This won't be news to anyone, but what you pay for an item of food at a restaurant, say a plate of eggs, is not the same as you would pay to buy the ingredients at the grocery store. It's usually more (that also won't suprise). The food is marked up to take into consideration the labor involved in the preparation, the energy used, the rent on the building, the cleanup. Plus, restaurants are in the business to make a profit (that part might be news to some restaurateurs) so a certain part of the percentage added on is meant to go to the bank.

But not everything is marked up the same way. Some food items -- those eggs, for example -- may cost you a lot more, statistically speaking, than a fine foie gras. This article from WiseBread lists some common food items that you may be paying to much for if you order them in a restaurant.


Napa dining room

New year, new name.

You'll recall that when the the Peabody left Orlando, it took the Capriccio Grill Italian Steakhouse with it, leaving the new owners, Hyatt Regency Orlando, to rebrand that restaurant as Fiorenzo's. Now it seems  they've come back for Napa.

The rights to use that name for the California themed restaurant expired at the end of 2014. As of January 1, that space is now Urban Tide, a seafood centric restaurant. The name change is effective immediately, but the new menu will be rolled out over the next few weeks.

Even if they hadn't lost the rights to use the name, the Hyatt Regency folks were smart to change it. It was a lousy name for a restaurant that prided itself in using local Florida produce. And it tacitly gave argument to those who would say you can find better food in California than in Florida. We know that isn't true, especially when it comes to our bounty of seafood.

I'm looking forward to trying the new menu, and I'm happy to see the Urban Tide come in.


We packed a lot into 2014. Time to take a look back on all that happened in the Central Florida culinary community.

Notable newcomers

ScratchKappo prepKappo, the cubby hole sushi bar at East End Market, the charming small-plate place on Fairbanks Avenue; The Strand, a homey diner on Mills Avenue; Brown's New York Deli, bring on the half-sour pickles; Artisan's Table, Scott Copeland's three mealer in downtown Orlando; Soco, the Thornton Park HUE replacement with Greg Richie's Southern contemporary menu (the restaurant's parent company is an SJC consulting client); South + York, finally a nice restaurant for the Oviedo/Winter Springs crowd; Highball & Harvest, another Southern style eatery, this one at the Ritz-Carlton; Txokos Basque Kitchen, Henry and Michele Salgado's much anticipated East End Market restaurant; Bistro CloClo, authentic French cuisine in the Restaurant Row area; Hamilton's Kitchen, technically not a newcomer, but new chef Marc Kusche made it feel like it was; Kappo, creative sushi in a cramped corner of East End Market; Pig Floyd's Urban Barbakoa, fun little Mills 50 'cuerie; Royal Indian, good food for the Casselberry crowd; American Gymkhana, exciting fine Indian replacement for Raga on Restaurant Row; RusTeak College Park, second locale for the Ocoee favorite (I like this one better); Mamak Asian Street Food, tapas with an Asian flair; JJ's Grille, cute little assemblage concept on Curry Ford Road; American Q, cowboy culture meets the churrascaria; Mynt, another fine Indian concept in Winter Park's Hannibal Square; The Coop, John Rivers' homage to fried chicken.

Notable Trends
Southern cuisine (Soco, South + York, Highball & Harvest, The Coop) and Indian food as fine dining (American Gymkhana, Mynt, Royal Indian).

Burger Boom, or the Continuing Trend That Shows No Sign of Ending, saw these newcomers:


Le cirque logoEXCLUSIVE -- Is downtown Disney big enough for two Cirques?

A deal is currently in the works to bring the restaurant brands Le Cirque and Circo to Central Florida. Le Cirque would be intended for the collection of nationally known restaurants that are planned for Disney Springs at Downtown Disney. As it stands now, there are no available spaces for Le Cirque to occupy, but the officials at Disney are very interested in having it join Morimoto Asia, the Boathouse, STK and others that will surely make the waterfront complex currently under construction a dining destination for tourists and locals alike.

Circo is much closer to becoming a reality, and much closer to downtown Orlando. Negotiations are underway for it to take over the former Mingos space in the Sanctuary condominiums. According to Paul Ardaji, an independent businessman who is working with representatives of Le Cirque and Circo to put the deal together, the group would also take over the space next door, which was most recently Nick's Italian Kitchen, and develop a fast-casual French and Italian bistro. "I don't want to make it sound like it's a done deal," Ardaji told me. "We are moving forward."



I'm calling mine a saltburger.

The latest entry into the Central Florida burger wars is Smashburger, the Denver based company with more than 275 of the fast-casual burgeries in operation either as company owned or franchise operations.

The conceit here — the gimmick that is meant to make it stand apart from a BurgerFi, or Burger 21, or Five Guys, or Shake Shack, or... — is that, as the name suggests, the meat patties are flattened as they are griddled. Not too flatly so as to remove all the juices, but just enough to remove the roundness of the meat ball and form a bunable patty. This is not a new concept, in fact, this is often referred to as the diner style of burger. It's favored among some burger circles because of the crispy edges that the flattening allows. It's anathema to those who insist on a rare or even medium rare burger because the short distance between the top and the bottom of the patty makes anything but a medium to medium well temperature all but impossible.