Magical Dining Stretches from August to October

Written by Scott Joseph on .


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.

Oldest Restaurants in the Country

Written by Scott Joseph on .


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.

DoveCote Now Open

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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:

Petrakises Planning Restaurant in Disney Springs

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Contrary to what you may have assumed from recent news about the Ravenous Pig (owners James and Julie Petrakis announced recently that they would be consolidating that restaurant with the space now occupied by their Cask & Larder), the brand apparently is doing just fine.

To that point, the Petrakises, in conjunction with Walt Disney World Resort, announced today that they would open another porcine themed restaurant at Disney Springs. The Polite Pig is slated for a spring 2017 opening.

James Petrakis is bringing his brother Brian, who started the Greens & Grille salad concept, to be the chef at the new restaurant.

“As a locally-based restaurant group, it’s great to bring our new concept to Disney Springs where we’ll have the opportunity to showcase genuine Florida cuisine for guests from around the world,” James Petrakis said in a statement. “With so many talented chefs opening new restaurants at Disney Springs, we’re really excited to be part of a group helping Orlando distinguish itself as a world-class culinary destination.”

The menu will feature wood-fired smoked and grilled items, and the bar will serve beers brewed at Winter Park's Cask & Larder.

The 5000 square foot facility will have seating for 200 guests.