Lac Viet ext

I keep a list of places to visit, review or write about, and for some time now I’ve had en entry that read, “Lac Viet Bistro is now King Crab Shack.” I guess I didn’t move fast enough on that one because the new note reads, “Lac Viet is now King Crab Shack is now Sweet Buns Bakery & Cafe.” SBB&C is from John Zhao, who also owns the very good YH Seafood Clubhouse, and although the name suggests it’s mostly pastries, Sweet Buns Bakery & Cafe will also feature savory Hong Kong-style dishes when it opens in December.

Longtimers will recall that the building on Colonial Drive was a French restaurant called La Normandie for many years and then was Lemon Grass Bistro before Lac Viet moved in. (It pays to keep notes.)

Sorry to see that Chai Thai, the charming restaurant on Orange Avenue in the SoDo District, has closed. It had opened in late 2009 and was a second location for a restaurant on Curry Ford Road. The original location eventually closed and is now where Pho & Roll rolls.


Maxines brulee

There’s a lot of history in the building on Shine Avenue that has been the home of Maxine’s on Shine for the past decade. The structure started out as a grocery market, but as a restaurant site it has held East Side Cafe, Derby Court, Shine Avenue Deli, Deli Down Under (I actually missed that one), Kia Rose, Union, Union City Tavern, Bravissimo and Shine Neighborhood Kitchen. Current owners Kirt and Maxine Earhart seem to have put an end to the revolving door of restaurant concepts and they’ve recently added a historical note of their own: Maxine’s was on the list of recommended restaurants in the inaugural Florida edition of the Michelin Guide.

There’s history in Maxine’s kitchen, too, where George Vogelbacher has been cooking since 2014. Previously, Vogelbacher owned a restaurant called Le Cordon Bleu that was in the building where Ravenous Pig currently stands. When a fire shut down Le Cordon Bleu and the neighboring Harper’s Tavern, Vogelbacher moved to a restaurant space next to the Enzian Theater in Winter Park and opened Nicole St. Pierre.


Portillo ext

Not too long ago I told you about my experience visiting the Orlando White Castle and how baffling I found its popularity.

But on the same evening I trekked across the parking lot to another Central Florida newcomer, Portillo’s, the Chicago-style beef and hot doggerie. And I liked it a lot.

Portillo’s began in 1963 when Dick Portillo opened a wiener stand called The Dog House in Villa Park, Ill., in metropolitan Chicago. Eventually he slapped his own name on it and soon after a chain was born. There are now more than 70 locations, most still in Illinois. Besides Orlando, there are Florida Portillo’s in Brandon, Tampa and St. Petersburg.


Enzo sign

Enzo’s on the Lake, the venerable Longwood Italian restaurant that has been a special occasion destination for Central Floridians for 42 years, has been sold. The new owner is John Khalil, an Orlando dentist with University Dental Group, who is expected to close the deal next week and greet the staff on Tuesday.

When reached Wednesday afternoon, Khalil was with a patient and unable to speak at length about his plans for the restaurant, but others have said that the name, concept and staff are expected to stay the same.


 SipSavor top

Last week I told you about the Epicurious Progressive Dinner Tour going on Fridays and Saturdays at Waldorf Astoria and Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. This week they’re announcing the inaugural Epicurious Sip & Savor Event, Friday, Dec. 9, from 7 to 11 p.m.

This will be a one-night-only upscale food and wine tasting showcasing the resort’s 13 restaurants and lounges with 35 tastings at eight culinary stations and nine pop-up bars. Stations will include the popular restaurants La Luce and Bull & Bear, plus Peruvian Street Fare, Southern Smokehouse, Chef Franck Riffaud’s Grand Patisserie and Maître Cuisiniers de France.