Provisions & Buzz Co.

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Provisions ext

I’m not at all sure what the name Provisions & Buzz Co. means. I mean, I get the Provisions part in that it refers to food and drink. I’m not sure about the Buzz.

It might have something to do with bees. There are little icons that look like bees next to some menu items to indicate a house specialty. Or is it meant to be the kind of buzz that refers to people talking about something, i.e. “There’s a lot of buzz about that new restaurant.” Or it is also a reference to food and drink but in this case just the drink, as in “That Old Fashioned gave me a nice buzz.”

I’m going to go with the bee theory, though I don’t know why. It doesn’t seem to fit into any kind of theme presented in the menu. But then, neither does anything else. There’s a quesadilla here, a pork shank there, and a couple of Asian style items in between. (The menu is under the direction of chef Josh Spisak.)

But all that said, I must hasten to add that Provisions & Buzz Co. is a better restaurant than any of those that preceded it in this troubled location. Most recently it was Jack’s Steakhouse, but it has also been a place called Baldwin Steakhouse and a perfectly awful restaurant with a perfectly awful name called Fresh Mouth. I’d actually managed to sweep that one from my memory. I’m pretty sure it was something before that, too. During a meal at one of those iterations I witnessed what I’m almost certain was a drug deal “going down,” as they say, between a man and the bartender. And I wasn’t surprised. (The man walked into the restaurant, nodded to the bartender, the two of them went to the men’s room together and emerged 15 second later, so I assume it wasn’t for illicit sex.)

But Provisions & Buzz.

TR Fire Grill 2.0

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TR Fire burger

It’s a little zenlike to consider, but the second location of TR Fire Grill & Lounge is also its only location.

As you may recall, the TR in the name stands for Tony Roma, the Orlando based Romacorp’s ribbery. The Fire Grill & Lounge was a new brand that opened in a former Tony Roma’s restaurant in late 2013. I was less than whelmed.

That prototype was shuttered in early September and, a few weeks later, a new TR Fire Grill & Lounge opened in Winter Park. The company characterized it as a relocation. Whatever. It appears that the operators have learned from some of the missteps that prevented the original from finding its footing. This is a better restaurant than the one it left behind.

A great restaurant? One that will win awards for its cuisine? No, probably not. But it has perfectly acceptable food that is served in a trendily gritty atmosphere that is conducive to informal gatherings.

Boathouse

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Boathouse Lobster Roll

I finally had a chance to try out the food recently at the Boathouse, the first major Disney Springs restaurant that opened in April. What took me so long? Well, I wasn’t looking forward to shelling out 21 bucks for fish tacos or 29 clams for for a lobster roll. Even a “classic burger” demands $18. So when I was invited to attend a wine luncheon hosted by Breakthru Beverage Group, I said yes.

And I was most anxious to try that Lobster Roll. A lobroll, of course, is a sandwich, a fairly simple one at that, with a lobster salad — steamed lobster meat chopped and tossed with mayonnaise and celery — on a toasted and buttered bun, most usually a mere hot dog bun but sometimes even just a piece of toasted white bread.

The kitchen, perhaps as a means of justifying the just-under-30-dollars price tag, turned the lobster roll here into an over-produced concoction that had to be eaten with knife and fork. The salad, which featured big, meaty chunks of deliciously sweet lobster, sat atop a mini loaf of a buttered roll. There was a slit in the top of the roll, but there was no way to elegantly cram the salad into it, and even if one could, decorum would prevent one from picking it up to shove into one’s mouth. Good lobster salad? Yes. Delicious buttered, toasted roll? You bet. Good lobster roll? No. And the fries that were served with it were just a tad too greasy.

The Sanctum

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Sanctum table

Anyone who questions whether there is a market for vegetarian restaurants only needs to visit The Sanctum, a new meat-freetery in the Mills 50 district whose slogan is “Real, damn good food” and whose online description calls its menu plant-based. It seems that it is always packed.

Admittedly, it doesn’t take a lot of people to fill the space, which is set back from Colonial Drive at the northeast corner of Fern Creek Avenue. The space is small and narrow, with a bar and communal seating up front and a few tables hugging the wall down the side, across from the kitchen area. But it was clear to me when I lunched with colleagues there recently that more than a few were repeat customers hungry for vegetarian and vegan options.

That may be one of Sanctum’s secrets of success: It isn’t totally vegan but offers several items that can easily be veganized. As long as you’re not concerned about the purity of the kitchen as far as your food commingling with mere vegetarian offerings, you should be just fine.

Antonella's Pizzeria

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Antonella pie

It’s still a nice pie, Frank. Pretty good calzone, too.

Frank is also known as Francesco Paradiso and he is the pizzaiolo at Antonella’s Pizzeria, which opened recently on Fairbanks Avenue in Winter Park. The pie shop is named for his wife, and the two of them are partnered in the venture with Antonella’s brother, Leonardo LaCommare.

If the LaCommare name is familiar to you it’s probably because you knew Stefano’s Trattoria in Winter Springs when the brother and sister’s parents, Stefano and Marie, were the owners. The older LaCommare’s sold the restaurant, including the name, and so the younger family members, who all had worked at the popular trattoria for many years, decided to get their own place.

But they didn’t want a large full-service restaurant. A pizzeria that focuses more on takeout and delivery seemed manageable, so that is what Antonella’s is.

Unfortunately — for me, anyway — the delivery area only extends in a five-mile radius from the restaurant, so I made my own pizza runs to try out the pies.

You Can Be On a First-Name Basis with the Winemaker at Loveblock

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Erica Crawford

Erica Crawford’s name isn’t quite as instantly recognizable to wine lovers as that of her husband — that would be Kim Crawford — but she’s a charming representative of the winery the two operate in New Zealand.

That would not be Kim Crawford.

The Crawfords — perhaps we’d better just refer to them as Erica and Kim — now own and operate a winery in the Marlborough region of New Zealand called Loveblock. They sold the winery that bears Kim’s full name in 2003, and with the sale they agreed to not use their last name in relation to any winemaking they undertake.
If you go to the Loveblock website, you’ll see the bios for Erica and Kim note that they both go only by their first name “to respectfully avoid confusion with the brand that carries her/his name but with which she/he is no longer involved.” Also, to avoid a lawsuit.

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Erica was in Orlando recently to talk up some of Loveblock’s wines. I was invited to join her for a luncheon and tasting at the Boathouse in Disney Springs.

Bevfly Wine and Spirits Store Offers Great Deals and Expert Advice

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Bevfly

Today I’m pleased to welcome Bevfly to the pages of the flog.

Do you know Bevfly? It’s a wine and sprits outlet on International Drive. Now stop that right now. This is close to the corner of Kirkman Road, so it’s easy access right off of I-4, and it’s before where I-Drive curves around and sucks you into the vehicular black hole surrounding the outlet mall.

Bevfly is worth finding. It has a terrific, thorough selection of fine wines. And it has some people with good wine cred behind it, including Kimberly Kolovos, former sommelier at Vines Grille & Wine Bar on Restaurant Row; her husband, Billy, who ran the Vines spirits store; and Gary Tupper, former sommelier at Luma on Park and Norman’s.

Tupper told me that their goal is to always have someone on hand who can talk authoritatively about the wines. “We want to make sure no one is just talking to a shelf stocker,” he said. Not that there’s anything wrong with shelf stockers, but anyone who has tried to get advice in one of those big-box wine stores has probably left with wine in a box.

Osprey Tavern Brunch

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Osprey brunch decor

I’m liking Osprey Tavern more and more each time I visit, and I liked it just fine the first time. It seems to be growing into a more comfortable version of itself. Once you’re past the tentativeness of the front desk, servers are amiable without being cloying, the atmosphere buzzes with mutual conviviality, and the kitchen, under the direction of Ravenous Pig alumnus Joseph Burnett, produces a menu that combines comfort with style.

The restaurant has a different feel at brunch, at least in the early hours. The atmosphere is a little less manic, though certainly not subdued. One can’t really expect total calm in a restaurant that features a show kitchen as a prominent part of the dining room. I must say, however, that several of the cooks “on stage” on a recent Sunday morning did not look up to performing a matinee.

Yamasan Sushi & Grill

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Yamasan bar

Yamasan Sushi & Grill is the latest restaurant to open at Mills Park. It’s a small restaurant with a very large and ambitious menu. Besides a full offering of sushi, Yamasan has hibachi and stone grill cook-at-your-table options as well as one-pot cooking, such as shabu shabu and sukiyaki. There are seven soups and 26 each of hot or cold appetizers (not counting variations on individual items, such as the Tuna Tartare that may be ordered a la Nobu or Morimoto).

The Ganachery at Disney Springs

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Ganachery exterior

The first time I came across the Ganachery, a chocolate shop at Disney Springs, I was on my way to another venue at the endlessly-under-construction former Downtown Disney. The shop had just opened to the public and there was a startlingly long line of people waiting to get in. They weren’t passing time until someone unlocked the doors, they were simply waiting their turn for a chance to go inside and buy candy.

Yes, candy.

Very, very good candies to be sure. We’re not talking about Goo Goo Clusters or jelly beans, we’re talking about a very limited and exquisitely styled type of candy: ganache squares.

Ganache is the result of blending chocolate with cream, and in the case of the pieces sold at the Ganachery, we’re talking high quality chocolate. Under the direction of Disney chocolatier Amanda E. Lauder, the pastry crew on site makes a limited selection of 16 variations ranging from the not-so-vanilla Vanilla (it’s dark chocolate with Madagascar vanilla beans in the blend) to one called Matcha Yuza that is infused with Japanese green tea.

Each one- or two-bite-sized morsel measures little more an an inch square, and each one costs $3. For $15 you may select 6 ganaches, which brings the per-piece price down to $2.50. So, bargain. No wonder so many people were lined up waiting for their chance to plunk down money.