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Bubble Room

It’s difficult to describe the Bubble Room to anyone who didn’t experience it firsthand. It occupied a building in Maitland that is now the home of a Buca di Beppo and it was known for its humongous portions and its over-the-top decor. Eclectic doesn’t begin to describe it. One of my reviews said, “The decor looks like grandma’s attic exploded and landed in the Land of Oz on Christmas Day.”

Here’s what I wrote in my first review of the Bubble Room, which ran in the Sentinel on July 21, 1991:

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Loading interior

It doesn’t sound like a place called Loading...Gastrobrunch would be a place for dinner. And when the downtown St. Cloud restaurant first opened it served only breakfast and lunch.

But now dinner hours have been added, and new dinner items to the menu, too. So a friend and I were invited to stop in and sample.

I was at Loading last year for a lunchtime visit but at that time I was confining my dining to outdoor tables. So it was nice to experience the interior this time. It’s rustic, befitting its location in the historic Hunter Arms Hotel. Horizontal wood planks on one wall, a brick wall behind the bar and a fieldstone fireplace at the far end give the room a cabinlike feel. A mishmash of gewgaws give the decor an eclectic feel.

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Magical Dining 21

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining will run from Aug. 27 through Oct. 3 this year with participating restaurants offering special three-course menus for $37.

This is the sixteenth year for the promotion, which began as an attempt to help boost business during what is historically a slow time for area restaurants. (Originally called Magical Dining Month, it ran only during September.) It quickly became one of Central Florida’s most anticipated culinary events.

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Dovecote 2018 interior

I’m guessing that DoveCote, the French brasserie in downtown Orlando, was looking forward to a cheerier summer. Just earlier this month it announced that Brian Lamparski had been hired as its new executive chef. Lamparski had previously been with Walt Disney World (sous chef at Golden Oak, according to his Linkedin profile) and had also, according to a press release, “[established] his bonafides in internationally known restaurants such as Spago’s,” which Wolfgang Puck would tell you is called Spago. (Also, bona fides.)

But it would seem that Lamparski doesn’t currently have a kitchen to cook in. A post on DoveCote’s Facebook page yesterday announced that on July 12 a fan in the kitchen’s exhaust hood “malfunctioned and broke apart, causing extensive damage.” Thus the restaurant will be closed through August 1. Not sure how the restaurant operated with a damaged hood system for more than a week; seems like an important piece of equipment in a professional kitchen.

This comes amid news of a dispute between DoveCote’s owner and the landlord for the space in the former Bank of America building (also former Barnett Bank Building and former DuPont building). According to news reports, the landlord, Southwest Value Partners, is seeking to evict the restaurant for hosting disruptive events. DoveCote’s owner, Rob Tazioli, has said that the landlord just doesn’t like that the events are attended by Black and Hispanic patrons. He says SVP has discriminatory practices.

Do not, says SVP.

Do too, says DoveCote.

The issue is expected to go before a mediator. One hopes the hood system will be fixed before then.

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Rivertail interior

Driving from the Keys to Orlando in one day isn’t impossible but it’s daunting. So on my recent road trip to South Florida, my companion and I decided to break up the return with a stopover in Ft. Lauderdale. Besides the respite, it gave me a chance to try Rivertail, which had opened in the final days of 2019.

Rivertail is the first Broward County project for Miami-based José Mendín, a James Beard nominated chef known for his Pubbelly restaurants. It’s situated on the New River, which runs parallel to Las Olas Boulevard. For those familiar with the Las Olas scene, Rivertail took over a space previously occupied by Briny Riverfront Pub.