By Julie Martin
The NBA Restaurant located next door to the Hard Rock is not a typical over-the-top sports-themed eatery. Now do not get me wrong, because this establishment does include the necessary theme park accessories like the gift shop and an arcade where each guest is welcome to test their basketball skills; but, upon entering the actual two level restaurant you are greeted by an air of nostalgia. Black and white photos of almost every major NBA player line the walls and a large mural depicting a basketball game covers the entire back wall of the lower level. The entire room resembles a gymnasium and each booth is oversized with its own small television set that shows highlights from different games played throughout the NBA’s history.
The menu covers all the basic sports grill necessities such as burgers and chicken tenders, but the kitchen tries to take it further by trying to serve four star cuisine in a Friday’s Front Row atmosphere. The food was just Ok, for my husband and me. We ate there for lunch and chose the NBA “3 On 3” for our appetizer which gives a sampling of their most popular starters ($14.95): Grilled chicken quesadillas, which had BBQ sauce on them (who ever heard of that!); Pecan chicken tenders, which sounded good only in theory because they had no taste at all; and, Wings your way (we chose Original Spicy Buffalo) that did not measure up to our chicken wing standard. We could have had better at Orlando Ale House as far as the quesadillas and chicken wings are concerned. The choice of entrées was interesting; the restaurant offers everything from a Southwest Cobb Salad to a Maple Glazed Pork Chop and Grilled Salmon & Bowtie Pasta among others. We chose the Grilled Chicken Club ($9.95) and the Cajun Stuffed Chicken ($15.95). The sandwich was an oak grilled marinated chicken breast with smoked bacon, crisp lettuce and fresh tomato, served with stone ground mustard dill mayonnaise and Monterey Jack cheese on a toasted bun. It sounded delicious, but in reality the bacon was peppered (bacon needs nothing extra in my opinion), the lettuce was not crisp and the tomato mealy. Needless to say, I did not enjoy my lunch, and sadly the fries were the best thing on my plate. My husband’s dish was a chicken breast stuffed with spicy sausage and herb stuffing, wrapped in Cajun spiced bacon and oven roasted, served over an Andouille cream sauce with inside out mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. We both thought this looked like the best item on the menu and could not wait to taste it. This dish was also a let down, the chicken was over cooked and between the spicy sausage & herb stuffing, the Cajun bacon and the andouille cream sauce there were just too many flavors competing to truly enjoy the meal. The best things on his plate were the potatoes and the veggies!
If you are looking for a great meal this is not the place for you, but if you have children who are basketball fans/players the arcade and gift shop are spots you may want to visit.
"3 On 3" appetizer
Cajun Stuffed Chicken