Highball & Harvest

4012 Central Florida Pkwy. Orlando, FL32837 • (407) 393-4422highballandharvest.com

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The JW Marriott and the Ritz Carlton are both so massive on their own that when you connect them it creates a structural morass the likes of an MC Escher drawing. And while you might wish you had Google maps to find your way through the Shining-like halls of this behemoth, there’s gold in them, thar hills! The treasure I speak of is Highball & Harvest a contemporary Southern restaurant located somewhere in the belly of the Ritz.

The décor is a little all over the place, but ultimately passes as nice and the service is suspiciously friendly, perhaps I think that because I’m from New York City where most people that jolly are heavily medicated.

But our waiter’s chipper demeanor aside, he was also spot on with the recommendations, the first of which being the Parker House rolls . They are so good I actually recommend NOT ordering them, because the temptation to fill up on bread will be immense. Which means you’ll need to dig deep, mustering up some serious willpower so that you can enjoy the things to come. Things like the crab cakes with fried green tomatoes and remoulade. An ultimate worthy dish to the second power, proving tops in both the crab cake category as well as the fried green tomato.

Another dish I highly recommend is the blackened grouper. Cooked perfectly and placed over a bed of hominy ragu, adouille sausage and pickled okra.

On the mortal end of the spectrum I would place the kale salad the sticky toffee pudding and the donuts. None of them were bad or even mediocre, but they just didn’t wow like their predecessors.

I do, however, feel the need to expound upon the donuts as I applaud the presentation. Dusted cinnamon sugar donut bites served warm in a paper bag next to a tube of Nutella which you use to inject the donuts full of chocolaty wonder. It’s definitely good, but just shy of great.

But I don’t want to end things on a blah note, because I really did love this place. So, I have saved one of my favorite things for last, the cocktail. Called the Doc Holiday it comes in a copper mug filled to the brim with Tito’s vodka (not something I believe was around during Doc’s existence, but I’ll let it slide), ginger beer, grapefruit and blueberry jam. Plus hand-cut ice. Now I’m not exactly sure how hand-cut ice actually influences the flavor of the drink, but they seem to be very proud of it at H&H. And while I kid the things I love, I can’t say enough about this drink. In fact, it’s not just a drink, it’s an experience. As is Highball & Harvest in its entirely. Run. Don’t walk. Assuming you can actually find it.

4 teeth

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The Collins Quarter

151 Bull St. Savannah, GA 31401 • (912) 777-4147 thecollinsquarter.com

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This Australian transplant and relative newcomer is off to a pretty popular start because the place was packed from the time we arrived at 1:00pm to the time we left at 2:30pm. And for good reason, Collin has pretty great menu, cool decor and very friendly service, albeit a bit slow, but I’m guessing that was mostly due to how busy it was- a good problem to have if you are Mister Collin.

A lesser ideal problem is that they are a bit hit and miss.

Among the hits I would like to give a round of applause to the burger. It’s very, very good. Made from ground brisket, served on a brioche and topped with an onion aioli. But if you want to make it truly transcendent, I recommend adding bacon and taking that slaw on the “side” and putting it “on top.” There is a certain alchemy that takes place between great slaw and great meat that never ceases to amaze me. From Virgil’s pulled pork sandwich in New York City to Elizabeth on 37th’s pork chop with mac and slaw it’s a classic combination that could give Oreo and milk a run for its money.

Another apparent hit across the table was the Aussie Brecky. Basically a kitchen sink of brunchy-type things. Fried eggs, bacon, andouilli sausage, peppers, onions, etc… I only tried the bacon from it, but as bacon goes, and if it was any indicator of the dish at large, I’d say it was pretty darn good.

The miss, however was “The Catch.” A rotating dish based on the local fish market bounty. On that day it was flounder, set amidst fried eggs, potatoes and few other odds and ends that sounded better on the menu than they tasted in the field. And this is after having to add both salt and pepper to try and eke some flavor out of it.

But while we’re on the menu and talking about things sounding good, while I didn’t actually try it, there is a S’mores hot chocolate that has my name on it the next time I’m in town. It sounds pretty insane. I also hear their lavender latte is crazy sick as well.

3 teeth