tasting like my mother’s rice dressing (I am from Louisiana, and rice dressing is a big Cajun thing).  The fish had a nice fruity mango sauce on it that I enjoyed a lot.  The flavors were very mild, though, and my husband thought that the fish itself could have been better seasoned.

My entree was a Crispy Florida Red Snapper, pan seared over a warm spinach and grilled red onion salad, Shiitake mushroom “Al Ajillo” and mango beurre blanc.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?  It wasn’t.  The fish was exceeding UNfresh.  It tasted strongly of ammonia, so much so that I kept thinking I was eating blue cheese.  I couldn’t eat more than half of it.  My husband had two bites, and he agreed that it had a strong ammonia taste that made it quite unpleasant.

You may be asking yourself why I did not send my fish back, and the answer is simple: I was afraid to.  I was and am afraid of some horrible, disgusting retribution on the part of the kitchen staff if I send back a dish.  I have visions of someone hocking a loogie into my dessert or my replacement item.  Call me paranoid, but that’s how it is.  So I sucked it up and picked at my fish.

The spinach and red onions that accompanied the red snapper were interesting, and I ended up enjoying them.  The red onions tasted like they’d been pickled.  I think it was just that the vinaigrette poured over them might have been very strong, but they were definitely different.  The more I ate, though, the more I liked it, though it definitely isn’t the kind of thing that I’d order more of.  Frankly, it was a better alternative than the fish, so that’s why I kept at it.

The last time that we ate at the Samba Room, my husband ordered the scallops and I ordered the salmon.  I think that both of these dishes were better selections than what we ordered on this visit, which is why I mention them.  Neither the salmon nor the scallops were earth-shattering, but they were definitely better than the red snapper, and probably better than the yellowtail snapper.

The Samba Room offers small desserts in four flavors: Banana Brulee, Key Lime Cheesecake, Mini Carrot Cake, and Chocolate Mousse.  We selected the banana brulee and the carrot cake.  The banana brulee was very nice: light, soft, and creamy.  It wasn’t too sweet, and was a good way to end a meal.  This was my husband’s favorite of the two desserts.

My favorite dessert was the mini Carrot Cake.  This dessert was sweeter and richer than the banana dessert, and I am a fan of carrot cakes.  The maraschino cherries inside the cake added a nice texture to contrast with the creamy frosting.  The frosting, however, was the star.  It was a ginger cream frosting, which was outstanding.  The ginger added an unexpected kick to the carrot cake and raised it above the mediocre.

Would we go back?  Probably not.  We preferred the entrees at Timpano (right next door) to the Samba Room entrees, but Roy’s is still our favorite restaurant in this area.  I couldn’t help but contrast my ammonia-tasting red snapper with the unbelievably fresh, soft, luscious tuna we’d eaten at Roy’s.  The service at the Samba Room was very good; our server was very attentive, which we appreciated.

On another note, my husband’s dish has made me seriously re-think my dining habits.  I stopped eating meat for one reason: I knew that, if someone handed me a cow (or chicken or lamb or pig) and a knife and said, “Kill this and you can eat it,” I wouldn’t be able to do it.  And in that case, all I was doing was hiring a hit man to kill the animal for me.  I felt like a hypocrite.

Now, watching those dried out, breaded over eyes as I ate my dinner, I realized that I found my dish to be superior because it couldn’t watch me while I ate it.  But if I’m not comfortable with a fish watching me while I eat another fish, then maybe I shouldn’t be eating any fish at all.  Hmmm…  Is this the end of my pescatarian adventures, and the start of true vegetarianism?  Probably not until after our anniversary trip to Disney World next month, but after that – who knows?


Crazy Gator, July 21, 2007 July 23, 2007

Filed under: Eustis — hpandaw @ 12:28 pm

We decided to take a short road trip to northern Lake County, in search of a used bookstore about which I’d heard: Raintree Books in Eustis.  We successfully located the store, which was quite small and expensive, but we’ve been spoiled by our lovely used bookstore in Charlotte, with $.50 paperbacks and $1.00 hardbacks and a HUGE selection of books.

While we were in Eustis, we wanted to try a restaurant up there.  I’d done a search on Chowhound, which hadn’t revealed any real hidden gems, but I had read a few positive reviews of the Crazy Gator in Eustis, so we decided to give it a try.

Upon entering the store, we were greated by a large statue of a gator.  I guess he is the Crazy Gator.

We’d gotten there early, around 11:10 am, so we were the only ones in the large dining room.  The room itself has a very rustic feel, with wooden beams hanging from the ceiling, wooden chairs, murals painted on the walls, and a strange addition to the decor: an old sewing machine.

Being the only ones in there, we pretty much had our pick of tables, so we chose a booth by the window.  It had a lovely, albeit tinted, view of the lake:

While we were eating, a train rolled slowly down these tracks and stopped about a block or 2 away from the restaurant.

We decided to both order the same thing that we’d been ordering at the past few restaurants, with indifferent success: the fried fish sandwich.  These were quite pricey, at $8.49/sandwich, but when they came out, we realized they were actually a bargain. The sandwiches were HUGE, easily big enough for two meals.  If we’d known then what we know now, one of us would have ordered an appetizer like the fried mushrooms, and the other would have ordered the fish sandwich, and we would have shared.

We kept hoping against hope that we’d find a restaurant here in the Orlando area that was like Tortuga’s Lie in Nags Head, NC, with freshly caught fish, but apparently such a place does not exist.  This fish was pretty good, though, even if not bursting with freshness.  The breading was well-seasoned and wasn’t too oily, while the French fries were also well seasoned.  Thankfully, they weren’t the large, soft steak fries.  These fries were crisp and very good.

When we left, we decided that this fish sandwich was the best we’d had so far in this Orlando area.  We also decided that we’d been eating too many fish sandwiches lately, and should try some place different next time.  Since we are pescatarians, we often find ourselves in a situation where we can order only appetizers, a salad, or a fish sandwich, though usually if we go to restaurants themed around other cultures like Mexican, Indian, Japanese, etc., we can find a wider variety of items.

My favorite part of the day happened after we left the Crazy Gator.  Eustis has a lovely Lake Walk, which we set out to explore.  My husband was able to get a few fantastic, close up shots of some anhingas:

I then pointed out to him a spiny orb weaver:

And a brown Cuban anole who was shedding the skin around his face:

I found a palm branch lying on the ground, and it looked so much like a broom that I picked it up and began to sweep with it.  I then realized that a poor anole was hanging on for dear life to the palm fronds, and I swished him through the air, so we took a few photos of him and set him down.  Sometimes the most interesting things are right at your feet, like anoles, or just above your head, like orb weavers.


Kwik-E-Mart July 15, 2007 July 15, 2007

Filed under: Lake Buena Vista — hpandaw @ 8:22 pm

My husband is a big Simpsons fan, and he’d read about a new 7-11 in Lake Buena Vista that was transformed into a Kwik-E-Mart, so we decided to check this place out. To get to the Kwik-E-Mart, take the I-4 exit for 535 Apopka Vineland and Lake Buena Vista. Go North on 535 for just a few blocks, and the store is on your left hand side, just past the entrance to Downtown Disney and right across from the Sheraton Safari.

When we pulled into the parking lot, we saw several Simpsons characters decorating the exterior, along with the sign “Thank you for loitering. Please come again.” Signage posted by the gas pumps indicated the special Simpsons items that were inside: Buzz Cola, Krustee O’s, pink donuts with sprinkles, and Squishees.

We immediately set out to track down all four of the Simpsons items, and we saw the pink donuts right away. Our first disappointment was the realization that they were sold out of Krustee O’s! We then headed to the Squishee machines. I had hoped that they would have bright green Squishees, like they do on the TV show, but that was not the case. The offerings were very standard: Coke, Mountain Dew, Full Throttle, a Crystal Light drink, and we think something else.

My husband got a mix of Full Throttle and Mountain Dew, and I got a Mountain Dew squishee, since my favorite, Coke, was all liquid and no ice.

At the fountain drink stand, there was a sign saying, “Buzz Cola only available in cans.” I don’t know why this would be the case – I think that a Buzz Cola squishee would probably be very popular. We saw the sign where the Buzz Cola cans were supposed to be, but they were sold out, also. Rats!

There was miscellaneous Simpsons decor throughout the store, like Jasper inside the freezer:

And the clerks were wearing Kwik-E-Mart uniforms and stood in front of an Apu figure:

In summary, we were excited to get to see this place, but disappointed in some of the details and the execution. Half of their Simpsons items were sold out, and we thought they could have offered things like Buzz Cola fountain drinks, squishees, or even the bright green squishees.


Viet Garden July 15, 2007

Filed under: Little Saigon — hpandaw @ 7:32 pm

On our long, lonely trek to the Total Wine in the far Eastern reaches of Orlando, we stumbled upon an area known as “Little Saigon.” We had a Little Saigon in Charlotte, on Central Ave, and we have fond memories of the pho we encountered there. That being the case, we decided to give a restaurant out here a try.

Our first obstacle was that of parking. I don’t like to park on the street, if the street in question is State Road 50. It’s too busy, and I had nightmare visions of myself trying to pull out into traffic there, so I wanted a parking lot. When we found the Publix, we heaved a sigh of relief and said, “Publix will let us park.” Not so, my friends. Publix has gone so far as to hire a guard to sit in the parking lot, zealously guarding spots for Publix customers. We parked in their parking lot, then walked toward the Publix, but instead of going in, we went past it, crossed the street, and walked back without being spotted by the guard. Yes, it was probably cheating, but 1. the parking lot was only about 1/4 full, so we weren’t taking spots away from anyone else, and 2. we are good Publix customers – we shop there at least twice a week!

Having parked and made a roundabout, we encountered our first astonishing sight of the day: a man who had pulled down his pants and underwear, right on the corner of 50! I was surprised, to say the least. One expects things like that in New York, but thus far, we had not encountered anything like that in Orlando. Live and learn.

The first restaurant that we came to was called the Viet Garden, and, since it had several customers inside and a sign on the window saying “Vegetarian”, my husband decided that this was the place for us. We entered and were seated right away at a table by the window, so that we had a good view of a wandering kitten who strolled by. Our half of the restaurant was empty, except for the wait staff, so my husband took this opportunity to photograph the interior:

The menu here is fairly extensive and entrees seem to range from $6.95 for soups to $20 for an entire fish. Though the sign on the window had said “Vegetarian,” we quickly saw that most dishes contained pork, and the actual vegetarian selection was fairly limited: maybe 6 or 7 dishes out of a total of 60+ choices.

We began with vegetarian spring rolls for $2.95, which were quite good, though incredibly hot. We’ve had spring rolls that were lacking in flavor, but this was not the case here. The filling was flavorful, with the only real trouble being the heat (we could have waited for it to cool) and the long pieces of cabbage that made eating a bit messy. It was served with a very light, faintly sweet sauce for dipping.

My husband ordered a soup (not pho, which has a beef broth) with shrimp & crab claws. It was item number 34 on the menu, and cost $6.95. This dish was quite good. The broth was very flavorful, though the shrimp & crabs were lackluster: previously frozen & overcooked. The noodles were thin, with an almond-esque flavor, but the broth was the star. It was truly delicious, and was served with the standard sides of fresh basil, cilantro, bean sprouts, lemon, and peppers. Once he’d added these ingredients to the soup and had let them impart their flavors, the broth became even better. One slice of pepper was enough for him to heat the entire dish, and he actually pulled it out once it had steeped for a while.

My dish, the Pad See Ew, item number 9T on the menu for $7.50, was very disappointing.  The combination of the wide, flat rice noodles with the not-at-all-crisp tofu made the texture one big glop.  The flavor was lacking; it was faintly sweet, but not at all interesting, especially in comparison with my husband’s soup.  Worst of all, though, was the fact that I found a BUG lying in my noodles.  It looked like a large gnat or fruit fly that had landed in the dish while they were plating it, but it was enough to keep me from eating the rest of my entree.  I know that bugs happen, but I don’t like them happening in my food.  A roach would have been much worse, but I am just one of those people who stops eating when I find any kind of foreign object in my dish.  Oh, well.  I wasn’t enjoying this dish very much anyway, so it was no hardship to me to stop eating it.

In summary, we probably wouldn’t return here, just because we weren’t really wowed.  The crab and shrimp soup was quite good, but not enough to bring us back.  I am trying really hard not to hold the bug against them, since I’m pretty sure it just landed into the dish and wasn’t one of those crawly ones that lives in dirty kitchens.  I still wish that Orlando would take its cue from the rest of the civilized world and have restaurants post their sanitation scores!


Bread ‘n’ Buns, July 8, 2007 July 8, 2007

Filed under: Clermont — hpandaw @ 9:29 pm

Ever since reading a review of this place on one of my husband’s co-workers’ restaurant blogs, we have been eager to give it a try. We are both big fans of cream soup, so we chose to go on Sunday, when the soup of the day was a “Creamy Soup of Leek & Tomatoes.” Some of the cream soups have meat in them, like Thursday’s “Creamy Soup of Sweet Potatoes & Pancetta,” so we chose a day when the soup was okay for pescatarians like ourselves.

This restaurant is located in Clermont, right off of 50, in the shopping center next to the Home Depot shopping center. If you’re being precise, it’s at 1200 Oakley Seaver Drive.  It’s a subsidiary of Reynir Bakery, which has 2 locations in Iceland, but this is their first US branch.

This is a Scandinavian Bakery & Cafe, and that much is obvious from the interior decor. I remarked that it reminded me very much of a spa, with lots of light wood, very simple furniture, and several light dining options. This feeling was increased by a table of 4 women who’d obviously been to the gym together and who were now enjoying lunch at this restaurant (my husband caught one of them in his interior shot below):

There is a variety of sandwiches, ranging from $3.99 for a 1/2 sandwich to $8.49 for the whole Crab Meat Burger. In addition, they offer eight different salads, smoothies, and all-natural gourmet bread & buns, baked fresh daily no sugar, eggs, or preservatives. We were there for the soups, though!

There is a soup schedule, and I’ll post it here for those interested:

  • Monday – Cream of Forest Mushrooms
  • Tuesday – Creamy Carrot Soup
  • Wednesday – Curry Coconut Creamed Vegetable Soup
  • Thursday – Creamy Soup of Sweet Potatoes & Pancetta
  • Friday – Lobster Bisque
  • Saturday – Tomato Basil Soup
  • Sunday – Creamy Soup of Leek and Tomatoes

In addition to the cream soups, an Onion Soup with Gruyere Toast is available every day. We opted for what we felt was the best deal: your choice of half a sandwich and soup or half salad and soup or half sandwich and half salad. Not being big salad eaters, we went for the half sandwich and half soup option. This includes the “fresh pastry of the day,” all for a very reasonable grand total of $7.79.

My husband opted for the Double Cheese Veggie sandwich, which consisted of wholegrain bread, Brie, mature cheddar slices, lettuce, flat leaf parsley, roasted tomato, roasted red bell peppers, grainy mustard sauce, and olive oil. Neither of us was a huge fan of this item. The flavor was so light as to be bland, and he had to salt the filling copiously. The bread was the best part of this sandwich: thick but fluffy and studded with seeds. With the exception of the peppers, the filling was too subtle, and it was a bit too cold, which could have contributed to the blandness. The salt helped add flavor, but it also turned up the volume on the peppers, which then continued to overshadow the other ingredients.

He went with the Onion Soup with Gruyere Toast, which was okay, but had far too much thyme in it. It would have been much better without so much thyme. This soup had a nice balance of cheese and bread, with a good ratio of these ingredients to the broth. The onions were sweet, well-caramelized, and very soft – not stringy at all.

I went with the Smoked Atlantic Salmon sandwich on a Sesame Bun with Smoked Salmon, Lettuce, Avocado, Red Onions, Eggs, Fresh Dill, Capers, and Horseradish Cream Cheese. This was very good, though, once again, the flavors were quite light and subtle. We both agreed that this sandwich had more flavor than the vegetable sandwich, though. The smoked salmon was nice – very soft and tender. The capers and horseradish cream cheese were excellent compliments, as they jazzed up the very light flavor of the salmon. I am not a fan of horseradish, but this was quite mild, and I enjoyed it very much. The creaminess of the avocado married well with the soft, tender salmon, though I felt it could have done without the eggs. These didn’t really seem to add anything to the sandwich, flavor-wise. I was very pleased with my choice, though, and would definitely order this again.

I had – what else? – the Creamy Soup of Leek and Tomatoes, and this was excellent. I am such a fan of creamy soups, and this had creaminess in abundance. The tomatoes were not in evidence; the soup had a white color, and neither of us could detect this flavor note. My soup was seasoned well, and I ate every last drop!

Our meals also included the pastry of the day, which was a cinnamon roll with a chocolate sauce drizzled on top of it. I’m not a raisin fan, so I picked the raisins out of mine, but other than that, we both enjoyed this very much. The chocolate sauce was quite good, with a light flavor of orange, and it added interest to an other wise good but pretty standard cinnamon roll. The pastry was soft and light, and, since we hadn’t realized that our meal came with a dessert, it was a nice surprise!

We would definitely recommend this restaurant for someone looking for a good sandwich or for anyone who is a fan of cream soups. We will be back!


Two Restaurants That Disappoint July 6, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — hpandaw @ 7:08 pm

In the past two days, I have had as many disappointing experiences.  The first was at Santiago’s Mexican Restaurant yesterday, July 5.  We’ve been to this restaurant, located under the Citrus Tower, several times, and have always been fine with the food there.  Yesterday, however, my dining companion noticed a small roach (approximately 1/2 inch long) running around the table.  After chasing it a bit, she managed to kill it.  That ended my enjoyment of the dinner, and I pushed away my plate.  I kept drinking, though, until I noticed that, crushed on the inside of my glass, was a small bug.  Not a roach, but still…  Ugh….  Needless to say, we won’t be eating here any time soon.

We went to CiCi’s Pizza on 192 today, and it had the typical cleanliness standards of every other restaurant we’ve ever been to on 192: lacking.  I’d heard some Disney employees mention that they ate here, so I figured it might be okay.  Wrong.  There were dried bits of food on our plates and trays, as well as lots of children running around, chewing with their mouths open, talking with bits of food coming out, and putting their hands over the stacks of “clean” glasses.  Yech…

We didn’t expect much from CiCi’s, but we’re disappointed in Santiago’s, which we had enjoyed.  We had a similar experience at the Mexican Restaurant Ay Jalisco in Clermont, when we noticed mouse droppings along the window sill there.  I don’t like roaches and mice frequenting the place at which we dine.  I wish that all restaurants here in Florida were required to post their sanitation scores, as they are in the rest of the civilized world.