Red Nose Day is Tomorrow! Better Get Your Nose!

Red Nose Day is Tomorrow! Better Get Your Nose!

It’s just about here. Tomorrow, May 24th is indeed Red Nose Day and remember it’s all to benefit kids.

Many different businesses and people are participating in the very cool fundraising event. Here in Central Florida, folks often associate the well-known pharmacy chain Walgreens with Red Nose Day as they’re doing some great publicity for it and their stores are the easiest way for folks to get their nose.

Some may not be clear on exactly where the funds raised are going. The answer is Save The Children and that’s an org I support without reservation. The specific objective for this promotion is to end child poverty. Yeah, I know; that’s a tall order. All the more reason to support this event.

I first came to support Save the Children from a door to door solicitor. Although I had reservations about whether S.T.C. would raise money that way, they do, and I’m glad I chipped in. (By the way, I don’t know if they still do, but they did in 2014.)

If you’re in Central Florida and you’d like to participate, go to any Walgreens and get your nose on. Literally.

I didn’t realize that they’ve been doing R.N.D. for 25 years now. If  you want to know more about this very worthy event, just follow this link.

I’ll see you tomorrow! And if I do, we both should be looking a bit like my friend Alli from Slow and Low Barbecue in Cocoa Beach!

Slow-n-Low-Ali-w-red-nose-how-do-i-look-1

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Bob Evans in Melbourne Is a Not To Be Missed Dining Experience

Bob Evans in Melbourne Is a Not To Be Missed Dining Experience

There is a Bob Evans location in Melbourne right off I-95. The Wickham Rd exit to help you zero in on that unit. It’s a fine establishment and I recommend it without hesitation.

Let me say that I’ve been to three locations in this well-known chain and have never had a bad dining experience. But this is one of those times that everything went well. Very well.

I’m not the easiest diner to please; I spent many years working in the restaurant business and I know my way around the kitchen and the dining room. I really, really hate bad service. And, honestly, my visit two days ago to the Melbourne location was about as perfect as you can get.

I’m a creature of habit and often have one or two orders at a lot of the eateries I like; Bob Evans is no exception. I just love the Pot Roast. Had it again and it was divine.

The service I received was first-rate. Shelly, Jennifer and the management staff treated me like a king. I must say that it was not busy when I visited; I try to hit most establishments when they’re not blowing up. But good service is good service and it’s one of the reasons I like the B.E. chain so well and don’t mind saying so.

You’ll find that all Bob Evans are family-friendly and that the variety on the menu is very good. If you’re not like me and order lots of different stuff, your taste buds are not likely to be jaded for a while.

One other thing I like about this particular one: it’s right around the corner from the Brevard Zoo. I’m an annual pass holder to that very cool place and I’ll bet that a big chunk of their business comes from other zoo lovers. If you’re visiting the zoo or just find yourself in Melbourne, stop in. It won’t be your last visit.

 

Bob Evans ~ 100 Sheriff Way ~ Melbourne, Florida 32940 ~ Call 321 757 5014

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Steak ‘n Shake in the Hunter’s Creek Area

Steak ‘n Shake in the Hunter’s Creek Area

Had breakfast this morning at the Steak ‘n Shake location way down So. OBT in the Hunter’s Creek part of South Orlando. Enjoyed every bite. And the fine service. Janet is more than just a good server; her skill, experience and customer manner put her way above most who put on the apron and pour the coffee.

If you’re in the Hunter’s Creek part of the world some morning, stop in. Of course, you can stop in at any time, they’re open 24 hours! Steak ‘n Shake has some new and very tasty menu offerings. Their prices are lower than just about any eatery of that type and if it’s breakfast time, you’ll most likely have Janet as your server. Lucky you.

 

Steak ‘n Shake ~ 13133 So. Orange Blossom Trail ~ Orlando, Florida ~ Dial 407 240-8740

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Jimmy Hula’s. Fish Tacos. Beer. Good Crew.

Jimmy Hula’s. Fish Tacos. Beer. Good Crew.

I visited the Jimmy Hulu’s on Aloma Ave in Winter Park this week. Bottom line: I liked it. In a review a month or so ago of a different Winter Park eatery, I told the world that the fish tacos in that well-known and very popular spot were awful. I’m stickin’ to that.

But at Jimmy Hula’s, that fish dish I so ardently crave was good. Very good.

The recipe at JH’s is more conventional. Love the blackened fish, the cabbage and their version of Pico de Gallo. And the “special sauce”. Loved it all.

My draft Corona Light was cold and refreshing. The service was prompt and friendly.

The main point of this succinct review is that Jimmy Hula’s is a good spot for casual dining, especially if — like me — you’re into seafood, beer and eateries with a beach theme. I could almost hear the waves crashing onto the shore and smell the sea…

By the way, I did not opt for the patio area, but I loved the design and the way it’s carried off at Jimmy’s and will probably go that direction the next time I visit.

One closing note: this popular joint is also well-known for its burgers; I simply haven’t had a chance to sample one. But a return trip is definitely near the top of my fun list.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Jimmy Hula’s ~ 2522 Aloma Ave, Winter Park, Florida 32792 ~ Call 407 790-7838

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

 

 

Krispy’s Chicken in Groveland is Heaven-on-Earth for Folks Who Love Real Food

Krispy’s Chicken in Groveland is Heaven-on-Earth for Folks Who Love Real Food

I try hard to have lunch or dinner at Krispy’s anytime I pass through the town of Groveland. I passed right by this Mecca of awesome eats a couple of days ago, but alas, it was way passed their closing time. I was cruising down Highway 50 on my way to Brooksville for three days of camping and great music and was making the trip at a rather odd time. I will get back there soon to atone for the great sin of passing a top-ten best Florida eatery without stopping to chow down.

I could boil down my whole review to two terms near-and-dear to the hearts of all of us who love Southern cooking. Those would be: “fried chicken” and “buffet!”

Now, I know that some buffets are not worth the $8.95 and they depend on patrons who are drawn in by the “all you can eat” part but who haven’t actually sampled the product. They rate high in quantity but miss the mark completely in the quality department. Krispy’s is NOT like that.

If you stop by once, you’ll become a regular. Like me, you’ll feel like you’ve done something very, very wrong if you’re even in the same zip code and don’t stop in.

The chicken is scrumptious and you can go back to the counter to reload whenever you want. Their amazing sides are on that delectable buffet and I swear if I hated fried chicken, I’d go there for those side dishes alone.

I love the collard greens. The black-eyed peas are choice. The chicken salad has become a fave of mine; this is the only joint I’ve ever been to that throws jalapeno bits into chicken salad. You’ve got to try it.  And get this: the mashed potatoes are in a steaming-hot hotel pan right next to — can you believe it — a pan of chicken gravy! No, I wouldn’t kid you about that!

For those of you who have read my blog before or know me from social media know that I do like the national chicken chain where most of us have dined a thousand times. I do. But it’s always bothered me that the gravy served with their mashed potatoes is beef gravy. Well, Krispy’s is the first restaurant I’ve been to that doesn’t engage in that awful practice. Beef gravy with fried chicken! Who ever heard of such a thing!? (No, this is NOT a knock on KFC. They stand head-and-shoulders above most fast food places, but the gravy thing annoys me to no end!)

Folks, I could go on and on. But I won’t. Just go to Krispy’s and be prepared to chow down. It’s got great vittles. In ridiculous portions. With good and friendly service. What more could any lover of down home-cooking ask?

 

Krispy’s Chicken ~ 307 E. Broad Street ~ Groveland, Florida ~ Call 352 429-4819

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Winter Park Fish Company. Big Crowd. Mediocre Food.

Winter Park Fish Company. Big Crowd. Mediocre Food.

Finally had a chance to visit the Winter Park Fish Co. and I must say I was not impressed.

Whenever I get to a new Seafood spot, I have to order the Fish Tacos. I did and I was disappointed. I’ve sampled fish tacos from about a dozen different eateries, and liked ’em all. Struck out at WPFC.

Their approach to this usually can’t-fail dish is to scatter a ridiculous amount of cheddar cheese over the taco to finish it. I can’t imagine why. Didn’t like it. I was given a sample of some freshly-made chicken salad and crackers they had whipped up that day. That was tasty.

The service was about as good as the taco. In their defense, let me say that they were getting slammed at the time I was seated. But it was bad. Couldn’t get attention from my server no matter what I did and it took an eternity to pay my check and get out.

I hasten to add that this spot is very popular with folks in Winter Park. They have a great location and seem busy anytime I happen to pass by. The parking can be an issue, the lot is rather small.

I want to get back when I can and give them another try. I will if I can. And I’ll order something other than the fish tacos.

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Winter Park Fish Co. ~ 761 N. Orange Ave ~ Winter Park, FL 32789 ~ Call 407 622-6112

 

 

Jim’s Place in Elkton Florida For Pizza and Fine Country Fare

I was in Elkton last October for an event at the St. Johns County Fairgrounds and noticed Jim’s Place. Elkton is not a big town by any stretch of the imagination and Jim just about has it locked up, as far as the restaurant business is concerned. But after having lunch there on that Saturday, I’m sure Jim would do just fine even if there was plenty of competition!

Just in case you’re not too familiar with this part of Florida, St. Augustine is the “big city” in St. Johns County. Tiny Elkton is a good location for the county fairgrounds as it’s pretty much in the middle of St. Johns. I was there playing music with my good friends Bill and Eli Perras for the recent Tiny House Festival and Jim’s is a stone’s throw away from the fairground’s entrance. I had to stop.

It was a busy Saturday lunch and it took my server a while to greet me. This was not a serious issue to me as the joint was jumpin’ and another party was seated about 20 seconds before I was. As someone who worked in that business for many years, I knew it would be a minute or two before my server made it table side.

Once she got to me and we got down to business, I opted for the Club Sub, it sounded intriguing. When I’m in a place for the first time, a Club Sandwich is one of my go-to orders. I’ve learned over the years that any establishment worth its salt can usually turn out a decent Club. But I’d never had a “Club Sub” and I just had to see what would come out of the kitchen.

It did not disappoint! It’s hard to translate a double decker sandwich into a sub roll but this sub — even though it really should have been served with a bib — was an excellent lunch for this first-time guest.

There are some menu offerings at places like Jim’s that are pretty much impossible to finish in one sitting. Their Club Sub is a great example. But I put on my big boy pants and managed to polish it off. You’re really not going to be able to eat it as you would a “normal” sub; this Mac Daddy of subs isn’t going to stay together for you, at least not long enough to get from stem to stern. If you do go to Jim’s and decide to give this selection a go, your fork will be your best friend. The fries were served hot and were quite good, too.

I liked the country vibe at Jim’s. When you look at the menu and take in your surroundings, there’s just a bit of a disconnect. Pizza and subs are staples here, but it looks nothing like your basic city pizza parlor. If you know what I mean. The best way for me to describe it is that it’s a bit like a scaled-down Cracker Barrel but without the retail part. It’s small-ish, but so is the town of Elkton. You certainly can get a lot more than pizza at Jim’s Place, so the country feel there is fitting. I’ve just never personally walked into a place for pizza or a sub that looked like it.

The next time I visit, I think I’ll make it earlier in the day and get an order of biscuits and gravy. And I’ll quash that silly hope that one day I’ll see Chicken Fried Steak on the menu at my fave pizza place in downtown Orlando! Just kidding…

Jim’s Place not only features excellent variety on its menu, it’s a very family-friendly spot and also has some outdoor seating on the front patio. The parking lot is not paved, something you’ll find in many small eateries in the country, so come wearing your boots and not your Sunday shoes! And the prices at Jim’s are moderate.

Jim’s Place ~ 4917 S.R. 207 ~ Elkton, Florida 32033 ~ Dial 904 692-1222 ~ The Home Page