Eat It, Damn It!

Reviews, raves, slams, and damns.

Monthly Archives: January 2012

Black Bean Deli

One of the places that I read about before traveling to Orlando was a little lunch counter that is very popular with the locals. It is described as a tiny place with only a few seats inside and a couple outside. Supposedly, the place gets packed around the lunch hour, so people in a hurry should either come earlier or later. All of these were true.

Black Bean Outside
MG and I got to the Black Bean Deli near 2pm, just as most lunches are usually finishing. The place was still packed with people grabbing food to go. Luckily, we were able to grab the sole outside table to sit and enjoy lunch.

Cuban Sandwich
I got the Large Cuban ($6.00). It is most certainly large, not overwhelmingly so, but definitely go for the small unless you are a big eater and are very hungry. The bread was fresh and flaky. The ham was very tasty, without being too salty. The roast pork was nice. The Swiss cheese and pickles were applied in good proportion to the sandwich. While this won’t be replacing Casa Havana’s Cubano Especial as my favorite Cuban sandwich, I can unabashedly recommend this tasty treat. The amount you get for the price is fantastic and I wouldn’t complain if the sandwich cost $10.

Ropa Vieja Platter
MG got the daily special, Ropa Vieja ($8.00). It comes with a small side salad, black beans, fried sweet plantains (maduros), and white rice. Their menu board describe the Ropa Vieja as seasoned in a wine with tomatoes. It was excellent, very tender, very well cooked. MG was not as impressed as I, but she still found it delectable.

Black Bean Soup
She also got a small Black Bean Soup ($2.00). She said it was simple, but good. It tasted of black bean, nothing more, nothing less.

Ropa Vieja Empanada
The Ropa Vieja Empanada ($1.75) is a must have. The flaky crust compliments the beef very nicely, and the shell holds in all the juice from the wine sauce and the meat. Definitely order one if you take the trip.

To drink, we both got a Latin soda, Jupina ($1.00), a pineapple flavored drink. Interesting, but not a must have.

Rounding out the meal was a Coconut Macaroon ($1.00). It was nice, but I believe it is made with some form of flour, or some binding of some sort. While not bad, that addition takes away from the pure coconut flavor, but for a dollar, I cannot be too upset.

Black Bean Deli is a superb spot for lunch. I can see why they have so many “Best-of” awards lining the walls. This place must be spoken of in hushed, revered tones by the natives. The only drawback is lack of seating. However, a few miles away are the parks and lakes that surround Orlando’s planetarium. Grab a bag and head over to sit in the park on a nice day. It is well worth your while.

Black Bean Deli
325 South Orlando Avenue
Winter Park, FL 32789
(Google Map)


Chilly Spoons

I’ve been to plenty of buffet and/or self-serve establishments, but a self-serve, buffet ice cream/frozen yogurt bar is definitely a first.

Chilly Spoons Sign
MG and I were greeted when we entered the door by the sole employee. He asked if it was our first time and walked us through the process. Your ordered is tabulated by weight. You can choose any combination of flavors and topping. It is all weighed at the end to the tune of 45 cents per ounce. I am amazed that they can turn a profit.

Soft Serve Stations
These are the soft serve stations. Each section has two flavors. There is a little placard next to each pump describing the flavor, and listing the nutritional information. Sorbet is available for the lactose intolerant. Though each section has two flavors, there are three pumps. The middle nozzle dispenses a mixture of the two flavors. The fellow working there gave us little cups to test flavors. The Heath frozen yogurt was excellent. The peanut butter froyo was also nice. In the end, I ended up getting the cookies and cream. It was delicious, rich, and fat-free.

Waffle Cup
Check out the size of the cup. That’s the only size. That’s not a large. That is the only size you can get. Have as much or as little as you want.

Topping Station
Look at that topping station. Just about every topping you can imagine was available. There was shredded coconut, toasted coconut, M&M’s, peanut M&M’s, Reeces Pieces, Reeces Cups, cheesecake chunks, graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, chocolate sauce, peanut butter sauce, caramel sauce, whipped cream… The list is ridiculous. I could not believe the plethora of choices.

Our facilitator was kind enough to comp us some waffle cups, since it was our first visit. Our total came to $7.90, and we were certainly not wanting for more.

Definitely make a stop into Chilly Spoons. It is not amazing froyo, but the experience of serving yourself and trying all the combinations under the sun is simply too good to pass up.

Chilly Spoons
3150 South Orange Avenue
Suite 101
Orlando, FL 32806
(Google Map)

Willy’s Wieners

I am by no means a hot dog aficionado. They are usually the last item I will pick up if I need something quick to eat and am in a hurry. However, I am on vacation, MG and I were sort of in a hurry to get to Sea World, and aside from hamburgers or pizza, hot dogs are the definition of very fast food.

Willys Storefront
Willy’s Weiners is located in what is described as Historic Downtown Kissimme. It is on a side street, right next to the train tracks. While this may paint a seedy picture, the location is anything but. While I usually abhor eating outside, I did not mind (though inside seating is available). There are three picnic benches out front next to a street that does not get much car traffic, so you don’t have to inhale exhaust with your meal. The train station appears to be for Amtrak, so there wasn’t a constant din of railway noise.

Upon entering we received a friendly greeting. The lady working the counter was from Queens, so we discussed our memories of the 1986 Mets and bemoaned their current state.

There are a few options outside of hot dogs, such as bratwurst and beef (something like cheesesteak as I understand it), but MG and I decided to try out their namesake item. The counter lady was kind enough to let us try their chili, which was quite tasty. But what else to get with it?

Big Dog with Chili
I opted to make my order relatively simple. I got their Big Dog ($3.50), described as a 1/4lb. Vienna dog, and had it topped with chili ($0.30 extra). This dog was very good. I was quite impressed. Usually, hot dogs taste a little “fake”. They don’t really taste like beef, but almost taste and feel like plastic-flavored beef. While this may prompt many of you to ask, “What the heck kind of hot dogs are you eating?” rest assured, I’ve tried many kinds cooked many different ways. There is just something about them that usually does not appeal to me. That is what made this particular occasion special, I really enjoyed with dog. It didn’t have the taste of throw-away cow parts, but had a great seasoned, beefy flavor. The aforementioned chili was not runny. It had a nice and smoky taste with just a little bit of kick. The bun was a big surprise, a soft, fluffy poppy seed roll. I don’t know where they got it from, but it was very, very good. It was fresh and delicious.

Barnyard Dog
MG went for the Barnyard Hot Dog ($3.95). A regular dog is encased in the excellent bun and topped with chili, bacon, shredded mozzarella, and melted cheddar. The last item, the melted cheddar really messed up the dog for MG. The cheese was like the cheddar substance that is used for nachos at movie theaters. For her, the fake, chemical quality of that cheese messed up the dog. She tried to remove as much of it as possible. She liked all the other elements. The bacon was properly cooked. The chili was nice. The dog was tasty. However, the cheese just soured her experience.

The onion rings ($2.09, large) are your standard frozen variety, but they were properly cooked. While nothing special, they were tasty, not greasy, and served in a decent portion. If you are in the mood for some rings, they are a good choice, but not a must have.

One of the available sodas was Sprecher ($1.75). They were excellent. They come in 16 oz. (pint) bottles. The ginger ale has a really nice kick of ginger which I enjoyed. MG’s root beer was also quite tasty.

Everything is served on a Frisbee, not a plate. Interesting touch.

For a quick bite to eat, Willy’s Wieners is a very good choice. Their prices will not put Gray’s Papaya’s Recession Special to shame, but they are more than reasonable.

Willy’s Wieners
108 East Dakin Avenue
Kissimmee, FL 34741
(Google Map)

Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q

This is the first post of my Florida vacation. One of the nice parts of traveling is trying out the local cuisine.

Sonnys Entrance
The first spot MG and I hit was Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q. We were starving once we got off the plane. It was a little after lunch hour and we did hadn’t had much to eat. Did they feed us on the plane? Well, we got a soda and a few bags of Pop Corners. Not really a meal, but I’m not complaining. I don’t think anyone has ever raved about an airplane meal, at least no one I’ve ever encountered. If it can keep costs down and they can get me there quickly, the hell with the meal.

Sonny’s is a chain restaurant, and it does look like it is cut from the same cloth as TGI’s, Chili’s, or Applebees. That is not exactly a good thing, but I’m there for the food. Let’s see what they have to offer.

Really Big Drinks
It’s a little hard to tell from the picture, but these sodas ($2.29, each) are HUGE. I put the flatware in between to give some sense of scale. My fist could almost fit into the mouth of these glasses.

Sliced Brisket
MG was ordering the brisket. Whenever there is a barbeque menu, MG is ordering brisket. Sonny’s had a couple options for brisket, pulled or cut. MG got cut. The lunch order ($7.99) comes with choice of two sides and choice of garlic bread or cornbread. The brisket is very meaty, not thick cut, but not paper thin. It is very tender and has a great smoky flavor.

Corn on Cob
MG got the corn on the cob and macaroni and cheese as her sides. I thought the macaroni was very good, properly cooked, and cheesy without being too heavy. MG thought it needed a little more seasoning. I did not try the corn on the cob, but she thought it was a little overdone.

Super Combo
I got the Super Combo ($13.99). It comes with Pulled Pork, Barbeque Chicken, Pulled or Sliced Brisket (I got pulled), and Sweet or Dry-Rubbed Ribs (I got Dry-Rubbed). Everything was well cooked without being overdone. While everything was nice, nothing jumped out at me. The pulled pork is very tender, but there is no kick of vinegar. The pulled brisket was tender, but pulling took away some of the buttery texture of the sliced brisket. It was nice, but the sliced brisket was definitely better. The Dry-Rubbed Pork Ribs are heavily seasoned. I could feel the bark of seasoning on the outside of the ribs. To me, it tasted like really thick bacon. MG was not enamored with it, but not offended either. The chicken was tasty, but truthfully, I’m not a big barbeque chicken fan, so I can’t really say much about it. It wasn’t dry, nor was it exceptionally tender. The cornbread was very good. It was a proper mixture of corn and bread, not too dry nor falling apart.

Barbeque Sauce Medley
Each table has a set of four barbeque sauces. Sweet was… sweet (duh!). The Sizzlin’ Sweet was nice. I’m not sure how to describe it. It wasn’t overly sweet, nor overly sizzling. The Smokin’ was my personal favorite. The flavor was rich and pleasant. A kick hits the tongue a few moments after ingestion. It was like a spit of Tabasco was added to a decent barbeque sauce.

One of my sides was the baked sweet potato. It was fine, properly cooked, and tasty, but nothing special.

Baked Beans
The other side was the baked beans. They were very good. I really liked their flavor. There were a few bits of brisket inside the beans. Their sauce was sweet and complimented the beans well.

Sonny’s was not a transcendent experience. However, it was a good quick bite. It is very close to the Orlando International Airport, so if you are absolutely starving once you get off the plane and need something immediately, Sonny’s is definitely a good place to stop. They have a large specialty drink menu and a large bar area if you need someplace to kill some time before a flight.

Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q
7055 South Semoran Boulevard
Orlando, FL 32822
(Google Map)

Johnny’s Pizzeria

Neon Sign
Johnny’s Pizzeria is very popular with the residents of Westchester. Practically, everyone that lives in Mount Vernon, knows, has eaten at, or has passed by Johnny’s. It is not an understatement to say that Johnny’s is an institution.

MG and I were headed out of town, so we wanted some form of dinner with no leftovers. MG was also in the mood for pizza. Pizza? No leftovers? We needed something with a thin crust. Thin crust? Tasty? Let’s give Johnny’s a shot. I tried their pizza years ago and was not bowled over, but I wasn’t offended. It was worth another shot.

Johnny’s is just as popular as ever. The parking lot, though small, was packed. Inside was not as packed, but there was a steady stream of customers in and out. We did not have to wait for a table.

If you are a Red Sox fan, you might want to get your pizza to go. The walls are littered with Yankee memorabilia. I tried not to let that sway my review. Then again, I’m a Mets fan, so I’m probably just bitter.

Johnnys Sodas
This is another place that has been dipped in amber (again, not sticky, just frozen in time). Check out how the sodas came out. Cold. Just what I wanted. But, there is something kind of old fashioned about not providing a glass with ice.

Johnnys Pepperoni Pie
We got a large pie with Pepperoni. Their sauce is a little watery, but quite tasty. It is not acidic, nor is it terribly sweet. The cheese is well applied, not too skimpy, not too heavy. The pizza itself is very thin. The pepperoni is nothing special, but compliments the pie nicely. Two people can definitely knock off a pie together.

Johnnys Upskirt
The upskirt shot shows a crust that is properly cooked, but not crisp. This could have used a few more minutes in the oven. When biting into the pizza, there was a certain underdone quality to the crust. It didn’t taste chewy or undercooked, but I definitely think that a few more minutes of cooking would have made this pizza something special.

The total bill came to $21.70. I would definitely hit Johnny’s again. On the next visit, I might ask them to leave the pie in the oven a wee bit longer.

Johnny’s Pizzeria
30 West Lincoln Avenue
Mount Vernon, NY 10550
(Google Map)