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Shantell's Cafe

Shantell ext

If you were to just show up at somebody's house and ask to be fed, you probably wouldn't be surprised to be made to wait while something was thrown together for you. Even if you showed up during what might be considered a normal meal time, you might have to cool your heels while your friend found something to cook for you. Assuming you pulled this stunt at a friend's house and not a strangers, because then you might find yourself arrested.

Even if you were to show up at a restaurant on an off hour you may experience a longer than ideal wait time. Kitchens tend to put foods away and break down service stations. If guests come in before or after that process, it may take a while to get things resituated.

But when you show up at a restaurant at 1 p.m., which to most people is still the heart of lunchtime, you sort of expect more prompt service. Especially when only two other tables — a total of three people — are occupied and waiting for food.

I waited over 45 minutes for my food to arrive at Shantell's Cafe, a well-regarded restaurant in Sanford that recently moved to a new location not far from its original home. It's not like I ordered something out of the ordinary. I selected the chicken and waffles, a dish considered to be so much a signature that it's written in the front window.

Taqueria Ameca

Ameca interior

It's been just over a year since my trip to Mexico City and I believe I've just had the most authentic Mexican food since then. It was at a little place called Taqueria Ameca.

This is a small, barebones operation in a cramped strip mall south of downtown. (It's in the same location as the recently reviewed Flavors Nigerian.) On my recent visit the restaurant was doing a brisk lunch business, and I was encouraged to realize that I was the only non-Hispanic among them.

There is no printed menu, as far as I can tell. The selections are inartistically written on a white board near the ordering counter. There aren't even headings — the tacos are listed with the various filling options with enchiladas, sopes and other items mixed in.

Umi

Umi ramen

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Umi, the latest sushi bar and Japanese restaurant to occupy a familiar Park Avenue Space, even though it included some of the absolute worst mussels to ever have been placed in front of me.

Umi is at the "bottom" of Park Avenue, at 525 South, where various other sushi and Japanese restaurants — plus an occasional bit of Thai — have called home. Most recently it was Avenue Thai & Sushi. Its longest and most familiar occupant was Shiki.

Umi has an austere yet pleasant vibe. The menu features not only the expected sushi selections but also kitchen foods that include robata grilled meats and a couple of ramen soups.

The Golden Knife

golden knife ext

At 7:30 on a Thursday evening, with a Broadway series show at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts a couple of blocks away nearing curtain time, pre-theater diners should have been pouring out of the Golden Knife.

But instead my guests and I encountered an eerily empty space. Was it so new that no one had found it yet? Or had others come before and found the experience to be as disappointing as we soon would?

310 Lakeside Brunch

310 patio

Whenever I visit 310 Lakeside, I always go in with the hope that it will suddenly have been transformed into a restaurant befitting its location. My hopes are always dashed. A recent brunch visit didn't change that.

310 Lakeside is the restaurant in an office building on Central Boulevard across the street from lovely Lake Eola. The glass and steel structure wants a power-lunch mien; the lake-view patio wants tasteful elegance. Neither is fully met.

Friday, 27th March 2015

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