Roadtrip Dunbrody

DUBLIN -- What a trip.

I'm sitting in the airport in Dublin after a whirlwind tour that included a fabulous meal at a Michelin-starred in this city; a visit to Dublin's most famous brewery where we learned how to pour a perfect pint of Guinness (and drank same); a visit to the last remaining water-powered grain mill in Ireland; one of the largest strawberry farms in the country; a livestock ranch with cattle destined for Raglan Road, the Irish pub in Downtown Disney (the meat anyway, if not the hoof); a cooking class with master chef Kevin Dundon (who is undoubtedly the most famous chef in Ireland); visited the oldest working lighthouse in the world and toured a hokum-laden "haunted mansion" (why should America have the only tourist traps?); went fishing on the Irish Sea, caught a cod, and cleaned, filleted, cooked and ate same; and experienced the grandeur and Irish hospitality of Dunbrody Country House in County Wexford, the hotel, cooking school and, not insignificantly, local pub operated by Dundon and his wife, Catherine. It was a lot to pack into four days and it was all wonderful (well, except for the haunted mansion, and I'll tell you about that some other time).


 Izziban interior

This is undoubtedly the largest sushi restaurant I’ve ever seen. Izziban Sushi & BBQ occupies a warehouse sized building on the shore of Lake Barton, which lies between Semoran Boulevard and Orlando Executive Airport. There have been a few failed businesses here, including a gay bar.

There is an immense indoor dining area and a couple of very large sushi bars, including one that is shaped like the bow of a big boat. There is also a large covered patio, screened in but with nice views of the lake and planes taking off from the airport. Its rusticity is more suitable for the type of fried foods you’d find at fish camps, but it isn’t inappropriate for sushi to be associated with a waterfront locale.


Ra sushi fundraiser

RA Sushi at Pointe Orlando is observing Nicky's Week, a chain-wide fundraiser for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital now through Sunday. During the week, RA Sushi will donate 100 percent of the sales from select menu items to the hospital in remembrance of Nicholas “Nicky” Mailliard, of Scottsdale, Arizona, who died of brain cancer in 2005 at the age of 13. Nicky was a nephew of one of RA Sushi's founders.

The special Nicky’s Week menu includes: edamame, Tootsy Maki, Shrimp Nigiri, Pork Gyoza, Sesame Garlic Chicken, Garlic Citrus Yellowtail, plus a variety of select beverages.

This is the 11th year for the event, which has raised more than $1.5 million in that time.

RA Sushi is at Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Drive. The phone number is 407-4454-5600.



Fresh Made omelet

The guy at the next booth, a Realtor, apparently, with no secrets, has a booming voice, so I shouldn't be surprised that I'm sitting in a place that used to be called Loudmouth Grill. That place was short lived. In fact, I didn't get around to visiting it before it closed. From what I had heard from others, I didn't miss much.

Now it's a business called Fresh Made Kitchen, which sounds more like a slogan than a name. It's embracing all of the current buzzwords and phrases: Chef driven, food focused, hormone free, free range. I think most of us have become inured to these terms.

Although it is a multipage thing (with pictures; my goodness the pictures!), the menu is fairly straightforward. All-day breakfast items, sandwiches, flatbreads, meat, poultry and fish. Several of the entrees sounded intriguing, and I wish I had chosen one of those instead of the omelet I got.


Something smells fishy here, and I don't mean the fried smelt on the fish and ribs platter.

I recently reviewed a fairly new Southern style barbecue joint on West Colonial Drive called Southern Smoke Fish & Ribs. It was an OK review -- you can read it here: http://goo.gl/RQdGO2 -- not the most glowing but it had some nice points. I even included a link to the review in my recent e-letter.

Then I heard from a reader that the restaurant had closed. When I called the listed number, a staff person answered. I asked if I had reached Southern Smoke Fish & Ribs and he allowed that I had. I identified myself and said I was calling because someone had told me the restaurant was closed.

"That's right," he said. We are currently closed while we work on the menu to make it better, he told me. I said that it seemed an odd decision to close a restaurant just to make some menu changes, especially a restaurant that had been open for just a few months. He hesitated and tried to get someone else -- I assume an owner -- to offer more elaboration, but he came back with that standard line.

Sorry, I'm just not buying that. My guess is that something else is going on here. It's very possible that they've been challenged on the use of the name -- there's another restaurant within Florida operating under that name. It could be something else, such as the owner is independently wealthy and doesn't mind stopping all incoming revenue while tweaking the menu.

If it is the name, perhaps they can make a subtle change. I suggest Southern Smoke and Mirrors.