If you haven't gotten the chance to check out Urban Flats' new location downtown, you're definitely missing out. The restaurant's casual dining experience is enhanced with great staff, refined dishes and a chic atmosphere.
My dad and I popped in for lunch on a Monday afternoon and were treated like the only customers in the place. Owner Suzanne Bonham wanted to create a restaurant where "centuries-old flatbread is given a modern new twist with interesting, fresh and healthy ingredients."
Starters like "Fried" Green Tomatoes are seasonal, while the Lobster Mac and Cheese is a favorite year round.
Turkey, Pear and Brie Flatbread
With more than 15 flatbreads on the menu, narrowing down was difficult. Did I want the Fig and Prosciutto, a scrumptious mix of freshly made fig jam, prosciutto and blue cheese topped with mozzarella and garnished with chives? Or did I want the Spicy Shrimp and Chorizo, cajun shrimp with chorizo sausage on chipotle sauce, topped with blue cheese, roasted red peppers and mozzarella?
In the end I chose the Turkey, Pear and Brie. Thinly sliced smoked turkey breast, pears and brie cheese topped the crispy flatbread while a honey-mustard drizzle added a nice hint of sweet flavor. Apparently, I'm a stereotype because the waiter says lots of women choose this dish thanks to its light ingredients.
Baked Cheese and Tomato
Our starter came out right as our main course did, but that didn't stop us from digging in right away. The Baked Cheese and Tomato comes with a big hunk of goat cheese I couldn't resist. Nestled in a creamy tomato bisque, the toasted garlic bread was perfect for lapping up the dish's robust flavors. So rich and decadent, I literally melted in my seat after each bite.
My dad decided to go for a "manlier" flatbread and chose the Black and Blue, tender sliced steak, blue cheese, bell peppers and spinached baked with mozzarella, and roma tomatoes finished with a balsamic glaze. Although I thought it was pretty tasty, I'm not a big fan of heavy meats on my dainty flatbread.
At the end of the meal we were both full but not too full and definitely fully satisfied. The best part? Heating up the leftovers and reliving the entire experience all over again the next day.
Bruschetta with Prosciutto, Asparagus and Carmelized Onions
Brio Tuscan Grill at the Mall at Millenia is my pick for a lazy Sunday lunch. Today, my friend Andrew and I dined outside in the crisp 80 degree Orlando weather, while we caught up over some of the most innovative appetizers and dishes I've seen in a while.A bit on the upscale side, Brio's patio allows you to relax and sneak away from the stuffy interior. Sourdough bread fresh out the oven was brought to the table with a slab of branded butter. (The butter literally said BUTTER on it.) Warm and delicious, we nibbled away while we waited on our Bruschetta appetizer. A part of the day's specials, the Bruschetta with Prosciutto, Asparagus and Carmelized Onions was large enough to be an entire meal and plated beautifully. The inventive mix was tangy sweet with a clean, crisp texture. I've never experienced carmelized onions so overwhelmingly candy like. It almost tasted as if jam was smothered somewhere between the prosciutto and the bread. I wish the prosciutto had been a little saltier, but overall I really enjoyed this classic dish with a twist.
Chipotle Chicken & Bacon Panini
Andrew ordered the Chipotle Chicken & Bacon Panini. If you can't tell from the photo, the aspiring chef definitely approves. Loaded with chicken and a hint of smokey flavor, the chipotle and bacon were a great combination and really robust. Just one half of the flattened sandwich is enough to fill you up and send you straight to bed for an afternoon nap.
Pan Seared Grouper with Roasted Vegetables in a Citrus Pesto
I chose a lighter dish that wouldn't make me sleepy on the drive back to Gainesville. The Pan Seared Grouper with Roasted Vegetables in a Citrus Pesto was also a special of the day I enjoyed digging in to. I wish the citrus had been a bit more apparent in the pesto, but the grouper was buttery and rich. The vegetables were lightly roasted and added a nice touch of color to the plate. The grouper was a tad bit fishy, but I ate the whole thing so apparently it couldn't have been all that bad.
The check at the end of the two-plus hour lunch was a bit expensive for my college budget, but that isn't going to stop me from coming back.
One word to sum up the entire experience? Pleasant.
Every October, my dad rants and raves about how amazing the Epcot Food and Wine Festival is. This year I was finally old enough to actually participate in the fun. When we got to the park around 4:30 p.m. it was still blistering hot outside. I definitely gorged myself a bit too quickly, but that was to be expected.
Shrimp Cevichi - CHILI
The line in Chili was fairly short, so I had Shrimp Ceviche and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in my hand before no time. Because it was a little hard to handle them both while waking I ended up having to experience them separately. To my surprise, the shrimp ceviche had a wonderful kick and great texture with the corn nut topping. The shrimp wasn't chewy and the wine was a refreshing way to swish my palette afterward.
The line in Brazil.
Grilled Pork Skewer with a Leblon Frozen Caipirinha - BRAZIL
I was afraid the Leblon Frozen Caipirinha wouldn't taste as good as my dad talked it up to be, but boy was I wrong. Like a delicious lemon slushy, the caipirinha was light and a perfect way to keep cool. The Grilled Pork Skewer was definitely a bit of a disappointment. The breading made the meat feel dry, while the whole dish tasted as if it had been sitting for a while.
Kielbasa and Potato Pierogies with Carmelized Onions and Sour Cream - POLAND
The Kielbasa and Potato Pierogies with carmelized onions and sour cream made a terrific pair with the tangy sausages. The dish felt a little heavy to be eating on such a hot afternoon, but the flavors were a great mix of hearty, sweet and zesty.
Acrobatic act in China
Cheese Baked Ravioli with Chianti - ITALY
There was no way I was going to pass up on the Cheese Baked Ravioli and Chianti in Italy. My own little personal pan of perfection, the mozzarella cheese on top was a gooey mess of bliss. Ground beef was tucked away at the bottom of the dish and came as a nice surprise with each passing bite.
Seared Barramundi with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula and Lemon Oil - AUSTRALIA
Dad made a beeline for the Barramundi with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes so I figured it had to be good. The fish from Australia was buttered and rich, while the tomato gave a nice burst of citrus.
Espresso and Baklava - GREECE
After walking around with a belly full of food and booze I started to get sleepy circling the park. In Greece we stopped off so I could get a Double Shot of Espresso and Baklava. I know the two sound like they shouldn't go together, but they were a great way to finish off the final lap before we trecked back to the car.
Even though the whole experience wasn't as epic as it had been talked up, I will definitely be returning next year.