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mynt downstairs

Mynt has moved into the Hannibal Square neighborhood, and just like its similarly spelled namesake, it's a refreshing addition. It took over the space that was previously occupied by Fresh Cafe. I've always liked the intimacy of this place — it can feel like one of the small restaurants in Brooklyn or the West Village. But Mynt's owner, Sunny Corda, has also reopened the upstairs dining area, where there is a bar, which adds more seating while still maintaining the cozy atmosphere.

Corda also owns Saffron on Sand Lake Road's Restaurant Row. But even though both restaurants are Indian, Mynt is quite a bit different.

Mynt takes a fresher and more healthful approach to its food. In fact, it uses no ghee, the type of clarified butter that is somewhat of a staple in Indian food. Instead, Corda told me, the kitchen uses more olive oil in the recipes.

American Q

AmericanQ meat

American Q, the restaurant at the recently rebranded B Resort, is a sort of American version of the Brazilian churrascaria, a barbecuscaria, if you will. And it makes perfect sense.

A Latin American churrascaria, of course, features spit-roasted meats sliced tableside by gauchos in a never ending rotation. Think Texas de Brazil, Fogo de Chao and several others.

But gaucho essentially means cowboy, and what's more American than a cowboy? Barbecue, maybe. So put the two together and you have a great concept. Especially when you consider another thing that is distinctly American: Eating way too much food at one sitting.

Fresh to Order

f2o exterior

There's a new player in the fast casual arena that would like to add another f to the description: fine. It's called Fresh to Order, a truly uninspired name, to be sure, and its motto is fine food fast. Or, more accurately: fine. food. fast. The conceit here is that even if you want to have a quick meal, you don't have to settle for sandwiches, burgers or crappy food.

Sandwiches are certainly available at the Waterford Lakes newcomer. Burgers, too. But you'll also find what the menu describes as "entree long plates," though I'm not sure what that means other than that the plates are not square. Here you will find such things as Brown Sugar Roasted Pork Loin, Almond Chicken Skewers and Chicken Wild Mushroom. Several of these items are available in smaller portions — three-quarters, rather than half, but I still like the option of having a smaller entree.

JJ's Grille

JJs burrito sign

Here's another entry in the assemblage category. This time, refreshingly, it isn't a chain restaurant, the people are friendly because they want to be, and the food is better than average.

It's JJ's Grille, a small storefront in a Winn-Dixie plaza on Curry Ford Road in Orlando. The sign claims "grilled fresh food" without being more specific than that. It would seem that it wants to be world fusion, though such generality is seldom a good idea. The website tab says Mexican, the owner is Venezuelan, and there is a Lebanese rice dish. But beyond that, it's a pretty basic unfused menu.

As with other assemblage concepts — Moe's, Chipotle, Italio, etc. — guests choose the ingredients and direct the staff member behind the sneeze guard who puts it all together into what one hopes will be a conglomeration that doesn't suck. Here you can choose a burrito as your food container, or perhaps a pita pocket, or maybe just a bowl to hold it all.

Barnie's CoffeeKitchen Gets Serious About Food


bck tryptic

See below to learn how you can win a three-course dinner for four at Barnie's CoffeeKitchen's flagship cafe on Park Avenue.

It's pretty clear that Barnie's CoffeeKitchen is getting more serious about the Kitchen part.

Barnie's has been known for decades as the area's homegrown specialty coffee and tea provider. Then, in 2011, the brand was refreshed and CoffeeKitchen added to the name to reflect its new direction, which CEO Jonathan Smiga said at the time would celebrate coffee as a specialized food ingredient.

Now the focus on food is a bit more refined. Camilo Velasco is proof of that. Velasco is Barnie's executive chef, and his resume highlights include stints as chef de partie at Victoria & Albert's and chef de cuisine at Norman's at the Ritz-Carton Orlando. The man definitely has kitchen cred.

Sunday, 21st December 2014

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