Saffron21 ext

I recently dropped off a long-overdue Foodster Award for Best Indian to Saffron on Sand Lake Road, and based on the lunch I also ordered, it is still deserving of the honor.

Saffron is part of the group of Indian restaurants that includes Madras Cafe, the all vegetarian and vegan restaurant, and the estimable Mynt in Winter Park’s Hannibal Square neighborhood.

Saffron, and its sister restaurants, has implemented a well-thought-out online ordering system that is easy to use. Its menu is a sizable one, however, so you’ll need some time to browse through all the tempting entries.


Portillo bus

  • Portillo’s to the People: Portillo’s, the Chicago based beeffeeder, is parking its beef bus at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando through Jan. 30. Known for its beef sandwiches and hot dogs, Portillo’s plans to open its first Central Florida restaurant on March on Palm Parkway.
  • Shake Shack, the New York burgery, plans to open its first drive-through facility. Or drive-thru, as shorthand would have it. Artist renditions show three lanes, two for people who want to just drive up and order and one for people who preordered using an app. Considering Shake Shack’s history of long lines, you’d think maybe they’d have a nonglobal-warming lane just for electric vehicles. Later this year, at Vineland Pointe.
  • Bread & Co., the Asian artisan bakery, is back operating out of its facility on Fairbanks Avenue near Orlando Avenue in Winter Park.



  • Frontyard Festival, the clever initiative to make use of the vast space in front of the Dr. Phillips Center for concerts and other events, is adding a food element to go with the entertainment, including a Sunday brunch series. Seating is in boxes, just like in chichi theaters except these are constructed with metal pipes that look like scaffolding sections and they’re all on the ground instead of above the orchestra section. But they allow for distancing. And each box has a QR code you can scan with your phone to order drinks and food that someone will deliver to you. Upcoming brunches include Latin music performer Ángel López (Jan. 31); opera with Gabriel Preisser and the Opera Orlando chorus (Feb. 7); and jazz with members of the Jazz Orchestra (Feb. 14). Details and tickets at the Frontyard Festival website.
  • Want more outdoor options? The Promenade at Sunset Walk will have a Super Bowl watch party on Feb. 7, which as luck would have it is the day the big game is being played this year.


Whatthechuck kitchen

Just under the name What the Chuck and its big orange W logo (which was vaguely reminiscent of Whataburger’s) it says “A burger joint.” That pretty much sums it up.

Well, not entirely. I suppose you should also know that the burgers this joint offers are of the smash genre, wherein the patty is pressed down during grilling and flattened somewhat instead of being a thick and juicy hunk of ground beef oozing with red juices. Smashed burgers cannot be ordered, say, medium-rare because as soon as they’re smashed they’re pretty much beyond that point. Which is not to say such burgers can’t also be satisfying. You should just know before you go.


Hourglass Hope

A Spoon Full of Hope, the retail product line of Second Harvest of Central Florida, has teamed up with Hourglass Brewing to present An Hourglass Full of Hope, which will bring you a glass full of beer.

A steam lager, actually, made with ASFOH’s orange blossom honey. According to Hourglass’s tasting notes, the beer has “fragrant notes of spiced sap and swirling sweet lemon-lime citrus” there are also “flourishes of golden biscuits and freshly baked bread” plus “a subtle caramel finish” that comes from resting the lager on cracked honeycomb toffee that was made with the same honey. You can experience all that – and help fund Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program – at Hourglass Brewing, the addresses for which you’ll find on its website.

  • Speaking of brewing, Gatlin Hall Brewing is still on tap (see what I did there?) to open this quarter inSoSoDo. Besides an onsite brewing facility, the hall will feature food vendors. Final permitting has been completed and the owners are looking for a mid March opening. Also moving into the strip mall at South Orange Avenue and Gatlin Avenue will be a second location of Winter Park’s The Porch, I hear.