Mad Girl Eats Charley’s Steakhouse in Orlando

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Charley’s Steakhouse, 8255 International Drive Orlando, FL. Two more locations available in Orlando and one in Tampa.

Family owned since 1973, Charley’s Steakhouse has continually been named one of the Best Independent Steakhouses in the country. It only seemed fit that Charley’s was the first choice when an immense hankering for a great aged steak filled every crevice of my being. Wine lovers will fall in love with Charley’s award-winning wine list.

The restaurant location I chose was on I-drive, in the heart of the tourist and conventioneer corridor of Orlando.  It had a warm and inviting atmosphere that one you would hope for when dining at an upscale steakhouse. The staff was pleasant, knowledgable and professional. Their menu offered a decent array of appetizers and entrees. Escargot Bourgogne was the appetizer choice of the evening. Made to order steaks, with extras to choose, like having your steak stuffed with bleu cheese is a nice touch as well. I wanted my entrée to be fairly simple and straightforward so I opted for their Petite Tenderloin (rare), Scallops wrapped in bacon, Roasted Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes. Also, the Kansas City Strip (Pittsburgh style, charred with red center) and a side order of Black Pepper Parmesan Kettle Fries. All entrees come with salad and three cheese bread.

First up, the Escargot. Oh my, the snails swimming in garlic-y herb melted butter, wonderful thick toasted bread to dunk and soak up all that heaven. I’m still dreaming about this dish. Superb with a capital S. The house salad (which you can upgrade to other selections) was fantastic! I don’t usually get excited about a salad, but they do it up nicely. The added bene of their warm and squishy cheese bread was fab. The only problem was to stop eating all of it to save room for steak!

Finally, the masterpieces arrive. Things of beauty to my carnivore eyes! The 8 oz tenderloin, cooked to a lovely rare temp, was amazing. Excuse me while I close my eyes and relive that moment…….okay, I’m back. The scallops were divine, sweet and gentle with a hint of smokiness from the bacon. I love my potatoes and their red mash is right up there with the best. The bone-in 22 ounce Kansas City Strip took up the entire platter, done to perfection. The Pittsburgh style char was an awesome change and I liked the first 4 bites. Beyond that, the all over char was a tad too much for me, but the steak had so much incredible flavor, yeowza….it was phenomenal. Oh boy, let’s not forget the Parmesan fries, a huge order to be shared, served with horseradish cream. It was what every potato lover dreams of. Honestly.

Every bite of this meal from appetizer to the last bite of steak, was one of the best I’ve had in a long time. See their website for an array of awards.

Hours: Sun-Thurs 5:00pm to 10:30pm, Fri and Sat 5:00pm to 11:00pm.

Reservations are greatly recommended, call 407-363-0228  or see their website  http://charleyssteakhouse.com

5 out of 5. They deserve a Gold Medal at the Steak Olympics.

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Mad Girl Eats Paradise Cheesecakes

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Paradise Cheesecakes, 1220 Hand Ave, Suite C, Ormond Beach, FL.  Winter Park Farmer’s Market, 200 W New England Ave, Winter Park, FL.

Paradise Cheesecakes is the most appropriate name for these pieces of heaven. With almost 100 flavors, Paradise Cheesecakes is the epitome of happiness. If you can’t find a flavor you love in alllll that, you have a problem, my friend.

The cheesecakes are light but significant, not overly sweet, and pack a punch of flavor. We all have our favorites, mine are generally more fruity, like Mandarin Orange, Key Lime, Mango, White Chocolate Raspberry. Peanut Butter Cup, Turtle, Chocolate Grand Marnier, Butterfinger all are crowd pleasers as well. I could go on, just go on their website and see what tempting choices they are offering because my mouth is starting to water.

http://paradisecheesecakes.com or scan the QR above with your smartphone.

I fell in lust with Paradise Cheesecakes over a decade ago on Saturday trips to the Farmer’s Market in Winter Park. The best thing? The owners, Ann and Mike Calamis have kept their product’s high quality and taste profile continuous throughout all these years! Their product line has broadened to take on even more drop dead divine desserts, and more luscious cheesecakes. You can get the cupcake size individual cheesecakes (great for taste testing 😉 or order larger for special occasions. You can’t go wrong, except you may become addicted.

Ann and Mike are awesome people, making awesome baked goods. Go see them at their bakery in Ormond Beach Mon – Fri 9am-6pm, Sat 10am-4pm, or Saturday mornings at the Winter Park Farmer’s Market in Winter Park, FL. Boom shucka lucka!

5 out of 5 Big sugar smootches of paradise perfection.

Mad Girl Eats The Ravenous Pig

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The Ravenous Pig, 1234 N. Orange Ave, Winter Park, FL.

The recent Orlando Sentinel Foodie Awards, has given this restaurant number one spots in many categories. The Ravenous Pig, located in an upper crust suburb of Orlando, this trendy gastropub has been blowing the minds of foodies since it opened in 2007. Created on the premise of using local ingredients, ensuring high quality and following an ever-changing menu according to the seasons, would be the right formula for success. They were correct.

Known for their monthly pig roasts, which win raves and high praise, I happened to visit when they were having a French Country Roast. The menu sounded delectable, with smoked pork loin, pork sausage, roasted potatoes, choucroute (French style sauerkraut), bereweka (fruit chutney), spicy mustard, and a French inspired dessert.

The plate was beautifully presented. All the components were divine (the temp was a bit lukewarm), but that smoked pork loin stole the show. Tender, not overly smokey, a moist thick cut. Mmm mmm Magnifique!

I need to go back and taste their regular menu and try their Charcuterie, Grilled Foie Gras Torchon, Pub Burger, Pork Porterhouse….a big wish list, actually. Serving Lunch, Dinner, and Swine Hour.

Hours: Lunch in Dining Rm Tues-Sat 11:30am – 2:00pm, Dinner in Dining Rm Tues-Sat 5:30 – 10:00pm,  Swine Hour Tues-Sat 4:00pm – 5:30pm, Bar opens at 4:30pm. Street parking available, Valet parking in back.

Check out their menus as they change frequently http://theravenouspig.com

Chic atmosphere, fabulous food, wonderful staff. Impressed and definitely will return.

4.5 out of 5 squeals of joy for The Ravenous Pig.

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