Monday, September 29, 2008

Willow Tree Cafe

Welcome to another edition of Furious Foodies. It occurs to me that you have no idea what your hosts look like! So here is a quick picture. I am the dude with the huge beard, and Dan is the other guy.

Your Hosts
Pretty handsome fellas ain't we? You can tell I like food. Hehe. Anyway, this time around we visited the Hollerbach Willow Tree Cafe in Sanford Florida. Without further ado, here are our thoughts:

Dan's Review:

As we walked up to the place I immediately saw the amount of people seated outdoors. Surely, this place had something going on for the sheer amount of people who I saw in the patio that day. We were seated by the owner of the restaurant, Theo Hollerbach (pictured left), personally. The walls were lined with elements of German culture big and small. The tables were well set and had ample coasters, they were not lean-friendly, however, so be careful when setting your elbow on the edge. The waiter was prompt and had suggestions when we were in doubt. He expressed mastery over the menu. He seemed to like his job very much and was welcoming. There was a singing guitarist as entertainment, as well. Environment gets a 5. Service gets exceptional.

theboozewtcFor the drink, I ordered a 0.5 liter Köstritzer Schwarzbier (pictured right). At first, it had a hard taste as if I had been punched in the mouth and tasted blood. About 2 gulps into it it began to taste smooth and somewhat sweet. It was pretty dark and left me tipsy for the duration of the meal experience. Drink scores a 4 for that beginning moment, but the vast majority of the drink saved it for me. Bread was provided as we waited.

For the meal, I chose the pork Wiener Schnitzel. The sides were saeurkraut and two seasoned potato pancakes.

The Schnitzel was crisp on the outside, but not to the point of having a cruch. The meat inside was juicy and did not have any awkward bites to it.

The potato pancakes were very soft, contained herb spices, and as a whole tasted of hashbrown, but more together and with hint of herb everywhere.

porksnitchzelThe sauerkraut was nothing like the kind found in jars, the first bite was strong to the point of sending a tingle into my nostrils. Soft, and full on juice, but not leaky.

For dessert, I had a slice of raspberry cheesecake. It was cheesecake, but had a delicious and light, fluffy layer of pink and white as well as an berry syrup zig-zagged on top. many white chocolate morsels were stuck on the back of the slice. Meal gets a 5, as does the dessert. It was a first and I knew that it wasn't a lucky first, there was a measure of skill and passion in that dish and dessert.

Definitely a repeater.

raspberrycheesecakeAmbiance/Style - Exceptional
Service - Exceptional

Appetizer - NA
Drink - 4
Entree - 5
Dessert - 5
Overall - 4.5 (Would Eat Again)


Clay's Review:

So, Willow Tree Cafe. A small cafe in Sanford Florida that specializes in classic and new age german food. Has won a slew of awards and what not. When doing my searchs for German this and one other local were the only places I could find. The other place was not open on Sundays and right now, that is a requirement for the group to visit it, so it didn't even get counted. Thats not to say I don't have it written down though. Anyway, we took a drive up to Sanford and found the cafe nestled if you will among historic downtown Sanford between a used book store and an art gallery. When we got there we almost missed it (mainly because I thought it was on the other side of the road) but a german flag caught my eye and we were able to locate it. However, parking around the actual cafe was nearly impossible as it had no parking lot.

willowtreeoutside

Thankfully there was a public lot not even half a block away, and we parked and then walked our way down to the cafe, which was packed. I don't mean just simply busy, I mean packed. The "Please Wait to be Seated" was outside about 10 feet from door because they have outdoor seating, and we found that the outdoor seating was totally packed and indoor looked the same. A nice older gentleman appeared and offered to seat us inside but told us that there would be a wait for outside seating. Not wanting to sit with smokers (no offense to you all who smoke) I suggested inside. It helped that I was hungry.

So inside we went. The nice man sat us down, gave us our menus and a beer/wine list, and I found that the man who sat us was the owner himself, Theo Hollerbach. I called him over and double checked and him informed me that yes I was correct, and that he had been doing this stuff for 7 years with his wife. Now thats personal service. Throughout the rest of the meal we could see Theo wandering around, making sure tables were cleaned, servers were on point, and seating people himself. It was awesome.

Our server was named (I believe) Pieter, and he was super friendly, a fellow World of Warcraft player, and extremely knowledgeable about everything on the menu. You could tell that he honestly liked his job and didn't have that "I hate work" look that alot of servers had. So we ordered. I discovered that they had daily lunch specials and change their soups out daily as well. I had the Smokey Tomato Bacon soup and when it came out I could tell it was NOT from a can. There will still bits of tomato floating around with small particles of bacon. The smoke was tasty and delicious.

kaiserwurstFor my entree I ordered the Kaiser Wurst Teller which is a lunch plate of 3 Sausages of my choice, and 3 sides. I had the Weisswurst, Mettwurst, and Nürnberger as my three sausages and the German Potato Salad, Sweet Red Cabbage, and Spätzle with Rahm Sauce as my 3 sides. Now, the Weisswurst sausage was a Veal and Pork sausage, and it was....disturbing. No offense to the makers of it but the inside, the meat itself, was CREAMY. I tasted it, Dan did, a guest we brought along (Brandon, a coworker) tried it and we all agreed that it was...not our thing. Not to say it wasn't good. I am sure it was. But not for me. The Mettwurst (a smoked bratwurst of beef and pork) was tasty, but my favorite of the three was the Nürnberger, a long thin sausage made of well seasonsed pork. It was fabulous and the first sausage to be devoured.

Of the three sides, I liked the Red Cabbage but couldn't eat too much. The sweet plus sour taste of it was just a bit too much for me. The german potato salad was excellent and nothing like american potato salad. But my favorite of the three sides was the Spätzle with Rahm Sauce. And you could tell it was hand made. The noodles were most assuredly not uniform in shape, and the sauce was sorta like a brown gravy, but that only made it better. All in all the entree was everything I had hoped it would be: delicious.

blackforestcakeFinally we had dessert. Now me and the photographer had no idea what to order. You see, they don't really have a dessert menu. This is due to the fact that every week the desserts change, and are freshly custom made by a local who comes in and takes care of it. We told the waiter to suprise us, and he came back with a piece of Black Forrest Cake for me, and Triple Chocolate Cheesecake for the Photographer. I ended up finishing off the cheesecake, and devouring the cake. I enjoyed the cake, which had huge black cherries in it, but I really loved the ultra smooth and chocolately and dense cheesecake.3chococheesecake Of course, next time I go I may never see those two desserts again!

All in all my experience was fantastic. There was not a bad thing I could say about the place save one. The live entertainment, which started at 1pm, was annoying. The guy playing guitar could in fact play the guitar, but his voice was high pitched and extremely whiny.

Ambiance/Style - Exceptional
Service - Exceptional

Soup - 5
Entree - 5
Dessert - 5
Overall - 5 (Amazing)
Click on the photo's above for larger versions. Here are some other pictures of the location:

P1010654
Some of the Art inside the Cafe

customcoasterwtc
The Custom Coasters that they had at each table.

wtcbar
The very full bar with true german brews!

cafeoutside
The outside dining area.


For more information including maps and a full menu, please visit their offical website - http://willowtreecafe.com/

Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mini Update - A Mini Adventure at Lunch!

So this is a mini update of sorts. We all know what my mission is: To eat my way around Central Florida. Well today for lunch I went to the Winghouse with a coworker for the first time, and I found something I have never ever seen before.

Southern Fried Pickles.

I stared at them on the menu, trying to puzzle them out. A deep fried pickle? What kinda of madness was this?! Of course, I then remembered my new mission, to try new and exciting cuisine. I figured "Well, I am here and I am gonna eat anyway, might as well give em a shot!" So I ordered me some Fried Pickles.

Now sadly Dan and our photographer was not with me to sample these, nor take pictures. But just imagine: A Dill Pickle Spear covered in a light salty batter, bespeckled with pepper and seasonings. Now, imagine about 5 of those spears, in a basket. Add a small container of mystery sauce (seriously, I still have no idea what was in the sauce!) and there you have it. A batch of Southern Fried Pickles.

After eating them I could only think of one thing: They were BIZARRE. I mean, they were pickles, you could tell that much, but it was really strange to eat something like that after being batterfried. And the batter itself had a flavor too! It was a light dill flavor. The sauce didn't help either. Were they bad? Not really. But would I order them again? NO.

There are some things in this world that should not be deep fried.

On the positive side, I got to experience an adventure in the middle of my workday. Now I get to go back to training. Yay me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fiddlers Green

Clay's Review:

Alright, for our first foray into the world of dining and eating we went to a place in Winter Park called Fiddlers Green. A quaint little Irish pub, I have known about it for a fair amount of time but never actually got the gumption to go into it. So when me and Dan decided to do this, I suggested this place for our first stop. The reason? So I can stop thinking about it and actually move on with my culinary journey dangit!

The parking I would say was decent, however, actually getting to the pub was a bit of a pain. The reason? The intersection. It was crazy and slightly complicated. Once we parked we went inside, and I found the place very pleasant to say the least. It was rustic, and had what I had always imagined a real pub would have: Hardwood floors, hardwood tables, unmatching light fixtures, and a setup for a band in one corner complete with a stack of amps and a piano. We waited for a little bit before someone told us we could seat ourselves, so we wandered thru the side room where 2 plasma/LCD TV's were and ended up in the main room in a corner booth. The seats were comfy despite the fact that they had no padding. Once again, real hardwood booth seating and tables.

Once we sat down, it took a bit for a waitress to show up. It wasn't long enough for me to go "Where the heck is our server?!" but it got close. We ordered our drinks and some appetizers and then waited. Our drinks were fairly prompt, however I drained mine quickly and had to wait a fair amount of time for a refill. This bothered me, but hey, I am a bit picky when it comes to service.

We chatted for a bit and then our appetizers came out. I had ordered Chicken Tenders, as I often do when confronted with the strange and unusual. I figure "Hey, if I don't like the grub at least I got some decent chicken." And boy was I right.

When the tenders arrived, I stared in mute amazement! I had 4 tenders but they were huge! At least twice the size of most chicken tenders I am used to seeing. They came with a "honey and mustard" sauce (thats what the menu called it!) and while it was a bit thin for my liking, the flavor was ALL there. Furthermore, the chicken tenders were real juicy fresh cut chicken that was not greasy at all, well battered, and actually required a fork and knife to eat. They were THAT big. I had nothing bad I could really say about them, other then the price ($7.50), which I feel was a little high, but then again I paid for quality.

My actual meal was next, and I ordered what was supposed to be an "authentic Irish burger" called the Ulster Burger. I asked for it Medium. When I got it, I took a bit and quickly realized that it was most assuredly NOT medium. It was rare. This made me upset, mainly because I do not like rare burgers. However, I ate half of it and got fairly filled up. Also, the "imported Irish bacon" that came on the burger looked to me like a slab of ham. When I took it off the remaining half of the burger and ate it alone, all I could taste was salt. No actual bacon flavor. Just salt. The "chips" or fries as we Americans call em however were fantastic and saved the entree for me. I ate all of those, and our photographers chips as well.

Finally desert came. I, like Dan, ordered the "Fiddlers Favorite" which is apparently an Irish whiskey cake with walnuts and icing. It was fairly decent overall, however just like Dan mine had an issue with being dry as I got towards the outside edge of the cake.

All in all, Fiddlers Green was a decent pub and I personally intend to go back to give it another shot. However, next time it will be just me and Dan, and it will be in the evening so we can check out the live entertainment. Next time, I am gonna get the Shepard's Pie I think.

Score:
Ambiance/Style - Exceptional
Service - Adequate

Appetizer - 5
Entree - 3
Dessert - 4
Overall - 4 (Would Eat Again)

Dan's Review:

The food:
As an appetizer I had the chicken fingers. I got more than I expected. This chicken was juicy, steamy, and didn't have the "precut" look of the fingers you would encounter in most restaurants. It came with a dijon mustard sauce. I give it a 5 for surprising the heck out of me in a good way.

I had the Bangers and Mash next. These sausages were large and had a somewhat crispy outside, but they were easy to get past with a knife. The meat tasted like it was basted with beer in the cooking process, and it sat in a puddle of sauce that likely gave it the flavor I found in it. Next to these was a mound of flaky mashed potatoes dotted with chives, sweet caramelised pearl onions, and thick cuts of boiled carrot. If it had not been for the appetizer, I would have finished the whole plate in a sitting.(I took the rest of it home.) This dish gets a 5 because it made a repeat customer of me with all of its fantastic flavors.

The last thing I ordered was a cake slice called Fiddler's Favorite. It was soaked in what tasted like lemon syrup. The outside of it was frosted with the kind you'd find on silk pies. There was one thing that disappointed me. As I approached the end of it, the cake started to get dry. I give this dessert a 4, because if it had more syrup it would've been phenomenal.

The environment was very well done. Nothing was loud (subject to change because this is a pub.) Everything looked old with wooden trim and the only hint of modern tech was the dual flat screens in the other room. In the opposite side of the restaurant there were dartboards with scoreboards next to them. I was absorbed into a round of darts. Exceptional.

The waitress was intuitive enough that I never grasped for an empty cup of diet coke, and the dishes came promptly.At the beginning, we waited a couple of minutes and were asked to go ahead and take a seat anywhere in the restaurant. That also meant that I had to reach into the empty podium for menus. The service was Adequate

Score:
Ambiance/Style - Exceptional
Service - Adequate

Appetizer - 5
Entree - 5
Dessert - 4
Overall - 4.5

Photographers Comments:

Score:
Ambiance/Style - Exceptional
Service - Adequate

Appetizer - 5
Entree - 2
Dessert - 4
Overall - 3.5

Appetizer was the Wexford Wings, they were tasty and had a tangy sauce. Entree was Fish and Chips. Fish was tasteless and extremely greasy, chips were amazing. Dessert was the Bread Pudding which was real honest to god Bread Pudding. Service was alright but nothing special, style of the pub was a true classic pub.

Fiddler's Green Irish Pub & Eatery on Urbanspoon

Pictures:

Outside
outside

Inside
inside1

Inside
inside2

Inside
inside3

Appetizer: Tenders
chickenfingers

Appetizer: Wings
wexfordwings

Ulster Burger
ulsterburger

Bangers and Mash
bangersandmash

Fish and Chips
fishandchips


For more information, including a menu and directions, please visit the Fiddlers Green Website at: http://www.fiddlersgreenorlando.com/

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Beginnings

In the beginning, the blog was void, and the spirit of Clay came down and said...LET THERE BE POSTS! Yes I know this is cheesy, but hey, it works right? Anyway, the name is Clay, and I am a Furious Foodie. What is a "furious foodie" you ask? Basically, I think of a Furious Foodie as a person who has never really explored the culinary world outside of their standard fare (in my case, fast food and chain restaurants) and is now furiously trying out various fare.

Thats what I am, and so is my friend Dan. Along with a friend of ours (who shall remain nameless but will contribute the photos) we are on a journey to explore the various types of cuisine we can find in the Greater Orlando area. I will probebly do most of the posting, I mean, what can I say? I am the more "bloggy" of the three of us.

Regardless, I hope you join us on our journey. Me and Dan are going to be posting our thoughts on each place that we go, along with pictures taken by my friend. Hopefully these reviews and photos will help other Orlando foodies find the "best in the best" in the world of food.

THE SCORING SYSTEM:

Our scoring system is going to be pretty basic. And in all honesty, what do you expect? Me and Dan are just a pair of normal guys, nothing fancy. I mean we do not have "refined" palates so you won't be hearing about how the salad had "the smokey note of hickory along with the pleasant aroma of almond" or anything like that. We are Critics for the People! If we like, I figured most people will.

In that vein, our scoring works as follows: 1-5 Score, 1 meaning "Nasty/Foul/Never Order Again" to 5 meaning "Supreme, Would love to eat, Recommend to All."

Further, we will rate the Ambiance/Style on a Pass Fail basis, as well as the Service. The ratings for those are Poor, Adequate, and Exceptional.