Doug has 5 articles published.

4 Rivers Little Smokehouse on the Prairie

in Florida Locales by
On the patio at the Fairbanks location.

It’s not little and it’s not on the Prairie and though close, that is not the real name of one of my favorite BBQ locations.

4 Rivers Smokehouse on Fairbanks Avenue is where I go for my brisket, and in all honesty that is all I can say, but only because that is all I ever order. It’s not really all I order, sides are important too… BBQ beans and Smoked Jalapenos (Jalapenos stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon) are my usual side selections.

The 4 Rivers BBQ beans. Everything I’m looking for in a side of beans.
The Smoked Jalapeno, a perfect appetizer to the brisket platter. Two jalapenos equal one side.

This past Saturday a dilemma presented itself on my way to the office. I had dropped my wife at work on the south side of Orlando and must drive north to Maitland. On the way, just a short distance before my work exit is Fairbanks Avenue. It was approximately noon… what’s a guy to do…

Since work awaited and it is going to be a long day the brisket plate is in order. This is a cut from the point. The plate allows for three sides. I have the usual and try the potato salad.

I don’t want this to be longwinded. The pictures speak for themselves.  If you love brisket I believe you will love a trip to 4 Rivers.

Here is another picture of brisket from a previous visit.

This is another cut from the point. The point will have a bit more marbling (fat) giving you a more moist cut. If you prefer something a bit leaner then get a cut from the flat. My preference is the point, but order what you prefer and we will all be happier. Notice there is a bit more bark than the other photo. A bit of bark is always tasty.

Most of the time I ask for no sauce. The brisket can stand on its own.

After you order your meal and grab a drink you may notice tucked into the back corner of the Fairbanks location is the Sweet Shop. If you didn’t order and eat enough BBQ to make yourself uncomfortable then you obviously under-ordered. In any case, the Sweet Shop at the back of the restaurant can help you out. So far I’ve tried what I believe to be called the Coconut Bomb and a Dolly Madison. My favorite being the Coconut Bomb.

These may be labeled Cakeballs, but in the midwest, these would be referred to as Buckeyes. Always a favorite from Grandma. My wife’s family calls them peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate. That tells you all you need to know. They are pretty literal.

During the week, if you are heading to lunch at 4 Rivers on Fairbanks Avenue then be prepared to stand in line for a bit. It takes a bit of time to get through, but it moves along ok. The advantage being plenty of time to make a decision on the extensive menu.

Disney’s Olivia’s Cafe at Old Key West Resort – October 2017

in Walt Disney World by


Olivia’s Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As the following photos will attest, my visits have only been for dinner.

Wendy and I stopped in to have a quick bite.  We agreed to split the Southernmost Buttermilk Chicken…which is a favorite of ours and a favorite of many others based on various reviews I have read. As is typical, I start with good intentions to split the meal, but my stomach holds great power over my brain as is becoming quite apparent from my tight pants.

As such, when the special is mentioned and the homemade of the day revealed I weaken and order both soup and entree while my wife is left with the plate of Southernmost Buttermilk Chicken for herself. I don’t believe she minded making the sacrifice but gave me the look that conveyed her chagrin of my weak willpower… and tight pants.

Soup of the day is Chicken Noodle with Mickey Pasta. How can you say no to that? A good light broth with finely diced carrots, celery, and onion with the chicken and Mickey Pasta of course. It is so good. If you like chicken soup you will like this bowl of chicken soup goodness.

If you observe the additional black pepper in the chicken noodle closeup… it has been added by me… I am a fan of pepper. Observe the pepperless pic prior… no need to worry of overseasoning.

Before moving onward to the entree, let me state that prior to the arrival of the appetizer and after the drinks, pineapple and coconut rolls with small chunks of pineapple are served with some mighty fine whipped butter.

Here lies half a roll… all that remained before I remembered to take a photo.

The special that lured me from a shared meal with the wife was Shrimp and Grits in a white wine sauce. I like shrimp, and grits, and a rich creamy sauce. It’s hard to go wrong with this plate. It is very rich though and I was unable to finish the meal.

The shrimp and grits with assorted ingredients are centered in the plate and surrounded by the sauce. An island of goodness. Pepperjack cheesy grits, in white wine cream sauce, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, celery, diced ham with a hint of Tobasco…that about covers it.

Shrimp and Grits Special


Following are some photos of previous visits for your viewing pleasure.

Slow Cooked Prime Rib, Olivia’s potatoes and green beans in Cabernet Demi-Glaze.


Seven Mile Sea Scallops.


I’m not much of a beer drinker, but if you are looking for something refreshing on a hot day this is my favorite. Schofferhofer Grapefruit Bier.


More Pineapple Coconut rolls.


Cup of chili – soup of the day. Sometimes beans and sometimes not.


On the outside looking in. Thought this was a nice view of the main dining area of the restaurant.



Hurricane Damage on Disney’s Main Street USA – My One Photo

in Walt Disney World by

A few days after a guest appearance by Hurricane Irma, I was strolling down Disney’s Main Street USA and thought I might see some possible wind damage. I tried to keep a sharp eye because I knew it was something that I would tire of quickly… think about it…. how sad is it that I’m walking around the Magic Kingdom looking for storm damage. One might think there are better things to do with your time at “The Most Magical Place on Earth” or anytime that the power is out at the office and you have a free day during the week.

About half way up Main Street at the emporium (on the left when looking at the castle) there are typically window awnings on the Victorian Turrets.  I glanced up and something didn’t look right. Park employees did a nice job of removing the hardware, but my eye knows balance and the Turrets were out of balance. The Turret Feng Shui was no longer harmonizing as well as the barbershop quartet. As proof I submit this photographic image.

Though difficult to see in this image, 3 of 5 awnings are missing from the turret.

Just to the right of the photo, off camera, the other Turret with yellow and white awnings was missing a few too.

Why no second photo? My interest waned and I no longer cared to look for damage. One photo was all I needed… mission accomplished. Power was out at the office and it was time to relax a bit and enjoy the day at “The Most Magical Place on Earth”.

The Diamond Horseshoe – Magic Kingdom – Four Meat Meal :)

in Walt Disney World by

I think this place was called at one time or another, The Diamond Horseshoe Saloon… maybe it was Diamond Horseshoe Revue. No matter, it is now “The Diamond Horseshoe” and it sits in Disney’s Magic Kingdom right smack middle of Frontierland. Let’s make it clear at the start… There is no show at the ‘shoe’ unless we count people watching or the parade as it dances, sings and waves its way down the street.

The Diamond Horseshoe isn’t about the show any longer, but there still exists a nice ambiance and some good food. I popped in the other day to check things out and chat with the cast members. It’s not your typical interior. There seems to be a bit more theme and craftsmanship at this restaurant. Maybe since it was constructed early in the park’s history a bit more time and detail was allowed.  That’s just a guess or a SWAG one might say.

Stage opposite the entrance. This was taken near the hostess stand. If you notice on either side of the stage are tables. Those tables would seem to be the best seat in the house. Feel like royalty as you dine overlooking the commoners. 🙂

I didn’t pay much attention to it at the time, but there is an upper balcony. There is no dining in the upper balcony. Dining doesn’t get at any greater elevation than the stage tables.

View towards the buffet counter… my favorite counter of all counters.

Don’t leave your seat. Your server will bring your food. All you care to eat. Buffet style brought right to your table.

Notice the fall garland. Very pretty. Reminds of a crisp October day in Illinois or Indiana, though when you step outside the Diamond Horseshoe, the reality of 92-degree temperatures reminds you that it is still Florida.

Stage left.

More fall garland. You may notice that the place is a bit empty. This is due to the fact that is was after closing time as I snapped these pictures. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween was beginning and the restaurant closed at 7:00 pm.

Since I was dining alone the food is proportional to the number of guests. If I had friends there would be a larger pile of each entree. Not pictured: Cornbread and Mac and Cheese.

Normally I take a photo of the menu, but it slipped my mind. Look it up on the web, but it may not be current. This food photo was taken 9/12/17. All the meats were excellent. The buffet meal is $35 per person for adults. Kids ages 3-9 can eat for $19

Pot Roast is melt in your mouth and that is not an exaggeration. BBQ pulled pork was very good. Sausage (always a favorite of mine) and sliced turkey breast were excellent.

There was a salad before dinner and it was good and I enjoyed the Chipotle Ranch Dressing. But really… to me the salad is just something to pass the time until the meat arrives… and my mom always told me it was good for me. My favorite part of the salad is croutons and dressing so I may be missing something health wise in that regard. Heck, I’ve even seen people eat salad without any dressing. You may as well pull the greens from  your backyard.

I’m a tough judge of the beans, whatever you wish to call them… baked, bbq, cowboy, trailside. These beans were ok. They were not my favorite. What do I look for in beans? Thick sauce and full of flavor, some pork or brisket added and a smokey flavor, some type of pepper probably more for appearance than flavor. That is what I like. Usually my dining choice is not make or break due to the beans since I’m more interested in the meats that usually accompany the bowl of beans.

Dessert consisted of a campfire brownie. Sadly I had to pass on dessert, as the meat coma was beginning to make an appearance and I needed to get moving while I still was able.

I recommend the restaurant for those weary travelers looking for a hearty meal. Maybe your 10 year old won’t make a dent in the $35 dollar meal price if paying in cash so you may want to consider your food value in that regard, but if you have purchased the Disney Dining Plan and would like to treat the whole family to a great meal in a memorable location it can be done for a table service credit.

Springfield Illinois Chili – The Chili Parlor

in Other 49 States by

Recently I posted about my love of Chili and first foray into the Florida Chili scene. Well…. I was recently back in the town of my birth and had to hit one of the granddaddy’s of the Springfield Illinois Chili scene.

The Chili Parlor was founded in 1945 and still uses the original recipe.

The Chili Parlor. Originally started as the Den, eventually morphed into Joe Rogers and finally settling where we are today with The Chili Parlor name. Back in the day I visited the South Grand Avenue location where the lucky few would eat at the counter and the rest would form a line, along the wall, behind the counter stools. The ordering and cash register was on the far end of the counter from the door. Just enough room for a line of patrons, an exit from the cash register and the lunch counter. It was a tight fit.

I tried explaining the Springfield, Illinois brand of Chili to my Florida friends at work and their appreciation was a bit lacking.  The food in the heartland is a bit heartier I believe, and maybe a bit greasier.

I don’t know The Chili Bowl secret recipe, but can guess that it consists of meat, beans, spices, oils and some beef fat. Beef Suet seems to be a common ingredient in Springfield Chili.  My Dad makes his brand of chili with a pound of hamburger and a pound of beef fat, red beans and the Joe Defrates Chili Man chili spices. With some oyster crackers it’s pretty tasty… even without the oyster crackers its tasty.

Bowl of Medium Hot Chili. Tailor your heat level to your tastes. You can order a bowl of Mild, Medium, Medium Hot, Hot and Firebrand. If you can complete a bowl of Firebrand you get your name on the wall with the other firebrand diners. The stars next to the names indicate the additional bowls at one sitting.

I’ve had to tone down the heat level over the years and have worked my way back to a medium bowl. Now I’m more about enjoying the flavor and not lighting up my VR1 Receptors.  Go figure.

More than the chili, I have grown to love the chili dog. It’s different than what you may picture when thinking of a chili dog. It is a the chili meat placed on the dog, but just the meat. It’s more of a dry mix. Order it with everything and you have a great dog. This chili dog such a favorite of mine that I created my own similar recipe in its honor.

Chili Dog from The Chili Parlor. My favorite item. The Chili Dog with everything consists of the chili meat, mustard and onion. It’s a great combination.

The Chili Parlor is located at 820 S 9th Street, Springfield, IL 

Current location of the The Chili Parlor. Just a few blocks North of South Grand on 9th Street. It’s an active place during the lunch hour.

There is a lot of history in those chili beans. If you haven’t tried it… add it to your bucket list. Get your first taste of Illinois Chili.

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