michelin miami

MIAMI – It was Tampa’s night in Miami Thursday as the Michelin Guide held its star reception at LoanDepot Park to announce the additions to the Florida 2023 edition, which focuses on Miami, Tampa and Orlando. Tampa was the only area that failed to win a star in the inaugural Florida guide last year.

Three restaurants emerged with one star each: Koya, Eric Fralick, chef; Lilac, John Fraser and John Werksman; and Rocca, Bryce Bonsack.

But the real question of the night is: In what world does Victoria & Albert’s, the venerable restaurant at the Grand Floridian with some of the most exquisite food the the Southeast, not rate at least one star? Most people going in to the event were expecting it to come in with at least two stars. In retrospect it was telling that the Michelin organization did not even invite representative from Victoria & Albert’s or Toledo. Neither was Lordfer Lalicon of Kaya.


Salt and the Cellar by Akira Back Orlando

I seriously don’t know what to make of Salt & the Cellar by Akira Back in the lowercased ette hotel in Kissimmee. On one hand, the food is as well crafted as you would expect from an internationally known chef, and it shows proof of the promised sourcing of fresh ingredients.

On the other hand... Well, there are several other hands.


Brick burger

Here’s something for anyone who’s ever thought, “Gee, I really like burgers but I sure wish they were shaped like a Lego block.”

It’s also for people who don’t mind buying a ticket for an event that doesn’t yet have a date.

Brick Burger, according to a press release, “brings together the beloved world of LEGO® and the mouth-watering flavours of gourmet burgers...” The release also says that Brick Burger is a new concept coming to Orlando in September. But a closer read makes it look like the whole thing is a popup event rather than a restaurant moving into the area.

And September is the closest the announcement comes to an exact date. The event’s website warns people that they’re buying a ticket to an event that does not yet have a specific day or days. And the cost of that ticket is $47, which gets you a burger and one drink (soft, beer or wine).

And the location? They’ll say only that it will be somewhere on Jeff Fuqua Boulevard, which you probably know is the address of Orlando International Airport.

Maybe the organizers are thinking about a quick getaway after ticket buyers realize they’ve paid forty-seven bucks for a Lego-shaped burger and a drink.

I reached out to Denmark-based Lego to see if the pop-up restaurant is officially approved and received this reply via message: “We can say that this hasn't been approved by our corporation. Our team has been made aware of the articles going around and will take further action if necessary.”

This one just might be bricked before it even pops up.


Ruth chris logo

Orlando based Darden announced last week that it would acquire Winter Park based Ruth’s Hospitality Group, owner of the upscale Ruth’s Chris Steak House chain. The purchase price is $715 million, or about what it would cost for steaks for a party of 10 at Ruth’s.

The acquisition of another premium steak brand is an interesting choice for Darden, which already has the Capital Grille in its portfolio. Ruth’s Chris has 154 locations worldwide, 80 of which are company owned or operated.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House was founded in 1965 in New Orleans by Ruth Fertel, who bought an existing restaurant called Chris Steak House (which explains the odd name). Fertel had no restaurant experience; she was a a single mom with two sons and working as a lab technician at Tulane Medical School when she saw the restaurant listed for sale in the newspaper. Not long after Fertel bought the business, a hurricane hit the city and knocked out the power. Faced with losing her inventory of steaks, Fertel had her chefs cook them up and serve them to emergency workers, earning her a loyal base of new customers.


Ottos intOtto's High Dive in Orlando

The Michelin Guide has announced the addition of eight new restaurants to its Bib Gourmand designation ahead of next week’s awards announcement in Miami.

Added to the Florida guide’s Bib Gourmand list are Isan Zaap, Otto’s High Dive and Taste of Chengdu in Orlando and Norigami in Winter Garden. Also joining the list are Gorkhali Kitchen and Psomi in Tampa and Rosie’s and Jaguar Sun in Miami. The Florida edition of the estimable guidebook includes restaurants in Miami, Tampa and Orlando areas.

Bib Gourmand restaurants, according to Michelin, are those that offer good food at a good price. “The restaurants joining the Bib Gourmand selection prove that foodies can find flavorful international feasts right in their own backyard – in Miami, Orlando or Tampa,” said Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the Michelin Guides.

The May 11 ceremony in Miami will announce the winners of the coveted Michelin stars as well as those restaurants not quite worthy of stars but still recommended.