taproom interior

It’s been a while since we’ve had an SJO Dining Deal, so let’s bring them back with our most popular offer from the past: $40 of food and drink at Tap Room at Dubsdread for $20.

Tap Room, of course, is the recent winner of two Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants, for Best Burger and Best Power Lunch. It was also a finalist for Best Brunch.

There is a limited number of certificates available, so don’t put off grabbing yours. There is a per person limit of three certificates. This deal was offered first to recipients of my e-letter, which comes out on Thursdays, so many of the certificates have already been purchased. To be among the first to know about future deals, sign up for the e-letter at this link. (Seriously, it’s only once a week and you can unsubscribe if you find it annoying; I’ll miss you terribly, but I’ll get over it.)

You can buy yours now by clicking this link. However, be award that the certificates are valid from July 1 to September 30. Beginning Oct. 1, the value of the certificate will be the purchase price, so you won’t lose your initial investment.

Click here to go to the SJO Dining Deals page for your Tap Room at Dubsdread certificate.


Tennessee interior

Within just a couple of minutes of my arrival, I learned that the chef at Tennessee Truffle is a culinary genius.

It wasn’t because of anything I’d eaten or tasted. It was because my server told me so after I said it was my first time there.

I’m not sure Mensa has a special test just for chefs. Or if Nat Russell would qualify. But I do know that some very clever choices have been made with the menu.

Siefferman plate

You may have heard about The Dinner Party Project, an event that puts people together for food and conversation. Started by Dana Marie Roquemore, TDPP was an effort by her to reconnect with Orlando after moving back to the area. She started by taking the names of people she knew and drawing seven of those names in a sort of random lottery and inviting them to her house for dinner.

Now, anyone can join in the lottery, but the dinners are still “by invitation only” from the names drawn.

But beginning June 29, Roquemore is teaming up with local artist LeAnn Siefferman for a monthly series of dinners called Making Conversations.

For the discussions, Siefferman, a ceramicist, has created special dinnerware with conversation starting designs. They’ll be used at the gatherings to lead table talk on the evening’s topic.

Those topics include:


Dubsdread Catering has been signed as the official caterer and event manager for Apopka’s planned City Center, a development that will include the existing Highland Manor.

That Victorian-style mansion has previously been known, perhaps more famously, as Townsend’s Plantation and, for a brief time, in 2005, Captain and the Cowboy (I always thought that one sounded like the title of an adult movie). In most recent years, it has been a popular spot for special events, most notably weddings.

Dubsdread’s Steve Gunter should know: His company has been catering out of the site for the past six years. Last year, he told me, they oversaw 120 weddings and had revenue of $1.2 million. I need to get into the wedding business!

The agreement with the developer, Taurus Southern Investments, gives Dubsdread a 10-year contract. So, basically, thousands of weddings and receptions. But Gunter said his team will also expand to offer school and corporate functions and will promote family celebrations.

The mansion facility won’t be the only part of City Center. (In fact, there was some discussion of razing the old house.) Taurus is planning to build a hotel on the property — those out-of-town wedding guests have to stay somewhere! — and other ancillary businesses.

Construction may begin by the end of the year.

Highland Manor got its current name when a Southern and Scottish themed restaurant opened there after Captain and the Cowboy left, perhaps on a honeymoon. I reviewed it shortly after it opened in August of 2009; it had closed by February.