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Sweet Tea: CLOSED: 2018

Cafe is a breath of culinary fresh air

By Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

STstorefrontIt is so refreshing to have the light of the day caress your cheek through a neighboring window while colorful décor, simple furniture and cutlery create a non-cluttered, inviting dining setting.

Among many big-box, chain establishments, that simplicity is lost or shrouded by artificial lighting and tables squished together in an effort to maximize dining capacity and in the pages and pages of large portioned-meals. The Sweet Tea literally allowed me to take in a breath of fresh air. It may be slightly east of Main St. past downtown Gainesville on University Avenue, but the instantaneous feeling of separation from chaos that accompanies the arrival makes the Sweet Tea at Sweetwater Branch Inn reason enough to venture over, 'to the other side of Main St.'

Upon arrival at the inn, I was slightly confused in finding an adequate parking area, let alone exactly where the restaurant was itself, as I had never been prior. Pro tip: Parking in the back forces you to walk through the grounds of the sweetest picturesque inn around, with its outdoor gazebos and various quaint cottages scattered across the lawn. The restaurant, although it had a sign on the front lawn, was located in the Historicly preserved McKenzie House,

 

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so I was slightly deterred. However, once inside, streams of light flood in from the windows and to the left you are greeted with a living room-size dining space with multiple sizes of wooden dining tables and decor. Colorful decorations hung all around adjacent tables, which due to the small space was a tad too close together for a too-private conversation. Nonetheless, I felt like I was about to join a tea party in the old South.

 

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I met with GLOB Publisher Mike at lunch time on a Monday, as The Sweet Tea is only open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The narrow, two-sided menu had just enough variation to give multiple healthier, as well as more indulgent, choices, while keeping its southern flair in an attempt to keep the theme of the atmosphere. I felt it would be almost an insult not to order some sweet tea, but the special that day was a berry hibiscus tea, and I was not one to pass that up. However, much like Southern Charm Kitchen's hibiscus tea, it was a tad too sweet and syrupy on its own, so a half hibiscus, half unsweetened tea combo made for the perfect summertime treat.

Mike and I already know the drill: Order two entrees to share; maximizing every meal experience is what we are all about! As this was lunch, the delicious-sounding heavier entrees, namely the 'Oops! I Dropped the Chicken Pot Pie' and the 'Cracker Crumb Fried Chicken,' didn't sound quite as viable unless a post food coma could be managed. Apparently, the 'Sweet Tea's Fried Shrimp' is only available on Thursdays and Fridays, but is worth the trek, as this take on butterflied fried prawn is a unique rendition on a southern favorite, shrimp and grits.

Immediately, my eyes fell on the Grilled Watermelon Salad, image at the top of this reviw, which Nicole, our customer friendly server, mentioned was big enough to share in the small size, $7. A few rectangular-shaped blocks of watermelon with the charred look, although somewhat unremarkable, provided a fresh yet slightly smoky contrast to sweet vinaigrette over a bed of greens. The candied pecans and goat cheese were welcome additions, although I wish there was a more generous helping of each. The pickled onions and cucumbers were a nice, flavor-packed touch. The most unique aspect of the salad was using cubes of cornbread as a crouton of sorts. Unfortunately, it was so crumbly I barely got to each one piece before it fell apart. Note: I do hold cornbread to high standards, but this was lacking. It was a nice salad, but didn't blow me away as the description suggested it might.

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At a Southern establishment, something fried also had to make its way to the table. This underdog of a meal choice ended up being this lunch hour's true winner: the Southern Catfish Po'Boy, $10. I will preface this by mentioning that I am very aware that this was not a true po'boy, which is all in the bread. A crustier French bread is the norm for this New Orleans-based staple, but The Sweet Tea's rendition used two thick slabs of Texas toast to hold in the fillings. In this case, I am so glad they did: The buttery, crunchy bread was almost addicting in combination with the slaw coated in Cajun pecan mayo and the fresh crisp of the pickles. The candied jalapenos made enough of a presence to pack a slight punch, but I was most impressed with how well it all meshed with the fried catfish. I am just as glad that Mike and I split this meal, as one half was a ton of bread...sweet, delicious bread. The side of mac and cheese, $2, came highly recommended, too, so a little teacup side of very cheesy bowtie mac and cheese with a spicy kick was an ideal companion to this heartier dish.

 

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I steered Mike away from the desserts of the day due to being full to the brim, but I have to say that chocolate fudge pie and peach tart sound extremely mouth-watering, especially with a dollop of Bourbon whipped topping. They are so seasonal that they are not included on the menu, so be sure to ask before ordering your meal so you know if you should save room!  There is a complete The Sweet Tea menu at the restaurant link brlow this review.

 

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Not only will the relaxing, homey environment away from Gainesville's typical manic hustle and bustle at lunch time entice a return trip to The Sweet Tea, but I have got to try the warm — yes, warm — strawberry salad with candied pecans and a hot bacon vinaigrette. Also, I am too curious as to whether the fried chicken there can rival my Gainesville favorite at Southern Charm Kitchen.

The best comment of the lunch was when Mike proclaimed, after commenting on the frilly, doily-esque place mats, "Now you see why I wouldn't invite a table of my guy buddies to join me here."

 

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The pluses and minuses of The Sweet Tea:

The Sweet Tea (+) indicators: Friendly, informed service; Sweet space; Comforting environment; Nice menu variety; Southern flair with a twist; Outside the crazy congested areas of town; Good value for portion size and quality

The Sweet Tea (-) indicators: One server so not ideal for large groups; Limited hours open only during the week

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about The Sweet Tea. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

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Public & General

Neighborhood pub works for everybody

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

You know how some lunch stops just have that special look?

zzGLOBbullet Root & Pecker quickly has me seeing myself sitting on a grand veranda waiting for a picnic lunch.

zzGLOBbullet CHOPSpatioFormaggio's Bistro & Wine Bar has me on a beautiful patio with the sense of enjoying a very civilized lunch complete with tea and English cookies and eyeing crisp salads and a variety of scrumptious, petite, French bread sandwiches.

zzGLOBbullet Crane Ramen has me off to the Big Apple and downtown Manhattan N.Y. with my very own spot at a hip lunch spot happily discussing the finer attributes of bone broth compared with vegan broth.

 

PGstorefrontNortheast Gainesville's Public & General breaks all the imagination rules as I go through the wood and glass double doors into a new lunchtime experience. Upon entering P&G I am dreamily sent to a far away planet not very far in the future.

There are no aliens or jazz bands in this Eastside pub and grill, however it wouldn't surprise me to see Jar Jar Binks rounding the corner to belly up to the bar.

050317PGmenuBRDThat's what Public & General is all about GLOBers. It's a brew house, local diner, meet-up place with a Tuesday night burger special night and some really interesting lunch entrees from pork and brisket sandwiches to some very good chicken wings – 8 for $9.

And here I was. The GLOB Master. Standing smack dab in the middle of a lunchtime daydream.

The Public & General menu that is available at the restaurant link below is a handy reference to start this noon-day mealtime odyssey. Special lunch items are hand written in categories on the wall near the ordering counter. The Daily Specials may overwhelm your decision making power as you scan down the list of amazing food descriptions.

Captain Dirk and I decided to tag-team lunch and share our entrees with Lynn choosing the large Kale and Chard ($9) (image at top). This salad included beets and feta and was fantastic.

 

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I selected the Chicken Wings, which consists of 8 wings with only 1 sauce – Dijon Buffalo sauce ($9). Eight is just the right number for me because it always seems when I get the 10-wings order, I have two left over on my plate. Also, those 8 wings were plump, very flavorful, and cooked perfectly.

 

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What the kale, GLOBers! The Kale and Chard Salad was the high noon lunch star. This was my first experience with kale as a main salad ingredient and I found the crisp, curly, crunchy chard, beets, radishes, feta cheese and cilantro vinaigrette dressing a delightful surprise. The textures of the salad elements made for thoughtful chewing as I tried to account for the veggie flavors. The cilantro dressing and feta cheese wowed my taste buds!

I have been to P&G before and always enjoy the food, and once again, it lived up to my fantastical expectations on this lunch visit. The only thing that would have made lunch better was if Ry Cooder was singing UFO Has Landed in the Ghetto in the background.

The Pluses and Minuses of Public & General:

Public & General + indicators: Amazing daily menu choices; friendly staff; very nice tree-covered outdoor patio.

Public & General - indicators: The low-light atmosphere.

 

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NE 'General Store' serves unique lunch

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

If you are looking for a different kind of lunch time experience Public and General at 1000 NE 16th Ave Bldg H in northeast Gainesville is a lunch stop worth your consideration. Open since September, this is a building, business sporting several unique characteristics. According to the P&G website:

"Public and General is a reference to a public house (a bar) and general store (a flashback to convenience stores of past). The eatery will offer a high-quality, house-prepared lunch and dinner along with local and international grocery items, a charcuterie and cheese counter, and a unique wine and beer selection."

Ya think it was some kind of synchronicity that I discovered that New York Times story on chartreuse as the supreme lunch or dinner entrée.

In a friendlier than usual, fast casual approach, a Public and General lunch starts with ordering your lunch at the counter that immediately greets you as you enter this unique neighborhood island of communal gathering.

 

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Also, as you walk into Public and General, you will quickly recognize the "convenience" idea of the building with deli-like cases of cheeses, cured meats, and a varied selection of wines, craft beers, and sodas. This can all be experienced while waiting to place your lunch order.

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Walking into the separate dining and bar area adjacent to the general store area is a very nice, wide, natural wood bar allowing for comfortable, friendly conversation I imagine much like it was done in the neighborhood pubs of old.

Also, a door on the far side of the dining area opens up to an outdoor patio dining area, and P&G has a acquired a fan club of local patrons who enjoy the idea of outdoor eating and letting their children enjoy themselves playing under their feet as well as at the play area in one corner of the patio while you enjoy lunch.

 

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It was refreshing to see a menu with a smaller list than usual in an uncluttered format and detailing interesting lunch time entrees that are standard daily choices. The lunch options consist of sandwiches, including brisket, a BBQ Mushroom, and a very good hamburger. There are always three salads available, including a Roasted Cabbage Salad with sautéed breadcrumbs, anchovies, and Parmesan buttermilk dressing that deserves your consideration. Fried beets with horseradish mayo for $6 and fried turnips with honey herb vinegar highlight a list of side orders that are big enough to share. There is a complete Public and General menu at the link below.

While the limited menu of standard options is smart and easy to peruse, kudos to the P&G staff for also including daily specials that will surprise and please many lunch outers. You can check out their FaceBook page for several images of prior menu boards that include things like bucatini with Brussels, bacon, butternut squash, arugula, and parsley and the popular DiMarco Classico with Italian loose meats, spinach and provolone for $10.

I recently had lunch with the GLOB's Content Editor Lynn Dirk and the three taco special caught my eye with 'double wrapped' soft shell corn tacos of pork, chicken, and a surprisingly tasty bacon, egg, and cheese and onion taco that was delicious with a complementary dollop of hot sauce. The house cut fries with a side of house mayo were very flavorful. I'm OK with fries not being cooked to a deep crunch. My friend Jules Gollner would have sent these fries back to be "extra well done."

 

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Captain Dirk has become a big fan of Public and General and adds the following: "The food has been fantastic every time. Turnips and beets? I'm sold. The soft tacos, which are mainly available on Sundays I think, just might be the best town. Had one of the pasta dishes and it was delectable. The outdoor patio is perfect with lots of trees around. This is now one of my favorite lunch spots."

There are a lot of yummy good reasons to make a few more trips to this friendly, pub-like lunch stop. I am going back just to check out the menu board for lunch time surprises.

The Pluses and Minuses of Public & General:

Public & General + indicators: Friendly atmosphere, a neighborhood sense of comfort. Interesting, unique entrees. I could sit at the P&G bar for a considerable amount of time. FYI: Saturday night is Bingo night.

Public & General - indicators: Unique 'family pub' experience could be disconcerting to some GLOBers.

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Public & General. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a NEGATIVES SIGN (-) for critical comments.

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Omi's Playa Azul: CLOSED, March,2019

'Miami Latin' flavors at Playa Azul

By Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

OMISsunCENTERsfOmi's Playa Azul restaurant started as Omi's Kitchen and Elegant Catering before moving across Hogtown, from the Tower Square Shopping Center to the Sun Center -- in the daily hustle and bustle of downtown.

Except Omi's is unlike any other downtown dining establishment; in fact, it is unlike anywhere else in Gainesville. This is about as close to the Latin cuisine Miami-natives and anyone else with a love of authentic Latin food are accustomed to.

Omi Risco herself not only oversees the restaurant, but caters multiple events each week with her "Elegant Catering" service, which has always consisted of an ethnic-fusion menu.

My first trip recently to the small space with covered plaza seating and a very nice bar area with a few large TVs followed very belatedly after the initial opening on Labor Day weekend. Nevertheless, the menu, staff, and service were still in fluctuation. I was even presented with a temporary menu, which didn't have all of the same items as a previous one they had used, so it seemed that the restaurant was using the 6 months since opening to experiment with which Cuban, Mexican and Latin flavors/dishes worked — and sold — the best.

I did appreciate each dish being presented in its original language with an explanation in English beside it, which added authenticity.

Originally I had my heart set on ordering the Tabla Campecina, $12, an ethnic plate of chorizo, serrano ham, and manchego cheese.  As if that didn't sound tantalizing enough, the addition of olives, tomato, and garlic spread sent it over the edge. However, the kitchen was apparently out of chorizo. Luckily, this menu item will be on the new menu and in my next order.

 

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The two appetizers I ordered are on the current menu and will also be on the new menu, which the restaurant manager allowed us see. The first appetizer, Berenjenas Fritas, $7, was four very sizeable, fried eggplant slices presented on a beautiful dish that was also a slice -- a slice from a log. The eggplant was well-breaded, and cheese sauce, the beset part, was spread generously  on top. Tostones, $7 (fried plantains) were ordinary, but perhaps I am not a fan. The spicy mojo dip that accompanied them was tasty, though.

One thing the new menu will have the current one didn't that I want to try is the Pulpo a la Gallega, steamed octopus. Although the Ropa Vieja looked tempting and I had heard great things about this slow cooked beef brisket dish in a red wine sauce, the restaurant manager claimed the paella was a newer addition and a must-try addition. The Paella Mixta (image at top) $25, was the option available, but the new menu will have three renditions of the classic Spanish dish.

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As the name implies, it was certainly a mix of ingredients: Chorizo is also usually in the dish, but as mentioned, Omi's was out of chorizo this visit. Nevertheless, dark meat chicken was thrown into this hearty rice dish alongside shrimp, scallops, mussels, squid, and clams. It was enough to split between two people, and all the flavors melded together as if it had been cooking for some time. I am not a fan of dark meat chicken, but the seafood was prepared well.

The most memorable aspect of the meal besides delicious white wine the manager selected was the flan. If previous reviews haven't revealed yet, I have a second stomach and a sweet spot in my heart for dessert any time of the day. This was a great sweet custard dessert: Omi's rendition is soft and very sweet; the creamy texture is offset by strawberries and blackberries, which also provided an enjoyable tart contrast. This was the one plate of the night I completely cleaned.

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While there are certainly some kinks to work out, Omi's has her hands full with a well-established catering service and a restaurant that is gaining in popularity. Certain nights you can catch some live jazz music (previously on Friday night but switched to Thursday), and different specials pop up sporadically. Your best bet to keep up with Omi's happenings and which dishes are on the menu is via Facebook. I found it interesting that the lunch dishes on the kitchen menu were listed separately as American, Cuban, and Mexican.

I am looking forward to ordering from the new menu, as there will be both a salmon appetizer and entrée and an octopus dish. I can appreciate that presentation was a key factor in the meal experience, a component that I feel is essential to food's appeal to the senses. Although I will certainly return to Omi's Playa Azul, this meal didn't blow me away. However, the manager claimed they make the best mojitos in town, so I may need to put that to the test next time.

The Pluses and Minuses of Omi's Playa Azul:

Omi's Playa Azul (+) Indicators: Owner well-established, good quality ingredients, pretty good value for quantity of food, friendly manager/staff

Omi's Playa Azul (-) Indicators: Downtown parking, out of some items, still have kinks to work out, inconsistent menu

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Omi's Playa Azul. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

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Art & About: RUR Rossum’s Universal Robots

RUR Robots challenge man's authority

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

In Karel Čapek's, RUR Rossum's Universal Robots now in its last week of production at the Acrosstown Repertory Theater, there is a variation on a theme. The example could have been the famous story of John Henry taking on the steam-driven railroad pile-driving machine. Or better yet, what about The Terminator movies where the all-powerful terminator runs roughshod over all of us.

080415KapekČapek's play gave birth to the term robot and is about robots winning a chance at world domination. The play might not have the sexiness of a steel-driving man or the awesomeness of a glazed stare from a giant among men like Arnold Schwarzenegger, however the setting of the play, an island where robots were being manufactured daily, was about to undergo a world-changing emanicipation.

Written in 1920 by a Czech playwright, Rossum's Universal Robots or R.U.R examines the dark side of what could go wrong if robots do all the work, and humans are completely free to pursue other things "such as perfecting themselves rather than toiling long days just for bread." This sounds good in theory but of course, the deeper sentiments behind this play are a statement about society, humanity, genetic engineering, industrial efficiency, and even governments and war.

Enter Helen Glory – played by Heather Uuk – sent by the Humanity League on a mission to gain better living conditions for the robots. Helena knows that when the robots begin to act strangely, as they sometimes do, they are destroyed and their parts are used to make new robots, but she is dismayed to find that the robots she meets and talks with in the factory do not care whether they are killed or are starved. They think of nothing but their work.

It was somewhat unclear but it appeared Rossum Factory Manager Harry Domin - played by Loic Robertson - must have slipped a little robot juice in Helena's drink because, just like that, all of a sudden we are swept ten years into the future with the robots uprising to get their revenge and take over island and rule mankind and the world.

A Diabolical Helena is still on the island with the appearance of just another obedient machine, er, uh, woman. But not so quick -- Radius - played by Hunter Finley -,  a robot that has challenged the island's robot masses to take over the island to finally claim what is rightfully theirs. Helena buys into the robots plans and conspires to help overturn the fundamental manufacturing processes to free the robots.

Phew, it took a while for me to write that synopsis. It took even longer for RUR's plot line to work toward an ah-ha moment for me.

080615RURposterA bare bones set of chairs and small stage implies the play is set in the tallest tower of the island headquarters of Rossum's Universal Robots. Director – Gabriel Hughes-Trinity -- was left with literally nothing but dialog to convey the plight of the humans in this man vs. machine allegory. It was a tough assignment with few plot points and most of them appeared after the intermission.

RUR General Manager Harry Domin was presented as a confident, self-assured administrator driving his corporation toward world supremacy only to have his dreamr destroyed by his own greed and ambition.

All the stereotypical personas of success, wealth, power, and dominations were clearly demonstrated in the other characters of RUR from the bean-counting accountant Consul Busman – played by Mandalyn Fugate – who was unconcerned with the end of the world as she knew it because she had a plan to escape the island, to 'mad scientist' Dr Gall – played by Chuck Lipsig -- Rossum's resident 'psychologist' who understood the needs of the robots that conflicted with all of his human ideals and upbringing.

The ending of RUR is a reconciliation of all the rights and wrongs delivered by several longer than necessary soliloquies

Kudos to Heather Uuk for allowing her female protagonists to keep this play moving forward. Helena was the character with the play's life-changing action. Sure her motives might have been diabolical, and of course I was pulling for Helena to win the man-against-machine battle that was the main plot. But I did like the irony of not really knowing which side she was on until she sets fire to the basic tenets of good, bad, right, wrong, man, or machine otherwise known as the RUR Robot Recipe.

Thom Dunn's review at TOR.com synopsizes RUR much better than I: "The central philosophical idea of the play is whether or not these 'robots' are in fact less than human, simply because they were born (or created) under different circumstances. This of course remains a popular theme in more recent stories involving robotics. But in the case of RUR, the question seems to be less about artificial intelligence and more about issues of class."

RUR Rossum's Universal Robots continues at the Acrosstown Repertory Theater with shows through August 9. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more show information.

 

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Weekend Events, July 31, 2015

FRIDAY

10am-4pm: Marmalade Cooking Demonstration on Wood Stove, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park. A demonstration of woodstove cooking of marmalade made from oranges grown at the historic park using Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' recipe from "Cross Creek Cookery." This event brings alive Rawlings' kitchen for the last time before the house is closed from August to September for its annual restoration. ALSO: House tours will begin on the hour at 10AM, 11AM, 1PM, 2PM, 3PM and 4PM. The kitchen cooking demonstration will be a portion of that tour.

6-9 pm: Local Arts & Crafts Show, next to the Hippodrome Theater. Showcasing the artistic expressions of the many creative persons in our community. Pop up musical performances as well.

073115LEGO

6:30 pm: A LEGO Brickumentary - Opening Night, Hipp Cinema, various days, times. LEGO bricks aren't just for kids, and some take them very seriously. Adult Fans of LEGO around the globe are unashamedly declaring their love of the brick; brick artists are creating stunning and surprising creations; and LEGO master builders are building human scale and larger structures. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information.

7-10 pm: Artwalk, Downtown Gainesville. The last Friday of each month, take a free monthly, self-guided tour around downtown that combines exciting visual art, live performance, and events. FOLLOW THIS LINK for July venues.

7 pm: The Ezee Band, Tioga Concert Night, Tioga Town Center. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy, country, R&B, and big band sounds. Food and drinks available for purchase. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information.

7-10 pm: Dinosaur 13, UF Creative B Movie Series, Florida Museum of Natural History. Free movie screening and exploration of the balance between science and art with an expert panel. UF students receive free admission to A T. Rex Named Sue with their Gator 1 card. The panel discussion starts at 7 pm. Parental discretion is advised. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information.

073115Pacenti

7:30 pm: Sam Pacetti, Thomas Center Jewel Box Concert Series. With special guest Gabe Valla and opening act The Obscure Bothers celebrate a special, long-awaited CD Release of Sam's new CD. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information.

FRIDAY-SATURDAY

9 am-4:30 pm: Morningside Nature Center. 278 acres featuring a spectacular wildflower display and diverse wildlife including deer, wild turkey, box turtles, gopher tortoises, skunks, and numerous birds. The Living History Farm re-creates a single-family rural home in the year 1870 and centers on an Irish immigrant family, the McCarrolls, who built the Hogan Cabin.

10am-6pm: The Repurpose Project, Non-profit community-based effort to divert resources from landfills through creativity.
> ReUse Art Store – A warehouse full of reclaimed art materials -- Come and explore!
> Repurposed Art Gallery – A gallery of art made from creatively reused materials.
> Fix It Café on Wednesdays, 4-6 pm

FRIDAY - SUNDAY

Fri. & Sat. 7:30 pm, Sun 2 pm: SWAMP DANCE FEST! 2015, G-6 Studio, Nadine M. McGuire Theatre and Dance Pavilion. A rigorous schedule of classes, rehearsals, performances and artist talks culminate in performances of works created during the festival by students and guests. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more times and information.

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8 pm: R.U.R. – Rossum's Universal Robots, Acrosstown Repertory Theater. The End of Mankind by the Hand of Robots was originally written in 1921 by Karel Čapek and quickly became a sensation, introducing the word "robot" into the world's lexicon." Dark but not without hope, and treading that fine line between intellectually engaging and viscerally thrilling, R.U.R. explores the concepts of sentience, human rights, wealth disparity and the pursuit of profits at any cost. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more times, and information.

SATURDAY

O'Leno State Park
> 10 am: The Buzz About Bees. Discover the fascinating world of bees and beekeeping with Dr. Ellis, a professor at the University of Florida. Learn how bees help humans and the environment and "Get the Buzz" on honey bees and beekeeping. Discover what is happening to honey bee populations and what can be done to help them. Learn how everyone can become a beekeeper by providing nesting habitat and food resources for a multitude of bee species.
> 2 pm: Snakes of North Florida. Learn about the snakes of North Florida and how to tell the difference between venomous and non-venomous snakes. You will also have the chance to meet at few of the snakes that call our Nature Center home! Meet at the Nature Center.

SATURDAY – SUNDAY

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Sat 10 am-2pm, Sun Noon-4pm: Historic Haile Homestead at Kanapaha Plantation. A 6,200-sq-ft home built by 56 enslaved laborers, this historic homestead is unique in the nation for its "Talking Walls." For a reason lost to time, the Haile family wrote on the walls of their home - over 12,500 words. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information.

SUNDAY

8 pm: Jeff Jensen Band with Bridget Kelly, North Central Florida Blues Society Quarterly Concert, High Dive, 210 SW 2nd Ave. This band is known for collaborations with Brandon Santini and Victor Wainwright. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information.

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One Love Cafe

Veranda, roof make for great lunch spot

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

As luck would have it, good friend, GLOB Health Coach and ChayaVeda Integrative Healing Arts, owned by UF Health EducatorChaya Sharon-Heller, is situated just around the corner from the worldwide offices of the Gainesville Lunch Out Blog. Recently we decided to have lunch and good conversation together at Magnolia Parke's One Love Café on NW 39th Avenue. One Love was the correct choice on both counts thanks to their new, spacious, high ceiling patio canopy sheltering all the lunch outers from the noon day sun and creating a fabulously beautiful lunch spot.

 

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This popular lunch spot has got food and eating out covered –- pun intended! -- with lunch Wednesday through Saturday at 12-3, Sunday Brunch at 11-2 and dinner with entertainment Thursday, Friday, and Saturday until 9. 

I knew Chaya was quietly particular about her diet and I was relieved to find several meatless, healthier options on the OLC menu that includes salads, sandwiches, flatbreads, and an interesting- sounding lettuce wrap.

It was fun to see the gears in Chaya's head work as she searched the menu for an entrée healthy plus enjoyable enough to meet her lunch requirements. She decided on the Black Bean Burger with cheese, avocado, arugula, and tomato.

 

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"The burger was good, the avocado was yummy and a nice addition" Chaya said. "The cole slaw was really good with the interesting pineapple, cilantro pairing. That was a lot of lunch for me, because I am a light eater as a rule," she added surveying the leftovers on her plate..

The One Love Daily Special menu entrees, which are posted on its FaceBook page, are comprised of items from their organic vegetable selection from Swallowtail Farms, including broccoli, cauliflower, rutabaga, collard greens, carrots, beets, and turnips depending on what is being harvested. Chaya's side item was navy beans in a thick delicious sauce. 

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I was excited about giving the lettuce wrap sammie a try. It came delightfully presented as trio of green, pink, and white edibles waiting for me to create my lunch wrap. Being a lettuce-wrap newbie I reached in with two hands to 'burrito wrap' the first of three. I think it worked. However I did feel like the famous Mr. Ed, the talking horse, imagining pieces of lettuce hanging out of the sides of my mouth, as I inhaled the evidence of having no lettuce-wrap eating experience. I decided to take a fork to the remaining two wraps and enjoyed them much more. The avocado was a nice complement to the pickled shrimp. I would have liked to pump up the flavors with a pepper sauce, but I wasn't about to go in the One Love front door to battle the food lunch line again for such a small request.

Thank you One Love Café for a great lunch. We over spent our hour listening to each other postulate on the finer points of lunch, work, and future collaborations.

That is what makes One love Café a great lunch idea. Especially if you know what you want and can order it all on your first trip through the lunch line. 

 

lunch prospects fall short at patio lunch stop

MKchickenENTREE

By Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

OneLoveSFEvery year around this time, as the spring weather smiles down upon Hogtown one blissful, comfortably sunny day at a time, I always find myself looking for an excuse to dine outside. I want to bask in everything the season has to offer: namely the sun-kissed, breezy days that beg you to come outside and play. I love hiking, kayaking and laying by the pool, but enjoying a nice outdoor patio with good food, good company and perhaps some live music is my idea of a great afternoon. However, Gainesville seems to be sorely lacking the trifecta of springtime enjoyment: quality food, atmosphere, and music. The Swamp Restaurant has such a nice outdoor area, but the food leaves much to be desired every visit, without fail. Loosey's in Haile Plantation has wonderful live music and great bar food, but I cannot enjoy this music outdoors.

 

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One Love Café off of NW 39th Avenue in Magnolia Parke had been on my list to try for quite some time, but mixed reviews held me back. Some said the bottomless mimosa Saturday brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. was a good value, while others claimed the bartenders skimped on the champagne and had spotty service. When my dad came into town on a particularly gorgeous spring Saturday, I wanted nothing more than to enjoy some live instrumentals while seated under a shaded outdoor patio, enjoying the day and some much-needed catching up with him. I had been to One Love one time prior to this instance, and overall it was a mediocre experience. The "flatbreads," one consisting of a pita with some chicken and avocado and another with steak thrown on top, left much to be desired in terms of creativity or effort. I was hoping that by giving the spot another chance, I could order a series of other items that would negate my first experience.

 

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I do love the space One Love has created: A couple dozen patio tables and chairs are disbursed under the shaded patio area and on the grassy area, which is mostly in direct sunlight. The ordering system is a bit cluttered, as you wait in a line that usually extends out the door of the small inside ordering counter — the kitchen hidden behind it — and get a number to bring to your table that directs the servers to you. At about 1:15 p.m. on a picturesque spring Saturday, I anticipated a wait to some degree. After about 20 minutes waiting in line, I approached the counter to order the Creamy Carbonara Pasta with bacon and peas for my dad only to be told they wouldn't start preparing that dish until 3 p.m. Bummer. So instead, I swapped the order for the Pesto Pasta with an addition of chicken. I had been eyeing the Healthy Life Bowl on the lunch menu for some time, so though I would give that a try.

 

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If it wasn't for the good conversation and overall pleasing atmosphere, the over-an-hour wait for our food would have felt like an eternity. But that's no excuse for it; that was way too long of a wait for two entrees. The pasta dish did not end up being pesto at all, but more like a creamy, lighter-than-alfredo white sauce blended with the penne noodles and chunks of grilled chicken and tomatoes. It was pretty unremarkable, and it certainly wasn't the pesto dish I thought I ordered for him, but at least it was closer to the sauce that would have come on that carbonara pasta my dad originally planned to order.

 

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The main draw to the Healthy Life Bowl, image at the top of this feature, was the prospect of a myriad of seasonal vegetables in one unique-sounding dish. While not exactly a pleasing curry-greenish color, my bowl was relatively tasty. Slightly undercooked chunks of sweet potato and turnips with a few mushrooms thrown in were coated in a mild, creamy curry sauce over a small bed of zucchini noodles (I substituted regular pasta noodles for these). My addition of chicken was not included in the dish. After waiting 10 minutes from the time I brought up my lack of protein addition to the server, I went back up to check on things only to have been forgotten. My dad felt bad eating without me so we both picked at his pasta. I will say that his garlic bread was extra buttery, just how I like it. There is a complete One Love at the restaurant link below this menu.

MKdessertThe best part of the meal, other than the Swamphead beer, was the Twix blondie that I ordered on a whim. It was gooey and had a great texture. It actually tasted like something I have baked before, which I guess is a good thing.

Although only open from 11 a.m. on Wednesday through Saturday each week, you would think the sizeable weekly turnout, especially with nicer weather, would warrant a better system at One Love. The food at each of my visits was mediocre, other than the dessert. Once again, I have found a restaurant that covers a portion of my spring weather dining out criteria, as the live music provided enjoyable background noise and the outdoor patio allowed us to enjoy the day.

The Pluses and Minuses of the One Love Cafe

One Love Cafe + Indicators: Nice outdoor atmosphere, kid and dog friendly, source local ingredients, nice food presentation, sizeable quantities, live music often.

One Love Cafe - Indicators: Slow service, very subpar food, menu items sound better than they taste.

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Valentine lunch suggestion

FTmenuBRDSThere is something about walking into the Fat Tuscan Café that makes your body go, "aaahhh . . ." It's like stepping into Mama Michele's home for a good lunch, conversation and a wonderful respite from the outside world. It was the White Apron Catering Queen's birthday day lunch and she was pleased about making the FTC our lunch spot. I quickly made it clear that I always order the Fromage Au Trois grilled cheese sandwich (please see below.) Jules chose the Prosciutto Sandwich that includes Prosciutto, pears, brie and arugula lightly dressed with house vinaigrette on ciabatta bread. Fat Tuscan's owner Michelle Rotinna stopped by our table to wish Jules a happy birthday and was proud of the fact that she is very particular about her prosciutto. "I search out and buy only the best prosciutto because good ham is important to this sandwich," Michele said. Jules and I shared our sandwiches so we could have our own Fat Tuscan Italian sandwich taste test. The Prosciutto Sandwich was spectacular with so many textures and flavors. The GLOB Master isn't big on sweet items in his savory lunch entrees, Today there were slices of pear in the sandwich that opened my eyes to a startling flavor surprise. The brie was a nice addition of mellow, chewy flavor tucked between the yummy prosciutto, pears and vinaigrette. it was fun enjoying the different textures of the ciabatta roll, and panini bread.  The Prosciutto Sandwich was very good, and Michele reminded me that the PS is a popular Fat Tuscan lunch choices. For all the reasons mentioned below I still think the Fromage Au Trois is one of the better grilled cheese sandwiches in Gainesville. OMG! This sandwich, the Fat Tuscan Café is a wonderful lunch stop!  I love menu boards, they would make a great subject for a photographical essay. 

- GLOB Master

FT makes for a nice lunchtime European diversion

> Mission Epicurious: Fat Tuscan Candlelight Dinner

By Lynn Dirk, GLOB Correspondent

Editor's Note:  The Gainesville Lunch Out Blog is suggesting it's favorite lunch spots for a cozy, intimate, loving lunch hour. 

FatTuscan1stStOn the northern edge of downtown on 8th Avenue sits a wood frame house painted a beautiful deep orange-yellow color. It has stained glass windows and a brick courtyard with a gurgling fountain and just the right amount of sun and shade. This is the place for a lunch that will make you feel as if you have truly escaped from the stresses of the American work place to an authentic European café. Not only that, the food is very good. Especially the dessert, but that comes last!

I have been to The Fat Tuscan several times now and the food has been consistently good. In my book, that is the highest compliment I can pay a restaurant. There are salads, sandwiches, soups and the last time I was there, quiche was a special item. Even though I expect the food at the FT to be good, I was surprised by just how good the quiche was – it had the consistency of flan and a rich flavor was diffused throughout the quiche. Maybe that had something to do with the addition of brie, a French cheese favorite of mine.

FTsSaladTheir salads add just a few more ingredients than the usual The Eggplant Caprese salad, on the other hand, is very simple, but all the better for that. The same approach applies to the sandwiches – for instance the Turkey Baguette includes cucumbers as well as avocado and fontina cheese and the Ham and Cheese Panini includes roast apple-mustard and arugula.

FT has a unique approach to soup: 3 choices – Large Bowl, Small Bowl, or Cup. I LOVE soup but so far have not had theirs. That will be high on my list when I next lunch there, and I'll be sure to let you know how that goes via an additional comment below.

And the best thing of all is the Chocolate Panini for dessert, a heated and pressed concoction that combines chocolate hazelnut spread with marscapone cheese. The powdered sugar sprinkled on top seems to actually add something as well. When you have had a REALLY bad morning – just go there and have this sweet panini for lunch. It will warm your heart.

FTjulesROOMEating inside the restaurant is as nice as eating outside – the décor is warm and homey with beautiful wood and stained glass and, since this is an old restored house, there are actual dining rooms.

The prices are comparable to similar restaurants (Wine and Cheese Gallery and The Paramount). The salads range from $3.75 for a small house salad to 12.75 for a Salad Nicoise that includes seared tuna and imported Nicoise olives (with pits, the menu notes). The sandwiches range from $7.50 for the Grilled Vegetable, which includes gruyere cheese, to $9.75 for Antipasto Sandwich on Ciabatta or for Prosciutto Sandwich, which includes pears, brie, and arugula.

fatsuscanLOGOThe Fat Tuscan seems to have it all -- food well made with special ingredients in a setting that is relaxing, warm, and visually pleasing.

The Pluses and Minuses of the Fat Tuscan Cafe.

The + Indicators: Consistent food and a parking lot!

The - Indicators: Servings tend to be smallish. Actually that's a plus -- I have left satisfied but not stuffed! Prices are little high but probably comparable to similar restaurants.

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FTfornmageAyTroi

I was meeting Gainesville's PRO iNK's Director of Operations and new friend, Elayana Rexrode, for lunch and this was Ms. Rexrode's first visit to the Fat Tuscan Café. I was happy to find the FT's signature lunch item, the Fromage a Trois Panini, on their menu and thought this would be a great lunch for this day and also next time I was looking for a Meatless Monday lunch. Elayna was quick to point out she was a salad-for-lunch GLOBer and selected the FT's Tropical Salad.  Elayna described the salad:  "The crisp greens, chilled shrimp and abundance of feta cheese crumbles were perfectly fresh and delightful. The dressing was light, but full of flavor that did not overpower the salad ingredients. The Fat Tuscan atmosphere was very conducive to a nice conversation with the Glob Master -- you didn't have to shout to hear each other."   My Formage a Troi – I love to hear myself say that – was an extraordinary grilled cheese sandwich of gruyere, fontina, brie, roasted tomato, and sautéed shallots on grilled panini bread and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Not to sound like the UF Gators Mick Huber but, Oh my. The cheese blended to a rich, melted, flavorful concoction of gooeyness shrouding grilled, juicy tomatoes and sautéed shallots. The piece de resistance to my French café lunch masterpiece was the balsamic reduction that added a distinct, subtle, flair of sweetness with every toasted bite. Uh huh! Bon ami mademoiselle! Fat Tuscan owner Michelle Rotinna stopped at our table to say hello and share some great stories about her month long vacation to the Czech Republic. Michelle said the Fromage a Trois Panini as a Meatless Monday wasn't a good idea since the Fat Tuscan is closed on Mondays . . .

- GLOB Master

By Lynn Dirk, GLOB Correspondent

Editor's Note: Lynn Dirk is an administrator in the US Department of Veterans Affairs Brain Rehabilitation Research Center and a devout enthusiast of all food things healthy.

 

On the northern edge of downtown on 8th Avenue sits a wood frame house painted a beautiful deep orange-yellow color.  It has stained glass windows and a brick courtyard with a gurgling fountain and just the right amount of sun and shade.  This is the place for a lunch that will make you feel as if  you have truly escaped from the stresses of the American work place to an authentic European café.  Not only that, the food is very good.  Especially the dessert, but that comes last!

 

I have been to The Fat Tuscan several times now and the food has been consistently good.  In my book, that is the highest compliment I can pay a restaurant.  There are salads, sandwiches, soups and the last time I was there, quiche was a special item.  Even though I expect the food at the FT to be good, I was surprised by just how good the quiche was – it had the consistency of flan and a rich flavor was diffused throughout the quiche.  Maybe that had something to do with the addition of brie. 

 

Their salads add just a few more ingredients than the usual   The Eggplant Caprese salad, on the other hand, is very simple, but all the better for that.  The same approach applies to the sandwiches – for instance the Turkey Baguette includes cucumbers as well as avocado and fontina cheese and the Ham and Cheese Panini includes roast apple-mustard and arugula. 

 

And the best thing of all is the Chocolate Panini for dessert, a heated and pressed concoction that combines chocolate hazelnut spread with marscapone cheese. The powdered sugar sprinkled on top seems to actually add something as well.  When you have had a REALLY bad morning – just go there and have this sweet panini for lunch.  It will warm your heart. 

 

FT has a unique approach to soup:  3 choices – Large Bowl, Small Bowl, or Cup.  I LOVE soup but so far have not had theirs.  That will be high on my list when I next lunch there, and I’ll be sure to let you know how that goes via an additional comment below.

 

Eating inside the restaurant is as nice as eating outside – the décor is warm and homey with beautiful wood and stained glass and, since this is an old restored house, there are actual dining rooms. 

 

The prices are comparable to similar restaurants (Wine and Cheese Gallery and The  Paramount).  The salads range from $3.75 for a small house salad to 12.75 for a Salad Nicoise that includes seared tuna and imported Nicoise olives (with pits, the menu notes).  The sandwiches range from $7.50 for the Grilled Vegetable, which includes gruyere cheese, to $9.75 for Antipasto Sandwich on Ciabatta or for Prosciutto Sandwich, which includes pears, brie, and arugula.

 

The Fat Tuscan seems to have it all -- food well made with special ingredients in a setting that is relaxing, warm, and visually pleasing. 

 

The Pluses and Minuses of the Fat Tuscan Cafe

The + Indicators: Consistent food and a parking lot!

The - Indicators:  Servings tend to be smallish.  Actually that’s a plus -- I have left satisfied but not stuffed!  Prices are little high but probably comparable to similar restaurants 

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Bistro 1245

BISTROeggplantChoosing the lunch entrée image above for this review was easy with M.K.’s spectacular looking lunch of the Bistro 1245 Mixed greens salad ($7.96) with radish, pear slices, with a house made balsamic vinaigrette. A Salmon Filet topped MK’s salad for an additional $4.50. The salad was large enough to share and the salmon was cooked perfectly  Melissa raved about the creamy goat cheese combining with the crunchy pear slices. The olives , and balsamic dressing complimented the salmon, and goat cheese with flavor spikes of tangy flavor. You know GLOBers with lunches like this the idea of giving up meat seems more, and more like a very doable proposition.

When Bistro 1245 was the suggested lunch spot I immediately had visions of one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches in Gainesville. But alas fellow GLOBers I have already written about their most excellent grilled cheese. It is Meatless Monday so I opted for the Grilled Eggplant, Parmesan Cheese with grilled eggplant, fresh mozzarella, spinach, marinara and pesto on a baguette, image at top of this review. The $9.50 pricing also includes soup of a side salad.   The blending of the eggplant flavor and the marinara sauce creates a hearty, home cooked feeling that directed me to an internal warm and cozy place. The spinach in the sandwich was a pronounced taste surprise with both texture and flavor.

- GLOB Master

 

bistroTOPPER

Menu, appetizer, reasons for return visits

By Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

BistroSFTypically when you find a restaurant that you enjoy dining at, you would think it would be only natural to consider it in your mealtime restaurant rotation. I have dined at Bistro 1245 a handful of times over the years, and every time it has been an amazing experience: the food consistently tasty, the menu items varied yet all extremely appealing, and the service friendly and attentive. For some reason, I let the small café next to sister restaurant, Leonardo's Pizza By the Slice, on University Ave. fall off the radar, and it seems that I am not alone in this. After a couple of recent visits, I will certainly not make that mistake again.

Yes, the parking has always been problematic for these cafes--the small, cramped lot adjacent to them creates traffic flow issues at peak times. It's no secret, though, that the results are worth the effort. Although small, Bistro 1245 presents its own charm, complete with a small, dimly-lit indoor dining space of about a dozen tables and an outdoor patio area with a handful of small tables shared by the pizza side. Another aspect they share: serving the infamous Leo's garlic knots, which could be my meal in and of themselves.

BISTROquoteBOXaThe variety of Bistro's café-style menu is a large draw. With everything from soups, salads, and sandwiches to pastas and a sirloin entrée that would satisfy the pickiest of carnivores, the menu teeters between sophisticatedand casual, and it absolutely works. I showed up in the most casual of attire and was seated outside with my dining companion, Greg, for his first, and I don't think last, experience. I had yet to order the Bruschetta appetizer, $6.95, and after little debate or time, Greg agreed it was the right choice.

 

bistroCROSTINI

"Three crostini appetizer was filled to the brim with a thick layer of creamy goat cheese, chickpeas, tomatoes, and shredded basil balanced atop one another was as visually appealing as it was appetizing." It was the perfect portion size and had the ideal balance of savory from the cheese, refreshing from the produce, and slightly tart from the balsamic reduction drizzled across the dish.

Next time, I will try it with the optional prosciutto for even more flavor diversity.

bistro2ferThis explosion of prominent, yet cohesive flavors was a theme of each dish presented. The list of sandwiches offered takes up half of the menu, but these are not your mother's ordinary sandwiches packed in your lunchbox; the list is the perfect example of the café ambiance – casual kicked up a few notches.

With multiple protein options, including salmon, seared tuna, chicken, duck, and tofu, there is a sandwich combination that would appeal to any hungry diner. In our case, they all sounded amazing. Having already tried and loved the Tuna Club, Greg and I decided to split the Seared Tofu Melt, $8.95, and the Sesame Ginger Duck, $13.95.

There is a Bistro1245 menu link at the bottom of this page.

The word 'satisfying' is an understatement to describe these selections. Curry is typically a very strong flavor, but the tofu had a slightly subdued, yet still notable curry flavor that enhanced the punch from the smoked gouda and the red pepper aioli. I was skeptical of this array of flavors, but it worked, especially on the sourdough bread. The duck sandwich, while a tad milder, image at top of this review, was actually the ideal accompaniment to the other sandwich: The richness of the duck played the star against the base of greens, tomato, and the garlic aioli, which I was pleasantly surprised wasn't more potent.

 

bistroSALAD

The butternut squash soup Greg ordered on the side was every bit as creamy as I had remembered, Greg noting fondly the hint of nutmeg. I always get the side Caesar salad because it is a very generous portion.

The value per meal always exceeds expectation. I cannot say anything poor about this establishment. They are even open until 10 pm daily.

The Bistro 1245 Three-Herbed Pesto pasta with chicken is calling my name.

The Pluses and Minuses of Bistro1245:

Bistro1245 (+) indicators: High value of price to quantity, friendly service, diverse menu, casual yet high quality, intimate and sophisticated while still casual ambiance, outdoor patio

Bistro1245 (-) indicators: Limited parking

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BISTRO1245TOPPER

Forgotten bistro produces lunch surprises

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

You know how some things reside out there in the world but remain completely off your daily radar screen? My kids are grown, and so I have no interest what-so-ever in Gainesville city recreation team sports. The National Hockey League Championship is happening right now and I could care less. There are a host of reasons why the Bistro1245 never made my radar screen.

BistroSFBoy, I have been wrong for a lot of years about café adjacent to Leonardo's on the corner of University Ave and 13th St as a lunch time option.

Lunch pal Lynn D. and I shared our lunches at the Bistro yesterday, and we both agreed we had two of the best sandwiches we have enjoyed in a long time.

Bistro1254 is a contemporarily cool, popular place for lunch B1245Dining11right across from the UF campus. As soon as we were seated, we immediately had questions, which were readily accepted by the servers in this nook of food lovers:

> "Is the Bistro/Leonardo owner also own 706?" (Yes, he is one of the owners along with Mark Newman.)

> "Does the Bistro1245 bake its own bread? (Just the rolls, which they actually get from next door at Leonardo's by the slice)

> "If you hated zucchini as a child, do you like zucchini today?" (No.)

During much discussion with the 1245 staff around these questions and about related food things, Lynn and I were deciding what to share for lunch.

Do we order a pasta dish and a sandwich? Bistro has a nicely described meat loaf sandwich. How do I ignore that choice? The chicken sandwich with basil aioli, onion jam, and melted gruyere really sounded good to both Lynn and I.

B1245ROLLSWe decided on a 50/50 lunch swap and shared the Meat Loaf Sandwich and the Roasted Chicken Sandwich. Lynn added a garden salad as her side dish, and I added a Caesar salad to my lunch.

Waiting for our lunch we shared some fresh baked garlic rolls that made everything in the world seem OK.

Our sandwiches were served amid oohs and aaahhhs as we directed our attention to the beautifully stacked sandwiches before us.

Lynn and I must've been using the same radar because after we exchanged sandwich halves, I started eating that half I got from her instead of the one that I ordered, and Lynn started on my half. Taking our first bites in unison we looked at each other with looks of astonishment. These were really good sandwiches.

The Meat Loaf Sandwich consisted of homemade meat loaf, dijon mustard -- extra stars awarded for this ingredient -- red onion, greens and tomato on what they call farm bread.

B1245SANDWICHThe flavors of the basil aioli, onion jam and the thick chunks of chicken breast on the Roasted Chicken Sandwich blended together for a beautiful three part harmony of flavor. The gruyere cheese melted into the other sandwich elements and create toasted sandwich bliss.

As the staff had been so friendly and willing to answer questions, I asked what was in the meatloaf as it had a very rich flavor. I was told that it has everything in it. You can't tell by looking at it, but you can sure tell by tasting it that it's a special recipe.

Lynn and I both cleaned our plates.

The B1245 has some other intriguing lunch entrees, including a sirloin steak sandwich, some interesting sounding pasta dishes, and a Grilled Three Cheese made with the same yummy bread the meatloaf was served on.

Lynn wants to come back and try the Sesame Ginger Duck Sandwich.

Shame on me for ignoring this lunch time hot spot for so long. That won't happen again. There are still numerous new taste adventures waiting at the B-1245.

The Pluses and Minuses of Bistro1245:

Bistro1245 (+) indicators: Baked bread, integration of sauces, spices and flavors make the Bistro1245 a five star lunch.

Bistro1245 (-) indicators: Parking, congestion, parking congestion.

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Bistro1245. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

SoupSammie

It was a perfect, cool Friday, and I was thinking soup and a sandwich. Hmmm . . . a multitude of choices race across my brain, and the spinning wheel landed on the Grilled Three Cheese at Bistro 1245. Yum!  It is one of the better grilled cheese sandwiches in Hogtown, or so the GLOB Master thinks. I didn't remember this from the last time I ordered the sandwich, but the menu now says along with provolone, smoked gouda, gruyere cheese, and a slice of tomato, pesto can be added to this lunchtime bliss bomb for an additional $1.50.  Gosh Pee-Wee, if you're feeling like a carnivore, you can add some bacon to the Grilled Three Cheese for yet another $2.00. That turns your GTC sammie into an $11.00 lunch. I was feeling smart about being meatless today. Unsure about the pesto, I took my attractive servers advice and had the green goo added on, and boy was I glad I did. Feeling smart and sophisticated, I selected the Butternut Squash Bisque to compliment my my mid-day sammie. Once again the unique farm bread makes this a wonderful sandwich. Toasted and grilled to perfection, the thin farm bread slices encased a melted cauldron of flavors and textures that screamed out individually: "Can you taste that tomato?" "That's the pesto mingling in that gooey bite of provolone." "Oh man, that bite had toasted bread AND three cheeses plus the pesto in one bite!" The soup was an excellent palette cleanser with a marvelous lightness of squash flavor.  This lunch had me thinking, "It's good to be alive!"

- GLOB Master

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Good Fortune

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Good Fortune.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

The Pluses and Minuses of Las Americas Latin Cafe:

Good Fortune (+) indicators:

Good Fortune (-) indicators:

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Mi Apa Latin Cafe

Say 'El Cubano' for lunchtime prize

By Mike sanford, GLOB Master

miaapiaDown to an amazing toasted bread Mi Apa has this Latin American lunch prize figured out in true SANDWICH delight. I could research Cuban Sandwiches all afternoon to come up with a defining statement on what is their perfect sandwich. Musical artist and songwriters Tom Russell, Barren Whitfield and their Cuban sandwich video says it all way better than I could ever create:

It's got two kind so of pig meat, ham and roast pork
A slice of Swiss cheese as in the shape of New York
Throw on a pickle and pick up your fork
Sat El Cuban That's a Cuban Sandwich

Mi Apa's Latin Cafe in the Westgate shopping area touts a very impressive version of this Latin American lunch staple. I think what makes their sandwich special if the thin, crusty, crunchy Cuban bread that doesn't over power he sandwich's ingredients. The delicious bread does add yet another taste and texture level to a perfect noon time sandwich sliced on the diagonal the cut of the sandwich adds yet another stylized marl od superiority. Oh! About the sandwiches flavors. Yes I can taste the ham, and roast pork, the American cheese melts into a delicious hit goo just right for mixing the El Cubano flavors in your oral cavity. Regarding the CS dill pickle slice it is extraordinary how such a tiny slice of sour can electrify all the other sandwich flavors. I agree with the tune GLOBer. You can give me a Cuban sandwich any time you like. NOTE TO LYNN DIRK: Mi Apa's Half Price Tuesday FLAN night is certainly worth your, our consideration.

 MiApaFLAN480

 

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MiApaTOPPERb

The flavors, textures, and home style goodness of Latin American food could convince the GLOB Master to go south of the border for lunch every darn day. My mission heading into Mi Apa was to have a very nice Meatless lunch. Unfortunately the carnivore in me saw a plate of giant chunks of roasted pork and any meatless thoughts in my head just vanished. The Mi Apa Arepas menu did have some interesting meatless lunch choices including a vegetarian Columbian and Venezuelan arepa.  My lunch partner, Lynn Dirk, went vegetarian and picked the Columbian Vegetarian Arepa with mozzarella, mushrooms, tomatoes and green peppers but requested avocados in place of mushrooms. OMG was that a wise decision. The Columbian arepa is an open face-like sandwich where the ingredients are stacked onto a creamy, super flavored corn meal pancake. They also serve a Venezuelan Arepa where the corn meal patty is cooked to a light brown color and folded over the ingredients. Top the Arepas with a dollop of hot sauce and a serious dollop, or two, of mojo sauce and this is a yummy lunch. The GLOB Master ordered the roast pork and black beans and rice for lunch. OMG again! The roast pork just might be the moistest, tenderest, juiciest plate of pork to be found in the GLOB. We topped lunch off with an order of Sweet Plaintains that were cooked to perfection. Talk about a perfect – ALMOST meatless - lunch for two, and for less than $20!

- Mike Sanford

 

MiAPAmk350SANDWICH

Eyes, stomach open wide to small Latin cafe

By Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

miaapiaI have heard many things about Mi Apa Latin Café. Located in the shopping center on the southwest corner of 34th St and University Ave., it is in a prime spot for plenty of traffic. Apparently, I was one of the few not stopping there until recently.

I was going to Corks and Colors with my roommate, Alyssa, to pick up some lovely coasters we had a chance to paint to beautify our new home (when I say beautify, keep in mind we are amateurs). In any event, we were on our way to get some ice cream when Mi Apa caught my eye. I realized I had never truly taken a look at the small Latin café, let alone walked into it. Even at a very late lunch hour around 3 pm, there were hungry customers bustling in and out.

Alyssa and I got to talking about sandwiches and desserts and before we knew it, our feet followed our mouths right to the restaurant.  I was surprised that it was a sit down-style dining experience, as I would have pegged the very small location for an order-at-the-counter place. We opted to sit outside, and a server greeted us promptly.  We ordered our drinks and perused the menu.  Again, it was more extensive than I expected. Plus everything on the menu, from the delicious-looking breakfast sandwich to the pastries, looked extremely appetizing. There is a Mi Apa restaurant menu link below.

MiAPAmk350Our bellies sure took over as a shared bite to eat turned into a Latin-infused full blown lunch. We started with a beef empanada, which arrived on the table roughly two minutes after ordering. Again, I had expectations and figured that a location as this would have pre-prepared food items ready to just be warmed up.  If so, this was still a very decent empanada. I remarked to Alyssa, "The crust tastes just like those crispy noodles you eat at Chinese food restaurants."

miapaMKfriendAlyssa (right) and I agreed that maybe one smaller item to share would be in order, but--once again--this meal was nothing we had planned for. Originally we were going to split the traditional Cuban sandwich, as my taste buds were craving the combination of savory meat, mustard, and Swiss cheese. However, my food adventurer mentality reared its curious head and suggested the Miami sandwich instead. Pressed on the same crispy bread as a Cuban, the Miami, which took a little longer to be presented since it was not premade (to my relief), combined crisp bacon atop turkey, ham, and cheese with the refreshing crunch of lettuce and tart tomato that I love in any sandwich, hot or cold. There was a little too much mayonnaise, but the sandwich was extremely tasty anyway. I'm glad Alyssa and I split it, though, as one half was almost the size of a whole sandwich!

miAPAmkPASTRYWe were a tad bummed that we did not get to treat ourselves to a long-overdue ice cream delight, so naturally we had to compensate for that. The $0.79 price tag on a guava cheese pastry may have aided in that decision. This premade option was much bigger than I expected, but I greatly enjoyed how the flaky crust, sweet guava, and savory cheese melded into a harmony of deliciousness.

Considering everything that was consumed, I was blown away to see the final bill for my meal. Without tip, it was just shy of $5.50. How is that even possible!? I was so taken aback; half an empanada, Miami sandwich, and a whole pastry barely dented my wallet. Now I know that for great Latin-inspired food with a nice variety and quick and friendly service, Mi Apa will be my go-to. Not to mention that they have a drive-thru option! This eating adventurer is forever a Mi Apa fan.

The Pluses and Minuses of Mi Apa

Mi Apa (+) indicators: Great service, tasty food, wide variety, very inexpensive for the quality, drive-thru is very convenient

Mi Apa (-) indicators: A a few extra pounds around my midsection if I keep up the visits

 

Cafe is 'ethnic cuisine' prize winner

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

I am your garden variety Anglo Saxon white male.

miaapiaMy father's family came to the New World after imany generations in England.   My mother grew up in Dundee Scotland and her family relocated to America to start a life in Central Florida when she was a teenager.

I have lived in Florida my entire life and I possess a certain amount of Southern pride.

So why is it that Latin American cuisine is my food of choice? Mexican, Cuban, Latin American, yellow rice, plantains, tortillas, roast pork.

The Lechon Asada, roast pork to southern boys -- at Mi Apa Latin Cafe on SW 34th St. behind Grandy's could very well be the ultimate ethnic cuisine lunch in the Urban GLOB in my opinion.

MiApaPrintMi Apa's giant serving of roasted, chunked pork stacked high on the plate accompanied by incredibly tasty sweet plantains. and a side order of black beans, is a savory, comforting, filling lunch experience every one should have, especially if you are a professional eater.

This juicy, flavorful pork entree is such a perfect comfort food that this Anglo Florida boy was thinking siesta before I got up from the lunch table.

This is a great cafe for a quick, rewarding lunch experience. The attentive wait staff, and seating both inside and outside the cafe, offers the GLOBer a mid-day stop where serious eaters can be recognized by the lack of conversation going on while they are working on their caloric intake.

MiApaLUNCHMi Apa has all the pressed Cuban sandwiches -- including the media noche with sweet bread -- available along with a Cuban pot roast, steak. chicken entrees and vegetarian entrees.

My suggestion is the Lechon Asada. Do you think Lechon Asada means, "the other white meat," in Spanish?

I'm going to have to make a quick trip back to Mi Apa and try their sandwiches. I also think I need to make sure their chicken & yellow rice, and pot roast is up to par with their other excellent entrees.

MiApaPatioI'm not sure why I am informing other fellow GLOBers, but I do I think it is important this place gets a thorough evaluation from me.

One final important point to make. Mi Apa also serves a Cuban breakfast every morning including cuban coffee and espresso starting at 7:00 in the morning.

The Pluses and Minuses of Mi Apa

Mi Apa (+) indicators: Original home style Cuban cuisine excellently prepared!

Mi Apa (-) indicators: I wanted to eat every thing on the menu . . .

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Mi Apa.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS

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