Cebiche ceviche

I arrived in Mt. Dora a little early for an appointment recently — it’s difficult to gauge how long a drive it’s going to be and I lucked out with light traffic. So I decided to pop in to a restaurant that specializes in ceviche, sometimes, as in this case, spelled cebiche.

That’s Mr. Cebiche to you, pal.

And by the way, this isn’t a place you just pop into, not unless you already know where it is. I had the address, but as I drove down Donnelly Street in the sleepy downtown, I couldn’t spot it. It was only after I parked the car and walked to where the address should be that I discovered it’s inside a sort of arcade of businesses, on the second floor, in a charming little space that overlooks the street below.

Because I had only a half hour before my appointment, I ordered something that could come out quickly. And, not so coincidentally, was the signature dish of the place: ceviche. I mean Mr. Cebiche. Ceviche, of course, is generally fish that is “cooked” in citrus juices. Because this is a process that takes time, and a dish that is served chilled, I knew that ceviche wouldn’t require any cooking. And seeing as how I was the only customer in the place at the time, I was pretty sure I’d be in and out in no time.

I was late for my appointment.

Frontera interior


There isn’t anything remotely Mexican about the decor and design of Frontera Cocina, the new restaurant from Rick Bayless that has opened at Disney Springs. And that just may be the point.

Bayless, the Chicagoland chef who has won no fewer than six James Beard Awards, says his style of Mexican food has “bright flavors” and isn’t heavy because they don’t do much frying. His menu focuses on the Central and Southern regions of Mexico, staying far away from the influences of Tex-Mex or Ameri-Mex, or, heaven forbid, Flori-Mex.

That brightness shows in the decor, as well. More modern, with bright splashes of color — orange, blue and green — walls of windows and shelves of tequilas. No artificially cracked plaster walls showing bare bricks beneath and nary a sombrero hanging on a hook. That alone is refreshing.

Bayless expanded his culinary empire — or frontier, to use one of the translations of the word — from his wildly popular Frontera Grill, which, like all of his other restaurants, is in or around Chicago. (The flagship restaurant is on Clark Street.)

Besides being the first Bayless restaurant in Florida, the Disney Springs location is the first, and only, Frontera Cocina. That may be, in part, because the restaurant is a partnership with the San Angel Group, which also operates the restaurants at the Mexico pavilion in Epcot.

BBJunction LogoWord on the street is that BB Junction, the burgerie on Fairbanks Avenue in Winter Park, will be vacating that spot and another restaurant venture is in talks to take it over.

One of the owners of the business considering the space would not speak on the record because a deal has not yet been signed. An email sent to BB Junction’s “contact us” address was not immediately answered. There are no details regarding the time frame or whether BB Junction will be relocated.

The restaurant space, at 2103 W. Fairbanks Ave., was, of course, the original location of 4 Rivers Smokehouse when it first opened, in 2009. It quickly outgrew the space, a former service station, and moved down the block to a newly constructed building, a design that has become a template for the ever-growing number of 4 Rivers Smokehouses, now at about a dozen or so. (One will open in Kissimmee soon and the first out-of-state location, in Atlanta, will debut next year.)

BB Junction moved in in late 2012. It might be logical to assume that the business’ lease will be expiring in a few months, but that’s only conjecture at this point.

One would also think that any food business that takes over the space has the dream of duplicating the success of 4 Rivers. Apparently it couldn’t be done with burgers.

Maybe it can be done with tacos.

Watch this space.

Market to table logo

AlFresco, the Italian restaurant behind Pilars bar and Axium Coffee in the Roper Building on Winter Garden's Plant Street, is closed. The space is being taken over my Market to Table Cuisine, one of the vendors in Plant Street Market, which will open a restaurant there with that name.

The restaurant, from chef Ryan Freelove, is looking at a September opening and will offer lunch and dinner as well as brunch.It will offer American cuisine "highlighting fresh seafood, hand cut steaks and house-made pastas alongside fresh soups, salads, sandwiches. Menu features updated classics alongside traditional specialties and seasonal dishes showcasing classic techniques."

At its booth in Plant Street Market, Market to Table sells items such as compound butters, broths and sauces for home cooks.

By the way, speaking of Pilars, if you're in Winter Garden on a Thursday evening, there's a really fun and entertaining open-mic night. Pilars is at 146 W. Plant St., Winter Garden.

Jimmy JohnstonJimmy Johnston has been named the executive chef for Outpost Neighborhood Kitchen, the College Park restaurant that opened last year.

Johnston, pictured at left, had previously been the executive sous chef at Maddey’s Craft & Cru and sous chef at Baldwin Park’s Osprey Tavern.

In a message, Johnston said he was looking forward to many positive changes at Outpost. The restaurant’s current menu features such items as Meatloaf, Shrimp & Grits, Braised Short Ribs and Fried Chicken.

The Outpost Neighborhood Kitchen is at 2603 Edgewater Drive, Orlando.