Archive for March, 2013

Chicken and FriesMarch 12, 2013

Spring Training always served as a fantasy world for me growing up. A trip to Florida as a youngster was the equivalent of me being able to afford anything nice these days. It was only in my dreams. So when my parents informed me in junior high school that us Michiganders were making the trek to St. Pete Beach, I hit the floor.

I ended up making two journeys to the Sunshine State while living in Michigan, and during those two trips, we blanketed ourselves in Spring Training. I loved every minute.

Now I find myself calling this weird, confusing area my home. It is unfortunately very difficult to find time to get to a game though, so when I do, I make sure to hit the concession stand. On my latest excursion to the ESPN Wide World of Sports to check out the Cardinals face the Braves, all I wanted was my favorite ballpark food: nachos with cheese.

For the price of $4.75, I made my order and in return received a bag of Tostitos with a cup of cheese. I was deflated. My hopes featured a solid container with a heap of chips and steaming-hot cheese, yet this did not happen. I still ventured back to my outfield berm location (which cost $15 to sit on a blanket on wet grass due to the rain) to attempt to enjoy the food selection. I made the most of it for sure, because at least with the chips coming in a bag, they did not run the risk of being stale.

What also helped was the terrific adult beverage special. For $8 fans got a draft beer in a souvenir cup, and refills were only $4. So if you drank four beverages, that would be just $5 per beer, and for a baseball game, that was so money.

Since the nachos did not constitute an actual meal, especially since Jessica ate her fair share, I decided to acquire some chicken nuggets and fries due to the fact they looked scrumptious when our friends Hannah and Andrea devoured them. The price was a little extreme and we did not receive an ample supply of fries, but the nuggets satisfied the tummies. The primary thing that was not satisfying was that the Cardinals got manhandled in the later innings.

A recommendation when interested in purchasing nachos, or any dish, at a sporting event would be to survey the crowds. Check out some of the fans to see what they ordered as well. A burger or nachos may sound tempting, but if your eyes tell you otherwise, it may be time to head to another concession stand.

Toasted BurgerMarch 3, 2013

Convinced I will never locate a better establishment than Melt Bar & Grilled, I immediately became overwhelmed with emotions when I heard the Orlando area was opening a grilled cheese place of its own. Could there be a new glorious contender to knock the Melt off its extremely high post? I needed to find out.

A few days prior to Toasted’s grand opening, I studied some social media posts the restaurant publicized. With it being located in Winter Park and that it advertised truffle and rosemary fries, my hopes started to diminish. This sounded like a rich person’s version of a grilled cheese joint. Rich, stuck-up people eating grilled cheese? Gross.

I was wrong, yet my hopes should have diminished for other reasons. Toasted rests inside a strip mall and the inside is verrrrry small – completely not what I expected. Tables were bunched together and there were even more outside. People were standing by the wall waiting for others to get up so they could sneak in to sit down,  while some took their meals inside the yogurt place next door. And the line to order produced obstacles for patrons and the front-of-house workers as it was an extremely compact space. I understand it was Toasted’s first week of operating so maybe the lines will decrease in the future.

Not wanting to compare it to the Melt, I found it difficult not to formulate more observations. Toasted is more like a lunch spot as it does not feature adult beverages or a bar. The “Periodic Table of Cheeses” on one wall helps in the personality of the place, though, and the menu is nice and simplified. Items certainly cost less than I originally thought, but the fries are extra. So the Southern Comfort burger I decided upon was only $7, then there is the option to add $2 for salted fries or $2.50 for the truffle and rosemary variety.

Toasted MenuThankfully I grabbed a table that stood open for about one second and eventually the burger appeared. It looked dynamic, boasting a sweet barbecue sauce, bacon, cheddar and mac & cheese on an artisan bun. A rewarding burger for the price indeed, and I gobbled that baby up. The mac & cheese did not spark a lot of my taste buds, but positioning it under the patty saved the bun from getting soggy.

While eating, the owner/manager walked around and greeted customers. I decided to ask if he had ham and salami I could add to a burger, similar to the Fat City Burger at the Melt, and unfortunately they did not. I noticed sandwiches without a burger patty were being served on toasted bread, and he said I could build a burger with that bread instead. I did like the bun I devoured, but it did not call out “grilled cheese.” My new plan is to order The Big Cheese for just $5.50 on my next visit, and add the meat. It may cost a bit more, but it will give me a true opinion of Toasted.

I envision this new eatery exploding to a point where it will require a new location. Give it an eclectic feel and a bar area while not making the dining space that much bigger, and it could be Orlando’s next Graffiti Junktion. Maybe even better. Or maybe it actually could be the new Melt. I can only hope, because damn do I miss that place.

AFTERWORD (I just felt like having one of these) I somewhat agree with the name of the Southern Comfort burger due to the mac & cheese, but when I saw “Southern Comfort” I expected it to also include more items such as Cajun seasoning, short ribs or even sweet potatoes.  I am glad it did not, though.