Monday, September 21, 2009

Meals in and around the Magic Kingdom

Everyone's got their favorites, so here are mine. This was inspired by my childhood friend's upcoming trip to celebrate her Halloween birthday.

Disney's California Adventure (gluttonous pleasure): Corndogs! ~ moved from Corndog Castle (R.I.P.) to Bountiful Farmers Market. Yes, they are also off Disneyland's Main Street in the Red Wagon, but these come with fries instead of chips!!

Downtown Disney (fine dining): Osso bucco at Catal ~ When in season, by far the finest meal without moving your vehicle. If you can score a table with a view, even better for people watching and/or fireworks gazing.

Downtown Disney (sweet tooth): Beignets at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen To Go ~ Per a reliable source, these are authentic enough to be served in NOLA. Be sure to grab extra napkins. Available in quantities of six or ten.

Grand Californian (big spender): Napa Rose ~ Awarded the best new restaurant in Orange County. Fantastic service and creative courses from beginning to end. Admire the Craftsman style decor.

Grand Californian (buffet): Storyteller Cafe ~ Easygoing dinner spread featuring family pleasing chicken, seafood and pastas. Oh, and bread pudding rules here. Less stressful than standing around Downtown at about $30 for adults. Just beyond the grandiose main lobby.

Disneyland (beverage): Mint Julep in New Orleans Square ~ While it might not include any actual bourbon, it IS refreshing and more satisfying than standby sodas or lemonade. Found at both the French Market and the appropriately named Mint Julep Bar 'round back by the train station.

Disneyland (meaty snack): Beef skewer at Bengal Barbecue ~ Straightforward hunks of protein sweetened with sauce. Alternating bites between this and the grip of green onion provides some much needed energy (hey, low carb too).

Anaheim (hotel dining): K'ya in Hotel Menage ~ Chic and affordable thisclose to the mouse? With an adjacent palapa bar serving $5 paninis, they now serve an international selection of 'street food' in their modern setting ....all for under $10.

Anaheim (hole-in-the-wall): Zankou Chicken ~ A short drive down Ball and turn left into the strip mall. Featuring mouthwatering garlic sauce, shawerma, and yes, roasted chicken. Generous portions + styrofoam plates = experiencing local culture at reasonable cost.

I'm sure there's much more to comment on, but these all work for me.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why I like Chick-fil-A

In a word: Service

Mr. brekkie_fan has told me that, "it takes a lot for a restaurant to make bad food, but good service is hit or miss". The below statements have been collected after numerous lunchtime (and a few breakfast) visits in the last 12 months.

Statement #1 - Refills are more than refills. They are an opportunity for CFA employees to check-in on tables and provide that extra attention you wouldn't otherwise get at a fast-food establishment. While they could just put out a soda fountain, that is not the case here. Props for having the diner hold on to the lid/straw for sanitary reasons.

Statement #2 - Saying no to free samples is next to impossible. Brownie bites, anyone? Toothpicked like hors d'ouvres, there is actually a person bestowing a tray. I've been told that men have an easier time declining such an offer, but a woman with a sweet tooth can be a dangerous thing. Just a morsel of flavor satisfies and balances out the salty meal.

Statement #3 - Free stuff/incentives rule! - Growing up, I'd be happy with a Monopoly game piece. These guys take it a step further and just GIVE things away. How about them grand openings? Free chicken for a year for the first 100 in line. Consecutive Fridays in a month may feature a free breakfast item, no purchase required. I enjoy getting my meal on a particular day, and then finding out if I hold onto my receipt I can get the exact same thing the following month.

Statement #4 - A well-stocked condiment bar. - I just started realizing that ALL of their dipping sauces are accessible. Who doesn't want to conduct a taste test when the mood strikes? One less thing to remember/forget when ordering that chicken.

If another chain goes to such lengths to maintain customer loyalty, that's news to me.

9.21.09 Update - one more reason to love Chick Fil-A

Statement #5 - A very kid-friendly environment. - A toddler ambles up to the taller-than-her counter and says five words no employee can resist, "Can I have a balloon?" Done. A mother walks up and returns the unused wrapped 'toy' portion of a kid's meal (their child is too young to appreciate). I overhear that when one is returned, CFA policy offers free ice cream in exchange. Oh yeah, and they also eat free on Tuesdays.

Monday, September 7, 2009

What is sjora?

Psst. Over here.

What if I told you that I found an alternative to soda, iced tea, lemonade and water?

I'll even up the ante and state that this newfangled beverage:
  • doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup
  • has no caffeine
  • no carbonation
  • is available in regular and diet flavors

While this comes off like a spiel that will end with monthly installments or a second set for's not. I discovered it accidentally last week.

Was feeling kinda unhealthy that day, so I stopped by my local Chicken Dijon for their veggie special. A great combination of steamed veggies, rice, fresh herbs, Parmesan cheese and Caesar dressing (my favorite veggie meal, by far). Requested a cup of water, but as I approached the self-serve fountain I noticed something.

*cue beam of light shining down and choir music*

I made it halfway through lunch before breaking down and satisfying my curiosity.

Sjora comes in (Diet) Tropical Pineapple and (Diet) Mango Peach. The separate dispenser unit carries all four flavors. While I typically don't drink any of these flavors, individually or otherwise, I concocted a blend of regular Mango Peach and Diet Tropical Pineapple. If you've ever had Orange Julius, this is what it reminded me of. Just better.

It was sweet, but not overly so. With 10% milk and 5% juice content, it wasn't rich. In fact, it was exactly as they advertise.




I'm a big advocate of Arnold Palmers, but this is a satisfying alternative. The staff mentioned that they are the only chain currently featuring sjora. Being the same price point as soda or tea, it's worth the detour to check out. I certainly plan to. Yes, it's that good.

Nestle sjora