Zoës Kitchen – Now Open In Pensacola

A few weeks ago Mike and I had the pleasure of checking out Zoës Kitchen, a new restaurant located at Cordova Mall here in Pensacola. I had never even heard of  Zoës Kitchen, but I love when new things come to Pensacola, so I was excited when I was invited to go on opening night to learn all about it.

zoes kitchen pensacola

Zoës Kitchen is a popular, Mediterranean fast-casual restaurant that offers amazingly fresh meals for dine in or to go. The menu features made-from-scratch entrees using fresh, honest ingredients. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes are also available. They even offer catering – which is great for events or just in office meetings!

We arrived around 6:30 on Thursday night – and the place was already packed! They had only been open since lunch, but the manager – who was awesome – said it had been busy since the doors opened. I guess everyone is excited to check it out! I was super impressed at how well everything was running – especially for it being the first day. All of the staff was cheerful and seemed knowledgable about the menu and were happy to help us.

zoes kitchen

We began with the Hummus Trio… now I have to admit I didn’t think I was going to be that much of a fan of pesto hummus – but if you mix the pesto hummus with the roasted red pepper hummus… my goodness it is like a flavor explosion.  You also get great dippers – like fresh cucumbers, soft pita bread and toasted pita chips to dip. I could have just made this my entire meal. It was delicious.

hummus trio

I ordered two types of Roll-Ups – the Spinach Roll-Ups with Grilled Chicken and the Chicken Roll-Ups. They came with a dipping sauce that the manager explained was made with a Greek yogurt and green onions… I could have drank it with a straw. It was awesome. Mike ordered a Zoës Club Pita which was really tasty, and also checked out the Grilled Chicken Fingers from the Kids Meals. I loved that they had healthy options even for kids – I know I am sick of my girls eating fried chicken tenders all the time so we were happy to have some healthier choices. The thing we kept saying over and over was just how FRESH everything tasted.

zoes kitchen menu

Like a good blogger, I updated my Facebook page to say I was checking it out – so as we were being served, several of our friends showed up to check it out as well! We thought that was awesome! They ordered the Steak Kabobs – which looked and smelled amazing – and the Salmon Kabobs which I was really impressed by. Salmon is so easy to mess up and I am often disappointed with restaurant salmon knowing I can make it better at home. This was fresh and flaky and cooked to perfection.

I also loved that there is a nice big table right in the front of the restaurant – perfect for a big group to meet up! The table sat ten – something that it hard to find in most restaurants – but especially with “fast food!” And since the food is not only delicious but healthy too, I could see this being a great hangout after a POUNDFit class or for a working lunch!

zoes kitchen in pensacola florida

We thoroughly enjoyed Zoës Kitchen – in fact I took the girls back the very next day – I had to have more hummus!!! They loved it and my Dad joined us after seeing we were checked in there on Facebook. In fact just yesterday I was heading home from a meeting and zipped in to get some food to go. I love that they have a “Fresh Take” section where you can literally just grab and go.  Zoës Kitchen has quickly become one of my favorite places to eat in Pensacola – hands down.

You can check out Zoës Kitchen now at Cordova Mall – right on the corner near the Ross entrance. Doors are open daily from 11am to 9pm. You can see the entire Pensacola menu on their website – ZoesKitchen.com.

Have you been to Zoës Kitchen yet?

Jubilee Restaurant Reopens on Pensacola Beach

When I heard a rumor that Jubilee was reopening on Pensacola Beach, I actually squealed. I say often that I “grew up on the barstools of Jubilee” – which for years was known as the absolute best restaurant on the entire island. So many of my childhood memories involve jumping in our boat to head to the Quietwater Boardwalk to spend the day having fun in the sun at Jubilee. We would literally spend all day there – having lunch and then dinner before heading home.

jubilee reopens

Jubilee Oyster Bar & Grille is a celebration of great taste, good friends, and incredible fun. Indulge yourself with our tasty soups, salads, sandwiches, baskets, and of course, the best fresh seafood on the island. Celebrate indoors or enjoy our outdoor waterfront dining. So whether you are in the mood for raw, baked or chargrilled oysters, fresh seafood baskets and entrees, burgers or salads… Jubilee Oyster Bar & Grille is THE BEST BITE ON THE BEACH! Coastal casual waterfront dining on Pensacola Beach.

Back then there was an “Upstairs Jubilee” and a “Downstairs Jubilee.” “Downstairs Jubilee” was a laid back oyster bar where you would see people in shorts and flip flops and occasionally a bathing suit. “Upstairs Jubilee” was much more upscale and their waiters and waitresses actually served in tuxedo jackets and gloves. I remember what a treat it was when I got to dress up and go to “Upstairs Jubilee” as a little girl. As I got older, “Upstairs Jubilee” became a favorite for dates, girls night out, and even before Prom. So many amazing memories happened at Jubilee. When they closed their doors not long after Hurricane Ivan, it was a sad time for everyone.

Mike asked me to go to lunch on opening day last week – and he didn’t have to ask me twice. I jumped at the chance to go check it out. Like every restaurant opening they were running a little bit behind – but honestly it was because the owners wanted to make sure everything was absolutely perfect – as it should be. This was a big deal. Opening a restaurant that was so well known and so well loved – ten years after it closed – was quite a bit of pressure. We said we would wait and headed over to the “little bar” of Capt’n Funs for a drink. The new Jubilee is located inside of the main bar of Capt’n Funs which they have converted to be a restaurant by day, but the same nightlife you know and love from Capt’n Funs by night – just like it used to be. Before long the doors opened and we were officially the second table at the brand new Jubilee.

jubilee

One of the owners – Tom Carmichael – came by to welcome us to the new restaurant. I was so happy to see that Tom was still there. I remembered him as a little girl being one of the “head guys” there – but of course as a child I wasn’t sure what his official title was. It was great to see so much of the same favorites that I remembered from my childhood – it was like stepping back in time.

The “new” Jubilee has perfectly blended “upstairs” and “downstairs” in one location. The feel is very much “downstairs Jubilee” with music playing and sports on the television, but the menu has everything from poboys to grouper chardonnay. Mike and I were starving so we started with the spinach dip and then he ordered a grilled grouper sandwich while I went for the crawfish stuffed flounder.

jubilee food

Everything was absolutely delicious. We nearly licked the spinach dip skillet clean – the little crunch of the toasted parmesan on top was amazing. I could not believe how many crawfish came in my flounder – and I happily gobbled down every one of them. Even Mike – who is not a big fan of seafood – really enjoyed his grouper sandwich because it did not tasty fishy at all. I do have to warn you – the stuffed flounder does still have little bones in it – this is true fresh flounder – not just a little filet like some other restaurants serve. This is a nice generous portion of flaky deliciousness. You can check out the full menu on their website – jubileepensacolabeach.com – and be sure to like them on Facebook for news and events on the beach.

It warmed my heart to see that a place that was so important to me growing up has reopened its doors. Kudos to Tom and all of the new owners as well as the great kitchen and wait staff who were perfect – even from the first few moments of the doors opening. I can not wait to go back and take my girls there, so they can have memories like I do of the best restaurant on Pensacola Beach.

Free Honest Tea at Wendy’s July 15th – Pensacola and Mobile

If there is one thing I know well – its iced tea. Growing up in the South, sweet tea is a staple around here – practically its own food group.  We pretty much drink fresh iced tea from sun up to sun down.   Since no one in the Moscato Household is a big fan of soda – or anything carbonated for that matter – we consume a lot of tea.

A few months ago I had the pleasure of going to Wendy’s Headquarters to learn more about how they are making strides towards offering a much healthier fast food menu.  As the third largest quick-serve hamburger company, I think it is fantastic that they are focusing on giving people a healthier alternative to the “99 cent heart attack” that other chains offer.  Wendy’s is taking another step towards health by introducing HONEST Tea, and to celebrate, they are giving it away free for one day only!

honest tea pensacola

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Wendy’s Offers Healthier Alternatives For Fast Food #WendysTasteKitchen

I would love to tell you that I cook 100% of my family’s meals.  I would love to tell you that we eat clean 100% of the time.   I would even love to tell you that we eat at home every night of the week.

But none of those are true.

And here’s the thing…. it makes us 100% normal.

According to StatisticBrain.com, there are over 160,000 fast food restaurants serving 50 million Americans each day, to the tune of some $110 billion in annual revenue.   44% of Americans admit to eating fast food at least once a week, while 6% say they eat fast food daily.  So with all of this fast food consumption, how is it possible that there has been a drop in the statistics for daily caloric intake from fast food?  A recent study by the Center for Disease Control released their findings that on average, adults consumed about 11.3 percent of their daily calorie intake from fast food in the 2007-2010 period – a drop from 12.8 percent in 2003-2006.   How is that even possible?

Last week I had the privilege of getting that very question answered while touring the Wendy’s Headquarters in Columbus, Ohio.  Surrounded by fellow bloggers as well as Registered Dietitians and Nutritionists, I got to see first hand the steps Wendy’s is making towards offering healthier alternatives for fast food.

We even got to hang out with Wendy herself!

We even got to hang out with Wendy herself!

Since 1979, Wendy’s has been leading the fast food industry towards healthier alternatives with the first salad bar being introduced in their restaurants which included a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables – a vast change from the usual “burgers and fries.”   In 1983 they added baked potatoes on their menu – a healthier alternative to french fries.   In 1992 they began offering Fresh Salads to Go – giving even the busiest of people no excuse for not eating right while in a hurry – and in 2002 they added Garden Sensations to their menu – gourmet salads including nutritious toppings like grilled chicken to create a full meal.

And that is just the highlights. 

Truth is Wendy’s has been making changes to their menu to encourage healthier eating every year since 1979.  And with their latest release – the My Wendy’s Nutrition App – they are putting the knowledge and power to choose right into their customers hands.

Now let me back up because in just the 26 hours that I was in the city of Columbus, I learned so much and experienced so much that it is difficult to even put into one post.  And let me also say, this is not a post that says “Fast Food is now as healthy as what you can make at home.”  That is never going to be the case.  Ever.  Nothing can ever compare to fresh, home cooked, organic meals from your own kitchen.  And in a perfect world, we would all have the opportunity to eat that way 100% of the time.    But that isnt reality.

Reality is that sometimes you get busy.  Reality is sometimes meetings run late.  Reality is that sometimes you forget to take the chicken out of the freezer.  Reality is that sometimes you are too darn tired to cook.   And that is ok.

While at Wendy’s we had the opportunity to try their new Flatbread Grilled Chicken Sandwiches – admittedly something I would *never* have ordered on my own.  For one, you all know my weirdness about meat, and “flatbread” and “cardboard” have the same amount of letters.  However I did not want to be a complainer, so I manned up and tasted the new sandwich – the Smoky Honey Mustard variety.  I loved it.  I didn’t even pick the tomatoes off.  In fact, I came home on Sunday and went to Wendy’s for lunch on Monday just to make Mike try it.  Even he liked it.  And to really blow your mind… it’s only 370 calories.

wendys berry almond chicken saladOther tasty treats we got to try – the Berry Almond Chicken Salad – their first seasonal salad which will be available starting in May.   We were served the “half” size – which was more than enough for an entire meal – and a refreshing change to get to cut something in half instead of “super sizing” to the amount large enough that only a horse should consume.  Fresh strawberries, blueberries, grilled chicken, and toasted almonds made it filling and tasty – and I did not even put the dressing on it.  Goes great with a Frosty by the way. 

Even the Kids Meals are getting healthier alternatives, with a new Grilled Chicken Go Wrap being part of a new Kids Meal.  Paired with sliced apples and low fat milk, the Grilled Chicken Go Wrap Kids Meal is a great option for a quick lunch or dinner.  The same honey mustard that I fell in love with on the Flatbread Grilled Chicken Sandwich made the Go Wrap a tasty meal for all ages.

It was an amazing and eye opening experience to see the “behind the scenes” of a multimillion dollar fast food chain and learn what it takes to take a meal from conception to fruition – with everything from tasting panels to produce supply to marketing campaigns.   It was even more amazing to do so alongside some of the top nutritionists in the country – all of whom were equally as impressed and supportive of Wendy’s mission to offer healthier alternatives on their menu.

Nothing will ever replace the meals you can cook at home, but I am very proud to see a company that is putting so much time effort, and money into trying to offer the healthiest alternatives out there for when reality kicks in, and you just simply need something fast.  Well done, Wendy’s.

lynseysig

*I participated in this event as part of a campaign with Ketchum PR.  No compensation was received for this post and all opinions are 100% my own. 

Friday Favorites Vlog Hop – Favorite Restaurant

friday-favoritesHey all!   Hope you are having a great start to your 2013!  Things are ridiculously, amazingly, crazily busy here…. ya know, just the way I like it!  :)

My friend Toni is kicking off her Friday Favorites Vlog Hop again for 2013 and I had so much fun doing it last year that I decided to jump back in.

So here is week 1 – What is your favorite restaurant and dish from that restaurant?

You can link up over at www.JustStopScreaming.com and join in the fun!  SEE you next week!

lynseysig