Had another great Chowhound experience last night, and discovered a wonderful new restaurant in picturesque downtown Sanford, Two Blondes and a Shrimp. I found out about it from being on the mailing list for an Orlando-based jazz combo, the swanky, swingin' Julie Lyon Quartet ( http://www.julielyonquartet.com/ ) -- their latest newsletter showed them playing at this new restaurant, and they spoke very highly of the food based on past visits. Needless to say, we had to be there.
For those who haven't been, Sanford is about half an hour north of downtown Orlando -- take 17-92 north, make a right onto West 1st Street, and you'll have several quaint and cool restaurants, wine bars, little boutiques all clustered together on cobblestone streets. Two Blondes and a Shrimp features indoor and outdoor seating, with the outdoor seating in a large covered alley, safe from the elements and free from any possible jostling foot traffic. The band played outside, and it was a beautiful, comfortable night to be sitting out there.
But you ask: what about the food, Lou? I was very impressed. The eclectic menu offers an interesting blend of Southern classics, Caribbean takes on comfort food, and some nice local seafood. Prices are extremely reasonable, as you can see for yourselves: http://twoblondesandashrimp.com/menu....
My girlfriend and I started out with some Captain Eli's root beers (outstanding!) while we waited for our friends to show, and pored over the menus. I opened with a cup of creamy, sweet she-crab soup, a Low Country specialty I first tried while playing saxophone at a good buddy's wedding in Charleston, South Carolina. (I didn't actually eat the soup while playing -- even John Coltrane might have had trouble with that.) It's a lot like lobster bisque, and the Two Blondes' version was as good as anything I had in Charleston.
Eventually I decided on the Caribbean meatloaf (a blend of ground beef and chorizo sausage), and I think that was a very good choice. Between the chorizo and the "Pickapeppa sauce" glaze, I was hoping it would have been a bit spicier, but it was still very tasty. For sides I went with some creamed greens (okay) and some of the most delicious, creamy, flavorful, hearty macaroni and cheese I've ever had in my life. It was actually done in layers with lasagna noodles, which I thought was very clever.
My girl went with the catfish and grits, and asked for it fried. They brought it out with the catfish smothered in what looked like a tomato-based sauce with onions and green bell peppers. While it looked delicious to me, it wasn't what she asked for, and our friendly waitress was very accomodating and apologetic when she took it back. Eventually she got her fried catfish, and from the one little bite I had, it was worth the wait. Our other friends got the other catfish in the tomato-based sauce, an arugula salad that looked nice, a shrimp cocktail with four giant rock shrimp, and the Calypso Crab Patty, which I will have to try on a subsequent trip.
It was a great evening with good food and terrific live jazz, nice rain streaking down around us while we were cool and dry under the alleyway, and we haven't even gotten to dessert yet! First I had to request a half-dozen raw oysters since a table near us ordered some and they looked really good. Two Blondes and a Shrimp have a raw bar too, which is nice for those of you who are wild risk-takers like I am. The oysters were great, and since nobody else in my party likes them, they were all mine.
Eventually dessert came, in little cups like they have at Seasons 52 and P.F. Chang's. My girlfriend went with a mini-chocolate mousse over peanut butter creme that tasted a bit weird to both of us, and I went with a mini-strawberry lemonade granita that was good, but I've had comparable at Jeremiah's Italian Ice elsewhere around Orlando. Our other friends split a slice of the Chocolate Chess Pie, apparently a Southern specialty I had never heard of before. It had a cookie-like crust, lots of chocolate, peanut butter that you didn't taste at first but hit you strongly a moment later, and a gooey filling that reminded me of pecan pie filling (not the pecans, but the sweet sticky brown stuff). Way too rich and cloying for me -- I would have been disappointed if I had ordered it. I thought dessert was the weakest part of an otherwise excellent meal, and my girlfriend, who has much more of a sweet tooth than I do, agreed.
They were nice enough to comp one of the mini-desserts and my she-crab soup because of the fried catfish mixup, not that I would have even thought of asking. I made sure to tip well since we intend to return, and I was impressed that one of the Two Blondes herself came by our table to check up on us. They run a really great, unique, quirky little restaurant out in Sanford, and I strongly recommend it to anyone in the Orlando area. It would be a really nice place for fellas to take a date, or for girls to have a girls' night out, or just to relax with some good seafood Red Lobster would never dream of carrying and Southern specialties you won't find at the local Cracker Barrel.