Farmair’s Bar & Bites

Interior
Interior
Breakfast burrito
Breakfast burrito

***** (5 stars)

This is one of only two table service restaurants in the Southwest gate area. The menu is much more limited than at the far larger Cask and Larder, but I've never been a big fan of that place.

You can sit at a small number of tables, mostly for two, or at the bar.

The breakfast burrito at Farmair was better than anything I've had at Cask and Larder. We substituted bacon for sausage, and boy did they deliver! The only downside is they don't have hot sauce, just salsa.

Service was prompt and friendly.

Farmair’s Bar & Bites
9223 Jeff Fuqua Blvd
Orlando, FL 32827

https://www.yelp.com/biz/farmair-s-bar-and-bites-orlando

Groovy Goat

Menu
Menu
Grilled wings
Grilled wings
BBQ Pulled Pork Melt
BBQ Pulled Pork Melt
Classic Burger with bacon
Classic Burger with bacon

***** (5 stars)

Remarkably good sports bar food (albeit expensive) for a tourist location. Excellent burgers, wood grilled wings, wood grilled oysters.

Extensive game room with redemption games, and thankfully completely separate from the dining area. Plenty of screens for every game.

Groovy Goat
7720 Turkey Lake Rd
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 601-0310
https://www.yelp.com/biz/groovy-goat-orlando

Goose & Gander

Downstairs bar
Orange tart
Fish and chips
Interior
Interior
Cheesesteak
Exterior

***** (5 stars)

This charming restaurant is located on a side street of St. Helena’s Main Street. The delightful space upstairs offers high beamed ceilings and an open kitchen, plus lots of duck hunting memorabilia. Downstairs is an atmospheric bar that also has table seating. And there is also lovely outdoor dining.

The menu offers elevated comfort food such as fish and chips, or cheesesteak sandwiches, both of which were good. The orange tart with kumquat marmalade was excellent.

The wine list is very extensive, with plenty of selections from around the world and a nice assortment of half bottles.

Service was very attentive and welcoming.

Goose & Gander
1245 Spring St
Saint Helena, CA
94574
(707) 967-8779
https://www.yelp.com/biz/goose-and-gander-saint-helena-2

El Jardin Restaurant & Catering

Carnitas torta with salad
Appetizer combo
Exterior
Bar
Interior

***** (5 stars)

Really good family Mexican restaurant in a shopping center. The service is terrific and the food is good. The lunch carnitas torta was huge and came with a delicious salad option rather than rice and beans or fries. Great blue cheese dressing. The appetizer sampler is also a nice variety. Very reasonable.

El Jardin Restaurant & Catering
1119 S Main St
Manteca, CA
95337
(209) 825-8552
https://www.yelp.com/biz/el-jardin-restaurant-and-catering-manteca

The Boathouse

Beef carpaccio
Chopped salad
Exterior
Interior

***** (5 stars)

Restaurants in tourist areas don’t need to be all that great, because there is a constant supply of new patrons. But I’m a big fan of Gibson’s restaurants in Chicago, so I decided to give The Boathouse a try, and I’m glad I did.

As you would expect for a restaurant at Disney Springs, the decor and theming are spectacular. But the food is even better. I had the chopped salad with a couple of shrimp added. The salad was huge, very fresh, and the shrimp were perhaps the freshest I’ve had anywhere. I will definitely explore their raw bar when I return.

My wife had a selection of raw oysters, and also commented on how fresh they were.

The place was packed at lunchtime on a Monday, but the servers did a good job of keeping up, and the noise levels were quite reasonable.

The Boathouse is definitely my new favorite restaurant at Disney Springs.

The Boathouse
1620 E Buena Vista Dr
Lake Buena Vista, FL
32830
(407) 939-2628
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-boathouse-lake-buena-vista

Cold Spring Tavern

Interior
Interior
Exterior
Exterior
Interior

***** (5 stars)

I’ve driven past here dozens of times but today was the first time I ever turned off the main road and wound my way down to the Cold Spring Tavern. What an amazing place! It’s an old stagecoach stop, and retains all of the charm (and rickety wood construction) of its historic past.

Outside, a stream cascades down the rocks at the bottom of the canyon, and the building is surrounded by lush growth.

The restaurant is divided up into intimate rooms, with great mood lighting, and views of the woods.

Lunch offerings include salads and sandwiches and burgers. Both the chiliburger and venison steak sandwich were excellent, as were the accompanying fries and salad. Apparently the quiche is amazing, with a wonderful pastry crust, but the person before me got the last order!

Service is friendly, and the staff are definitely having a good time working there.

Cold Spring Tavern
5995 Stagecoach Rd
Santa Barbara, CA
93105
(805) 967-0066
https://www.yelp.com/biz/cold-spring-tavern-santa-barbara

Brother’s Restaurant At the Red Barn

Fried oysters
Tuna tartare
Exterior
Interior

***** (5 stars)

This place offers perfectly grilled steaks and other meat and seafood dishes in a vibrant environment.

in addition to the inside dining area, there is a large outdoor area in back, plus a very lively bar.

The wine list is one of the best in the area, featuring local wines with good pedigrees at reasonable prices.

Service was friendly and professional.

Brother’s Restaurant At the Red Barn
3539 Sagunto St
Santa Ynez, CA
93460
(805) 688-4142
https://www.yelp.com/biz/brothers-restaurant-at-the-red-barn-santa-ynez

Element 47

Dessert
Scallop
Amuse bouche
Lobster terrine with citrus
Bar
Outside seating

**** (4 stars)

This is a pleasant restaurant in Aspen’s most famous hotel. It’s probably not quite as good as that description would suggest, but perfectly adequate.

We had the five-course tasting menu, which was well presented, but without any real knockout courses, although there were tasty components in each.

We also had both the sommelier and premium wine pairings. In each instance the premium wines were MUCH better. Service by the sommelier was friendly and informative.

Food service was pretty slow, but the lovely outside summer dining area provided a pleasant venue to pass the time.

While neither the meal nor the wines were knockouts, the pricing was certainly fair for what we were served.

Element 47
675 E Durant Ave
Aspen, CO
81611
(970) 920-6330
https://www.yelp.com/biz/element-47-aspen-2

Ship Tavern

Slow Roasted Prime Rib
Burger and onion rings
Pretzels
Bar
Bar
Interior

**** (4 stars)

You might expect an upscale hotel like The Brown Palace to have an equally upscale dining room, but this tavern is actually more like a 60s BBQ joint. The entree selection is somewhat limited, but there are lots of sandwiches and sports-bar-like appetizers. The prime rib was truly delicious, and they make a great burger. There is also a nice selection of whiskey. Service was friendly and helpful.

Ship Tavern
321 17th St
Denver, CO
80202
(303) 297-3111
https://www.yelp.com/biz/ship-tavern-denver-5

Chevys Fresh Mex

Appetizer Fresh Mex Sampler
Bar and interior

*** (3 stars)

Back when there weren’t many Tex Mex restaurants in town, we used to go here all the time. (Actually, our history goes back far longer, because back in the 80s this was our Sun Bank!) But somehow it fell off our radar, and we hadn’t been in years. We were surprised to discover the extensive remodel, which involved moving the door and making the bar area much larger and better than it used to be.

Unfortunately, the food hasn’t improved along with the decor. We shared an appetizer sampler, and it was pretty ho-hum. To give you an idea of how far this place has strayed from Mexican or Tex-Mex, the best thing on the platter was Buffalo wings. And, oddly, every single item included chicken, so that’s not really much of a sampler, is it?

The highlight was the house margarita, which was an excellent blend of balanced ingredients. Service was friendly and professional.

Chevys Fresh Mex
12547 State Rd 535
Lake Buena Vista, FL
32836
(407) 827-1052
https://www.yelp.com/biz/chevys-fresh-mex-lake-buena-vista