4 Rivers Smokehouse

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I was in Central Florida for a few days, and had to make my rounds to see what places I could discover during my time here. I was actually in Austin not too long ago, but didn’t have time to make it to a BBQ joint (I know, I know…but I did have some awesome Mexican food and desserts. Happy now?). So, I figured, let’s make up for that and visit 4 Rivers Smokehouse in Winter Park, Central Florida. 

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This quick-serve BBQ restaurant has every base covered from their pulled pork, to brisket, and loads of sides. And the friendly, casual environment really makes it a welcoming place to be in too. Open space and lots of natural light really brighten up the room full of extra large wooden benches and southern style decor on the walls (such as the cattle above). 

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The homestyle sides were where it was at for me, and I went for their Smokehouse Corn, Mac and Cheese, Fried Okra and Collards. These were all really great. The corn had a really nice spiced and buttery flavor with crisp kernels. The mac and cheese was creamy, light and the noodles were perfectly tender. I really liked the fried okra, the batter wasn’t super greasy like most fried foods, it was a thicker corn coating, giving it a really nice texture. The collards were awesome too with great flavor, mixed in with thick chunks of ham. 

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And you have to go for a sweet homestyle side like their Bread Pudding. It had a great consistency, creamy, but not excessively, and a really nice, rich cinnamon flavor and raisins for a little mix of texture and sweetness. 

The Shorts:
Name: 4 Rivers Smokehouse
Location: 1600 West Fairbanks Avenue, Winter Park, FL
The Long and Short: Would I go back? For sure, I was pretty obsessed with the side. I only got five and they have sixteen there…sixteen! 
Would I recommend it? Definitely. It’s great for a quick bite, or, just a low-key, casual sit down with plenty of options to choose from. 

Nightingale 9

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If you’re looking for delicious, affordable Vietnamese food in a casual, neighborhood environment, make sure to go to Nightingale 9 in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

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The restaurant itself is modeled to the stripped-down neighborhood restaurants of Hanoi, using reclaimed materials in the dinning room, and numbering their tables. They even have their own herb garden in the restaurant’s yard.

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Everything on the menu looked great, and I started with some of my favorite veggies and ordered their Crispy Brussels Sprouts (lime, garlic, benne seeds). These were awesome. The brussels were indeed crispy on the outside, but tender in the middle and juicy, absorbing all of the savory and spicy flavors.

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Then, I had the Seared Long Island Squid (caramelized sugar, rice cakes, celery, chili, peanuts). This dish was amazing, I loved it so much. At the bottom of the dish, you have a sweet squid ink, which I was encouraged to mix up all of the ingredients into the ink sauce. The dish as a whole is a little on the sweeter side, but totally delicious and balanced with the smokiness of the squid and the crunch of the raw peanuts and celery. So, maybe the most unique thing about this dish was the rice cakes. It was basically a tapioca, congealed rice protein type of texture, completely smooth, soft, but a little bit chewy, and cut into discs (that actually resembled sliced, small potatoes). I never had anything like it, and loved it.

The Shorts:
Name: Nightingale 9
Location: 345 Smith Street, Brooklyn
The Long and Short: Would I go back? Yes, in a Vietnamese minute…ok, maybe that phrase doesn’t actually work, but, it’s technically a Vietnamese restaurant IN New York, so…yeah, I’d go back. For sure.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely! The staff is friendly, great service, awesome food.