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Nikki's Place

nikkis lunch

If you were to look only at the website for Nikki's Place without first visiting the restaurant in the Parramore district restaurant, you might expect something quite different than what it actually is, a quaint neighborhood diner. In fact, you might be expecting someplace quite grand and celebrated. And if you reverse the order and check out the website after a visit, you might wonder if you'd been to the same place.

That's because the website for Nikki's Place was apparently designed by someone who was trying to get the attention of Internet search engines by inserting key phrases into the copy. Go to the site and try to count how many times the phrase "best restaurants in Orlando" appears. That's so that if someone, perhaps a potential visitor to the City Beautiful, types that phrase into, say, the Google search bar, Nikki's Place might be one of the top results. (By the way, be warned that the website has an annoying autoplay video with rather loud music, too).

The problem is that Mr. Google and other search engine moguls long ago figured out that people were trying to game the system and the algorithms that determine search results have been rewritten several times over. Search with that phrase now and Nikki's will not appear until several pages in. And that's how it should be.

Green Day Cafe North Quarter

Green Day interior

Green Day Cafe, the self-described "eco-friendly fast food restaurant," has opened in downtown Orlando's North Quarter in the former Virgin Olive Market space. And it would appear that the many fans that VOM left behind have immediately taken to GDC.

Rather than turning the whole environmentally friendly scheme into a gimmick and hitting you over the head with it, Green Day Cafe quietly incorporates ecological initiatives into its daily routines. It strives to reduce its carbon footprint and to use less water, serve food in compostable or recycled materials, and to avoid using caustic chemicals.

And it extends to discouraging food waste. For example, on my lunch visit to the new restaurant, I ordered a dish that included a dill pickle spear. After informing me of this, the person who took my order asked, "Do you want it?" That's so much better than automatically plopping the pickle onto a plate of someone who dislikes pickles, only to have it tossed into the trash. It's a small step — the world is not facing a shortage of cucumbers and pickling spices — but every little bit helps.

Royal Indian Cuisine

Royal INdian exterior

I'm always glad to see a new Indian restaurant open in the area. Especially since I lost my go-to favorite, Memories of India on Turkey Lake Road in the Restaurant Row district.

The newest, Royal Indian Cuisine, is a long way from the Bay Hill Plaza area — it opened recently in Casselberry — and it may not fill the figurative space left by Memories, but its food is good, and the staff is exceptionally welcoming and accommodating.

As with most area Indian restaurants, Royal, rather than focusing on the cuisine of one region, features dishes throughout the vast country. So there are tandoor dishes, biriyanis, meat entrees as well as vegetarian, and seafood specialties from the coastal region.

Highball & Harvest

HH DiningRoom

The Ritz-Carlton at Grande Lakes Orlando recently opened its newest restaurant, Highball & Harvest, which takes the place of the Vineyard Grill. Besides getting a new name — which we'll discuss in a moment — the space was also completely remodeled and redecorated, which means that somewhere there's a closet full of tacky plastic grapevines and wooden trellises.

The new restaurant, on the lower level of the luxury hotel, downstairs from the main lobby, is vast, yet features multiple spaces for more intimate dining, plus a lounge area for solo or communal dining. In addition, there's a chef's table area that resembles a country kitchen.

HH Chef Mark JeffersChef Mark Jeffers of Highball & Harvest

Pig Floyd's Urban Barbakoa

Pig Floyd patio

There's a lot to like about Pig Floyd's, the self described Urban Barbakoa, beginning with the whimsical name. I also like what they've done to the place. The tiny freestanding building at 1326 N. Mills Ave. has never looked better. It was essentially gutted and bears little resemblence to the restaurant that used to be home to Atilla's Steak & Salad (simply Steak & Salad before that), Friends Restaurant, and Kim Long.

Pig Floyd interior

The decor befits the urban designation, with whitewashed brick walls, bare floor, metal chairs and whirligig light fixtures. An open kitchen and a bar to sit and eat at were nice touches, too. And although some of the previous tenants had tables outside, they didn't have the built-out patio that Floyd's owners installed, adding a wall to shield some of the unattractive traffic from Mills Avenue.

Saturday, 1st November 2014

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A flog is a food blog with news and reviews of restaurants. Here you'll find all things edible, lots of things to drink, including expert wine advice, and lots of other stuff.


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