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South + York

southyork snapper

South + York is a rare thing for the Winter Springs and Oviedo area: It is a restaurant with a mission to do good food, ambitious food, styled for serving in a fine restaurant, and to fully embrace the farm to table trend. It succeeds on several levels, though it also needs to have the confidence to push the boundaries a bit more.

The menu is ever changing, as one that sources what is fresh and local and available should. It’s meant to be Southern, but aside from the ubiquitous shrimp and grits there was little that would give it a heavy drawl. The name, by the way, is a reflection of the dual heritage of the chef/owner, Edgar Cruz, who was born in New York but trained in the South.

The menu reads quite well; several items appealed to me, although the trope of replacing every instance of the word “and” with a plus sign makes the menu read like something of a strange algebraic algorithm, albeit a tasty one. 

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Artisan's Table

Artisans porchetta

I visited Artisan’s Table three times and dined there twice.

The first visit did not go well.

Artisan’s Table is the newest occupant of 22 E. Pine St. in downtown Orlando. The previous tenant was the locationally named Pine 22, a build-it-yourself burger concept that replaced the short-lived Blue Smoke Burger Bar. The Black Olive was the original restaurant in the space on the side of the high-rise known as the Plaza, which itself is little more than half a decade old.

Artisan’s Table, fronted by chef Scott Copeland, may have the best chance of making a go of it at this difficult space, which despite being smack-dab in the center of downtown has a very low visibility. It’s an ambitious undertaking — it serves three meals a day — but the food from Copeland, who previously was executive chef at Antonio’s La Fiamma in Maitland and sous chef at College Park’s K restaurant, is excellent. There are just a few operational things that need to be worked out.

Such as what I encountered on my first visit.

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Banh Mi Nha Trang

Banh mi sandwich

When we look at the Vietnamese restaurants in the area we tend to get a little too focused on the beef noodle soup, or pho they often feature. And by we I mean me.

So today I want to focus on another popular Vietnamese food item, the banh mi, the distinctly Vietnames sandwich. Banh mi basically means bread, and just like the Louisiana po’boy or just about any other sub sandwich you can name, the bread is the key element. It is essentially a mini baguette — the banh mi’s roots stem from the French colonization. I could describe to you what a perfect baguette for a banh mi would look and taste like, but instead, just go to Banh Mi Nha Trang and see for yourself.

BMNT is a well-hidden little shop among the many other Vietnamese owned and focused businesses in in the Mills 50 district. The tiny storefront is tucked inside an alcove of about a dozen shops. The signage is not great — I walked past it twice while trying to find it. And once you’re inside, it doesn’t look much like a restaurant. It’s almost like a slapdash operation or a pop-up sandwich shop.

Continue reading review of Banh Mi Nha Trang

STP - Sloppy Taco Palace

STP tacos

You might expect one thing from a place that refers to itself as STP. You’d definitely expect another once you knew that the initials stand for Sloppy Taco Palace. You get both at this fun little place in South Orlando. The walls are covered with assorted signage, some of which would bring to mind the motor oil company, and the menu filled with tacos, sloppy or otherwise.

You won’t get a palace, that’s for certain. STP is decidedly a bar. Think Johnny’s Fillin’ Station but with tacos instead of burgers. There are some hightop tables, but this is the sort of place that if you walk in and there are places to sit at the bar and no one sitting at tables you’d be considered odd not to hop onto a barstool.

Which is what I did on my recent lunchtime visit.

Continue reading review of STP - Sloppy Taco Palace

Chubby's Family Restaurant

Chubbys breakfast

I’ve always wondered why someone would want to call a restaurant Chubby’s. Not sure calling attention to the results of an eating disorder is good for an eateries bottom line.

In the case of Chubby’s Family Restaurant in East Orlando, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of theming that would warrant the name, either. Nothing like the little fat kid outside the chain of Big Boy restaurants. Instead, nostalgia seems to be the theme here (in which case you’d think they’d want to harken back to a time when obesity wasn’t running rampant in America, but don’t get me started). Each wall of the small strip mall storefront space is adorned with its own nostalgic theme. I sat directly across from a shrine to Betty Boop and next to a wall filled with Elviseria. If you sit at the breakfast counter you can observe a study in Marilyn Monroe and vintage cars, vintage meaning a decade or two after I was born.

Read more: Chubby's Family Restaurant

Friday, 18th April 2014

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