Poke Hana bowl

  • It’s starting to look like it’s going to be a race in 2019 to see which concept becomes more dominant in Central Florida, ramen or poke. Pokéworks puts its bid in with a new location in the Stonehill Plaza in Oviedo. As part of its grand opening celebration, it is offering poke bogos on Saturday, Feb. 2. Also, I’m told, the first 50 customers that day will receive “a coveted Pokéworks branded coconut.” I can’t imagine what that is and I’m afraid to meet someone who might covet one.
  • Kona Poké has opened in Lake Mary. It will celebrate its opening on Fri., Jan. 25, with food specials. There is no mention of coconuts.
  • Also Friday, Paddlefish at Disney Springs will offer Seafood Secrets Cooking Class with executive chef Steve Richard. Cooked seafood — what a concept. Cost is $60 per person. You must bring your own coconut.


Delicious Disney table

Walt Disney World has announced the first three dates for its Delicious Disney Chef Series — Storytelling with Food, an ultra fine dining event that showcases the talents of the resort’s top chefs.

The first dinner will be Jan. 28 at Markham’s at Golden Oak, the exclusive community of multi-million dollar homes. Markham’s is the community’s clubhouse and private restaurant that is usually off limits to nonresidents.

Dominique Filoni, chef at Citricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, will lead a team of chefs in the evening’s theme: A celebration of the 60th anniversary of Sleeping Beauty. The actual menus are always a surprise, but each course will somehow be tied to an aspect of the classic animated feature. I’m going out on a limb and predicting there will be apples somewhere.

The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. with a reception followed by dinner in the elegant dining room. Tickets for this dinner are $399 per person, all inclusive. Reservations, if they are still available, may be made by calling 407-939-5773.


Steak NY 1 copy

The steakhouses listed in the poll below have advanced from the nominating phase and are the finalists in our 2019 Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants — Best Steakhouse category.

Please vote for your favorite steakhouse by clicking the circle next to its name and then the VOTE button at the bottom of the poll.

Note: Even if you voted in the nominating phase, you must vote again for a finalist — no votes were carried over from the preliminary poll.

After you place your vote, leave a comment explaining why you voted the way you did. Be sure to mention the name of the restaurant in your comment or we won’t know which steakhouse you’re referring to. We may use your comment when we announce the winners.

Voting will continue through Feb. 6 and the winners will be announced on Feb. 7.


Boucherie exterior

In the 15 or so times I’ve been to France, I’ve never once come across La Boucherie, which, on the website for the chain’s first U.S. location, now open in Orlando, claims to be “France’s most popular steakhouse.”

So I can’t attest to how the experience of the Orlando restaurant compares to one in Paris. Or Morocco, Russia or Thailand for that matter. I wonder if they use the same ridiculously flimsy napkins, and if so why. Or if their menus have garish photographs like you’d see in a 24-hour diner. Or trite phrases in menu descriptions like “Need ‘oui’ say more?”, which doesn’t really make sense.


Epcot Arts panna

Next up in Epcot’s revolving door of jamborees is the Festival of the Arts, opening Friday, January 18. You’ll have 39 days to experience culture a la Disney before it ends Feb 25 to make way for the next festival.

When most people thing of artistic endeavors they think painting, sculptures or maybe even performing arts, all of which you’ll find at the FotA. But Epcot gives equal time to the culinary arts, perhaps because the organizers know that more people are likely to shell out some money for something to eat than for something to hang on a wall.

At a media preview event Wednesday morning, I got to sample some of the foods that will be available throughout the park at the various kiosks, called Food Studios for this particular festival.