Casting about for a destination point on a Friday night we came upon the announcement of Dulcimers at Central Park in Winter Haven.
” Bring your chairs or blankets and enjoy an evening with this unique Hammered Dulcimer band as well as demonstrations from the Wildwood Dulcimers, mountain dulcimer trio.” It read. Intrigued, we set out to see (and hear) the presentation.
To be honest – there was a lot more than was advertised. The Wildwood group was actually five strong. They also were individually amplified because they are such quiet instruments. The group played well and we had hoped they would be paired with the eight mountain dulcimers set up behind.
The mountain dulcimers were a bit louder, but they would have done well to have their sound man drop a few omni-directional microphones in amongst them to help with the sound – which was mesmerizing.
The group played a wide array of music Christian pieces to traditional and even a few Christmas carols.
Started by Martha Palmer of Winter Haven, the “Musical Hammers” group now is eight years old and plays in the park on the third Friday of each month.
Actually, there are bands that play each Friday in “The Chain of Lakes City.” First Fridays features an eclectic group of musicians. For instance, in January it will be Fat Frank & The Plank Spankerss who play electric and acoustic blues and even some zydeco. The second Fridays are dedicated to local church praise bands and the fourth Fridays feature Grand Piche’ and the Jug Brothers Band.
All appear to be so-called “co-sponsored events,” with the City of Winter Haven in an effort to bring people downtown. Well, they brought us and about two dozen other audience members ranging from enthusiasts and family to the simply curious – sprinkled with some folks who apparently just happened on the show and decided to stay.
Afterward, we found a little restaurant nearby called The Fire. They opened about four years ago in their current location when the owners of Fromage Steaks & Subs in Lake Alfred came to Winter Haven in search of a larger venue.
There is a full menu from appetizers to sandwiches and even elegant meals for dinner. We went to the chips and salsa for our openers. Mrs. Funmeister will judge a restaurant in large part on this dish alone. This one scored high, with warm, crisp tri-colored chips and a salsa that was flavorful without being too hot.
I had the signature Fire Burger with white American cheese, a herb-djon spread and the fixin’s. She had the Grilled Portabello & Swiss burger – which we were astonished to find had a meat patty. After a spirited discussion about the difference between a “portabello burger” – where the giant portabello mushroom cap takes the place of the beef, and the “mushroom & swiss burger” which is an actual hamburger, adjustments were made.
Mine was great – cooked over an open fire. She allowed hers was “good.”
The star of the show were the sweet potato fries which were hot and crispy – not limp and even greasy as they come at some places. It was not cheap – but reasonably priced given the quality of the food. We consider it a good option (although the dinners exceed our pricepoint).
There are several dining options as well including indoor and outdoor venues as well as the dining room and the bar. There apparently was a party of some kind on the back deck.
The dining was not loud and quite pleasant overall.
Together, it made for a fun Friday date night.