James Julie copyFIRST ON SJO -- There’s more information coming in about the restaurant planned for the former Harvey’s Bistro space in downtown Orlando that I told you about in a previous article.

The name will be Dovecote, a French word meaning pigeon house, and it will be a brasserie, according to James Petrakis. “Not a super classic brasserie,” he told me Monday, “but some semblance. Certainly Balthazar-esque,” he added, referring to a popular brasserie in Manhattan. The menu will deifinitly lean French, he said. Squab, perhaps? Petrakis and his wife, Julie, pictured at left, owners of Ravenous Pig and other restaurants, are partnering with chef Clay Miller and cocktail entrepreneur Gene Zimmerman in the new venture.

Drew White, who designed Zimmerman’s downtown bar, The Courtesy, will take on the task of redesigning the space on the ground floor of the Bank of America building. No small feat that — the original design of a cold, severe bank lobby has never fully been overcome in the other restaurants that have occupied the address. Besides Harvey’s Bistro, 390 N. Orange Avenue has also been home to Terrace 390 most recently. The first restaurant to occupy the space was Bakerstreet. Gomez Construction will handle the buildout. Petrakis said the partners have been getting a lot of support from the owners and managers of the building.


The restaurant space on the ground floor of the Bank of America building in downtown Orlando, the space that is more fondly remembered as the home of Harvey’s Bistro but whose most recent tenant was Terrace 390, has been acquired by a partnership that includes chefs James Petrakis of the Ravenous Pig and Clayton Miller, who opened Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton, and the owner of The Courtesy cocktail bar, Gene Zimmerman.

Miller told me that the team has signed the lease to take over the restaurant but that the name and the concept had not yet been finalized. He said they’ve been working on the deal for about six months, but he doesn’t expect the restaurant to open until 2016. “Best case scenario is eight months,” he said, “worst case, a year.”

Miller will serve as the managing operating partner for the enterprise and will be the restaurant’s executive chef. Petrakis, Miller said, is an investing partner but will be very much involved in the operation. “We’re going to try to use a lot of synergy between his existing businesses and ours,” Miller said of Petrakis. Besides the Ravenous Pig, Petrakis and his wife, Julie, also own Cask & Larder and Swine & Sons Provisions in Winter Park.

Zimmerman will oversee the restaurant’s beverage program. His Courtesy bar has a good reputation as a destination for people who enjoy well crafted cocktails.

Miller most recently had been with 50 Eggs, Inc., in Miami, the group that operates the popular Yardbird. Prior to that he had been the executive chef at Wit & Wisdom, a Tavern by Michael Mina, at the Four Seasons in Baltimore. Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsma credited Miller with improving the quality of the restaurant, which he said faltered under the previous chef. “The situation turned around with the arrival of Clayton Miller, who previously made Trummer’s on Main in Clifton worth the drive. Visit Wit & Wisdom these days — and you should — and you’ll taste what I mean; Miller is a chef who makes something special out of the routine,” Sietsma wrote in a 2012 review. Miller told Sietsma at the time he left Wit & Wisdom that he was going to Florida because his wife's family lived in Orlando. 

The restaurant, at 390 N. Orange Ave., has had many restaurant tenants of varying degrees of quality. One of them, Ettore’s, still ranks as one of the worst I’ve reviewed locally. Harvey’s Bistro, which was a concept from Manny Garcia, Enjoyed many years of popularity until it closed in February of 2009, along with Garcia’s fine dining restaurant on the building’s top floor, Manuel’s on the 28th, following a dispute regarding rent with the management company at the time. The Manual’s space is now a real estate office  security broker dealer.

The team of Miller, Petrakis and Zimmerman is an impressive, and the restaurant’s will undoubtedly be among the most anticipated of 2016.


Osprey table

When I first reviewed the Osprey Tavern it was still new and hadn’t quite defined itself. It got a boost to its self confidence with the recent hiring of Joseph Burnett as its executive chef. Burnett’s bona fides include the original Norman’s in Coral Gables and the existing Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. Before joining Osprey, he was chef de cuisine at the Ravenous Pig in Winter Park.

Burnett has made changes to the menu but it isn’t a complete overhaul, at least not yet. He has added a chef’s table experience, which I was invited to try during a media preview.

The chef’s table isn’t in the kitchen but sits next to it and has a good view of the action going on in the open arena. For that matter, so do most of the other tables in the bustling dining room, but presumably only the chef’s table menu is offered at this 12-top next to the glass-front wine cabinets.


Korea House interior

When I first came to Central Florida to review restaurants, over 27 years ago, there was only one exclusively Korean restaurant in the area: Korea House. We have several more now and some very good ones, Shin Jung and Seoul Gardens among them, but the Korean category hasn’t had the exponential growth of, say, Thai.

But a new one recently opened on East Colonial Drive in Orlando: Korea House.

The restaurant that has operated in Longwood since 1982, though not in the same space, has opened a second location. Both restaurants share the same menu, which has expanded over the years and has arguably become more authentic as the dining public has become more adventurous.

Way back in 1988 when I first reviewed the original Korea House (it was my seventh restaurant critique for Florida magazine in the Sunday Sentinel), I don’t recall that tabletop cooking was as big a thing as it is now. In fact, at the new KH, all of the center tables have built-in griddles, and on a recent evening when I visited, there were people waiting for one of those tables to open up, even though there were several other non-cooking tables available. Most of the griddles were being used by families having a home-cooked meal without the home (even though the place is called Korea House).



Did you know that Mitchell's Fish House is under new ownership? You'll remember that Mitchell's had been under the Ruth's Chris banner when it opened a few years ago in Winter Park Village. Now it's part of the Landry's Seafood team. There was a time when I would see that as a disadvantage, but with Oceanaire Seafood Room, Landry's has proven that it can own high quality seafood restaurants. So, I think it's time to give Mitchell's another look.

And here's a good opportunity for a sneak peek. Mitchell's is teaming up with our friends from Rioja to host a wine and food walkabout event at the restaurant on Saturday, August 22, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. The Rioja folks have promised more than 30 wines, all with 90-plus ratings, and the Mitchell's chefs will offer an array of tapas, including almond-crusted Manchego, salt cod fritters, paella, lamb chops and more.

All of this is just $45, which includes tax and gratuity. Sounds like a pretty cheap and tasty afternoon to me.

For reservations, contact Mitchell's Fish House at 407-339-3474. Mitchell's Fish House is at Winter Park Village, 460 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park.