They're going to have to start calling it Visit Orlando's Magical Dining More-Than-a-Month.

The annual promotion has traditionally been during September. The last couple of years have featured a "preview week" starting in August. The 2016 version will begin August 29 and end on October 2 and feature 90 participating restaurants.

MagDinMo participants offer a special three-course menu with a set price of $33. One dollar from each sale goes to a charity. This year Visit Orlando has chosen The Russel Home for Atypical Children to receive the funds. Last year's charity, Elevate Orlando, received a record $160,000, according to Visit Orlando.

The list of participating restaurants has some interesting newcomers, including STK, Morimoto Asia and Urbain 40. In all, 19 on this year's roster are first timers. Other notables include flog favorites Tapa Toro Bar & Paella Pit; Oceanaire Seafood Room; Venetian Chophouse; Rusty Spoon; The Boheme; and K restaurant. You can see the full list -- and menus -- at Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month website.

By the way, this year's is not the longest. Last year Magical Dining Month ran from Aug. 24 through the 30 days that September hath.


I’ve always been fascinated by old restaurants. Oldest restaurants, actually. Maybe it’s because in the Central Florida market longevity is an illusive goal for so many. Indeed, the oldest restaurant in the Orlando area is Linda’s La Cantina, the steakhouse on East Colonial Drive, and, at 69, it isn’t much older than its average customer. (Also, the existing restaurant is not the original structure, which qualifies an asterisk next to the word oldest, in my book.)

For me, the real intrigue is in restaurants that started before the turn of the previous century. And it’s extra special if the business occupies the original building, and even better if it has been under the same family ownership from the beginning.

So I tend to seek out the oldest restaurants whenever I travel. Some, like Le Procope in Paris, make one wonder how — or why — they lasted so long. In others, such as Madrid’s Botin, which is listed as the world’s oldest continuously operating restaurant, and (at times) Rules in London, offer insight into what it takes to live a long life.

Zagat recently published an article on its website that listed restaurants around the U.S. that are the oldest in their categories, including the oldest Spanish restaurant, Ybor City’s Columbia, which is also Florida’s oldest restaurant of any kind (1905) and Anotine's of New Orleans, pictured at top, oldest creole restaurant.

Do you share my love of old restaurants? How many on the Zagat list have you been to? And do you have a favorite? Tell us in the comments below.

Plant Street exterior

I finally made it out to Plant Street Market in Winter Garden. I know, I know. It’s been open for over a year; what took so long? I just wanted to give them some time to settle in.

I like the whole concept. It’s a terrific space, and judging from the crowd on a Thursday night, a very popular hangout.

Dovecote logoDoveCote, the collaborative project of four local luminaries of the food and beverage scene, is now open. The restaurant occupies the space in the Bank of America building that most recently was Terrace 390 but more fondly remembered as the home of Harvey’s Bistro.

DoveCote, which was first announced last August, is a project involving James and Julie Petrakis (Ravenous Pig, Cask & Larder), Gene Zimmerman (The Courtesy) and Clayton Miller, who was the opening chef at Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton and more recently was with Miami’s 50 Eggs, Inc., owner of Yardbird.

Miller is listed as DoveCote’s chef and he co-owns the restaurant with Zimmerman; the Petrakises are investors and advisers in the business.

DoveCote’s menu will be familiar to anyone who has visited Balthazar, the popular French brasserie in New York and London. It is open for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner Monday through Saturday. It is also offering coffee and pastries on weekday mornings beginning at 7 for downtown workers as long as the pastries hold out.

As befitting a brasserie, beer will have a special place on the beverage menu, which was curated by Zimmerman. Larry Foor, the brewmaster for Cask & Larder, has created a custom crafted brew, DoveCote Saison, for the opening.

Dovecote is a French word for a game-bird shelter.

The restaurant's website had no operational links Wednesday morning. Here is the lunch menu:

D Luxe fries

Popped out to Disney Springs the other day to participate in a media presentation of some of the newer offerings. I’ll be telling you about all of them in the coming days, but today we focus on D-Luxe Burger.

DLB is a quick-serve operation. You place your order at the counter, take a pager, and then grab your food at the pickup counter when the pager goes off. Actually, that’s a little less quicker serve than other operations that have a staff member deliver your food to your table. (And for the record, someone came by and collected all of our pagers from our table in the back part of the restaurant and delivered our food to us.)