In the mornings, chef Darnell Ferguson can be found at SuperChef's Breakfast, folding local produce, meats, and baked goods into inventive breakfast sandwiches. But come lunchtime, the gourmet chef heads over to Bloom's Lunch Cafe, where he turns his attention to crisp artisanal salads, smoky bacon burgers, and BLTs with candied bacon. The chef pulls culinary inspiration from years of high-end experience, having captained the kitchens of prestigious restaurants and cooked for US delegates and a former president.
Connected by an asphalt web of highways, state roads, and thoroughfares, blocky yellow signs gleam nonstop, casting a dandelion glow from the words “Waffle House.” The booths at the eateries fill 24 hours each day with the aromas of sizzling pork chops, Jimmy Dean sausage, and endless mugs of coffee. Line cooks brown shredded potatoes on a grill as waiters shout back in a language all their own for hash browns “smothered,” “covered,” or “topped”—served with onions, cheese, or chili, respectively. Angus burgers and steak melts share space on the rippling-hot surface at all times of day, allowing tired drivers to stop for food when they are on a long journey or just listening to an 11-hour drum solo on the radio. The first Waffle House switched on its lights in 1955, and some menu items still bear the names of Waffle House staff of the past, including Bert's chili from Dallas and Alice's iced tea.
Named for the Roman goddess of banquets and overseer of feasts, Edesia Gardens lives up to its lofty moniker with continental lunch fare and an extensive Sunday brunch buffet. When they aren’t ferrying trays back and forth from special events, the restaurant’s wait staff lines noontime tables with sandwiches, burgers, and salads stacked with imported brie, sliced fruit, and homemade sauces and dressings. A chef-manned breakfast station serves as the centerpiece of the Sunday brunch buffet, where guests load their plates with eggs and waffles cooked to order. While indulging in a sweet or savory pastry, guests can question their hosts about the restaurant’s banquet facilities, which can handle parties of up to 170 for weddings, birthdays, and school-wide games of capture the flag.
The Dinner Detective eschews campy costumes and plots for an exciting evening of food-accompanied mystery and paranoia, where actors hide among the diners, playing innocent and making everyone a potential suspect. To solve the crime, guests freely interrogate one another, chivvying out clues about the murderer and determining who has a bloodthirsty look in their eyes. Between dramatic deaths and simulated police involvement, guests dig into three-course meals, washed down with bottomless iced tea, coffee, and drinks from the cash bar. The diner who comes closest to solving the mystery through their snooping goes home with a prize basket to show off to their friends or split with the murderer as per their shadowy conspiracy. Prop guns and gunshot sound effects may be used during the performance.
When The Melting Pot originally opened in 1975 just outside Orlando, the location was cozy, but diners had only three options: swiss-cheese fondue, beef fondue, or chocolate fondue. However, as the restaurant grew, so did its menu selection and atmosphere. The restaurant first expanded four years later under the leadership of a Melting Pot waiter and college student named Mark Johnston, who teamed up with his brothers Mike and Bob to open a new restaurant in Tallahassee. This location grew to pave the way for the future. Today, the company?now owned by the trio of siblings?is the premier fondue, wine, and drink restaurant, stretching across North America with more than 140 restaurants. The restaurant's menu has also grown, and patrons can now expect six varieties of hot dipping cheese paired with salads, meats, and molten chocolate.
On a given night, groups of foodies gather around tables to nosh on signature four-course meals, from cheese-fondue appetizers and various salads to steaks and seafood cooked in a choice of healthy broth or oil. Birthday revelers and couples can share decadent evenings at private tables, capping off meals with chocolate desserts that have defined The Melting Pot for decades.
Dining in isn't the only way to enjoy the smokey flavors of Rob-a-Que. Instead, pitmaster Rob Bailey has set up his barbecue center to let guests experience as much of the barbecue process as they desire. For those wanting an inside look into smoking and grilling, he offers a series classes that each cover the basics of getting the perfect smokey flavor for different cuts of meat. He supplements these classes with a retail section of his favorite pit tools, rubs, and chunks of flavor-enriching wood ready for home smokers.
For those who like their meals quick and easy, Bailey offers a range of options. He caters group events, packs up baskets filled with entire barbecue meals, and serves heat-and-eat barbecue and sides in bulk. But inside these take-home meals, he doesn't just include classics such as his pulled pork or brisket. He also smokes up a range of eclectic meats, such as his smoked salmon, smoked meat loaf, and smoked wings. These meats can be served as sandwiches, or even sliders that are perfectly sized for kids or people that must eat 10 of everything.