Quick Bites: A Healthy Harvest

More and more TV reality shows featuring weight loss and healthier eating are popping up. What does this say about our entertainment? The owners of Harvest Market Deli and Produce seem to know.

Off the beaten path, past the railroad tracks on SE 36th Avenue, where Harvey’s Soup and Salad used to be, you’ll find Harvest Market. You’ll also find produce lined up outside the store windows and freshly cooked, healthy choices inside. What you won’t find here is a fryer, an appliance many restaurants are starting to avoid these days.

“All of our meats are roasted here—the pork loin, roast beef, chicken and turkey breast, and sausages,” says Mollie Jackson, one of the owners.

The chicken breasts are baked, chopped, and prepared by hand. And it’s definitely a family affair with mom Teri baking her delicious sweet breads, cookies, and cottage loaves and dad Rusty managing the fresh produce and helping with office deliveries when he’s not in the kitchen. Their daughter Mollie and her fiancé, Russell, who attended culinary art school, do most of the preparing.

For over-stuffed sandwiches and wraps, huge salads, delicious soups, and side salads that taste like your mom made them, plus plenty of good old-fashioned service, visit Harvest Market. Call ahead for your orders at (352) 624-2636. Delivery to offices is available, and prices are reasonable, including the six-inch sub and choice of a side or soup for only $3.99!

Gi Gi’s Family Restaurant in Belleview has expanded its hours to include evenings at the request of diners. This family-owned and -operated restaurant features mismatched tables and chairs (some built by dad) to give it an at-home, country feeling. The menu wows with traditional breakfast entrées including skillet dishes while comfort food fills the rest of the menu, from Sheppard’s Pie and meatloaf to pork chops and pot roast.

Try one of the Spoon Cake desserts—a choice between layers of chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, whipped cream, and pralines or vanilla cake, vanilla pudding, blueberries, and whipped cream in an ice cream glass. Visit gigisfamilyrestaurant.com to learn more or call (352) 857-6969.

Eddie’s Place moved from 14th Street to Pine Avenue and has since closed. In its place now is China Hut. Chef Yong Zhao, who has two other restaurants in Marion County, has given us another dine-in Chinese restaurant option, and although they do take-out, this place is far from ordinary. The interior is nicely done with booths and tables.

My visit was unexpected, and a walk through the kitchen showed me that Chef Zhao runs a tight ship. Regular patrons in the dining room said the food is great. Call (352) 620-0069.

Exotic Thai is now open on Pine Avenue where Ay! Jalisco used to be. The transformation is amazing. Some walls have been removed, leaving an open dining room with an area for private dining, and your host is Sally Jiang, who let me sip their sweet, creamy Thai Tea during our interview. Along with this third location in Florida, she and her family own two more in Indiana.

The restaurant is first-class, and lunch specials are reasonable, including shrimp, catfish, tilapia, and more for only $7.50. Many dinner entrées are only $9.95. Outdoor seating and beer and wine are available. Call (352) 369-7346 for a faxed menu and hours.

Nibbles: Kathy Funk, who owns Pasta Faire, opened Taverna Red in Summerfield in Baylee Plaza on South 441. Probably the most exquisite restaurant since Ipanema, you will delight in the plush seating, outdoor bar, monasterial wine murals, and more. And that’s just the atmosphere. Next issue? The food.

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