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Stones set to release 'Blue & Lonesome'

It started as a break from their own material, then suddenly turned into a full-scale throwback: the Stones returning to their early-1960s days as a blues-loving cover band, knocking out songs live in the studio and recording an entire album in three days. "Blue & Lonesome" is the first studio album the Stones have made since "A Bigger Bang" in 2005; it's due for release on Dec. 2.

As reported on the New York Times website - READ MORE

 

 

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Social at Midtown

The Pluses and Minuses of the Social at Midtown:

Social at Midtown (+) indicators:

Social at Midtown (-) indicators: 

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

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Sushi-2-Go, W. Gainesville

The Pluses and Minuses of the Sushi-2-Go:

Sushi-2-Go (+) indicators:

Sushi-2-Go (-) indicators: 

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Sushi-2-Go.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

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Big Island Bowls

The Pluses and Minuses of the Big Island Bowls:

Big Island Bowls (+) indicators:

Big Island Bowls (-) indicators: No minuses here.

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

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V Pizza

'Different' kind of pie enters pizza wars

VpizzaSFBy Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

As my mother would have said, "There are more pizza shops in Gainesville than you can shake a pepperoni at!" With over 20 different pizza restaurants in Gainesville, the GLOB Master was surprised at the unique, very non-ordinary pizza served at V Pizza downtown in previous Vello's location. With a new 90-second, fast- fired pizza process and Amore & La Palude ovens and ingredients imported from Italy, V Pizza quickly delivers a new 'old style' pizza to your table.

The V Pizza owners were "also concerned that peoples' opinions of what pizza was would be very different from what we were serving. Imported dry aged Italian meats, San Marzano tomatoes, and 00 flour? Cheese from a buffalo? Pizzas that aren't perfectly round? Burn marks on the crust."

 

VpizzaTomatoes2

As a nice surprise I have been introduced to San Marzano tomatoes. What a delicious taste change from the usual tomato, marinara sauce. San Marzano tomatoes are the most famous plum tomato to come out of Italy. They are grown in the rich volcanic soil at the base of Mount Vesuvius, which gives them a sweet flavor and low acidity and they are coveted for their firm pulp, deep red color, easy to remove skin and low seed count. In fact while regular round tomatoes usually have four or five locules or seed pockets, plum tomatoes like those from San Marzano tomatoes have only two.

In addition to pizza, V Pizza also serves wings, paninis, calzones, strombolis, and salads.

V Pizza has a specially priced lunch menu everyday for $9.95 that covers a self-serve beverage, cheese pizza + 1 topping or any any house pizza for $10.95; gluten-free pizzas for an additional $3; paninis, calzone +1 topping for $10.95, and chicken wings. There is a complete V Pizza menu at the bottom of this review.

V Pizza serves their pizzas in full pies. No single slice option here.

 

Natassia2

GLOB Content Editor Lynn Dirk and I decided to share a pizza and try some of the 'Best chicken wings in Jacksonville,' according to Natassia our server, seated right in image above.

 

PizzaSLICE

At our special request we split our pizza ingredients in half with Pizza Napoli on one half with included eggplant, roasted red peppers, red onion, fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, fresh garlic, and basil and Pizza Carnivora on the other half with, sopressata (premium pepperoni), pancetta, red onion, roasted garlic, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, and San Marzano tomato sauce. This was a momma mia lunch.

 

Vwings

We also decided to share an order of the wood oven-roasted chicken wings for $12. These 'prime cut' chicken wings larger than I have seen lately were marinated with fresh lemon, extra virgin olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper, fresh garlic, and caramelized onions.

The thick, meaty wings had a pronounced rosemary flavor and a tasty burnt char for an extremely flavorful taste. I did ask Natassia if there were any hot sauces available, and she suggested the calabrian chili pepper sauce. We gave it a try and this sauce was good--not overly hot but left a lingering, flavorful, heat-like sensation in my mouth that made me smile. The singular flavor and texture of these first and second joints make me want to go back and try the other flavors of V Pizza wings.

PizzaTOPPERa

Our pizza arrived quickly to our table and looked beautiful. Talking about an obvious food contradiction there sat half of a meatless pie split next to a meat lover's dream lunch.

At first bite I was startled at the deliciously rich taste of the San Marzano tomatoes. WOW! The meat flavors were also pronounced with a prize going to the spicy sausage that included a prominent basil and garlic flavor. The veggie side of the pizza was equally enjoyable with my first experience of sliced eggplant on pizza. On this slice I could also taste the excellent basil, garlic, and goat cheese flavors.

 

OVEN

All right GLOBers. Off the top of my head, I'm thinking this is the third flash-fired pizza stand in Gainesville. Granted it ensures your lunch will be ready to eat in a typical one-hour lunch break. In my experience, the downside of the flash-fired, quick-serve pizza process is a limp pizza crust. You must eat the end of you pizza quickly BEFORE the toppings fall onto your plate or some place more disconcerting.

I need to remember to ask them to flash-fire my pizza an additional 10 minutes or so to see if I can get a crispy crust, which I prefer.

 

Vkitchen

The V Pizza building had a familiar look to it with the tables and dining area not much different from its Vello's days. The bar had a friendly, inviting look with several big-screen TVs. They did put some seats in front of the open kitchen where you can enjoy looking into the ceramic-tiled, wood-burning ovens as pizzas are being made and have interesting conversations with the pizza chefs.

V Pizza works for me. I liked the new approach to same old pizza. The chicken wings were really good.

I do need to remember, "COOK PIZZA FOR 10 MORE MINUTES, COOK PIZZA FOR 10 MORE MINUTES, COOK PIZZA FOR 10 MORE MINUTES . . .!"

The Pluses and Minuses of V Pizza

V Pizza + indicators: San Marzano tomatoes are delicious, and the larger than usual chicken wings are very tasty.

V Pizza  - indicators: Lunch prices keep creeping upward with $12 chicken wings, and $16 pizzas.

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

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Weekend Events. July 29, 2016

FRIDAY

 6:30 pm: The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble Opening Night, Hipp Cinema, 25 SE 2nd Place; various days, times. The story of the renowned international musical collective created by legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Directed by Morgan Neville, Oscar-winner with the documentary 20 Feet from Stardom and the critically acclaimed Best of Enemies.

 

072916ArtWalk

7 pm: Artwalk, Downtown Gainesville. Free monthly self-guided tour that combines exciting visual art, live performance, and events with local galleries, eateries, and businesses participating. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information.

 

0722916IRIE

8 pm: The Irie Ones, Free Friday Concert SeriesBo Diddley Community Plaza. Reggae, roots, ska, rock steady, lovers reggae, dance hall music from this five-piece band. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information.

 

FRIDAY & SATURDAY

072916Purpose

10am-6pm: Back to School Sale! Repurpose Project. ONS of gently used office and school supplies.  Now through the end of September we are having a 25% off sale on all school and office supplies for teachers and students.  Buy used!  Protect the planet!  Save $!  Study!

This non-profit community-based effort to divert resources from landfills through creativity also has:

zzGLOBbullet ReUse Store – A warehouse full of materials for art, construction, school projects, furniture -- Come and explore!

 

zzGLOBbullet Repurposed Art Gallery – A gallery of art made from creatively reused materials. Are you interested in selling your artwork in our gallery?  Stop in with some samples of your work or email photos: info@repurposeproject.org.  At least 75% of the artwork must crated from salvaged/reclaimed materials.

 

zzGLOBbulletFix It Café, Wed, 4-6 – If it’s broke, we fix it!  …and we will show you how! Come by or drop off small items (no bigger than a bread box 2′x3′x3′).  Examples: broken toys, favorite gifts, antiques, sailboats, lamps, things with cords.  Expect some creative repairs.  We don’t have any real “parts.” We will use donated items. 

 

 

FRIDAY, SATURDAY, & SUNDAY

Swamp Dance Fest, UF School of Theater and Dance, G-6 Studio - Nadine M. McGuire Pavillion, School of Theatre and Dance. Dance performances created during the festival, performed by students and guests. Many events are free and open to the public. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information

 

SATURDAY

072916Waterweays

5 pm: Celebrating Water and The Arts! Great Outdoors Restaurant, High Springs. Bid on your favorite art piece as the restaurant hosts a silent auction. Book signing by authors, artists, and photographers. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information

 

072916silver

7-11 pm: The Shane Wooten Band, Summer Concert Series, Silver Springs State Park. Bring a chair or blanket and enjoy a music-filled evening in a beautiful park setting. Performances will use the newly renovated Twin Oaks Mansion Stage at the headwaters of the Silver River. $25.

 

072916Blues1

7 pm: Battle of the Blues Song Writing and Concert, Market St. Pub & Cabaret, Downtown. The North Central Florida Blues Society and Leonardo's Music have teamed up to bring you a this competition and concert. Battle Compete with your original blues song to win a guitar and case or just enjoy the show. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information

 

SUNDAY

072916Rawlings

1 pm: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' Birthday Bash, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park, 18700 S. CR 325, Cross Creek. Though Rawlings' was born August 8th, 1896, The Friends of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Farm and park staff invite you to an "early" celebration in July since the historic house closes in August and September. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more information.

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Ironwood Golf Course

Lunchstop is not just for birdies or the birds

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

IWsfI know of an off-the-beaten-path lunch stop I like to think is all mine. You know what I mean GLOBers. A hideaway place that's not too crowded. Somewhere I could take a special friend and not be bothered with other lunch outers in my space.

The irony (hint, hint) is this lunch stop is in the midst of a busy environment of customers talking seriously about the best round they ever had; the last time they birdied old number #17; or whether they will rent a golfcart or walk the 18 holes of Gainesville's Ironwood Golf Course on NE 39th Avenue. 

There are a number of good reason why this lunch stop deserves your consideration even if intimate conversation isn't important in your lunch world:

IWSilhouttePerhaps some of the most lowest lunch prices in G'ville including:

zzGLOBbullet Chipotle Black Bean Burger for $6.50
zzGLOBbullet Chicken Salad Sandwich for $4.50
zzGLOBbullet Chili Cheese Fries for $4.00 from a full list of appetizers
zzGLOBbullet Broccoli Cheddar Bacon Bites $5.50

For the Meatless Monday lunch outer, there is an extensive list of options including veggie wraps with hummus, guacamole, lettuce or spinach, tomato, onion, cucumber and salsa. A variety of sandwiches and a grilled cheese sandwich can also be made for the vegetarian luncher.

For the meat eater, there is an Italian sausage dog and pizza.

 

IWErinA

The Ironwood pro-shop is run by staffers Erin Maynard, behind the counter, and John Andreu with kitchen responsibilities. John made several visits with us at the golf course lunch counter to make sure we were impressed with his lunch time creations.

Erin mentioned there is ample table seating in the adjacent meeting room for lunch customers who would like a bit more privacy. 

IWCounter

"We do get customers stopping in from time to time to eat on the golf course patio, or who just want a little more privacy during their lunch hour," Erin said.

 

IWVburger

My lunch pal this visit was GLOB Advertising Manager Gary Miller and he selected the Chipotle Black Bean Burger which had a spicy patty made with a blend of black beans, brown rice, onions, corn, fresh red bell peppers and Anaheim chilies with a touch of cilantro and garlic, served with lettuce, tomato, and onion for $6.50. IMO Anaheim chilies are a great addition with loads of pepper flavor but not necessarily all the heat.

Eating every bit of his spicy burger, Miller said it was very tasty. 

IWTurkey480

I was pleased to see old fashioned sandwiches available on the menu with the choice of white, wheat, or marbled rye bread. My turkey sandwich was stacked very nicely with breast of turkey, lettuce, tomato, and Muenster cheese. The Muenster cheese was a special tasty surprise for the GLOB Master in a very good $4.75 sandwich. You can also order a ham sandwich or a sandwich with both ham and turkey for the same low price. All sandwiches are served with chips, fries, or sweet potato fries for an additional $1.50

 

IWsoup

I enjoyed my sandwich, but I thanked the lunch gods for including a bowl of soup with the Ironwood Burger, Basket, or Sandwich order for $1.50. The very cool thing about my bowl of cream of broccoli soup was the packet of Oyster Crackers floating in my Styrofoam tureen that gave a delightful crunch to the creamy, cheesy goodness.

I used to play golf and frequented the Ironwood course for my fair share of sporting punishment. It's nice to see all the upgrades the course has taken under the management of Jeff Cardoza

IWturkeys

If you need one more reason for this special lunch stop, the Audubon Society listed the Ironwood Gold Course as an "Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary" as of July 1999.

The Pluses and Minuses of Ironwood Golf Course:

Ironwood Golf Course + indicators:  Low prices; great sports surroundings; can be a quiet, intimate lunch spot. A true NE Gainesville lunch outpost.

Ironwood Golf Course. - indicators: They need to post their menu online.  There is a menu on their Facebook site

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

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Metro Diner

MD surprise: Breakfast Pizza, Pumpkin Waffle

By Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

MetroDinerLOGODiner restaurants have certain stereotypical characteristics that I have found to be true: large, hearty portions, bustling servers, and busy booths, but the atmosphere has to be the defining feature, and I have been in diners from Orlando, FL, to New York City. Gainesville's Metro Diner is no exception--many booths and standalone tables with a casual, comfy décor.

 112015METROmark

With 17 Florida locations, Metro Diner, a Jacksonville-based regional chain that started in a 1938 building transformed in 1990, has made quite the name for itself. In addition to being a family-owned restaurant started by Chef Mark Davoli and family with 80 years in the food industry, Metro Diner is famous for its appearance on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on Food Network. Fieri dubbed the meatloaf one from which "diners need to take a lesson." I was mainly excited about the all day breakfast menu, which adds another spot to my brunch rotation that is close to home.

At 7 am on a Thursday morning, Metro Diner was almost vacant. I have scooped up a breakfast sandwich or two at that time at other places, and I can say that going to breakfast early is the way to ensure immediate service. The John Sr. breakfast sammie was large and in charge, two runny eggs coating Swiss cheese, bacon, and tomato. It may be sizeable, but don't wait too long to devour it, as the 8-grain toast quickly got soggy.

 

SpecialBOARD

Conversely at 9:30 am on a Saturday morning, empty tables were harder to come by; thus, for the brunch crowd, a.k.a. my usual compadres at the usual time--after 11 am, there will likely be wait. At 9:30 am on Saturday, however, a 20-minute wait was not too painful, and it gave my dining companion, Greg, and I a chance to peruse the menu for efficient ordering. The daily rotating-specials chalkboard proudly displayed on the back wall and on the web added three very tempting options to the already abundant menu of delicious breakfast goodies. This would be a complicated decision.

 

112015Rancheggs

After two very sad cups of coffee were ordered--why most breakfast places don't serve local coffee is beyond me, Greg, who is health-conscious, decided to try Metro Diner's Huevos Rancheros, $11.49: Scrambled eggs cooked well and topped with salsa and green onion slivers laid over a huge colorful plateful of black beans and chorizo under melted cheese and jalapenos. The "fried tortilla shells" were like a cross between crunchy pita chip and tortilla chip, essentially the best of both addicting worlds. Greg ordered sour cream on the side, which the server had to be reminded about. Despite his cleaned plate, Greg felt it was average for this dish he typically orders at breakfast. The couple of bites I had were very flavorful, the thick chunks of chorizo and jalapeno slices packing an enjoyable punch for a dish I am not usually inclined to order myself.

I was sold on the Breakfast Pizza, $10.99 image at the top of this review, the moment I laid eyes on the two words placed together. It's as if the brunch heavens opened and placed two of the best food items together in succession for one harmonious, epic brunch option. It had a little of everything I would want to order... in pizza form, down to the "crust" being made from biscuit dough. That aspect almost made me do a happy dance it was so good. Piled on this delicious biscuit bed, was a thick layer of mozzarella cheese blanketing flavorful chunks of bacon, ham, AND, if that weren't enough meat, some Italian sausage. I opted out of the onions, but the peppers and jalapenos provided a texture that tossed my taste buds around. I also love eggs Benedict, so the layer of Hollandaise sauce was a welcome addition, which, alongside two runny eggs, made for a sop-off-the-plate eating experience. The biscuit, under all those ingredients, did not get soggy. That is impressive.

 

dessert

I almost chose the Southern Benedict daily special, since it is a favorite of biscuits and gravy in addition to eggs and hollandaise, but I could not pass up the Biscuit Pizza. I also wanted to order a sweeter entrée for contrast: The Pumpkin-Stuffed Waffle. I think I speak for Greg when I say it was worth the food coma that followed: Each fourth of the waffle was used to make a sweet breakfast sandwich of sorts, complete with a marshmallow drizzle and cinnamon butter.

True to name, the sandwich filling was none other than copious amounts of pumpkin-flavored fluff. It was almost a combination of fluffy icing, cream cheese, and some kind of aerating agent. Whatever that pumpkin-flavored confection was, it played into the crisp, light waffle perfectly. I almost thought the cinnamon butter would be overkill, but then I tasted it, and it was too good not to use despite all the other flavors going on.

 

metrodinerHORIZ

The breakfast menu includes everything from omelets and steak and eggs to Benedicts and breakfast sandwiches to a variety of French toast and pancake options. The Yo Hala on the Square French Toast is highlighted on the menu for a reason: It is stuffed with bananas, brown sugar, cream cheese, and Hazelnut sauce (!) and smothered with fruit compote. I am very intrigued by the Monte Cristo, a sandwich I have yet to experience, and by the Spicy Honey Chicken Biscuit, mainly because I heard Metro's fried chicken is very tasty and because it includes a biscuit. Oh, I can't forget about the grits.

The Diner has an extensive lunch/dinner menu as well, considering it is open from 6:30 am until 8 pm Sunday through Thursday and 6:30 am to 8:30 pm Friday and Saturday. Judging by Guy Fieri's review of the meatloaf, I'd say that is a priority item, but the wide array of sandwiches and burgers provides something for everyone. The Charleston Shrimp and Grits looks like a solid rendition of the classic Southern dish. There is a complete Metro Diner menu at the web link below this review.

The restaurant was busy, and servers forgot things in the hustle and bustle, but overall the Metro Diner did exactly what it should: Provide a hearty, yummy meal to satiate the taste buds and fill the belly. Health-conscious Greg was less a fan because of the lack of healthier options, but you go to diners for the hearty, comfort-food, and Metro delivered.

The Pluses and Minuses of the Metro Diner:

The Metro Diner + indicators: Good value to portion size, large servings, varied menu, cozy diner atmosphere, friendly service, plaza parking leaves options.

The Metro Diner - indicators: Long wait time on weekends

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

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Road Trip: Palatka, Magnolia Cafe

MC perfect 'tweener stop' for beach trip

By Alison, GLOB guest Correspondent

EDITOR'S NOTE: Alison returns from GLOB's dusty archives ready to report on her favorite breakfast/brunch/lunchstop in Palatka, Florida.

I'm sure people will think it cannot be done in Palatka, but there is an awesome restaurant on St. Johns Avenue downtown, a block or two south of Hwy 19.

 

121114MAGdowntownVisitFlorida.com speaks highly of Palatka: "Nestled within a bend of the St. Johns River ... Palatka is a historic Northeast Florida city that proudly showcases its past. You can experience Old Florida charm in Palatka while you celebrate Florida's heritage at the Florida Azalea Festival, St. Johns River Catfish Festival, Blue Crab Festival or Bostwick Blueberry Festival."  It continues:  "Also camping, canoeing, kayaking the area's eight blueway trails, playing golf, touring historic homes and churches built in the 1800s, hiking or bicycling, and visiting birding sites listed in the Great Florida Birding Trail. Also, don't miss the Palatka Mural Tour, featuring more than 30 artistic renderings that depict the historical, cultural and natural riches of Palatka and Putnam County."

I live on the St. Johns River a few miles north of Palataka, and what I like about this old Florida town is the small town friendliness, a great Publix, plus quick access to St. Augustine.

121114MAGsfMagnolia Café is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday 7 am - 3 pm and Sunday 8 am - 2 pm. It has been open over a year, and I have never had a bad meal there. The service can be a little sketchy, but the staff are beginning to know us there and take good care of us.

A large open room, which is decorated with some local paintings and such, can get very noisy due to bad acoustics. The kitchen is open to view from the dining room. Everything looks clean and in place. This place fills up very quickly at peak breakfast and lunch times, but even later in the day guests are still arriving.  Many of the lunch guests are business professionals from downtown Plataka.

The Magnolia Café kitchen is very fast, albeit with a few minor mix ups here and there. Having worked in the restuarant business, I understand how these things happen with the growing business this lunch stop experiences.

MagnoliaDINING

I am sold on the Pressed Chicken Datil Sandwich, image at top of this feature, with caramelized onions, or any eating experience. What I like about this sandwich is it has plenty of Datil pepper sauce and cheese. The PCDA is served hot, and this lunch is always on the mark.

Although the PCDS is my go to sandwich almost every visit, there is also a great BLT. It is available with egg salad added to it, which makes for an interesting sandwich adventure.

 

121114MAGburger

The MC also has a fabulous Fiesta Burger that certainly deserves your lunch time consideration. This burger, which features a grass-fed beef patty, cheddar cheese, and house salsa of black bean, corn and cilantro, is served between grilled soft-shell tortillas!

Lunch time sides items include potato salad, pasta salad, or chips. There is no deep fryer in the house for French fries and such but I don't miss them. The Magnolia Café potato salad, with a little salt, always works fine with my pressed sammie. FOLLOW THIS LINK for a complete Magnolia cafe lunch menu.

Iced tea is freshly made, not the cloudy, day-old brew you will find served in so many places.

Magnolia Café Breakfast menu offers a Magnolia Café BLT with egg, several omelet choices, pancakes, and French toast.

 

121114MAGgrits

Now let's talk about grits. In my opinion Magnolia Café serves the best grits I have ever had in my life. They have a very coarse texture and are served in a large bowl. I must have them every time I visit this lunch stop gem of a cafe.

The restaurants that charge $2.99 for a mini bowl of grits really burn me. Peach Valley and Flying Biscuit do you hear this? It is a .25 cent item.

I usually finish up my breakfast with one pancake. Real butter, of course. And, OK, Log Cabin syrup. Not the real maple syrup but who serves that anymore anyways?

All right, I admit I sometimes bring my own maple syrup.   Really.

This place is a must stop for Gainesvillians for breakfast or lunch, in between the adventure trips to and from the beach.

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Zoe's Kitchen

Side-stepping meat not 100% successful

By Lynn Dirk, GLOB Content Editor

041414ZOESstorefrontBefore I went to Zoe's Kitchen, a newer restaurant on the Archer Road strip in front of Butler Plaza, I decided to see what info was available on the web about this new restaurant.

First thing I notice is that this is a southern chain. Next, right off the bat, I see all these messages about healthy eating, then when I get to the menu, I see a lot of meat so I'm a little disappointed. Having seen Speciesism at last year's Cinema Verde Film Festival, I am so close to finally becoming a dedicated vegetarian. Everyone who eats meat should see this movie.

On closer inspection, though, I see enough vegetarian options to satisfy a Meatless Monday meal, although, for the vegans, who can't even have cheese or eggs, it might be a little tougher as there is feta or mozzarella cheese included in some of those meatless options, such as the Greek salad.  There is a link to the complete Zoe's menu below.

Also, I do NOT consider fish a meatless option. It's an animal protein. In my humble opinon, fish should be the last thing for anyone to order as overfishing has become a very serious problem. That said, the menu includes a tuna salad sandwich and a tuna pita. Hmm, the tuna pita has capers. I love capers.  That's one of ZK's charms:  ingredients that are just a little different.  On the other hand, they sometimes play a little fast and loose with their food descriptions.  More on that as this feature unfolds.

041414ZOESdiningI wanted a strictly vegan lunch, so I was focusing on the sides, specifically the "Braised" White Beans with "fresh" rosemary, Roasted "Fresh" Vegetables, and Rice Pilaf. I thought rice pilaf was vegetarian, but when I asked the waitress whether there were vegetables in the pilaf, she told me there were no vegetables and the rice is cooked in chicken stock. That took me completely by surprise.

"Fresh" crops up a lot on the menu. For rosemary, I think that means it has not been dried. For the vegetables, I guess that might mean they have not been frozen. As my sister likes to say, however, in the battle of frozen vs fresh vegetables, unless the fresh are local, frozen could be better because they are frozen very soon after being picked and probably retain more nutrients than fresh vegetables trucked or flown across country.

As far as the "braised" white beans, I doubt seriously they were actually braised. To be braised, a food must first be pan seared to brown its surface and enhance its flavor, and then it is finished by simmering. This tendency of ZK to use words that suggest health, like "fresh," "homemade," and "braised," is a current advertising craze.  Remember when everything was "new" and "improved"?

I ended up ordering the White Beans, Roasted Vegetables, and, even though it was cooked in chicken stock, the Rice Pilaf. I think I was in denial, and my brain just could not accept that the rice was not vegetarian.  In my mind, rice and beans is like the vegetarian horse and carriage that just have to go together.  So much for a vegan Meatless Monday.  :(   BTW, as hinted at above, I thought rice pilaf had to have vegetables in it, but according to Wikipedia, rice pilaf is just rice cooked in seasoned stock. I really do learn something new every day.

041414ZOEStopperMy sides were very tasty (image at top and right). My main objection (other than the non-vegetarian rice) was that each side was served in separate dishes. All the restaurants do this, and that drives me a little nuts. When ordering several sides, why are they served separately? I acknowledge that some people are fussy about getting foods mixed together so they are probably very happy about the little dishes. I, on the other hand, love to mix it up, so, luckily, at ZK, the 3 side dishes were served together along with a big plate so I was able to dump them all out so I could mix them together. The White Beans were very good with just the right amount of rosemary, which can sometimes be too strong. The beans were almost like a thick soup and were very good on the rice.  It would have been perfect if the rice had been cooked in vegetable stock rather than chicken stock. The Roasted Vegetables were also very good – lots of browning that creates that savory sweetness of carmelization. The veggies were great mixed with the rice and beans. The only issue with the roasted vegetables was the lack of variety: There was broccoli, carrots, onions, and mushrooms. It would have been nice to see some squash or maybe even beets or sweet potato.

041414ZOESlunchmateMy companions seemed to be pretty happy with their meals, especially my long-time friend and co-worker until she retired, Joy McCallum (right), who had the Chicken Salad Sandwich, but I was the only one who completely cleaned my plate, plus I helped one of my friends clean hers by eating 3 pieces of crisp apple from the Seasonal Fresh Fruit side she selected to accompany her Egg Salad Sandwich. Thank you Barbara!

In summary, there is healthy vegetarian food at Zoe's but you have to choose carefully - and don't order the Rice Pilaf!  Don't forget to see Speciesism if you get a chance. Note to self: Ask if the white beans are vegetarian.

The Pluses and Minuses of Zoe's Kitchen

Zoe's Kitchen + indicators:  White beans and roasted vegetablesUse of some interesting "accent" ingredients.

Zoe's Kitchen - indicators:  Rice pilaf cooked in chicken stock; loose use of buzz words like "fresh" and "braised."

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