Warning! Pancake Post in Progress!

Warning! Pancake Post in Progress!

Bulldog must disclose that this posting contains explicit Carbohydrate References!

Folks, I’d never heard of the Aunt Maple’s brand before, but the deadly-good chocolate and banana stuff in this mix are NOT artificial!

I truly loved my breakfast this morning! Want you to know that I found my new fave brand of pancake mix at Aldi; pray there’s an Aldi location near you!

A Visit to the Hunters Creek Applebee’s

A Visit to the Hunters Creek Applebee’s

Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar
13500 John Young Parkway
Orlando, Florida 32837

Call 407 206-5039

I’ve dined at the Applebee’s location in the Hunters Creek area of Orlando many times. If you’re from metro Orlando or visit much, you probably know that’s very close to the tourist area and only a mile from the Osceola county line. But this one is mostly patronized by locals, many of whom work in the tourism industry.

I’ve eaten at seven Applebee’s locations all total and this one is not very different from the others. I like the crew here, the bartenders especially and go there fairly often. I still have not tried the dining room, opting to sit at the bar. Sean and Ariana and a couple of other crew members have always taken good care of me. They have a decent beer selection and the “always happy hour” thing is awesome. That’s 2 for 1 ALL DAY, but on domestic drafts only. Beer lovers, you gotta love that!

There are seven or eight TV screens in the bar so there’s always something good on. This location has become my go-to spot for sports viewing, especially for games I can’t get at home. However, they don’t carry the pay-per-view events, such as UFC fights or those PPV championship boxing matches.

I like just about everything I’ve tried here and can recommend several appetizers. The Spinach and Artichoke Dip is always good, as are the Mozzarella Sticks; but my fave is the Sriracha Shrimp. Just the right amount of heat, you can’t beat this one!

I usually dine solo so I haven’t had a chance to go the “2 Entrees for $20” route, but it looks like a good value. What I had on my last visit was the Bourbon Street Steak and it was damn near perfect. And their garlic mashed potatoes are to die for!

The one draw back here is that their usual good service is not so good when the place fills up. I don’t like it, but it’s a common thing at chain restaurants. Management in chains are very, very focused on payroll costs and you can’t really staff for the hour and a half of each day when the place “blows up” as you’d have too many crew members for the other 80% of the shift. I get it, but I don’t like it. I hasten to add that it’s no worse here than most places I’ve visited.

This Applebee’s is quite family friendly. If fact, you’ll find many families with school-age kids seated in the bar area on just about every night. If you still have small ones in your posse, you can be seated wherever you like, bar included. (Not AT the bar, but in the bar area!)

Quick summary: moderate prices, great place to watch sports, good service, decent beer selection and very tasty menu offerings.

One more thing: there is a designated entrance to pick up take out orders on the north side of the building. Your order will be waiting in the bar area.

A little info to help you find it: this A-bee’s is an out building in a very large shopping complex and there’s lot of parking. It’s not all that easy to see from John Young, especially if you’re northbound. It’s across JYP from the Gator’s Dockside which is much easier to spot, so look on the west side of the road. The complex is just a wee bit south of where the 417 exit for John Young cuts through.

 

Bulldog thinks the menu is one of the best things about Applebee’s.  View it here:

 

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Sunrise Diner in Cocoa Beach is the Real Deal

Sunrise Diner in Cocoa Beach is the Real Deal

I have loved having breakfast at the Sunrise Diner in Cocoa Beach for about five or six years now. It’s my “go to” spot in Brevard Co. for real food at breakfast-time.

You’ll notice as you approach, that’s it one of those diners. You know, one with a simple and undeniably “old school” look. And yes, they have real food. And a real staff. A few of whom have been around for many, many years.

One of the things that sets the Sunrise apart from other places of its type is that you can–and probably should–eat breakfast, lunch and dinner there. Most diners that live up to the name close around 2:30 in the afternoon. Just SOP for these storied establishments. But this one doesn’t stop seating patrons until 9 PM.

To be honest, I have only enjoyed breakfast here; I’m not a good source on those two other times of the day when Americans usually feel like they have to “fill the tank.” But I have eaten there five or six times and always have a first-rate breakfast, receive very good and personable service and don’t ever feel like I’ve had my pocket picked.

The place hasn’t changed in the six years or so that I’ve been going and it looks as though it’s been around much longer than that. Long-time crew member Wendy told me on a recent visit how long it’s been around and I just don’t remember a number; suffice it to say, they’re far from newcomers.

One of the things I like about the Sunrise is that the breakfast sausage featured there are those over-sized patties that are about the size of a sand dollar. That’s the way this pup likes his sausage in the morning and places that have it are few and far between.

I do know that you’ll find quite a bit of seafood on their menu, and Greek fare is featured prominently as well. I tend to get stuck in a rut at many of my fave eateries but that doesn’t mean you should! And though came as a bit of a surprise to me, their beer selection isn’t bad at all.

Let me close by saying that if you’re anywhere near the heart of Cocoa Beach in the future, especially in the AM, you owe it to yourself to stop at the Sunrise Diner. It’s conveniently located on SR 520, aka Cocoa Beach Cswy, just a block from where 520 meets A1A.

Sunrise Diner ~ 365 W. Cocoa Beach Cswy ~ Cocoa Beach, FL 32931 ~ 321 783-5647

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Pelican Flats Gives Way to Another Dunkin’ Donuts in Cocoa Beach

Pelican Flats Gives Way to Another Dunkin’ Donuts in Cocoa Beach

Pelican Flats ~ formerly found at 695 North Atlantic Ave ~ Cocoa Beach, Florida 32931

I’ve actually been putting off telling the sad story of the closing of Pelican Flats, a now-defunct Cocoa Beach eatery I liked a lot. But now that another Dunkin’ Donuts is about to open in that same spot, it’s time to stop the foot dragging. Here goes…

As some of you may know, I have very long roots in Orlando but have been making Cocoa Beach my “home away from home” for about six or seven years now. I know the town very well.

As a long-time server and foodie, I’m eating in places all up and down the Sunshine State on a regular basis and love to tell my readers all about some of our noteworthy Florida dining establishments.

Smallish, independent joints are my specialty; I had noticed two that fit the bill in Cocoa Beach located fairly close together on that stretch of A1A just before it splits and you’re headed closer to Minute Man Causeway and the downtown area. (If you’re southbound from the 520 intersection, for example.) Those two places would be Barrier Jack’s and Pelican Flats.

I checked out Barrier Jack’s first. I’ve sampled the wares there twice now and it’s on my A list. I will be posting a write up about BJ’s in the near future. Shortly after, I did stop in for breakfast at Pelican Flats and loved everything about the place.

When I find a new spot like the Flats, it generally follows a familiar pattern. I almost always get one of two fave orders. This is because they’re basic things that are hard for the house to screw up, and so it’s easier for me to compare the quality of the dishes at the new establishment vis-a-vis others where I’ve dined.

They had a skillet or two on the menu and I chose the basic one with the taters on the bottom of the pile, the sausage and cheese in the middle and the fried eggs on top. They called it “The Southern Mess” and it was good. Messy and good. The cook had my over easy eggs just right, none of those “crispy brown edges” that send me over the edge and back to a place like Keke’s where the crew doesn’t commit such culinary sins! Just remember folks: it’s not a crispy edge; it’s a burnt egg!

We were all good at P.F. that Sunday morning! No rejected skillets; no upset patrons!

And as for the service, it was also very good. It’s not always easy to give good, attentive service without crossing that line and becoming a pest, but my crew member did exactly that.

I do pay attention to the design or the look of a place. The concept at Flats was beachy and casual and I think it worked very well. I did not take any photos of the interior, but mon petit bateau perdu that welcomed hungry patrons just before they reached the entry proved to be very photogenic! I loved that little castaway boat and got some good shots of it after Pelican Flats did officially run aground!

By the way, I did return within a week or two of my first and only visit and although my new fave joint was locked tight, nothing inside had been disturbed and there was no sign or note to give customers a clue about what might have been going on. Or what might have not been going on, I suppose might be a better way to put it.  Surprisingly, that went on for at least a month. I don’t have a firm date as far as her closing, but it’s been quite a while.

The construction on the new D.D. on the site began a few months ago. For me it gave a bit of finality to Pelican Flat’s silent, sad and abrupt closing. My thought is that there are Dunkin’ Donuts everywhere, and Cocoa Beach has had one for many years. But diners with a cool and well-executed beach theme, good food and a fine staff are not that easy to find!

Alas, Pelican Flats! You are no more! But the memory of that delicious Southern Mess concoction and that really cool one-off, castaway boat will live in my heart for as long as diners love over-easy eggs and real hash browns! A very long time, indeed!

CB1-IMG_0905

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

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