If you're headed to the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center for tonight's premiere of The Nutcracker, you'll be the first to see first of two new Barnie's CoffeeKitchen cafes that will be part of the complex. The first to open will be on the second level; a first floor cafe will open in the spring. You'll be able to buy espressos and specialty coffees, hot chocolate, Irish coffee, and Santa's White Christmas Eggnog, with or without Bailey's Irish Cream. (I recommend with; I've seen many, many productions of The Nutcracker. In fact, make it a double.)

You'll also find some sweets, including BCK macarons, biscotti and blondies (but no sugar plums).

It's nice to see our hometown Barnie's CoffeeKitchen become part of the DPAC concessions. 


mynt downstairs

Mynt has moved into the Hannibal Square neighborhood, and just like its similarly spelled namesake, it's a refreshing addition. It took over the space that was previously occupied by Fresh Cafe. I've always liked the intimacy of this place — it can feel like one of the small restaurants in Brooklyn or the West Village. But Mynt's owner, Sunny Corda, has also reopened the upstairs dining area, where there is a bar, which adds more seating while still maintaining the cozy atmosphere.

Corda also owns Saffron on Sand Lake Road's Restaurant Row. But even though both restaurants are Indian, Mynt is quite a bit different.

Mynt takes a fresher and more healthful approach to its food. In fact, it uses no ghee, the type of clarified butter that is somewhat of a staple in Indian food. Instead, Corda told me, the kitchen uses more olive oil in the recipes.


WP Firebirds

My friend Matt Broffman over at Bungalower shared an email he received from a publicist for Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, which opened this year at the Market at Mills Park. That's the complex at the corner of Mills Avenue and Virginia Drive. In Orlando. Definitely Orlando. The address is 1562 N. Mills Ave. We all know that Mills Avenue, counter-intuitively, I'll grant you, becomes Orlando Avenue when it crosses the city line into Winter Park.

So why did the press release that Matt got from the pr folks repeatedly refer to the Winter Park Firebirds? Does claiming a Winter Park address impart more cachet? Is there something wrong with Orlando?

It reminded me of the "Longwood" Pebbles that was actually in Altamonte Springs all those years. Longwood, apparently, is considered tonier than Altamonte Springs. (You know, where that mall is.) But at least Pebbles was essentially right next to the city line -- you could actually see Longwood from there. Not so with Firebirds.

To its credit, Firebirds clearly states on its website that the local restaurants -- indeed the only one if Florida so far -- is firmly in Orlando.

My guess is that it was the public relations agency hired by the folks at Firebirds that made the call to pick the restaurant up and move it. To which I say, "Hey, pr flack: Orlando doesn't suck.

By the way, apparently based on my review of Firebirds in August, the young lady did not think I would be interested in learning about the new menu items. I did not receive the mailing.


tartarsKevin and Laurie Tarter, owners of Chef's Table at the Edgewater.The ever popular Chef's Table at the Edgewater in Winter Garden and the venerable Enzo's on the Lake in Longwood have been named to OpenTable's list of the best restaurants in the country. The online reservation company's annual Top 100 Restaurants in America is culled from an analysis of over five million reviews from OpenTable diners of more than 20,000 restaurants. The honorees, according to the OpenTable website, "represent the establishments where creativity, consistency and hospitality meet every meal, every day."

Congratulations to both restaurants, and especially to the Chef's Table at the Edgewater, a longtime SJO advertiser.