Tom + Chee – Orlando

Exterior

Interior

Tomato basil soup and BBQ+Bacon grilled cheese

*** (3 stars)

This is a quick serve place that offers a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches, variations on tomato soup, and some odd-sounding cheese donuts.

I tried the BBQ+bacon, with American cheese, bacon and BBQ potato chips on white sour bread. It probably wasn’t the best choice, as I usually prefer a more flavorful cheese. I should also have realized that the expected flavor of BBQ sauce was not going to be there, since all the flavor came from the BBQ potato chips which, of course, taste nothing like BBQ. I also feel the bread could have been a bit more grilled.

The basil tomato soup was good, with lots of fresh basil leaves in it.

It’s useful but also discouraging that they list the calorie counts of everything on the menu. It’s not good news.

Tom + Chee – Orlando
12533 State Rd 535
Orlando, FL 32836
(321) 395-4930
https://www.yelp.com/biz/tom-chee-orlando-orlando

Harry and Larry’s Barbeque

Smoked brisket 1/4 pound

St Louis Ribs & Cole slaw

Exterior

Interior

***** (5 stars)

This small shotgun style business is always packed, and there’s a reason. While there is lots of pretty good BBQ in Orlando, it’s largely represented by small local chains such as Bubbalou’s and 4 Rivers. While those places turn out some good products, Harry and Larry’s seems to take it to another level, because of the small, home-made approach to everything.

Both the St. Louis Ribs and the Smoked Brisket I tried were, simply put, awesome, with a smokey crust and tender, flavourful meat.

Even the house-made coleslaw was a cut above, with fresh, crisp cabbage and carrot flavors coming through the light and flavorful sauce.

The only miss was the soggy piece of grilled bread served with the ribs.

Note: It can be a bit confusing on your first visit. You order at the counter (inside or out) and if you’re dining in they give you a playing card to put on your table to keep track of who to deliver it to.

Harry and Larry’s Barbeque
54 W Plant St
Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 614-5950
https://www.yelp.com/biz/harry-and-larrys-barbeque-winter-garden

Melts On Main Street

Who Shot JR

Reuben

Exterior

Interior

**** (4 stars)

This charming sandwich shop also offers a variety of wonderful home cooked specials such as soda bread, stew and quiche. You can also pick up dinner to take home.

As the name implies, most sandwiches are grilled. I had the Reuben, a special, and it was excellent. I wasn’t a huge fan of the very chunky potato salad that came with it.

The Who Shot JR wasn’t quite as flavorful as the Rueben, but it came with a mild blue cheese spread on the side that was a nice accompaniment.

There is live entertainment on Sunday.

Melts On Main Street
108 S Main St
Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 656-3587
https://www.yelp.com/biz/melts-on-main-street-winter-garden

Twin Peaks

Quesadilla

BBQ burger with bacon

Exterior

Interior

*** (3 stars)

This sports bar follows the Hooters formula, but has better food than Hooters or the nearby Ale House. There are so many TV screens here they hardly need lighting. Aside from long communal tables there are also individual tables for four that are a bit quieter. I like that they play rock music rather than the soundtrack of the TV sports, and that it wasn’t too loud to talk.

Of course the main draw is supposed to be the vast expanse of midriff exposed by your server, but the hamburger (I had the sweet BBQ burger plus bacon) was excellent.

Twin Peaks
12353 Winter Garden Vineland Rd
Orlando, FL 32836
(407) 778-4810
https://www.yelp.com/biz/twin-peaks-orlando-3

Jersey Mike’s Subs

** (2 stars)

I’ll confess I’m not a huge sub sandwich fan. I love sandwiches, but I regard subs as the bottom level of sandwich quality.

They used to be even worse, when Subway was the only game in town, but then Quizznos forced them to raise the bar with more breads and toasted options. Then Quizznos was forced out of our area by Jimmy John’s which specialized in speed of assembly, and Firehouse, which introduced better ingredients.

That leave Jersey Mikes in a neverland. They don’t have Firehouse’s quality or Jimmy John’s speed. They don’t even have Subway’s variety of bread.

What they do have–at this location, anyway–is a nice outside eating area that attracts a breeze to cool things off, even in summer.

The pastrami sub I had, prepared the default way, was pretty flavorless. But perhas the addition of some mustard and peppers could zest it up. Still, with a Firehouse a few blocks away, I’d probably go there instead.

Jersey Mike’s Subs
6700 Conroy Rd
Ste 100A
Orlando, FL 32835
(407) 445-6453
https://www.yelp.com/biz/jersey-mikes-subs-orlando-8

Chicago q

***** (5 stars)

This might not be the best barbecue place in Chicago, but it’s certainly the nicest, and I love their approach to food and beverage. They focus on flights of both, and offer variety in surprising ways.

For example, we started with the barbecue flight, a good way to sample brisket, pulled pork and pulled chicken. It came with four(!) different barbecue sauces, all of which were good.

Well, we didn’t actually start with that, because when you sit down they give you a generous basket of seasoned house-made potato chips and delicious sweet pickles.

For our main courses we had the chicken and waffles and another flight, this time of eggs benedict. I still don’t really get the combination of chicken and waffles, but both were good–even better when I asked for some barbecue sauce to dunk the chicken in. The eggs benedict was served three ways, each of them huge: with brisket, pulled pork, and pulled chicken. But it was different from the barbecue flight, because each was on a different base: biscuit, fried green tomato, and corn bread. Each also had a different Hollandaise sauce, which my dining companion wisely opted to have on the side. A little bit was all it needed.

There’s a really extensive list of beers, wines, whiskey, bourbon, scotch and a limited list of cocktails. Staying with the flight theme, we tried the Grand Tasting, which consisted of nine(!) whiskeys. It wasn’t cheap, but it was a real learning experience, because they were all so different, and the beverage manager was really knowledgeable about them.

For the record, here are my ratings (on a scale of 10) for the flight:

Auchentoshan Whiskey (American Oak) 6/10
Hibiki Harmony (Japanese) 7/10
Wieser Uuahouua (Pinot Noir barrels, Austrian) 7.5/10

Compass Box Spice Tree (clove cardamom cinnamon) 7/10
Elijah Craig (barrel strength 102 proof) 8/10
Slaughter House by Orin Swift 9/10

Noah’s Mill Bourbon 6.5/10
Willet Pot Still Bourbon 7/10
Woodford Reserve Double Oaked 9/10

I really like the whole approach to food and beverages at Chicago q.

Chicago q
1160 N Dearborn St
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 642-1160
http://www.yelp.com/biz/chicago-q-chicago

Pincho Factory

**** (4 stars)

Twenty minutes is too long to stand in a ten-person line at a counter service restaurant. Yet although that was the consistent wait time throughout lunch hour, the manager never saw fit to open the second of two registers. Perhaps the kitchen couldn’t have kept up, but if so, then there are some serious design flaws, because it wasn’t for lack of staff.

That said, it only took about ten minutes for them to make the food, once it was ordered, and what we were served was quite good. The pitas were hot from the grill, and the lettuce and tomatoes were fresh and tasty. We liked both the traditional cilantro sauce and also the tropical preparation.

A side order of Cajun tostones was crispy and flavorful.

There’s a nice offering of beers on tap and in bottle, as well as soft drinks, although some were out of syrup and no one seemed concerned.

So overall, an A for food and a C for service, but they’ve only been open a few days, so perhaps things will get worked out.

Pincho Factory
7600 Doctor Phillips Blvd
Ste 102
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 745-4462
http://www.yelp.com/biz/pincho-factory-orlando

Banh Mi Nha Trang Subs

***** (5 stars)

The house special here is not only the best Banh Mi sandwich I’ve ever had, it is the best sandwich I’ve ever had. The bread is incredibly fresh, and perfectly toasted around the edges. The meats are smokey and flavorful, and the vegetables incredibly fresh and piquant. Just an absolutely sublime combination of ingredients.

Located at the back of a court surrounded by old shops, the place looks pretty decrepit from the outside, and no better inside. There are no tables, and not even a register. You simply pick what you want from the list and wait for it to be handed to you.

Nevertheless, it is an awesome sandwich, and I will be back here often. See you tomorrow!

Banh Mi Nha Trang Subs
1216 E Colonial Dr
Ste 9
Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 346-4549
http://www.yelp.com/biz/banh-mi-nha-trang-subs-orlando

Crispers

*** (3 stars)

We used to go to this Crispers all the time, but a number of years ago they reduced the potions sizes and we stopped going. I’m glad we tried it again, because it seems like things are back on track. My flatbread was good, and the Thai Chicken salad was excellent. Portion sizes are now generous, and the pricing seems reasonable. I like the “pick two” approach.

The thing that drives me crazy is the inefficient ordering process for a group, which is unchanged after all these years. They make each person place their order while everyone stands around waiting, and then process the credit cards one by one. This means the first item can’t start being prepared until the last item has been paid for, which is incredibly inefficient. And having six or eight people standing around at the register is really annoying. Every other counter service restaurant in town manages to put the same table placard number on each person’s check without this nonsense (see Pei Wei, for example). It’s time someone with some efficiency sense showed Crispers how to do it.

Crispers
2228 S Kirkman Road
Orlando, FL 32811
(407) 296-4551
http://www.yelp.com/biz/crispers-orlando