Brunch at Two Chefs Seafood Oyster Bar

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Two Chefs Brunch oyster blt

I’m heading to New Orleans next week, so to get primed I stopped in recently to try out the new brunch menu at Two Chefs Seafood Oyster Bar in the North Quarter.

If you missed it, you can read my review of the Two Chefs Seafood Oyster Bar regular menu here. That same great quality is carried through with the Sunday brunch menu.

Two Chefs Brunch deviled eggs

I’ve become inured to the siren call of deviled eggs. I love them, but I’m almost always disappointed when I order them in restaurants. But the Lobster Deviled Eggs at 2CSOB. Besides the sweet lobster meat, the eggs were topped with chewy chunks of bacon and pickled shallots. Each one a delectable treat. And there were four halves instead of the mathematically illogical three that most restaurants serve. I appreciated that.

Teriyaki Madness

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Teriyaki Madness bowl

Ordinarily, this is the type of place I would probably take a pass on, another franchise location among the thousands — yes, thousands — that already litter the Central Florida foodscape. But something about the press release announcing the opening of Teriyaki Madness made me take notice.

The Colorado based franchise is being brought into the area by Brevard Achievement Center, a nonprofit agency with headquarters in Rockledge that offers programs and services to assist people with disabilities. According to the press release, BAC decided that one way it could assist its clients — and generate income, to boot — would be to purchase a fast-casual restaurant franchise. Besides being a revenue source, the business could provide on-the-job training, not to mention employment, for people with disabilities. That’s smart thinking, and that’s the sort of organization that I would like to support.

Sabor del Caribe

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Sabor del Caribe platter

An article in Tuesday’s New York Times says that Central Florida is the destination for an influx of Puerto Rican transplants, and that Florida is set to overtake New York as the state with the most Puerto Ricans. “The migration … is transforming a corridor of Central Florida that is increasingly viewed as economically powerful, culturally diverse and politically pivotal,” the article said.

If it means that we’ll see more restaurants like Sabor del Caribe, I say “Welcome!”

Sabor del Caribe is a small storefront place in a strip mall in extreme East Orlando just around the corner from the city dump. That’s the sort of proximity that restaurant critics take note of just in case the food isn’t very good. But is what I sampled at SdC is any indication, the only things that will be going into the landfill will be the extra takeout containers the guests will need for the sample leftovers.

Breakfast at the Coop

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Coop breakfast

I stopped by the Coop in Winter Park to try the new breakfast menu as the guest of the founder, John Rivers. The quick-serve restaurant, which opened as a fried chicken and Southern cuisine specialty, added a breakfast menu recently.

As you'd expect from any Southern breakfast menu, there are the usual biscuits and gravy, pancakes, and, marrying the dinner menu to the morning fare, the inevitable chicken and waffles. 

I'm an eggs-for-breakfast kind of guy, so I focused my attention on that part of the menu. I almost went for the fried catfish and grits (which came with an egg, so I'd be covered) but decided on the Low Country Omelet instead. It was a fat omelet stuffed with sauteed shrimp and bits of spicy andouille sausage in a red sauce that oozed out when pierced. It was plopped atop a bed of Anson Mills grits, so it was a bit like having shrimp and grits for breakfast. The biscuit that came with it was fresh and firm and it had me wishing I'd gotten an order of gravy to cover it with.

Rivers told me that the Coop is very busy for breakfast on the weekends but that during the week it's calmer. I'm going to keep that in mind the next time I need to schedule a morning meeting over eggs. Or catfish.

The Coop is at 610 W. Morse Blvd., Winter Park. It is open for breakfast Monday through Saturday at 7 a.m. The phone number is 407-843-2667.

Tapa Toro

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Tapa Toro flamenco

Amid the myriad chains and franchises that are populating the area around the Orlando Eye attraction, an independent restaurant is a welcome find. And that it offers very good food and a fun dining experience makes it all the better.

Tapa Toro comes to us from Vassilis and Katerina Coumbaros, who also own Taverna Opa at nearby Pointe Orlando, one of my favorite Tourist World recommendations. Opa, of course, is the Greek restaurant where every evening is a raucous party of napkins tossed in the air to buoyant balalaika music and belly dancing atop the tables.

At Tapa Toro the theme is Spanish and the music flamenco, and here the napkins stay in the lap and the clacking heels of the dancers punish only the floor.

Gnarly Barley

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Gnarly Barley interior

I had driven past the little shack on south Orange Avenue that is the home of the eye-rollingly named Gnarly Barley for years without ever stopping. But when the restaurant I had intended to visit on a recent night was closed unexpectedly, and with no other prospects on my route back home, I decided it was time to pull over and check it out.

As the Barley part of the name would suggest, GB specializes in craft beers, with about 16 ever-changing selections on draft and an array of by-the-bottle choices. The current draft selections are detailed on a black chalkboard that covers an entire wall. Actually, it doesn’t take a lot to cover a wall here — this is a pretty compact little space.

Gnarly, besides its rhyming characteristic, I’m sure isn’t meant to be taken for its original definition, which is unpleasant or unattractive. Hmmm, well, it isn’t a very attractive place, but it isn’t without its charm. I’m guessing it’s to be taken for its slangier meaning, which is more like bitchin’, but come to think of it, that has multiple meanings, too.

Makis Place

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Makis Place interior

Here’s one of those little clues that can tell you you’re in a restaurant where the staff really doesn’t give a squat.

The restaurant is empty, even at the height of lunch hour. The sole person in the front of the house (not that you need more than one in an empty room) is sitting down when you come in. She tells you to sit wherever you like, and you choose a booth that has on its tabletop four placemats with information about the restaurant and the dining experience. And the placemats are upside down.

With nothing else to do, you’d think that an enterprising staffer would make sure the tables were properly set and waiting for guests, should any happen to arrive. But no, not here. Not at Makis Place.

Salamanders Sports Grill

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salamanders interior

I’d been hearing some good things about Salamanders, a sports grill in Winter Springs, so I suggested it as a meet-up place to talk business over lunch recently.

The things I’d been hearing about it had to do with its food. According to the website, “At Salamanders, we make everything from fresh ingredients. From our hand-cut fries, to the bleu cheese dressing, our food is never frozen or pre-packaged.” That’s pretty impressive for a sports bar, so I figured it was worth the drive from downtown Orlando.

The Chef's Table at Osprey Tavern

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Osprey table

When I first reviewed the Osprey Tavern it was still new and hadn’t quite defined itself. It got a boost to its self confidence with the recent hiring of Joseph Burnett as its executive chef. Burnett’s bona fides include the original Norman’s in Coral Gables and the existing Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. Before joining Osprey, he was chef de cuisine at the Ravenous Pig in Winter Park.

Burnett has made changes to the menu but it isn’t a complete overhaul, at least not yet. He has added a chef’s table experience, which I was invited to try during a media preview.

The chef’s table isn’t in the kitchen but sits next to it and has a good view of the action going on in the open arena. For that matter, so do most of the other tables in the bustling dining room, but presumably only the chef’s table menu is offered at this 12-top next to the glass-front wine cabinets.

Korea House Orlando

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Korea House interior

When I first came to Central Florida to review restaurants, over 27 years ago, there was only one exclusively Korean restaurant in the area: Korea House. We have several more now and some very good ones, Shin Jung and Seoul Gardens among them, but the Korean category hasn’t had the exponential growth of, say, Thai.

But a new one recently opened on East Colonial Drive in Orlando: Korea House.

The restaurant that has operated in Longwood since 1982, though not in the same space, has opened a second location. Both restaurants share the same menu, which has expanded over the years and has arguably become more authentic as the dining public has become more adventurous.

Way back in 1988 when I first reviewed the original Korea House (it was my seventh restaurant critique for Florida magazine in the Sunday Sentinel), I don’t recall that tabletop cooking was as big a thing as it is now. In fact, at the new KH, all of the center tables have built-in griddles, and on a recent evening when I visited, there were people waiting for one of those tables to open up, even though there were several other non-cooking tables available. Most of the griddles were being used by families having a home-cooked meal without the home (even though the place is called Korea House).