WP Firebirds

My friend Matt Broffman over at Bungalower shared an email he received from a publicist for Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, which opened this year at the Market at Mills Park. That's the complex at the corner of Mills Avenue and Virginia Drive. In Orlando. Definitely Orlando. The address is 1562 N. Mills Ave. We all know that Mills Avenue, counter-intuitively, I'll grant you, becomes Orlando Avenue when it crosses the city line into Winter Park.

So why did the press release that Matt got from the pr folks repeatedly refer to the Winter Park Firebirds? Does claiming a Winter Park address impart more cachet? Is there something wrong with Orlando?

It reminded me of the "Longwood" Pebbles that was actually in Altamonte Springs all those years. Longwood, apparently, is considered tonier than Altamonte Springs. (You know, where that mall is.) But at least Pebbles was essentially right next to the city line -- you could actually see Longwood from there. Not so with Firebirds.

To its credit, Firebirds clearly states on its website that the local restaurants -- indeed the only one if Florida so far -- is firmly in Orlando.

My guess is that it was the public relations agency hired by the folks at Firebirds that made the call to pick the restaurant up and move it. To which I say, "Hey, pr flack: Orlando doesn't suck.

By the way, apparently based on my review of Firebirds in August, the young lady did not think I would be interested in learning about the new menu items. I did not receive the mailing.

tartarsKevin and Laurie Tarter, owners of Chef's Table at the Edgewater.The ever popular Chef's Table at the Edgewater in Winter Garden and the venerable Enzo's on the Lake in Longwood have been named to OpenTable's list of the best restaurants in the country. The online reservation company's annual Top 100 Restaurants in America is culled from an analysis of over five million reviews from OpenTable diners of more than 20,000 restaurants. The honorees, according to the OpenTable website, "represent the establishments where creativity, consistency and hospitality meet every meal, every day."

Congratulations to both restaurants, and especially to the Chef's Table at the Edgewater, a longtime SJO advertiser.




AmericanQ meat

American Q, the restaurant at the recently rebranded B Resort, is a sort of American version of the Brazilian churrascaria, a barbecuscaria, if you will. And it makes perfect sense.

A Latin American churrascaria, of course, features spit-roasted meats sliced tableside by gauchos in a never ending rotation. Think Texas de Brazil, Fogo de Chao and several others.

But gaucho essentially means cowboy, and what's more American than a cowboy? Barbecue, maybe. So put the two together and you have a great concept. Especially when you consider another thing that is distinctly American: Eating way too much food at one sitting.

f2o exterior

There's a new player in the fast casual arena that would like to add another f to the description: fine. It's called Fresh to Order, a truly uninspired name, to be sure, and its motto is fine food fast. Or, more accurately: fine. food. fast. The conceit here is that even if you want to have a quick meal, you don't have to settle for sandwiches, burgers or crappy food.

Sandwiches are certainly available at the Waterford Lakes newcomer. Burgers, too. But you'll also find what the menu describes as "entree long plates," though I'm not sure what that means other than that the plates are not square. Here you will find such things as Brown Sugar Roasted Pork Loin, Almond Chicken Skewers and Chicken Wild Mushroom. Several of these items are available in smaller portions — three-quarters, rather than half, but I still like the option of having a smaller entree.

Del Friscos DE logoDel Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House will open one of its premium steakhouses on International Drive in Fall of 2015. The restaurant is being constructed on a site that once held a Sizzler steakhouse, so there are bound to be comparisons. Not.

More likely the comparisons -- and the competition for meat-loving conventioneers -- will be between Del and The Capital Grille, which is essentially across the street at Pointe Orlando. Del's new address will be 9142 International Drive.

The Del Frisco's name isn't new to Orlando, but the Double Eagle brand is. The restaurant now known as Christner's Prime Steak & Lobster on Lee Road began as Del Frisco's Prime Steak & Lobster. That was in 1993 when Russ Christner convinced his friend Dale Wamstad, owner of the original Del Frisco's in Dallas (by way of New Orleans) to allow him to open a Del Frisco's in Orlando. The agreement included a 20 year license. During that time, Wamstad sold the business to the company that would create the Double Eagle chain brand. When the 20 years were up, in 2013, the license was not renewed, and the restaurant changed its name to Christner's. As part of the parting terms, Del Frisco's Double Eagle was excluded from entering the Central Florida market for the period of one year.

That was up in June, so it's surprising that it will be another year -- plus -- before the Double Eagle restaurant opens up.

And I was surprised that it will be a Double Eagle and not the Del Frisco's Grille, a more casual concept. One of those opened in the past year in the Tampa area. Let's take that as a positive indication that companies are betting that people are willing to spend expense account dollars at fine restaurants again.

Have you been to a Del Frisco's Double Eagle steakhouse? Are you excited about the one to open on International Drive?