Aurora at the Celeste
Frankly, just reading the menu probably won’t stir any hopes of good food. Skirt steak, grilled salmon, a burger, shrimp and grits (is it a law now that every restaurant must have shrimp and grits on its menu?) – don’t foretell great things to come.
But come in, have a seat – there are plenty available most evenings – and let the kitchen, led by chef Mike Trudnak, change your mind....
|Address||4105 N. Alafay Trail|
This is the place that was formerly Tailgater's. It’s still primarily a sports bar mien, but one with a focus on burgers rather than barbecue. The burgers are more of the midlevel quality -- better than fast food, but not exactly gourmet quality. But a good burger nonetheless. Don't waste the extra $2.99 on the fries....
|Address||4233 E. Plaza Drive|
Cedar Halal Food and Deli
Cedar Halal is Middle Eastern/Lebanese with such goodies as falafel, kafta, hummus, grape leaves, shawarma and shish kabob. I was all set to get the falafel, but then I noticed the gyro grills behind the counter and I was suddenly hungry for a good gyro sandwich.
And I wasn't disappointed, it was delicious. The seasoned meat was folded into soft, warm bread with onions and tangy tzatziki, and it was accompanied by batons of pickled vegetables.
I was less thrilled with the lentil soup, which was overly thickened for my taste. Still, the flavors were good with just a bit of tumeric spice.
The small space includes a row of shelves with imported food stuffs, including tahini paste, jars of sour cherries and pistachio candies. I could easily have taken a trunkload of groceries back home....
|Address||12100 E. Colonial Drive|
Jimmy Hula's UCF
Lazy Moon Pizza
When I visited the original location, a couple of years ago, I was fairly underwhelmed. No, that’s not quite accurate. I had to list the pizza I ordered as one of the worst I had ever had. How bad was it? I threw most of it away. Even lousy pizza usually gets saved for a late night leftover.
The new Moon is a bit farther down University Boulevard. The space is larger, maybe three times the size of the old place. And it’s prettier, too, with less of that student milieu funk. But it hasn’t gotten too fancy. The place still operates in the same way, which, at least in one instance, is a bit of a problem. But more on that in a moment.
The best thing I can say about the new Lazy Moon is that the pizza is much improved over the one I tossed. In fact, I liked the slice I had on my recent visit rather well. I was told by LM fans after my visit to the old place that my mistake had been in ordering a whole pie and not just a slice. And, it should be noted that the whole pies are really big. No, I mean enormous. I had difficulty getting the box into my car.
So I didn’t want to make that mistake this time -- or discard all that pie if it was the same.
But the slice I had, with sau...
|Address||11551 University Blvd.|
On a recent lunch visit, I started with the golden pancake appetizer, which was really more of an omelet than a pancake, with shrimp and bean sprouts folded into it. It was light and qualified as an appropriate starter.
For my entree I chose pho tai nam, a beef soup with sliced rare beef (not rare for long as the hot broth finishes the cooking). It also had long rice noodles, bean sprouts and chopped scallions. What it didn’t have was a separate plate of add-ables -- extra spouts, basil, jalapeno and lime wedges, such as are offered at most other pho restaurants in town. It was OK, the soup was fine without them, but I thought it strange. Soups, by the way, are available in two sizes: large and extra large. The large is plenty....
|Address||12058 Collegiate Way|