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Magdin money

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining promotion raised $186,805 for the designated charities this year.

The majority of the funds were distributed to The Able Trust, an organization that assists people with disabilities in obtaining employment. This year Visit Orlando also donated $2000 to one local nonprofit supporting workforce development in each of Orange County’s six commission districts. They included: BIG SIS, Inc.; Central Florida Urban League; HOPE CommUnity Center; PACE Center for Girls; Rebuild Self Care; and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

This was the 17th year for Magical Dining, which ran from late August to early October. Each year, participating restaurants offer special three-course, prix fixe menus and pledge $1 from each dinner sold. So, 186,805 people took advantage of the Magical Dining promotion at 108 restaurants this year.

Though it did not supply specific figures, Visit Orlando said that Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House was the overall top-performing restaurant this year and the Ravenous Pig had the largest increase from the previous year. Churrascaria steakhouse BoiBrazil was the top newcomer earner.

Magical Dining has raised more than $2 million for local charities since 2009.

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Wine4Oysters ext

Wine 4 Oysters Bar & Bites is a charming little restaurant on South Alafaya Trail in the Shoppes of Eastwood. It’s a small storefront space with a few tables and chairs along one wall and a bar on the other. That the spaces at the bar seem to fill up before the tables lets you know that this is a neighborhoody kind of place.

It’s a mom and pop operation run by Tatiana Golenkova and Andrey Makhotin, who are mom and pop to Nikolay, who also works at the restaurant on weekends.

As the name suggests, oysters are a forte here, but this is not your divey kind of oyster bar with a concrete counter and shuckings scraped on the floor. The wine part of the name conveys its more boutiquey atmosphere, which may be one of the reasons that women made up most of the guests on the evening I visited recently.

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Local Flavor is a collaboration between Scott Joseph's Orlando Restaurant Guide and The Community Paper.

White Wolf Burger

White Wolf Cafe has been a mainstay of Ivanhoe Village District for 31 years — before it was known as Ivanhoe Village Main Street District. Back then, you’d more likely hear it referred to as Antique Row because of the many antique shops along that stretch of Orange Avenue.

In fact, White Wolf started as part antique shop and part cafe, and in those early days, a large white German shepherd named Casper (the putative wolf in the name) could be found lolling around the store, effectively eluding the glance of health inspectors.

Casper left us long ago, and owners Michael and Anne Marie Hennessey turned their focus to the restaurant side of the business. Here, Anne Marie Hennessey shares the recipe for White Wolf’s award-winning Baton Rouge Burger, so named for the Cajun notes from the blackened seasonings. The burger started out as a burger-of-the-month special but proved so popular that it is now part of the regular menu.

Find the full recipe at YourCommunityPaper.com.

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MPaul22 ext

The France pavilion at Epcot has reopened its boutique restaurant Monsieur Paul, which had been shuttered since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. It returns with a new concept that is ambitious both in scope and price, especially considering its location within a theme park.

It is presenting the “gastronomic meal of the French,” a festive meal that celebrates special occasions that in 2010 was inscribed in UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It doesn’t get much grander than that.

In more simplistic terms, it is a multi-course, prix fixe dinner that according to the dictates should begin with an apéritif, end with liqueurs and feature in between at least four courses – a starter, fish and/or meat with vegetables, cheese and dessert.

That’s all there, and more, at Monsieur Paul. Plus the added fun of having fellow diners in shorts, t-shirts and the occasional Minnie Mouse headdress. A note on the restaurant’s web page reads: “Guests are expected to dress accordingly in attire that adheres to the restaurant's sophisticated and upscale aesthetic. Please no swimwear.” So at least there’s that.

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christmas table

The lists have been made and I’ve checked them twice (because I don’t have a copy editor on staff).

Our Holiday Dining pages have listings for restaurants with special offerings on the Eves – Christmas and New Year’s – as well as all restaurants that have indicated they will be serving on Christmas Day.

Take a look and make your selections, then reservations, for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve dining.