Now that we're getting back into the swing of life once again, we've been trying to scout out some new goodies to share with you, and we stumbled upon a truly tasty one this time! Last week, we made our way to Blake's place... Blake Shelton, that is. In case you missed it, Blake Shelton has lent his country and culinary expertise to a series of restaurants known as Ole Red. Country fans may recognize this as a reference to Shelton's 2002 hit, “Ol’ Red”, a cover of a tune previously recorded by two different country legends - Kenny Rogers and George Jones. The first Ole Red location opened in 2017 in Shelton's hometown of Tishomingo, Oklahoma, with Gatlinburg and Nashville stops opening soon after. Now, quietly amidst the chaos of 2020, the fourth Ole Red has opened in Orlando!
If you've ever been to House of Blues or Ace Cafe, the vibe is similar. The restaurant doubles as an entertainment venue, with a stage front-and-center hosting live music regularly. The upper level is an open loft overlooking the stage and main floor below. Right now, the bar is not open as usual due to COVID guidelines, but they're smartly maximizing space by pulling tables up against the bar, offering prime seating for dinner and a show... which is just what we came for!
Last month, Ole Red locations began a joint effort to present a weekly "Battle of the Bands" competition. Every Wednesday evening, each of the four locations offers live, remote performances from a hometown artist or band. There are two rounds of performances, including one cover and one original song from each act - three on the jumbo screen, and one on the stage at your location. Following the two rounds, guests at all locations are asked to visit a website to place their vote while each act buys a little time with a Blake Shelton cover... nice touch! Once the votes are tallied, a winner is revealed, and they are awarded a cash prize.
I can't say that any of the performers failed to impress the night we attended, but Florida's Slickwood was really an act I'd like to see more of. They're a little bit country, a little bit rock n' roll, or as they term it - "jamgrass"... great stuff. Check out their Youtube as well. We've always been fans of supporting local music, and this is worthy! Unfortunately, the win went to Gatlinburg's Whisky Business. Rumor has it that Gatlinburg is pulling in the numbers consistently, so perhaps the Central Florida talent could use a bit more support on Wednesday night, Orlandoans... hint, hint!
While tuned in to great music, you can enjoy quite an impressive meal as well. After all, this is the original star of the show around here! Right now, the Ole Red menu is a bit scaled back - another result of the current COVID situation, but never fret... those famous Redneck Nachos made the cut!
Y'all... I've heard stories of these nachos. Words don't do them justice. Fresh kettle chips piled with smoked chicken, beer cheese (which is a standout ingredient), jalapenos, avocado, signature bbq sauce, sour cream, tomatoes, and onions... and very easily a meal for two. This is the kind of dish your neighbor would bring to the community cookout leaving everyone clamoring for the specifics, and it pairs well with the Redneck Mai-Tai.
If you have a country-sized appetite, keep it going to the entrees! Though salads are available, the burgers and sandwiches are highly recommended. We opted to skip past the burgers this time around and went for the Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich and the Nashville Hot Chicken Biscuit. We split both, and if we had to pick the favorite, it would probably be the chicken for both of us. Both sandwiches had a heaping portion of meat to offer, with a flavorful, original bbq taste. The house-made tots are crazy good, and unique!
Going for full-on gluttony? The Ooey Gooey Tub-O-Fudge Brownie with vanilla ice cream and Oreo crumbles should leave you feeling pretty satisfied (while also somewhat ashamed) for a good week or so!
Now is a great time to make your way out for a nice southern meal, and Wednesdays could always use a little extra spunk - so why not make a night of it and support local talent while you're at it? The Orlando Ole Red location is one of the few new businesses to manage to open their doors while facing the uphill battles of this year. With all CDC guidelines in place, it makes for a safe, much needed night out. You deserve it, and so do they!