It's the Chow Hound Report. A roundup of the week's restaurant reviews and news from Scott Joseph's Orlando Restaurant Guide.
Naming restaurants is hard work. Unless you go for the obvious and default to something like Joe's Diner, it's difficult to come up with something clever, catchy and memorable that also conveys the concept. Hawkers is one that clicks on all levels. On the other hand, just about any restaurant with a number in its name is a head scratcher. I know there's a Tex-Mex restaurant in Winter Park called Cocina something or other, but I can never remember the number part of the name. It's the area code for Dallas, which would count as clever for a Tex-Mex restaurant, but memorable? No.
Like I said, it's hard work.
So what to make of Something Fishy, a seafood restaurant in Apopka? Clever? Sort of. Memorable? Yes, it is. Advisable? Ehhhhh. Should the Black Bean Deli rename itself the Musical Fruit Cafe?
The nominees for Best Restaurant Overall were chosen based on past performance and critical review, previous nominations and votes, and standing in the culinary community.
The nominees for Best New Restaurant were chosen from among the notable restaurants that opened within the past 18 months.
Unlike previous categories, write-in candidates will not be selected.
To thank you for participating in selecting the winners, Scott Joseph's Orlando Restaurant Guide will give away a $100 gift card to the winner of the Best Restaurant Overall category. The winner will be selected by random drawing from among the list of Scott's e-letter recipients. If you already receive the weekly mailing, you're already entered to win. If not, click here and enter your email address; simple as that.
Voting will continue through Jan. 10 and the winning restaurant will be announced in the Jan. 11 edition of the e-letter.
After you place your ballot, leave a comment telling us why you think it's the Best. We may use your comments when the winners are announced. Be sure to give the name of the restaurant in your comment, otherwise we won't know which one you're referring to.
If you plan to head out to Epcot for the Candlelight Processional, or just to see the holiday decorations, you might want to consider having dinner at Tutto Italia in the Italy pavilion to add a little buon Natale.
Since the folks at Patina Restaurant Group took over the food operations at the pavilion, adding Via Napoli pizzeria and Tutto Gusto wine bar, the quality of the food has gone up considerably, making it one of the better dining destinations in the park. Executive chef Renzo Barcatta has added some new items for the winter menu and I was recently invited to taste them.
This won’t come as a huge surprise to any of you, especially those of you in the restaurant business — or any business, really — but many of the reviews you read on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor aren’t real. I know, it’s like finding out about Santa Claus, right? (You do know about Santa, don’t you?)
Most of us who read crowd-sourced reviews know to take them with the proverbial grain of salt. The most glowing reviews of flawless dining experiences often have the whiff of having been written by the chef’s mother; the most damning notices can usually be dismissed as the work of someone with a score to settle, a disgruntled former employee or even a competitor. You have to learn how to spot the fake reviews. Pro tip: Look at how many critiques the reviewer has posted for other restaurants. This is a first-ever review and it's the best place ever? Say hi, mom.
But that doesn't mean the system can't be further gamed. And to prove it, a man in London set out to make his restaurant the number one restaurant in the city on TripAdvisor's site. And he did it. The restaurant, The Shed at Dulwich, went from last in the site's London listings, 18,149th, to number one, the best restaurant in one of the largest metropolitan cities in the world in just a matter of months.
There was just one problem: the restaurant doesn't exist.