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SearSea verandah

Seemingly out of nowhere, a big new JW Marriott has appeared and along with it a pretty darned good restaurant, Sear + Sea Woodfire Grill.

The hotel is a new neighbor of other large hotels like the Waldorf Astoria, Hilton and Wyndham in the area known as Bonnet Creek. In fact, if you sit on the restaurant’s comfortably spacious veranda, as I did on my recent visit, you’ll have a view of the actual creek and its woody banks just below.

As you might deduce from the clever name, Sear + Sea is a steak and seafood restaurant, which might sound a bit ho-hum at first. But the menu, under the direction of chef de cuisine Alex Pyser, is creative and appealing.

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Pomodoro ingredients

I have a renewed respect for the pizzaiolas of the world.

Chef Justin Plank of Terralina Crafted Italian restaurant at Disney Springs joined me, virtually, in my kitchen to walk me through making a pizza.

It did not go well.

I explain all that in the video, but there is nothing wrong with Plank’s recipe, just the way I executed it. And executed is an apt word.

Watch the video then check out the recipe. Be sure you use high-gluten flour and not gluten flour. Other tips in the video.

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Cavos ext

Cavo’s Bar & Kitchen was another of those restaurants I had visited just before the shutdown in March and was waiting for things to calm down before telling you about. In mid March, we were expecting a lockdown of maybe a few weeks. Seven months later, I’m clearing out the files and figured I’d go ahead and give you my impressions from those early days.

Which were generally positive, I should mention. Cavo’s doesn’t pretend to be any more than it is, which is basically a bar with a food menu – something alcohol-only bars have recently been struggling to become, even though the governor has given the go-ahead for bars to reopen, regardless of food menus. (Just a thought here, but if you’re a bar owner who decided to drop the idea of serving food once Phase 3 was announced, you may want to reconsider; winter is coming.)

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tapatoro interior

Here’s something to do, and I know you’ve all bee looking for something to do.

Tapa Toro, the tapas and Spanish restaurant, is hosting a cooking class on Oct. 15 as a farewell to Hispanic Heritage Month. The class will be limited to 12 participants to assure social distancing. The class and the eating of the class project will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the restaurant at 8441 International Drive. Cost is $54 plus tax and tip and reservations are required. Make them here.

  • Chefs de France has reopened at Epcot.
  • The Ravenous Pig is opening its beer garden Friday at 4 p.m. If you’re not available then, stop by beginning at noon on weekends. Work is still being done on the mobile kitchen for the outdoor space. In the meantime, food will come from the restaurant’s kitchen.
  • Michael Collantes, the affable owner of Fillipino Taglish at Lotte Plaza Market, is partnering with Denni Cha of Kaizen Izakaya to open Soseki, an omakase restaurant next door to Vines & Forks at the Wine Bar on Fairbanks Avenue.
  • Yelp, the crowd-sourced review site that people love to hate, unless those people happen to own a restaurant, in which case there is no love, has announced a new initiative to alert the public to businesses that have been accused of racism. According to Yelp’s website, if an incident involving racism occurs it will issue a “public attention alert.” If there is “resounding evidence of egregious, racist actions from a business owner or employee, such as using overtly racist slurs or symbols” the business’s listing will be stamped with an “accused of racist behavior” alert.

Seeing as how the restaurant reviews on Yelp are always honest and fair, I can’t imagine anything going wrong with this new alert system.

  • Orlando Meats is moving to Winter Park. The Virginia Drive butcher (and maker of a really terrific burger) will vacate its cozy space next door to Santiago’s Bodega at the end of the year and take over the more sizable digs that most recently was the home of Todo Sushi at Ravuadage Winter Park.
  • The space that briefly was Earth Fare, an organic grocery store in SoDo, will become...Earth Fare. The grocer closed all of its stores nationwide earlier this year, about the same time that Lucky’s Market’s luck ran out. A new ownership group that includes former Earth Fare management is apparently behind the reanimation. No date announced for reopening, but it’s not like they have a lot to do to the space – it was practically brand new when it closed.

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KnifeSpoon top

Knife & Spoon, the much anticipated restaurant that replaced the estimable Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton, opened on Wednesday. Not surprisingly, its delayed debut was not caused by construction slowdowns but rather the pandemic that has affected so many restaurants. The upside, if pandemics are allowed to have an upside, is that the developers were able to engineer the space to meet safety protocols rather than having to retool, as so many other restaurants have done.

KnifeSpoon sambonet

The knife of the name is an actual knife, a rather impressive Sambonet in this case, and signifies the steak specialty of the menu. Given the quality of the meat, however, an instrument with such a honed blade might be considered – you should pardon the expression – overkill. But we’ll come back to that.

The spoon of the name is not a spoon, or at least not a spoon found on polite tables. Instead, it references a fishing lure known as a spoon, which then leads to the seafood offerings. (More ancient mariners would tell you to look for largemouth bass, salmon or trout on a list of spoon-caught fish, but I saw none; it’s a clever name nonetheless.)

The Knife is also a nod to John Tesar, the Dallas chef and restaurateur, who owns Knife-named restaurants there. His accomplishments, as listed on the Knife & Spoon webpage, include being the pseudonymous Jimmy Sears in Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential”; appearances on the Today Show and Top Chef; and being “famously entangled in a feud with Dallas food critic Leslie Brenner.” That feud, which included a negative review from Brenner and Tesar’s two-word response, happened in 2014, so maybe it’s time to let it go.