Thursday, September 21, 2006

Restaurant Review - Bob's Big Boy, 795 Gateway Drive, Altamonte Springs, FL

A few week's ago, on a Sunday around noon, I dragged my parents and my kids to try out the new Bob's Big Boy Restaurant in Altamonte Springs. It's a new location in Florida although Bob's Big Boys have been around for years and years. In fact, I remember going to Bob's Big Boy as a child growing up in Virginia and I remembered liking it. So, I asked my parents to go with me on a trip down memory lane. To which my dad replied, "What? Why do you want to go all the way up there to eat at Bob's Big Boy? You might as well go to a Denny's around the corner! The food is about the same." But I insisted -- "C'mon, I need to eat there for my blog!"
The location was a little hard to find, you have to head south of 436 on 434 and then look for the restaurant on Gateway Drive at a new shopping center. Upon walking inside the restaurant, a large Big Boy statue greets you, naturally. My Big Boy (my 7-year old) thought it was cool to pose like the statue and have his picture taken. The inside of the restaurant resembles an old-time diner with lots of bright chrome and checkerboard designs. We were seated at a booth and given large laminated menus (kind of like at Denny's) and the kids were given paper menus that looked like comic books. My Big Boy (BB) was a little upset because he received what he termed a "girl" comic book menu but, luckily, we were able to exchange it for a "boy" one (Ninja Turtles). There were jokes, riddles, and puzzles inside with the menu itself on the back page. We had plenty of time to decide what we wanted when our server came to the table. She took our drink orders -- chocolate milk for my Little Boy (LB), a chocolate malt for me, Grandma, and my BB (hey, they had a sign saying Malt Shop - we had to try it!), with just water for Grandpa. Then, our server disappeared. Really. We couldn't find her for 10 minutes. And it's not that big of a restaurant. To kill the time, LB and I checked out the breakfast buffet. It was a pretty okay-looking spread with all of the standards - pancakes, waffles, eggs, sausage, bacon, grits, fruit, etc. I might have to try it some time. But today, I had come to try the signature entree - THE Big Boy burger. Luckily, by the time we came back to our table, a manager walked by and asked how everything was going. We explained that we couldn't find our server, or our drinks, so she promised to find them and then proceeded to take our food order. Grandma and I got the Big Boy burger, hers was $4.29 for the burger alone while I got the combo with fries and a side item for $6.89. I chose the cole slaw on the advice of the manager and then also decided to upgrade to the onion rings for another $1. LB wanted the hot dog kids' meal and BB ordered the grilled cheese -- with a drink, fries and a "special prize" included, the kids' meals were a deal for only $2.99! Another kids' meal choice is a kiddie burger and only $1 more to upgrade to kiddie chicken tenders. The manager kept calling the kids' meals "the kid's hot dog box and kid's grilled cheese box" so I assumed they would come in some sort of box with the food and surprise all together. Shortly thereafter, our original server showed up again, with all of our drinks. The chocolate malts were served "the old-fashioned way" in tall glasses with the remainder in the silver mixing cup. LB decided he wanted to try mine and then proceeded to suck the whole thing down. Good thing I had extra in the mixing cup!

Soon, our entrees arrived. The kids' food was served on regular plates so I don't know what kind of "box" the manager was talking about. I could tell by that point that our server was new so maybe she didn't serve the kids' food correctly? My Big Boy Burger looked like... well... it looked like a Big Mac from McDonald's. Okay, but the important thing is what it tastes like! And it tastes like... a Big Mac. It did. Oh well, my childhood memories were dashed. Bob's Big Boy really IS just like a Denny's (or McDonald's). Everyone pretty much agreed. But the cole slaw was really good, just like the manager said. All told, we got out of there for only $35, not including tax and tip - not too bad for 3 adults and 2 kids. As I was paying at the cashier, I remembered that we hadn't gotten our kids' meal "surprise". I stopped the server as she was walking by and she said she had to check with the manager what was supposed to be in the kids' meal. She came back with two plastic bobble-head Big Boy figurines. The boys thought they were funny and liked playing with them. As we walked out the door, I saw that they had a "gift shop" with all kinds of Big Boy collectibles. One of them was the exact same plastic bobble-head my kids had just gotten, going for $3 each! So, an even better deal (although I wonder if the server messed up and gave us the wrong kid's prize). All in all, I don't think I would head back up to Altamonte Springs for another meal at Bob's Big Boy. But it was fun to go for memory's sake.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Restaurant Review - Beefy King, 424 Bumby Ave, Orlando, FL

Today for lunch, we ate at Beefy King, a small non-descript fast-food restaurant on Bumby Avenue, just south of SR 50. Well, non-descript except for the large Beefy King sign with the bull on it.

We have passed this place many times before but it always looked a little "questionable" to me. However, Hubby recently ate there and declared it great so we all went along to try it. As Hubby says, it's like Arby's, only better. Beefy King, apparently, has been around since 1968, yet the inside is nice and if not modern, then at least clean. As you enter, the menu is on boards at the back. Their specialty is beef - what a surprise - especially roast beef, corned beef, pastrami, and BBQ beef - however, they also offer ham, turkey, and BBQ pork. The best part is that right in the center of the open kitchen, an employee freshly cuts all the meat on a deli slicer. There is no kid's menu but they do offer a Junior size combo that comes with a small sandwich, "Beefy Spuds" (tater tots), and a small drink for $4.95. They also offer plain hot dogs for $2. Both boys got the Junior size combo with roast beef. I got the Regular size combo for $5.95 - same as the boys, just the larger size roast beef sandwich. Hubby ordered a Combination Sandwich which combines any two meats that you want. He got the roast beef and ham which I thought might taste weird but he said he's had it before and it is very tasty.

Nothing is too fancy at Beefy King so the food is served in plain wax paper wrappers with plain bags for the Spuds. The sandwiches are served on fresh kaiser rolls, although the junior sandwiches looked like they were on hamburger buns. The roast beef was great! It was really tasty and tender and didn't really need any sauce. Those who like sauce, however, have several to choose from including BBQ and horseradish sauce. The Spuds were tasty as well. I was surprised that the boys both ate pretty well, each finishing about half of their sandwiches. Maybe next time I'll have them share.

Apparently, Beefy King is only open for lunch (10a-3p M-F; 11a-3p Sat; closed Sun) but they do offer a drive-thru that is open a little later during the week (til 5:30 pm M-F). They also have milkshakes, in the standard vanilla and chocolate, but also cherry and orange. I'll have to try a cherry milkshake next time, it sounds interesting! I found Beefy King to be a really nice fast-food restaurant that doesn't taste like fast food, with friendly employees and a nice, clean interior.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Restaurant Review - Trish's Teas, 4844 New Broad Street, Baldwin Park, Orlando, FL

Yes, it's true! I took my two boys (and my mother-in-law, Grandma M) to a high tea! Hey, I can't help it if I didn't have girls! I have been craving a true tea experience and have not had time to make it over to my favorite tea place - the Grand Floridian Resort's Garden View Tea Room. So, I decided to check out a place I read about in the Windermere Lifestyle magazine -- Trish's Teas, a tea, trinket & treasure boutique in Baldwin Park Village.

We found Trish's easy enough and walked in to check it out. It is certainly a combined tea room/retail space/party room. When you walk in, there are about 5-6 small tables, all with different "Victorian" chairs and candelabras. They are to the side of the main retail space where all sorts of "tea things" are sold. There is also an ordering counter to the right where you can get a "cuppa" or some of the yummy looking chocolates and desserts. In a separate room to the left is the party room -- and there was a party going on when we arrived. It looked to be a little girl's birthday party with all the little girls dressed up and wearing big fancy hats. Later, after they left, a baby shower group showed up... so the secret must be out on having parties at Trish's Teas! As we stepped up to the ordering counter, we asked to see the menu. The young man asked if we had reservations. Whoops, we didn't, was there any space available? I looked around and saw two groups at the tables but the rest of the tables did have "Reserved" signs on them. A woman next to him said that they did have space and removed one of the signs and escorted us to a glass table. Little Boy (LB), my two-year-old ended up needing a booster seat to reach the top of the table. He then proceeded to bang all of his silverware against the glass tabletop. Shoot, why couldn't we have gotten one of the wooden tables? By distracting him with all the teapots surrounding us, we were able to secretly take away all of his silverware without further incident. Trish's has a very simple menu, with light selections such as quiche, salads, snack plates, and desserts, as well as tea combinations and tea by the pot. Grandma M decided to go with the spinach quiche and salad for $10.95. I decided to go for broke and get the full tea for $19.95 which comes with a full pot of tea (I choose Jasmine), two scones with lemon curd & clotted cream, finger sandwiches, fruit, and a sampling of small desserts. For the boys, I got them each the Teddy Bear Children's Tea (the only offering for kids) for $8.95. It said it came with a beverage, small sandwich, cookie, gummies, and Goldfish crackers. Big Boy (BB), my seven-year-old said he wanted to try the kids' tea called Bubblegum Tea. I got a chocolate milk for LB. For sandwiches, they had a choice of peanut butter & jelly, fluffernutter (marshmallow fluff & peanut butter), or one of the salads they offer - tuna or chicken. LB went for the PB&J and BB said he wanted the tuna salad.

I'm assuming Trish's is a family-run business, with just the family running it, so service was a little slow. I'm sure that's fine when you are relaxing with tea with your girlfriends, but was a little too slow for the boys. I finally took them over to the dessert case and told them they could each get a small chocolate for dessert if they ate their lunch so they perused their options. Finally, our food arrived and I really wished I had a camera! The Teddy Bear Tea presentation was adorable!! It was served on a three-tiered plate with a balloon tied to the handle at the top. On the top tier was a small teddy bear that the boys got to keep as well as the fruit gummies. On the next tier was a small chocolate chip cookie and a dish of rainbow-colored Goldfish. On the lowest tier was the sandwich, served on a round piece of bread with the crust cut off. Too cute! The boys actually got excited about it. Also, both of their beverages were served in little teapots. I poured LB's chocolate milk into his tea cup and hoped that he wouldn't break the cup. Well, he didn't break the cup... he broke the little top to his tea pot. He had picked it up to see the milk inside and accidentally dropped it - it shattered to the floor. I was horrified. However, the folks at Trish's were really nice and cleaned it up and told me not to worry about it. Whew, I thought I had just bought a little teapot. BB tried his Bubblegum Tea and declared that it was just okay and tasted kind of like grape. Looking at the ingredients now from Trish's website, I can see why it tasted fruity - it is made of hibiscus petals, rosehips chips, calendula petals, cornflower petals, dried apples pieces, and dried sweet orange peel. Grandma M said that her quiche and salad were very good. My full tea was also served on a three-tiered plate, with six finger sandwiches - two each of egg salad, cranberry chicken salad, and cucumber with dill - two blueberry scones with lemon curd and Devonshire cream, a cup of cut-up pineapple, strawberries and blueberries, and a mini-carrot cake, mini-German chocolate cake, fruit petit four, and mini-chocolate layer cake. Wow, a lot of food! BB did great and finished everything except his Goldfish. I had to keep begging LB to eat his sandwich as he was perfectly happy just eating the Goldfish and the gummies. My sandwiches were very good, with my favorite being the cranberry chicken salad. The scones were nice and soft and tasted great with the curd and cream. Surprisingly, my least favorite things were the carrot cake and German chocolate cake. They just didn't taste right. But the fruit was wonderful as well, very sweet. Since BB had finished his meal, he picked out a chocolate for himself ($1.25) and of course LB started to throw a fit. Luckily, we were now past the main lunch hour so we were the only remaining guests in the place. I was a bad mommy and gave in to the tantrum and let LB have a chocolate as well - the same exact one of course. BB acted like a proper gentleman the whole time so I am considering taking him next time I go for tea again. LB was just a little too little and I'll have to wait until he is older. But, Trish's Teas is a nice place to have tea and some food and I'm really considering maybe having MY birthday party there one day.

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