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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Rain Forest Cafe

Disney’s Animal Kingdom • 505 N Rainforest Rd. Orlando, FL 32830 • (407) 938-9100 • disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/animal-kingdom/rainforest-cafe-animal-kingdom/
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How do you take an oversized, gluttonous, touristy restaurant and top it? Open one in Disney World! Yes, all of the diabetes inducing excess you’ve come to know and love is now available times 10 for a limited time! And by limited I mean until people have grown so morbidly obese that they wind up like the prophetic scenario at the end of the Disney movie Wall-E (#irony).

Yes, it’s almost as if they tried to make this place an actual-sized replica of the Amazon Jungle. The gift shop alone is the size of most large restaurants. The aquariums are so big you could almost take a boat out on them. And the portions? You could take a boat out on them too. Every drink is like a Super Big Gulp. And that’s without ordering a large. I can only imagine the large is when they back an oil truck full of Coke into the dining room and shove the hose down your gullet.

And the food isn’t exactly tiny either. The burgers are roughly the circumference of a salad plate and the mound of fries they come with is probably a weeks worth of fat, carbs and calories. Fortunately they also have salads, which are lighter, and are only the size of the hedge maze from The Shining.

On the plus side, it’s fun for kids. Granted the thunderstorms and screaming animals might scare them if they’re too young. On the other hand, if you’re an adult without kids and you still want to go here, I think that might actually be even scarier than the thunderstorms.

1 tooth