Ceviche Tapas Orlando

The hubs and I had a date night for his birthday this past August, and we decided to venture downtown.  I had wanted to visit Ceviche for some time now, after hearing great things about this spot from folks on Twitter and Yelp.

I love downtown Orlando, the location of Ceviche in the Historic Church Street Station is a favorite spot.  I worked as a teenager in the Church Street Exchange, I attended many wedding receptions in this building and have fond memories with family here.

The restaurant is just gorgeous inside.  The dining room features a chapel ceiling from a 16th century abby and the dark wood, tile work, and architecture are just stunning.restaurant

Our table was next to a large banquet table and a tall glass cabinet that faced nearly floor to ceiling windows that offered a view of Church Street.


These tiled pillars are located throughout the restaurant and are just a beautiful feature.

Okay, let’s get to the eats!

Fresh bread and a pesto dip was presented with our drinks.


Our first tapas frias was tabla de quesos.

cheese plate 2

Aged manchego, mahon, tetilla and cabrales cheeses with sliced fruit, including grapes and figs.

cheese plate 1

Oh how I loved these cheeses!  I ate some of the softer cheeses with the extra bread we ordered (’cause I’m all about those carbs, ’bout those carbs, ’bout those carbs).

From the pescados selection we ordered caracoles a la vasca…


sautéed escargot, spinach, cream and Spanish sherry in a vol-au-vent pastry. Light and delicious!

From the vegetables selection, we ordered Portobello relleno.

mushroom 2

This incredibly large Portobello mushroom was stuffed with spinach and manchego cheese, and drizzled with sherry.  Excellent!  Definitely more than one person could enjoy this dish.

From the carnes selection, we chose the banderillas mixtas, an assortment of skewered grilled tenderloin, mild chorizo, marinated chicken and vegetables.

meat 2

I would definitely recommend these as there is enough to share.  The chorizo was fantastic!

We selected two desserts, one for the birthday boy…

creme brulee

a lovely crema catalana, a traditional Spanish crème brûlée in a dark chocolate shell, served with seasonal berries and a sprig of mint drizzled with chocolate.

I ordered flan, a popular Spanish custard, which was also served with seasonal berries, a sprig of mint, and drizzled with caramel and chocolate.


We very much enjoyed our visit to Ceviche and look forward to returning and sampling more dishes.  We hope to bring family and friends so we can share a greater selection.  So much fun!

Ceviche Tapas Orlando is located at 125 W. Church St., Orlando in the Historic Church Street Station.  You can find out more information about Ceviche via their website at http://ceviche.com/locations/cevicheorlando/.  They have live Flamenco shows and their schedule is listed on the website.  You can also find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CevicheOrlando and follow them on Twitter at @cevichetapas.


Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen – Fall Menu Tasting

The perception of Barnie’s as being only the purveyor of fine coffees and teas is slowly changing with the efforts of some fierce marketing campaigns by Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen’s elite team of marketing gurus.  The fact that Barnie’s has been located in it’s flagship Park Avenue shop for 38 years should tell you that the brand alone has held it’s own despite the continual pop up of other coffee shops and cafes.  The quality of product speaks for itself.  However, did you know that Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen also has an outstanding menu and extremely talented chef?  I didn’t, until recently this year and I’ve lived in Orlando for 43 years!  So, after meeting some of the men behind the marketing, I was given the opportunity to attend a tasting of Chef Camilo Velasco’s fall menu at Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen on Park Avenue.



We started out inside the shop, but with the great weather we are currently having this October, we moved outside to the lovely courtyard.



After a sip of our choice of a lovely Chardonnay or refreshing Reisling, we were provided with an incredible spread of “Firsts” at our tasting.  We sampled the Zellwood corn chowder, which had lovely bits of Spanish chorizo…

Zellwood corn chowder

and, the Loch Duart salmon tartare with pickled ramps, salsa verde and radish…

salmon tartare

(one of my favorites from the Firsts selection).

We also enjoyed an order of mussels, in a tomato fennel broth…


served with toasted baguette (which I ate with the salmon tartare too, so order extra!).

toasted baguette

The arugula and red watercress salad was incredible!

argula and red watercress salad

This salad contains grapes, parmigiano reggiano and white balsamic vinaigrette.  A special addition to this salad is the marcona almonds.  (I am now in love with these almonds and will never be able to settle for a lesser variation of almond.)  They are fantastic!

Continuing on with the Firsts, we were served a roasted beet and quinoa salad with sherry vinaigrette and pickled carrots.

roasted beet and quinoa

This was delicious, and I’m not someone who would necessarily order quinoa.

The only First on the new fall menu that wasn’t available to us the evening of our tasting event was the potato gnocchi with duck confit, brown butter and sage.  Reading this line alone should get your taste buds amped!  This is going to be a wonderful addition to the menu, and I’ve already heard that it is very tasty.  I look forward to returning to Barnie’s to enjoy this dish soon.

So, just when we didn’t think the selections could get any better, we moved on to “Seconds”.

We couldn’t get enough of this Carolina gold risotto.


Anson Mills rice with heirloom tomatoes and parmigiano reggiano make up this dish.  We learned that the rice is cooked in tomato sauce, and this made for an incredible, light tomato undertone of flavor in this dish.  Crazy good!

This flounder filet was served with roasted red pepper, coconut milk broth and baby bok choy.


This dish was light and flavorful, and the texture of the bok choy with the fish was a great combination.

I also really enjoyed this Joyce Farms roasted chicken breast dish.  I don’t generally order chicken all that much when eating out, but I would order this dish again.


The roasted, crispy skin on the breast was delicious.  Also in this dish was butternut squash mash, pumpkin seed pesto and Swiss chard.  (I love me some Swiss chard!)

The Kurobuta pork tenderloin was on point with its mushroom ragout, creamed faro and truffle.  I think this dish will be very popular.

pork tenderloin

Also among the Seconds, a very flavorful, moist braised short ribs dinner with smoked potato puree, tomato jam and glazed heirloom carrots.

braised short ribs

This was also a favorite.

Despite the fact that we stretched out this tasting over a couple of hours, we managed to get quite full; yet, somehow we still had just a little room left for a few desserts.

We sampled the South Florida passion fruit crème brûlée.

creme brulee

This silky, smooth dessert was very sweet!

Next, we enjoyed an incredible olive oil cake with Sicilian pistachio gelato and macerated berries.

olive oil cake

Wow!  I have never had olive oil cake but I am now a super fan!  It was light and flavorful and the gelato and berries were a great addition.  Definitely give this dessert a try!

Last but not least, a chocolate pudding served with biscotti and house-made espresso syrup.

pudding and espresso

Let me tell you…I am not one to order espresso, but this house-made espresso syrup with the chocolate pudding was unbelievably good.  (I only had two bites, but man…if you love chocolate and you love espresso…this is the dessert for you!)

I sincerely enjoyed this tasting.  Chef Velasco joined us a few times during our meal to discuss his new menu and his passion for this fall selection was infectious.  His talent and skill is obvious, and his maturity and knowledge is unsurprising given his mentorship under Chef Norman Van Aken.  Much success with this new menu, Chef.

Special thanks to Addison Ames for hosting this amazing tasting at Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen for us.  It was a wonderful event with delicious dishes, fun friends and decadent desserts.

Go to Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen for dinner and enjoy Chef Velasco’s new fall menu for yourself.  Tell your friends about them as well!  Barnie’s is located on Park Avenue at  111 Park Avenue South, Winter Park, FL 32789.  You can find more information about their dishes via their website at http://barniescoffeekitchen.com/pages/our-cafe.  You can also follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BarniesCoffeeKitchen and on Twitter at @BarniesCoffee.  Check out their great pics on Instagram at BarniesCoffeeKitchen.

http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/26/300249/restaurant/Orlando/Barnies-CoffeeKitchen-Winter-Park”><img alt=”Barnie's CoffeeKitchen on Urbanspoon” src=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/logo/300249/biglogo.gif” style=”border:none;width:104px;height:34px


Magical Dining 2014 – K Restaurant Wine Bar

After following Chef Fonzo on Twitter for a while now and drooling over his dishes, as well as Michelle’s desserts, we finally made it in to K Restaurant in College Park.

Here was this year’s Magical Dining menu:


I started with the garden bruschetta appetizer.

garden bruschetta 2

Roasted local vegetables, whipped ricotta cheese, confit tomato and crispy basil with a vinaigrette drizzle.

garden bruschetta 1

Beautiful presentation and wonderful flavors.

The hubs chose the Southern seafood minestrone.

seafood minestrone 1

Clammer Dave’s clams, oysters, shrimp, summer beans, bacon broth and greens.

seafood minestrone 2

Really loved the flavors included in this dish as well.

(I may be repeat myself a lot in this post with “beautiful presentation” and “amazing flavors” comments, but seriously, Chef Fonzo is amazing!)

For my entrée I selected the ricotta gnocchi.

ricotta gnocchi 1

These lovely cheese filled pillowy pockets of pasta were topped with Lake Meadows Farm chicken, roasted summer vegetables and herbs.

ricotta gnocchi  2

A feast for the eyes and palate!

The hubs entrée selection was Roast Palmetto Creek Farm pork tenderloin.

pork tenderloin 2

The pork was served with onion soubise, berry sage preserves and a pinot noir sauce.

pork tenderloin 1


For dessert, the hubs enjoyed the key lime cheesecake…

key lime cheesecake

sprinkled and crusted with graham cracker over mango.

key lime cheesecake 2

Lovely and luscious!

I chose the French toast bread pudding with caramel and anglaise sauce.

french toast bread pudding 2

Our server brought a taste of a 20 year old port to sample with the bread pudding…

bread pudding with port

which was smooth, creamy and perfect.  Excellent suggestion!

Our server at K was very knowledgeable, and in fact, we learned that he is soon testing to be a sommelier.  Good luck!

Thanks to Chef Fonzo for coming out of the kitchen to allow me to gush about how wonderful our meal was!  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit for Magical Dining month.  I can’t wait to visit again soon!

K Restaurant Wine Bar is located at 1710 Edgewater Drive, Orlando, FL  32804.  You can call (407) 872-2332 for reservations.

You can find more information about K on their website at http://krestaurant.net/ or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-Restaurant-Wine-Bar/106618472590.  You can also follow Chef Fonzo on Twitter at @ChefFonzo.



Magical Dining 2014 – Jack’s Place at the Rosen Plaza

Rosen Plaza sign

Special thanks to @VisitOrlando for the opportunity to visit Jack’s Place at the Rosen Plaza for Magical Dining Month this year!  (I participated in a Twitter contest hosted by @VisitOrlando during Magical Dining Month and scored dinner at Jack’s Place.)

gift cert

Follow @VisitOrlando, they do some great giveaways on Social Media, as well as provide great information about goings on in our City Beautiful!

After being shown to our table,

Table Wall Pic

we looked over our Magical Dining menu.


We started with bread service.

Bread service

This has to be one of my favorite bread selections for bread service in all of Orlando!  This basket of deliciousness included a warm sourdough bread loaf (served with a pesto dipping sauce) and toasted cinnamon raisin bread (with butter).  We ate two baskets of bread!  I could have eaten a third but we had food coming!

The hubs and I both opted to start with the “Jack’s Best” first course of Bering Sea crab and roast corn bisque.

crab corn bisque 2

This hearty soup was filled with seafood and veggies, and was really fantastic.  (We managed to save some sourdough bread from our second basket to do some dipping!)

For my entrée, I chose the pan seared salmon fillet with King crab and lobster hash, with veggies.

Salmon Fillet

The chard, asparagus and carrots were great with this dish.  The crab and lobster hash was fantastic.

The hubs enjoyed his roasted and honey Dijon crusted rack of lamb served with cilantro couscous and veggies.

Rack of Lamb

Both of us took home leftovers but had to at least sample a few bites of dessert (which we also ended up taking home to finish the next day).  I selected the marscapone cheesecake with berries and caramel sauce.

marscapone cheesecake

This is not a light dessert but it is sweet and delicious!

The hubs chose the chocolate marquis with whip cream and chocolate drizzle.

chocolate marquis

The service provided by the staff at Jack’s Place was outstanding.  Warm, inviting, and knowledgeable, our server provided attentive service and made our dining experience excellent.

A little added touch of sweetness were the Lindt chocolates that accompanied our check.


Thanks again to @VisitOrlando and everyone at Jack’s Place at the Rosen Plaza for a wonderful Magical Dining event.

Jack’s Place is located in the Rosen Plaza at 9700 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819.  The restaurant validates valet parking.

You can find more information on Jack’s Place on their website at http://www.jacksplacerestaurant.com and follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JacksPlace9700.


Magical Dining 2014 – Capital Grille

My first stop for Magical Dining Month this year was at Capital Grille.  We met my husband’s cousin and his wife, and my in-laws, for dinner to celebrate the in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary!

Because our party was celebrating a special event at Capital Grille, the restaurant decorated our table with rose petals, gave the happy couple an anniversary card, and presented my mother-in-law with a rose at the end of the evening.  We were all impressed.

Here was the Magical Dining menu this year.


We started our evening with bread service.

bread service

Soup or salad options included a field greens with tomato and fresh herbs salad or,


clam chowder.


The hubs ordered a bone-in, Kona crusted, dry-aged sirloin with shallot butter, with a skewer of shrimp.

steak and shrimp

I chose the parmesan and herb marinated tournedos, with a lobster tail.

tornedos and lobster

For all of the offered entrées, you were able to add either a skewer of shrimp or lobster tail for an up-charge.

Sides of Sam’s mashed potatoes,


and French green beans,

green beans

were served family style and each couple shared these sides.

For dessert, each couple received a plate with both desserts offered on the Magical Dining menu.


The hubs ate the flourless chocolate espresso cake,

chocolate dessert

and I enjoyed the cheesecake with seasonal berries.

creme brulee

The food offerings for Magical Dining were excellent at Capital Grille, and I would definitely like to return to the restaurant again outside of Magical Dining to sample some of their regular menu selections.  The service and attention to detail is excellent and the knowledgeable staff made our evening an event to remember.

Thanks to everyone that made my in-laws’ Magical Dining experience that much more magical with the celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary!

Capital Grille is located at 9101 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819.  (The restaurant validates valet parking.)

You can find more information about Capital Grille on their website at https://www.thecapitalgrille.com/pages/home.aspx?id=8025.  Follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Capital-Grille-Orlando-FL/192575754088719 or on Twitter at @Capital Grille.


Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen and Yelp Elite Event at CityArts Factory

I was recently invited to attend a very cool local event.  The Yelp Elite coordinated an evening at CityArts Factory, hosted by Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen.

city arts 2

Various selections of coffees and teas were available to sample.

barnies 1

A wine and beer station was also available.

wine and brew

Attendees were given a demonstration at Barnie’s pour-over station featuring some of their finest coffees.

pour over 2

pour over 1

There was even a social media contest…

yelp contest 1

so I had to participate…


We were also introduced to the wildly popular brewsticks by Barnie’s.


If you haven’t experienced this compact, travel friendly option, you need to pick up a sample!

brewsticks 2

This cold-brew contraption was pretty cool too!

cold brew

Barnie’s had to offer their Santa’s White Christmas at this event.  It is truly one of the most popular flavors and I can attest that several of my friends are huge fans.

white christmas 2

white christmas 1

But, if you only think of Barnie’s as a coffee shop, you’d only be partially correct.  Along with fine coffee and tea products, Barnie’s has an excellent menu available at it’s Winter Park location, and Chef Camilo Velasco showed off some of his creations at the Yelp Elite event in Barnie’s CityArts location.

barnies 3

barnies 2

Thai quinoa salad…

barnies 7

Butternut squash soup shooters…

barnies 8

barnies 4

Herbed goat cheese with tomato jam crostini, caprese bruschetta, ham and brie crostini with fig jam, and smoked salmon spread on crostini with dill and preserved lemon.

barnies 9

Here are some of my favorite selections from the art on display at the CityArts Factory gallery during this event…

city arts 6

city arts 5

city arts 3

city arts 1

city arts 7

CityArts Factory is located at 29 S Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801  You can find out more about them at http://www.orlandoslice.com/group/cityartsfactory.  Check out their Facebook page too at https://www.facebook.com/CityArtsFactory?rf=152746858081030.

Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen has several locations.  This event took place at the CityArts Factory in downtown Orlando.  The Winter Park restaurant is located at 118 S Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789.  Their phone number is (407) 629-0042.  Call today and set up a reservation to experience their wonderful menu.  You can find out more about them on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BarniesCoffeeKitchen.  And their @Yelp page at http://www.yelp.com/biz/barnies-coffeekitchen-winter-park-2.

Special thanks to Addison Ames (@addisonames) with Barnie’s for the invite, as well as congratulations to he and Andi P with @YelpOrlando for putting on such a fun local event!







Highball & Harvest at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando

As an amateur local blogger, getting invited to special events around town is very exciting!  Missing them due to illness…not so exciting.  I was bummed to not make the tasting event with Chef Jeffers at Highball & Harvest at the Ritz-Carlton but enjoyed seeing all of the amazing dishes posted by other local bloggers that did attend.  I couldn’t wait to visit, and was so thankful for the opportunity to attend a special reception at Highball & Harvest.  Thank you to Michelle Valle for the invite!

Since this was going to be a child-free event for me and the hubs, we decided to make a night of it and booked a stay at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando.  (If you are a Marriott rewards member there are special perks!)  With a AAA membership you can book a room for $199.  Well worth it for this special night.

We arrived early and after check-in visited the lobby bar for a few snacks.  Our server brought us an assortment of bar snacks including pretzels, wasabi peas and candied walnuts.

Lobby bar

I ordered a hummus and veggie plate that came with soft pita wedges and sliced carrots and tomato.

lobby bar app 1

The hubs ordered smothered tots topped with cheese, sour cream, jalapeño, and tomato.

lobby bar app 2

Oh my, were these good.  Definitely enough to share.

After a walk around the hotel, and some lounging in our room, we got ready for the reception at Highball & Harvest.

We were welcomed with a signature drink, the “Last Wish”.  I won’t give away all of the ingredients, but the base is whiskey, with house-made cola and essence of tobacco.  (Not tabasco, you read that right, tobacco.)

reception 1 last wish drink

The drink was poured over a perfect ice ball with lemon wedge.  It was very smooth and a great drink to sip and stroll.

reception 2 last wish drink

So we strolled through the lovely tables adorned with fresh made selections for the evening…

reception 3 display 1

pimento cheese spread and white fish dip,

reception 3 display 2

pickled veggies and peppers,

reception 4 display 3

and deviled eggs.  A great spread for a Southern style soirée!

reception 4 display 4

There was a station set up for a special lemonade concoction…

reception 9 display 7

as well as a full oyster bar.

reception 10 display 8 oysters

Highball & Harvest also has their own hot sauce!

reception 19 display 19

This was a perfect pairing.

reception 21 display 21

Each table in the bar area was adorned with a small jar of nuts as well as Chef Jeffers’ Jerky.  A special treat!

reception 17 display 17 jerky

There were also a few desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth.

reception 7 display 5

The hot red light was on…and the baby doughnuts were ready!

reception 8 display 6

The sugar and cinnamon spiced doughnuts were served with nutella for dipping.

reception 16 display 16 donuts


reception 10 display 10 baby donuts

You could even snag a sample tube of nutella to take home.

reception 11 display 12 nutella

There were also mini strawberry shortcake cups.

reception 23 display 23

reception 13 display 13

reception 10 display 9 strawberry shortcake

And, last but not least a coffee gelato station.

reception 12 display 12 gelato

Highball and Harvest offers something else unique…wine on tap.

reception 14 display 14 wine kegs

16 different wines are available on tap.

reception 22 display 22 wine on draft

We decided to enjoy an early dinner at the bar.  A full menu is available and there is plenty of seating at or around the bar.  We enjoyed live music on our visit.  (I hope that continues, it was excellent.)

dinner napkin

We started with a couple of appetizers.  The hubs wanted to try the grilled corn chowder.

dinner souyp

This dish was topped with “pig popcorn” and grilled corn relish.  The taste was rich and hearty and could definitely be eaten as a meal.

I ordered the Southern Spread.

dinner appetizer 1

This appetizer came in what looked like a cool, old metal tool bucket.  Fantastic presentation.

dinner appetizer 2

This appetizer included pimento cheese spread, smoked fish dip, pickled
vegetables, benne-seed lavash and sourdough bread.  I was in heaven!

dinner appetizer 4

My favorite was definitely the pimento cheese spread on sourdough bread.

The fish dip, with pickled veggies on lavash was also divine.

dinner appetizer 3

I definitely recommend this appetizer.  I also saw an order of the H&H Parker House Rolls.  Oh my, that’s definitely something I will return to try.  Come hungry folks, H&H doesn’t do small appetizers!

After all of the reception food tasting and our appetizers, we opted to split a dinner (the small portion).  We chose the shrimp and grits.

dinner shrimp and grits

Anson Mill grits were topped with Canaveral red shrimp, charred tomato BBQ, arugula, fennel, and crisp onions.  Fantastic dish.

We were definitely thrilled with the food and the service, and look forward to visiting Highball & Harvest at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando again.

We enjoyed our lovely room…


and appreciated the card and gift left for us by the wonderful staff at Ritz-Carlton, who wished us a Happy Anniversary during our visit.

room gift

We had a lovely anniversary.


Thanks again to Michelle Valle and the Ritz-Carlton staff for making our visit so special.

Make sure you visit Highball & Harvest for any occasion!  They are located in the Ritz-Carlton at 4012 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando, FL 32837.  Make reservations by calling (407) 393-4422.  Valet parking is available at the hotel and will be validated by the restaurant for their guests.

You can find out more information about Highball & Harvest and their menu at http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Orlando/Dining/Highball_Harvest/Default.htm#.