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City Pub booths

It took more than a year, but the transition — and bifurcation — of North Quarter Tavern into City Pub, a bar and restaurant, and Bitters & Bottles Cocktail Lounge is finally complete. The two new businesses opened with the New Year.

City Pub’s website describes itself as a “chef-driven gastropub” with Adam Dierks at the wheel. The menu features the expected burgers, flatbreads and other pub grub, such as fish and chips, cottage pie and roast chicken. Is there such a thing as an autonomously driven gastropub?

City Pub occupies the corner space, including the front patio, that North Quarter Tavern held.

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Bull and Bear

Bull & Bear, the fine dining steakhouse at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, has been voted 2018 Best Restaurant Overall in our Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants. Two restaurants — Victoria & Albert’s and Kadence — tied for second place. Osprey Tavern came in fourth.

Of Bull & Bear, Richard E. Brown wrote, “Great Food and the staff is top notch, all under the directions of chef Richard.”

Victoria & Albert’s was a winner in this category last year, as well. Kadence, the nine-seat sushi restaurant in Orlando, is new on the list.

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Selam platter

Selam Ethiopian & Eritrean Cuisine has been voted the Best New Restaurant of 2018. Wine Bar George takes second place and Winter Park’s The Glass Knife is third.

Many of the people who voted for Selam took the time to leave lengthy comments supporting their choice. “We've traveled and visited many restaurants across the state,” wrote RealVision Enterprises. “However this one deserves our review after a great experience with excellent food, excellent drink, fantastic staff/customer service and an excellent manager running the show. Definitely worth many more visits in the future.”

“To me Selam Ethiopian/ Eritrean restaurant is the best because the food is gluten free and includes vegan and vegetarian dishes and they also have delicious meat varieties, the customer service is wonderful, family friendly environment with a great coffee ceremony,” wrote Ferewion Yibkaw.

Wine Bar George, of course, is the Disney Springs restaurant owned by master sommelier George Miliotes. And although the Glass Knife’s forte is with cakes and other baked goods, its savory menu also has a lot of fans.

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Pisces patio

Apparently, I haven’t dined at Pisces Rising in Mount Dora since the middle of 2004. At least that’s the date on a yellowed framed copy of a review I wrote in June of that year. Since then, I’ve learned, there have been at least a couple of ownership changes, so I figured it was time to check it out again.

Not only ownership changes, the concept is different, too. Originally a seafood centric restaurant — Pisces, after all — its menu is decidedly less fishy in its current iteration.

Actually, I’d be hard pressed to put my finger on a central menu theme. Dishes jump from region to region and even to different countries. But a general goal, it seems, is to Floridate them with a local twist using ingredients from nearby farms.

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 Wine Bar George Ext

It’s been a busy year for Central Florida restaurants, with dozens of openings, not as many closings and all sorts of newsy tids and bits. The flog published 425 articles this year, more than 100 of them restaurant reviews. Here are some highlights:

Notable Openings
Maria & Enzo’s, Enzo’s Hideaway, The Edison, Terralina Crafted Italian, Chicken Guy and Wine Bar George all helped to keep Disney Springs the center of high-profile restaurant openings.
The Hangry Bison — New Winter Park Villager with killer burgers and cocktails.