Plant Street Market

Written by Scott Joseph.

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.

D-Luxe Burger

Written by Scott Joseph.

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.)

Rome's Flavours

Written by Scott Joseph.

Rome Flavours outside

It’s clear that Rome’s Flavours, a cafe just off Winter Park’s Park Avenue, pays extra special attention to the house-made pasta.

That was evident when I visited recently. Shortly after my guest and I were seated, a gentleman I assume is the owner invited a young woman and her party from another table to join him at the pasta-making station in the back of the small space. There he guided her — wearing plastic gloves — through the process of running the dough through the rollers of the electrically powered pasta machine to create smooth sheets of just the right thickness, then through the die rollers to cut it into the various widths that comprise the myriad pasta types. Finally the fettuccine, spaghetti, pappardelle or whatever were draped over wooden dowels to be dried a bit before a plunge into boiling water.

Las Cazuelas

Written by Scott Joseph.

Cazuelas exterior

I'm trying to find the right balance of words to tell you about Las Cazuelas, a small market and Mexican eatery on Conway Road. My tendency is to go a bit overboard with praise, but I wouldn’t want to give the wrong impression that this is pinnacle-style dining.

But the bottom line is that I liked Las Cazuelas very much. And it would get very high marks — if I gave marks — in all three areas listed in the Restaurant Reviewers Handbook: food, service and ambience.

Let’s start with service. The young woman who greeted me, took my order, processed the transaction and delivered the food to my table couldn’t have been warmer or more welcoming. She seemed genuinely proud of the food she was serving.

And why not? It all adheres to Mexican authenticity and has a just-made-from-scratchiness that makes it taste all the better.

Dapper Duck

Written by Scott Joseph.

Dapper exterior

There are a lot of bars in downtown Orlando.

A lot.

I wish there were more independently owned restaurants than bars — and someday there may be — but in the meantime, the best we can hope for is that some of these bars take it upon themselves to also serve decent food.

Dapper Duck is one of those striving to do just that. D.D. occupies the space that many longtime residents will remember as Dan’s Sandwich Shoppe. That was so long ago that I think people still spelled it shoppe.

At first glance, the menu doesn’t look very promising. You’ve got your usual bar-food regulars like chicken fingers, jalapeno poppers, and blooming onion (spelled with the g on the end, apparently to avoid a lawsuit from the Outback folks).

But then there are Pork Belly Tacos, Poutine with Hand-cut Fries, and House Pastrami Reuben.

Baoery Settling In To Thornton Neighborhood

Written by Scott Joseph.

Baoery Buddha

Went back to Baoery recently. Baoery, of course, is the Asian Gastropub from Thornton Park Restaurant Group and led by executive chef and partner Greg Richie.

When we last visited, in November, shortly after it opened in the remodeled Cityfish space, there was an unfinished, half-baked look to the place. It’s fully baked now, and the space looks terrific. It’s a comfortable spot, very casual, and it’s a great place for people watching, especially on the patio, even more so when there’s an event that brings out hordes of people, young and old (but mostly young) to stroll the streets.

The food was never half baked — or wokked or broiled or whatever. But even that seemed better this time.

F&D Cantina

Written by Scott Joseph.

FandD interior

I’m not sure I would call F&D Cantina a sister restaurant to F&D Kitchen and Bar, the Lake Mary restaurant that opened in 2015. Other than the initials, which unimaginatively stand for Food and Drink, and, obviously, ownership, there aren’t many comparisons to be drawn. There isn’t even much of an effort to make a connection by the two entities, other than a small link on the Lake Mary F&D website to an Orlando Business Journal article about the “soon to open” Cantina.

The two are different concepts, which, for the Cantina, is a good thing. If you guessed that the concept here is Mexican, you’d be correct. But the way it is presented is a bit curious.

The menu is divided into sections with headings like “dip,” Social eats,” “Plates,” “Soups,” and “Greens.” Then there’s a separate section called “Mexican Stuff,” though there’s a Carne Asada under the “Plates” heading and another separate section called “Tacos.” Not sure why tacos aren’t considered Mexican but I do give kudos for not including the nachos among the Mexican Stuff. Points taken away, however, just for including nachos on the menu after the OBJ article quoted Charly Robinson, the F&D developer, that the menu would be authentic Mex, not Tex-Mex. (Complimentary chips and salsa are also proffered, a concept that definitely originated north of the wall.)

But let’s not niggle. You want to know how the food was.

First Look: Maddey's Craft & Cru

Written by Scott Joseph.

Maddeys interior

By my calculation, Maddey’s Craft & Cru has been in the planning stage for about two years. Thursday, June 30, it finally opens officially in the former Church Street Station.

It is the project of Jason Schofield, who we last saw overseeing White Wolf Cafe and the opening of sister restaurant PizzaMia. At PizzaMia, Schofield showed a talent for lifting everyday dishes out of mundanity. He’s doing the same thing at Maddey’s.

I stopped in on one of the nights the restaurant was holding dress rehearsal. There were still plenty of kinks to work out, chiefly among the servers, but I’ll not pounce on that at this time.

STK

Written by Scott Joseph.

STK sign

I had visited STK at Disney Springs prior to it opening, and I was at the rather frantic grand opening event. But I was delighted to be invited back recently to experience it as a full, working restaurant.

Turns out it isn’t a lot less frantic on an average day. Your first clue to what the sound level will be is the DJ booth, which sits prominently, raised like a pulpit, at the entrance to the main first-floor dining room. Let’s just get this out of the way, folks: This isn’t a place for quiet conversation.

But the food is quite good, and the menu, under the direction of chef James O’Donnell, thoughtfully goes beyond the meat that the vowelless name would suggest.

Meson Sandwiches

Written by Scott Joseph.

Meson exterior

There is a reason there’s usually a long line at the Meson Sandwiches at Florida Mall and in Kissimmee. I mean besides the fact that it serves some pretty tasty sandwiches.

It’s because a lot of the people waiting to order already know Meson. Even though it is relatively new to that area and there are only two locations here — with three more coming soon — many know the brand from Puerto Rico, where there are 37 locations around the island.

 It was founded by Felipe Pérez Sr. and is now run by his son, whose name is Felipe Pérez Grajales. He spoke with me recently from his office in Mayaguez, P.R.

Pérez Grajales told me that the Meson Sandwiches stores that the company is opening in Central Florida — the first ones on the mainland — are exactly the same as the ones in Puerto Rico. That includes the menu, which has quite an extensive array of sandwiches, some with rather curious names.

Meson all pro

Take the All Pro, which was one of the sandwiches I sampled when I was invited to visit the newest restaurant in Kissimmee. It features Virginia ham and pastrami with sautéed onions and melted swiss cheese on criollo bread, pressed in the fashion of other Caribbean style sandwiches.

It was a delicious sandwich, the best of what I sampled. There was something quite familiar about it to me, even though I’ve not been to a Meson in Puerto Rico.