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Eating in Orlando Vol. 7

Eating in Orlando Vol. 7

Let me start this post with a little preface.  Some food bloggers in Orlando are going around to local businesses, introducing themselves by their social media handles, dropping how many instagram followers they have and asking for free items.  This needs to stop, and they need to be ashamed of themselves. It's pretty revealing about someone's character that they are using a platform presented as "sharing their love of food" to not only expect but ask for preferential treatment from people that are trying to make a living.  I'd love to call these people out by name, but instead of doing that I will tell any business owners reading this, if someone asks you for you free items, don't feel pressured to do it.  They cannot guarantee you any return for a picture, I don't care what their following is.  If they really cared about your business they'd get to know you, support you, and never take advantage of you.  

Back to the food.

LUMA ON PARK

Despite loving impeccably made food, I had never dined at Luma.  It has always had hype around it for being a top culinary spot but the price tag kept me away. I don't really like dropping a lot of money on one meal (the lower income household up-bringing never leaves you).  However, while trying to secure a place that would seat 10 people for a small anniversary meal for my sister, I found many places were going to try and charge me food & beverage minimums or an additional fee for a private area. Needless to say I wasn't down with that, so all of those places lost the business of my group.  I called Luma and they offered their semi-private (which is actually pretty private) area to us at no charge with no minimums required.  

Our server was excellent, she handled our group that came with a few dietary restrictions flawlessly and helped a few find a wine suitable to their palate. Everyone enjoyed their meal and it was a seamless evening.  While I wouldn't dine here on a regular basis because I guess I just don't ball that hard, for a special occasion this would be a great spot to have on your list. 

HOMECOMING KITCHEN

I got to dine at Homecoming Kitchen during a day long Disney Springs media event.  Mixed reviews had been circulating anytime someone mentioned this southern style farm-to-table restaurant to me so I went in with no expectations.  It was a family-style feast not just with media people but a few Disney employees and appearances by Chef Art Smith himself. 

To start we shared Church Lady deviled eggs, Bee Haven Bay fried green tomatoes, and the Jasper Board with assorted meats and to-die-for pimento cheese. All of the starters were solid, especially the fried green tomatoes that very few places get right, always losing the battle between overly crispy and a soggy mess. 

The main dish arrived, the famous fried chicken accompanied by Momma's macaroni and cheese, shrimp and grits, and kale and collards. The fried chicken was okay but not the best I've had, but thank heavens it wasn't dry. It's gets a 7.5 out of 10 on the don't- come-at-me-with-weak-southern-fried-chicken scale.  While I did not pay for my meal, I can say based on the food we were served if I found myself hungry in Disney Springs, I would probably stop in for some starters.

MIDICI PIZZA

My experience at Midici is exactly why I am weary of what instagrammers say about meals they were given for free.  I was invited to multiple media events at Midici and I declined all the offers.  I watched as some posted photos singing the praises of this national chain.  I waited awhile and took two friends on the long car ride into Kissimmee to see if the hype was real or paid for.

We arrived after the lunch rush to a restaurant that was a bit of a mess.  We had a hard time navigating the flow at first and not one employee assisted us even after we found the proper place to order. Eventually pizzas and salads were ordered but the rest of the experience is definitely fast casual. You get your own plates, silverware and drinks from a soda machine in a communal area (that was unkempt).  As we waited for our pizzas I decided to go back to order an iced coffee. After waiting at one end of the counter I was told to go to the opposite side to order my coffee. Upon going to that spot, I was again ignored so I gave up. Instead of drawing this experience out anymore for you I will tell you our pizzas were just alright, not rave worthy. Our salads, once they came after our pizzas, were not good at all.  

I'm not sure why anyone would chose this place over Pizza Bruno, but I suppose if you live nearby it's a somewhat suitable option for Neapolitan style pizza if you are willing to endure the service and pizza that can't hold a candle to Bruno.

MAMAK

Mamak is not a new spot for me, but it deserved a shout out because since they've opened they've been a solid food haven in the over taco-populated Mills/50 district.  With a menu full of small plate options you can enjoy an array of tastes all at once and switch things up on every visit as you explore the menu. At this point I do have some favorite plates that are hard to pass up. 

  • Roti Canai
  • Mamak Fries
  • Kari Mee
  • Malaysian Coconut Kari
  • Sesame Chilled Noodle Salad
  • Lettuce Wraps 

No offense to another Asian street food joint down the road, but Mamak wins easily for my dollars every time.

JOYFUL GARDEN

I will never pretend I know what I'm doing when I eat at a Chinese restaurant. I'm googling items on the menu or searching Yelp pictures before I order to try and get a grasp on all my options. At Joyful Garden the expansive menu left me and my crew hemming and hawing for a good 10 minutes before we gave up and went with our gut.  We ordered a seafood platter, spare ribs, and salt & pepper fried calamari.  All of the dishes were exceptionally tasty, but I wouldn't order the spare ribs again mainly due to having to deal with the bones. However one of the servers told us after there was a boneless option we can try next time.  Don't be put off that the location is in Pine Hills, it's clean and welcoming and worth checking out but be prepared to take your time looking through the menu. This is not a basic beef lo mein situation.

WONDERMADE

Wondermade in downtown Sanford added ice cream to their repertoire awhile back , but they finally upgraded their space into a cafe setting that is far more welcoming than their old setup that felt rather empty and bland.  Brightly colored posters, their namesake in large bold red letters, branded tile floors at the entrance, and their hashtag #tasteadventure now adorn each area and leave a well-branded statement. Beyond an updated look they've expanded their flavors and offerings to include a s'mores popsicle or "smoresicle", and the Rice Krispies Treat ice cream sandwich. I got the regular Rice Krispies treat (they also have chocolate) with Nutella ice cream. It was not put together at the counter, but grabbed from a freezer in the back (not sure if that is the normal procedure), but despite that it was a delicious treat and a nice alternative to a regular ice cream cone. The freshening of the space paired with new items makes Wondermade a great cool down spot for summer. I'm already planning my next trip for some sweet cornbread ice cream. 

All meals excluding Homecoming Kitchen were paid for personally by me. All images are mine. Support your local businesses!

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