tripadvisorVictoria & Albert's, the ultra fine dining restaurant at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, has been cited in TripAdvisor's list of Travelers' Favorite Fine Dining Restaurants in the U.S., coming in at number five. The restaurants that precede it in the list are, in order: Alinea, Chicago; Eleven Madison Park, New York; Restaurant Gary Danko, San Francisco; and Hall's Chophouse, Charleston. 

The list is based on reviews and ratings of users of the TripAdvisor website. TripAdvisor calls itself the "world's largest travel agency," and is a common stop for people planning vacations to look for advice and comments from other travelers who have gone before.

Chef Scott Hunnel's restaurant has been awarded numerous awards over the years, including presitgious top citations from Mobil and AAA. The one recognition that has eluded it is a James Beard Foundation award. Perhaps the judges for those awards use TripAdvisor when planning their vacations to Orlando and they will finally discover what those of us in Central Florida always knew: Victoria & Albert's is one of the finest restaurants in the country.

Here's a link to the full list of TripAdvisor's Best Fine Dining Restaurants.

olv logoOLV, the oddly named restaurant in the Sodo center (AKA the complex anchored by Super Target at Orange Avenue and Grant Street, is "closed until further notice." At least that's the notice that has been posted on the restaurant's Facebook page. But assistant manager Cheryl Hardaway says the status is most likely indefinitely. "We have issues," she said. The investment group that owns the restaurant, most of them in South Florida, are looking for a new owner and investor. One of the initial owners, Umberto Perez, left the company earlier this year, according to Hardaway. It was Perez who came up with the name, which is not an acronym for anything. Perez told me when the restaurant was in development, back in 2009, that it didn't mean anything. 

OLV opened in August of 2009. I must admit it lasted longer than I thought it would. And it may go on. Hardaway said that she and the other 20 or so employees are holding out hope that it will reopen. "But it will probably be under a different name," she said.

Good move.

H/T Greg Cason

Pig Floyd patio

There's a lot to like about Pig Floyd's, the self described Urban Barbakoa, beginning with the whimsical name. I also like what they've done to the place. The tiny freestanding building at 1326 N. Mills Ave. has never looked better. It was essentially gutted and bears little resemblence to the restaurant that used to be home to Atilla's Steak & Salad (simply Steak & Salad before that), Friends Restaurant, and Kim Long.

Pig Floyd interior

The decor befits the urban designation, with whitewashed brick walls, bare floor, metal chairs and whirligig light fixtures. An open kitchen and a bar to sit and eat at were nice touches, too. And although some of the previous tenants had tables outside, they didn't have the built-out patio that Floyd's owners installed, adding a wall to shield some of the unattractive traffic from Mills Avenue.

MingosEast interior

I'm confused. And I don't think I'm the only one.

We have Mingos, which took over the space in the Sanctuary condominium building that was Lotus and, before that, Prickly Pear. (Before that it was Graze, and before that it was a vacant lot.) Mingos has been in existence less than a year. When I reviewed it, in January, I found that it had made some improvements over Lotus, but then the only way to go was up. It was better, but it had a long way to go before I could declare it something I'd like to see have multiple locations.

But multiple locations it now has, with others planned. But are they really multiple locations, or are they just using the same name? I'm not sure even the people involved know.

Notice I said the same name and not the same brand. Those are not synonyms. Branding is a complicated matter and it involves many aspects beyond just the name. Though, surely, the name is a part of it.

So let's discuss that name.

epcot2014 party

I was invited to attend Party for the Senses on Saturday, the first of this year's Saturday evening events that are a highlight of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival each year. The event fills the massive World Showplace with food and wine stations, plus a stage big enough to handle to acrobatic talents of members of Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba. I've been fortunate to attend many of these parties, and I think Saturday's may have been one of the better ones.

It seems that in the past few years I had only one, maybe two, favorite food items. This year there were at least four solid contenders for Best of PftS, and I had great fun trying to narrow it down to a single winner.

epcot2014 porkbelly

Early in the evening I came across Capa Restaurant, which is set to open later this month at the Four seasons Hotel and Spa at Walt Disney World. Chef Tim Dacey and his crew were serving a beer-brined pork belly with apples and Marcona almond. Frankly, I didn't notice the apples or the almonds, but that pork belly with its crisped exterior and wonderfully fatty meatiness was stellar. I had two; I stopped counting how many my companion had after four.