Thursday, December 29, 2011

Orlando, FL - The Bistro: Oh the restaurant inside of the hotel. Well, if the restaurant is as nice as the hotel, it'll do just fine. The Bistro is a pretty nice place to catch breakfast or brunch. It has a nice view into the courtyard and it's beautiful on a sunny day.

Even though The Bistro is pricey, it's worth the short trip downstairs for your fare. We tried other breakfast chains in the area, but they get packed very quickly and you'll easily wait 30-45 minutes. Here, you'll get right in and start eating, but you'll be paying for the convenience. 

They have a good menu to select from, but also have a buffet with a variety of choices. Fresh fruit, waffles, bacon, sausage, customized omelets to order, grits, yogurts with wonderful fruits and jellies on the bottom, challah french toast, juice bar, etc...

The biggest advantage of the buffet, you can also order anything off the menu that is not available on the buffet. I couldn't believe that I could get anything off the menu in addition to the buffet for the same price. I tried their eggs benedict, the server mentioned that the hollandaise sauce is made in house.  The sauce was probably about a million calories, but it was very good, rich but not too heavy and filled with flavor.  The eggs however, one was cooked correctly and the other was well done, not runny at all.

I also tried their smoked salmon on a baguette.  Although the quantity of the salmon seemed to changed daily, it was fantastic to have lox each morning. Good quality nova lox served with capers.  I definitely got my intake of sodium during this trip.

Friday, December 16, 2011






mushroom tacos

mole tacos
Birmingham, MI - Barrio; It was promising to see that their tacos were served with corn tortilla and not flour, but the impressiveness stopped there.  Their plating is nice and presented well and clean, but if only I can just look at it instead of eating it.  Not sure if they fail on execution of the dish or in the conception of it.  We tried lots of food, so get ready.

Starting the meal with their guacamole and chips. It's served in a nice stone bowl, its nice and creamy and flavored well.  We thought we were in for a good dinner.

Since our first dish was successful, so why not the next.  Well, this one fell flat on it's face.  The tuna ceviche, well, it's not a ceviche at all.  It appeared and tasted just as though they took tuna sushi-grade, and mixed it with a watermelon lime juice.  I'm not sure how long it was marinated in the sauce, but the fish didn't take on any of the flavor.  Not a ceviche.

On to dinner.  We ordered a variety of tacos to try out as many as we can.  Starting with my least favorite were the tacos I picked, asacado, fish tacos.  To sum it up, too little fish, and too much cabbage.  I could barely taste any fish in it.  I think the cabbage was added for texture and feeling of freshness, but really it was a corn tortilla with a cabbage salad.  Not a winner.  Next were the mushroom tacos, a step up, a little.  The mushroom tacos were better with the choice of tomatoes giving it a freshness and the acidity needed with the mushrooms.  The mushrooms had a nice earthiness to it, but still not enough mushrooms and its flavor was also masked by the condiments.  Lastly, the mole tacos, the better of all the tacos.  I could have easily just ordered these and sent the rest back.  I made sure that I ended with one to have at least one good taco in the meal.  It was pulled pork, marinated well, still juicy, and served with a nice cheese on top to compliment it well.

On the side, we tried the green rice and beans, and grilled corn.  The green rice was a "lime" rice, but really lacked in flavor.  It was really only rice with a tint of green and didn't help to compliment the beans well.  The beans were only black beans.  It lacked in flavor and heartiness.  It was a sad representation of beans in a Mexican restaurant.  The corn was grilled well, a little over done, but the grated cheese on it gave it a little extra to make it better.

Our last dish was the tostada.  I probably would have given a rating of one star, but the tostada is worth one extra star by itself.  After mentioning how good it is to the server, she then mentioned that it's their most popular dish.  We should have heard that in the beginning.  It has a nice crispy shell on the bottom, served with pulled pork that was on the mole tacos, black beans, avacados, lettuce and cheese.  This was the saving grace of the whole dinner.  It was really really good, an exceptional dish.  I would have been sadly disappointed with the experience if we didn't end with the tostada.  Get it, you won't be disappointed.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Petosky, MI - Staffords Bay View Inn; My rating was either going to be four or five stars based on the decor, bedrooms, view, staff, use of gift certificates, and food.  Most categories I would give it four and a few five starts, therefore, I'll give them 4.5 rating.

Lets start with the gift certificate. I had a certificate (not gift card) dating back seven years ago, given to me by a friend.  I didn't think they would honor it, but after speaking to the manager, he gladly accepted it.  I thought it was great customer service.

I initially thought it was going to be a small bed and breakfast, but to find it to be much bigger as a hotel. It's an old hotel dating back to probably 1800-1900s.  The view from the porch or a small walk to their garden or beach is spectacular of the bay.  It's perfect for a sunset.

That morning, we had breakfast in their restaurant and we started with their sticky bun cinnamon roll. I thought it was a good start.  It would have been nice if it were heated up, but it was okay.  I moved onto the Michigan Cherry French Toast. It was much better than the sticky bun.  It did have enough cinnamon and cherries to give it a nice balance of flavor and texture.  The service was very good.