Saturday, April 15, 2006

Restaurant Review: Dixie Crossroads, Festival Bay Mall, Orlando, FL

Update 5/31/08: We drove by Festival Bay Mall a few weeks ago and it looks like the Dixie Crossroads there has closed. Too bad, I liked a local place to get those little rock shrimps. However, if you liked Dixie Crossroads, you can always visit the original flagship restaurant in Titusville at 1475 Garden Street, Titusville, FL 32796. It is a LOT bigger than the Festival Bay restaurant ever was.

A new addition to the Festival Bay Mall at the end of International Drive is "World Famous" Dixie Crossroads (of the Titusville Dixie Crossroads), a Florida-style seafood restaurant. The restaurant is located outside of the main entrance to the mall, next to the now defunct Caddyshack restaurant. There's a fun looking patio with an indoor/outdoor bar at the front and the main restaurant area inside. Of course, since this is mostly a tourist mall, you can also take your picture by the Mr. Rock (Shrimp) statue by the door. I actually really liked the decor with whimsical undersea motifs including manatees, dolphins, and other Florida underwater creatures. When you are with children, I believe the best area to be seated is the center "house" that features a large aquarium to occupy the little ones' attention. There is but one menu at Dixie Crossroads, all listed on your paper placemat, kids' meals included. Prices are a little high for some of the entrees but the restaurant boasts that they catch all of their own seafood and ensure it is fresh. I won't be able to do the menu justice but be prepared for a boatload of different types of shrimp and seafood preparations (pun intended). Pretty much any type of shrimp or fish (that is in season, of course) can be done almost any type of way - fried, broiled, steamed, grilled, blackened, seasoned, stuffed, "coconutted", etc. All kids' meals are $2.99 and include fries, drink, and a chocolate pudding. Kids' choices are limited to a hamburger, chicken nuggets, shrimp, fish or clams. BB asked for fried shrimp and we ordered chicken nuggets for LB. Hubby was hungry this Saturday afternoon and so ordered a crab cake for an appetizer and then the mahi-mahi basket ($7.99) for lunch. From what I could tell, the only difference between the baskets and the entrees on the menu was an extra side item for the entrees (and about $2). Hubby chose the shrimp soup as his side and asked for the fish simply broiled with butter. I went for the specialty of the house - the rock shrimp. I had first tried rock shrimp about 3 weeks ago at this same restaurant and had come back for more. If you love lobster, you'll love rock shrimp. They are like tiny little lobsters pretending to be shrimp. Last time, the sweet potato side had been a disappointment due to its small size (although the cinnamon butter served with it helped) so I went for the regular baked potato hoping for the best. The rock shrimp basket goes for $9.99 and comes with one side; if you go for the entree with the two sides it will run you $11.99. Before we even got our drinks, my favorite part of eating at Dixie Crossroads arrived at our table - the corn fritters. These little hot balls of fried cornmeal dough come dusted with powdered sugar and are just wonderful. LB's eyes lit up as soon as the basket hit the table and he quickly grabbed one. Hubby is not one to eat sweets before lunch so he left the rest of us to gobble up the little goodies. Soon enough, Hubby's shrimp soup arrived. He claimed it was "okay" but was similar to potato soup with some tiny shrimp thrown in at the last minute. But, LB was willing to help him finish. Hubby was a little annoyed that our request for an extra spoon took a bit of time, especially with LB chanting, "Soup, soup, SOUP!" Our meals arrived soon after and I was pleased to see a large baked potato accompany my shrimp. Hubby peered down at my 12 small shrimp and asked if I had enough food. Okay, they do look small but they taste really good and with a baked potato and a bunch of corn fritters, it makes a nice meal. Hubby tried one of the rock shrimp and did declare that they tasted like lobster but that a dozen would probably have not been enough for him. His mahi-mahi he said was good and done as requested. LB had apparently stuffed himself with fritters, crackers (they come ready for snacking on every table), and shrimp soup and was just picking at his chicken (which really resembled chicken fingers versus nuggets). BB was carefully eating his fried shrimp, trying to avoid the tail shell that we warned him about. He actually got pretty good size shrimp with his kid's meal, most hidden under the french fries. Hubby, who is a quick eater, finished and then took LB to walk the mall so BB and I could finish our meals. BB did pretty good, eating most of his shrimp, and I polished off all of mine. The kids' meal dessert - the chocolate pudding - is of the pre-packaged variety and comes in the basket when the food is delivered so BB dug into his, and, well, okay, I ate LB's pudding (what he doesn't know won't hurt him). It was actually pretty good, almost mousse-like. Dixie Crossroads is a nice place to bring the family for a seafood meal, only marred by some hit-or-miss service (trust me, you don't want to hear about the service the first time I visited). You've got to try the rock shrimp when you visit [Mr. Rock told me to say that].

2 comments:

Mom-of-teens said...

I've been to the Dixie Crossroads in Titusville and will have to say that rock shrimp tastes exactly like little lobsters. I wanted to make sure that rock shrimp was still in season and I was told that the normal season was June to March. They have some in the restaurant right now, but it is really hit or miss. Also found out that the hurricane that hit Mexico may have affected this year's crop as that is the place where the rock shrimp spawn. Gosh, I sure hope not because in 1973-75 Rock Shrimp completely disappeared. Thank you for letting me know we have a Dixie Crossroads in Orlando (this is a family owned restaurant and the one in Festival Bay is associated to the one in Titusville.)

Anonymous said...

The two restaurants might be associated with each other...however, we felt (hands down) that the Titusville restaurant (although it had a very strong 1970's bathroom urine smell reaking from the restrooms) had the better food. Our food was sort of thrown at us at the Festival Bay restaurant. They just didn't have the care put into the meal that the EastCst did. It was fun to visit during a Shuttle launch, also. Traffic home however, was obscene....4+ hrs.

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