Sunday, June 23, 2013

Firefly ~ Panama City Beach, Florida

I was at the beach recently for a day and a half … oh I wish it had of been for longer but it was enough to get my beach fix!  We ate out on Friday night (June 14) at Firefly.  I had already heard about it being a great restaurant so expectations were high … I was NOT disappointed!!!  They are only open for dinner by the way.

First off, while waiting to be seated with our relatively large group, my two nieces and I decided to do Birthday Cake shots at the bar … my treat!  They had been hearing all about mine and their Mama’s recent adventure drinking these and wanted to know what all the fuss was about.  The bartender admitted right away that he hadn’t made them in a while and turns out … the ones he made tasted more like Lemon Drop Martini Shots but they were very good!  Come to find out … I Googled it … and there are multiple recipes for Birthday Cake Shots and some sound like Lemon Drop Martini Shots to me.  Anyway … the shots my sister and I had (courtesy of my darling young daughter lol) in Biloxi, MS really really really tasted like a bite of Birthday Cake.  Seriously!

Once seated I decided to try an interesting sounding drink since I’ve been hearing a lot about Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey … actually I bought one of the tiny bottles to try it and hadn’t yet.  Anyway … I ordered the “Fireball” cocktail and man was it good … so good I had two LOL.  Yep … this has become another favorite cocktail of mine … loved loved loved it!  Remember the Fireball jawbreaker candies when you were little?  Well … that’s what it tastes like!  Yummmmmy! 

I ordered (and so did 5 others) the appetizer She Crap Soup and man … it was amazing!!!  It’s served with a puffed pastry and a fresh drizzle (tableside) of Cream Sherry.  And it wasn’t appetizer size either!!!  Oh no!  It’s a full sized bowl of soup.  I would definitely have this again … oh wow just thinking of it makes my mouth drool!  It was delicious!!!!!!
She Crab Soup
NOTE: Pic does not do this dish justice ... believe me, it is AMAZING!!!
My main dish was the Shrimp wrapped in Applewood Bacon on Cheese Grits and Gravy.  The shrimp were huge but sadly a little overdone and though the grits were creamy and smooth … the gravy was not at all tasty.  It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t something I’d recommend or order again.  (Sorry ... I didn't take a picture.)

I’d definitely eat here again … if only for the She Crab Soup … seriously though … I’d give another dish a try … this place is awesome … awesome décor and atmosphere and many delicious sounding dishes to try.  My nieces ordered from their Sushi Bar Menu and loooved the Sushi they ordered … ate them all, I believe!  Another at our table ordered the Crab Cakes and they looked very very good … mostly meat and very little breading.  Someone else ordered the Filet Medallions and said they were very good.  And then another had the Shrimp and Crab Newburg … looked yummy and he ate every last bite LOL ... even after promising someone else at our table a taste ... ooops!!!    
Library Lounge where we waited to be seated ... iPhone pic
does not do this room justice at all ... it was beautifully done!!!

This place is on my A list … it’s a MUST TRY if you’ve never been.  Check out their menu at Firefly's Website  Some of these dishes I mentioned are from the “Early Bird” Menu so be sure to check it out as well.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pollo Tropical, West Cobb County, GA

This is a new Caribbean themed restaurant for us in West Cobb County Georgia, located on Barrett Parkway, but I have eaten at one in Orlando numerous times with Anthony and Kay.  Kay always gives me a hard time because I pronounce the name like an American LOL … its Spanish people!  Just so you know LOL  My sister and I ate here the other day so since its new I thought I’d blog about it for those who’ve never eaten at one.

Pollo Tropical is a healthier fast food restaurant which has been around since 1988 but mostly in Florida.  So what makes them a healthier fast food restaurant?  The Chicken is hormone free, steroid free and never frozen plus their menus offer a variety of ‘Vegetarian’ dishes.  It’s not your typical ‘fast food’ place either, though it appears to be when you walk in the door.  Again, what makes it different?  One, your food is brought out to your table (after you order at the counter like you would in a fast food restaurant), two, they use real utensils (at least at our new one here in Cobb County they did) and lastly, best of all, they clean up after you … but there is no tipping allowed … its just part of their service.  Atmosphere, though Caribbean in nature, is still a typical ‘fast food’ sorta feel but the food?  Delicious!!!  I haven’t had anything YET that I did not like … I even love their chicken on the bone if Scott pulls the meat off for me LOL

The other day at lunch with my sister, I tried their Tropichop, which is custom made to order with selections you choose.  Jackie had a Vegeterian one and I had a Chicken based Tropichop with Yellow Rice with Veggies, Black Beans, Tomatoes and Sautéed Onions and Peppers then I added my very very very favorite sauce, which is at a self serve counter with all their other delicious sauces, on top (Cilantro Garlic).  OMG this sauce is so good I could almost drink it … but I don’t LOL … it is THAT good though!!!

I’m not normally a fast food person, having given up fast food and junk food many years ago … but this place is definitely one of my exceptions and ONLY because it is healthy fast food … I’m just careful not to overindulge.

Check out their menu at: Pollo Tropical Menu

Bottom line ~ I love this place and I’m sure you’ll love it too!  Healthy is always a good thang!!!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tommy Condon’s Irish Pub & Seafood Restaurant, (Downtown) Charleston, SC

We stopped in this place and sat outside to enjoy a couple drinks on our last evening in Charleston.  We didn’t eat anything so I have no idea what the food is like.  I loved the drink I ordered so much I just had to blog about it … my new favorite drink!

Atmosphere (inside) was very Irish pub’ish … dark wood walls and floor and all … pretty place!  However, we sat outside cause the weather (again) was very nice and we just wanted to chill and have a couple drinks.

Scott had water since he was the DD … Kay and Anthony had girly drinks LOL but me … oh I had the Dark and Stormy!!!

I assumed (and you know what they say about doing that) that the drink was an Irish creation but I have since Googled it and found that it actually originates from the Caribbean Islands … hmmmm makes sense since it’s a Rum based cocktail.

I loved it and though the name hints that its taste may be ‘dark and stormy’ it doesn’t have a strong taste AT ALL!  I’m pretty sure the name comes from the fact that its made with DARK Rum … It’s definitely my new favorite drink and I think its name kinda suits me (at times, anyway LOL).

Noisy Oyster, (Downtown) Charleston SC

Memorial Day Weekend 2013

This restaurant was recommended by several ‘locals’ so we gave it a try… funny thing is … none of us could remember its exact name so I kept calling it ‘Nasty Oyster’ or ‘Dirty Oyster’.  LOL 

Anyway … this restaurant is located on Market Street and is an open air restaurant and pretty cool since the weather was perfect!  Décor was typical beachy/seafood restaurant … we didn’t have to wait long at all but that’s cause once again we ate a late lunch/early dinner since we had a great brunch every day at our hotel (Embassy Suites on Meeting Street).

Anthony and I decided to finally give the local beer “Palmetto” a try so we both got a glass of draft which came in Pilsners so it was a little more than what a bottle would hold … it was really good …hoppy … and apparently very strong because even drinking only one with dinner … Anthony and I were both a little ‘tipsy’ … not sure if Anthony would appreciate me calling him ‘tipsy’ LOL since its kinda a girly word BUT I don’t know what else to call it … we weren’t drunk by no means … just feeling the effects of the alcohol … AND after only one beer each!!!  I’d definitely recommend trying this local beer.

Fried Gator Tail with Honey Dijon Sauce
We ordered an appetizer of Fried Gator Tail served with a honey-dijon sauce.  The bite sized Gator Tail was great but none of us were crazy about the sauce that was served with it … it just didn’t go, ya know?

Shrimp and Grits with Cornbread
I ordered Shrimp and Grits which was served with a slice of Cornbread.  Here’s the description from the menu “Creamy grits topped with fresh locally caught Shrimp, Sausage, Onion and Tasso Ham Gravy” … I highly recommend it … it was absolutely delicious … the Cornbread and the Shrimp and Grits … perfectly seasoned and had lots of shrimp in it and decent sized ones too … yummmmmmmmmy.  The Cornbread was soft and moist … the way I like it!  Lord its making my mouth water just thinking of it!!!

Scott ordered a Grilled Chicken Sandwich (I know I know … it’s a Seafood Restaurant what’s he doing ordering Chicken) … anyway … he said it was really good … chicken was juicy and perfectly cooked.

Fried Shrimp (and that's my son, Anthony, photojacking)
Anthony ordered the Fried Shrimp with a side of French Fries … he let me taste one so I know for a fact they were great!  Good sized shrimp and lots of ‘em … lightly breaded and not at all greasy.  Fries were perfect too … just like I like ‘em (though they were Anthony’s lol).

Shrimp Po' Boy with Hush Puppies
Kay ordered a Shrimp Po’ Boy cause she’d be craving one with a side of Hush Puppies … now I don’t know much about Po’ Boys, how they are supposed to taste and exactly what is supposed to be on them (I suppose they are just a sandwich made with some type seafood).  Kay said it was good … she would order it again.  Oh and I tried the Hush Puppies and they were good too!!

Oh look!  Its a heart-shaped Tomato slice!
Bottom line ~ We would definitely return to this restaurant so yep … we recommend it!!!  Oh and it’s the NOISY Oyster … Remember that!  LOL


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hyman's Seafood, Charleston, SC

Memorial Day Weekend 2013

Scott and I ate a late lunch early dinner here and chose this place because we found a coupon for a free appetizer in the lobby of our hotel AND it helped that it was only a few blocks down the road cause we were hunnnnngry and it was way past lunch time and all I had had was a granola bar (a healthy one, of course).

We got lucky since it was an unusual time of day and pretty much got seated right away (normally there is a line and a wait as we witnessed on several passes by the restaurant during the couple days after).  It was a kinda cool place with tons and tons of black and white photos of stars, celebrities, and the like all over every square inch of every wall … literally!  In fact, each seat at each table contained a brass label noting who ate in that exact spot … mine was Judge Wapner and Scott’s wasn’t legible any longer since it had been there so long.  The chairs and table were not comfortable … especially for Scott with his sciatic nerve acting up.  They were solid wooden ‘school’ type chairs, no cushioning … yikes!!!

First off we ordered drinks … well a pitcher was more like it LOL … their own recipe for Bloody Mary’s and boy were they wonderful … I’d definitely recommend trying them … very very good!  Heck I drove the whole way … a little over 6 hours (with rest stops every couple hours included) so I deserved a drink or two to chill and these were some great Bloody Mary’s.

While we were sipping on our drinks the waitress brought us their complimentary appetizer … Boiled Peanuts … yummm … nothing says ‘Southern’ like some Boiled Peanuts!  Our free appetizer came next … Crab Dip (more like a spread) served with Captain’s Wavers (in the package) but it was pretty good … not sure I’d order and get charged for it though.

Scott and I ordered the ‘Pick Six’ (I think that’s what it was called) for two cause we both just loooooove seafood.  Ours included: Shrimp and Grits, Buffalo Oysters, Old Bay Shrimp, Crab Cakes, Fried Catfish and Fried Scallops with sides of Hush Puppies, Mac n Cheese and Greens.

Look at all that food and this photo doesn't show the appetizers!!!
There was so much food on our table for 4 that there really wouldn’t have been room for 2 more people at our table!!!!  No way!!!

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits: Definitely not the best I’ve ever had … very few shrimp and though the grits were creamy … there wasn’t much flavor (thank goodness I had had them add cheese and bacon, which are an extra charge by the way).  This is not a dish that I would order again if I was to return.  But wait … it does get better!

Buffalo Oysters ... yummmm
Buffalo Oysters: These were very very lightly battered and barely fried Oysters smothered in Buffalo Sauce and they were soooooo good!  When I say ‘barely fried’ … they were in between eating raw oysters (which I do not do) and fried oysters.  But these were very good and I’d definitely order them again and recommend them!!!

Old Bay Shrimp: These were amazing!  Scott makes steamed shrimp quite often and sprinkles them heavily with Old Bay Seasoning beforehand BUT when he cooks them the flavor of the Old Bay is just on the outside of the shrimp meat and mostly on the shell … these … OMG the flavor of the Old Bay was completely through the meat of the shrimp … in other words the shrimp were totally engulfed in Old Bay seasoning … oh so very very yummy!  I’d definitely have these again and recommend them!

Crab Cakes:  They were good and not loaded with breading so there was a lot of meat … not sure if I’d order them as my main entrée but would have them in addition to something else for sure.

Fried Catfish:  Cooked to perfection, lightly breaded and fried!  Didn’t taste fresh though but they were good if you’re in the mood for Catfish.  And since I hadn’t had anything fried in quite some time, I was pleased that they weren’t overly breaded or greasy … at all!  NOTE: I rarely do fried food any more but will occasionally make an exception … special treat sorta thing!

Fried Scallops:  I usually like mine sautéed or broiled but for some reason we had to have them cooked the same way as the Catfish and I only like Catfish fried … it’s a Southern Thang!  They were good, again very lightly breaded so you tasted the Scallops and not the breading.

Hush Puppies:  These were great and I’m picky bout my Hush Puppies.  Not near as good as my Mama’s were but yep definitely great!!!

Mac n Cheese:  Oh dang!  It was almost … almost … as good as mine, really!!!  I’d definitely recommend this as a side!

Greens:  Nope … they were NOT good at all.  I took one bite and that was it … in fact when we couldn’t eat everything and packed up a to-go box we intentionally left the Greens OUT!  Nope not good!

Would we go back?  Probably, especially if there wasn’t another Seafood place to try but there are … there are plenty more to try.  But I would definitely recommend this place.  Not outstanding but very good!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Jestine's Kitchen, Charleston, SC

We were in Charleston, SC over this past Memorial Day Weekend and of course ‘just had to try’ Jestine’s Kitchen … well it came highly recommended by Rachel Ray of the Foodnetwork and a friend of a friend … sorry Rachel but you won’t like what I have to say about the place.  Oh and we were told by a couple 'locals' that this place wasn't that great (tourist trap) and suggested we try another (Martha Lou's) but we didn't listen.

First off you have to wait in line “around the corner” to get into this tiny little restaurant … décor was cute and it was clean … but the food?  Well none of us four would ever return even if it was free!

Here’s the deal:

Before we ever ordered a thing we all noticed the table of 4 next to us, who were asking for their bill, hardly touched their Fried Chicken … I mean it looked as if each had maybe taken a bite or two, seriously!  Nor had they touched their sides much either … lets just say … there were 4 plates full of food that was going to get trashed.  We debated on asking them why but didn’t (wish we had).

First up ~ drink orders … we all had water with lemon except for Anthony, he loves his Sweet Tea and Jestine’s apparently refers to theirs as the ‘House Wine’.  I just had to have a sip (I gave up Sweet Tea over 4 years ago but I do know what its supposed to taste like) well that should have been a big indicator as to how the food would be because let me tell you McDonalds knows Sweet Tea (and I’m not a fast food eater either) and well … Jestine’s does not.  Weak and just sweet enough to say there was some sugar in it.

That's some weak looking Sweet Tea, now ain't it?
Next came our ‘free’ appetizer … a small bowl full of cucumbers soaked in watered down vinegar … they were okay (and we were hungry) but how in the world can you mess up marinated cucumbers???

We ordered one appetizer to share … Fried Green Tomatoes and yes they were pretty good (thanks to the salsa on top) BUT they were sliced so thin (and there were only 5 slices on the plate) that one tomato would make about 4 plates of Fried Green Tomato appetizers … seriously they were that thin!!!!  Talk about cheaping out!!!

Sorry ya'll I had almost eaten all of my portion before I realized I didn't take a pic.
You can tell how thin they are from the pic though.
I ordered the Meatloaf with Gravy, Mac n Cheese and Greens and buddy let me tell you … this was not Southern Cookin at its finest by no means.

The Meatloaf?  The texture was as if it was held together with gelatin (and it probably was in order to stretch that hamburger meat cause I could hardly taste a thing) … Thank Goodness for the gravy, which, by the way, was pretty darn good, cause otherwise I’m not sure I would have eaten it and believe me we all went in very hungry … it had been a while since brunch.

The Mac n Cheese?  Well if any of ya’ll have tried My Mac n Cheese Recipe then you know I’m pretty much a connoisseur on Mac n Cheese … so putting it lightely ... this was one of THE worst I’ve ever put in my mouth!  The pasta tasted as if it was boiled and boiled and boiled til it was about as full of water as it could get without turning to mush and then a bit of cheese was sprinkled on top before it was popped in the oven.  Yep … that’s a perfect description.   

The Greens?  Inedible … I’m not sure what, if any, seasoning was cooked in them but they were NOT good at all.

Anthony and Scott ordered the Fried Chicken … ‘their Specialty’ supposedly.  Both were disappointed big time … the skin, which is usually the best part of Southern Fried Chicken was the worst part … first of all (and I wish I’d gotten a picture of it) it was sorta black looking or darker than any Fried Chicken I’d ever seen and secondly … it tasted as if it had been fried in very old grease … not grease that had been used all day … or even for the past week … I’m talking grease that had been reused for months and months on end.  Scott was really worried that they might end up getting sick so neither ate the skin … only the meat and not all of it either.  As I said already … we went in hungry so we did eat some of what was on our plates.

Kay ordered the Pecan Crusted Chicken Breast and thought it pretty good … seems it was baked instead of fried so none of the nasty greasy mess.

None of us were impressed with any of our 'Southern' sides …

Bottom line ~

We would never recommend this restaurant to anyone and would definitely never return.  If someone eats here that has never had Good Ol’ Southern Food but because they are in Charleston they want to try it … well they would think there was something very wrong with Southerners!  I’m just saying!

Regarding Rachel Ray recommending this restaurant ... hmmm maybe she ate there on a good day, when they knew she was coming so they could change the oil.