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Monsieur Paul ext

Everyone’s excited that La Creperie de Paris is finally opening in the Ratatouille-themed expansion at the France pavilion in Epcot. But there’s even bigger news that no one is talking about because no one knows about it yet. It involves Monsieur Paul, the upscale upstairs restaurant above the busier Chefs de France. Jérôme Bocuse, whose company, JBI, runs the place, gave me the details but told me fermer votre bouche about it. Luckily I don’t know what that means. I'll give you more information soon, but I can tell you that it will still be called Monsieur Paul when it reopens but it will have a new concept.

And here’s a surprise: Spotted in the kitchen at a media preview of La Creperie was Bruno Vrignon, former executive chef for the France pavilion restaurants who was part of the team that opened Epcot. Vrignon retired last year but has come back to help open the restaurant.

Will Vrignon be involved in the new Monsieur Paul concept? On that my bouche is firmly ferme’d. (Details about La Creperie, which is not yet open to the public, soon.)

As long as we’re talking chefs, Hari Pulapaka is now totally divested from Cress, the restaurant he and his wife, Jenneffer, opened 13 years or so ago. Hari, who is also a full-time math professor at Stetson University, had already announced he was stepping away from day-to-day operations last year, but Jenneffer, who is a full-time podiatrist, stayed on as the restaurant’s sommellier. None of this means the Pulapakas are done with food and wine, just with Cress, which remains open under owner Tom Brandt.

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Rusteaktp sign

I’m wondering if there’s a sign maker in town that keeps a template at the ready for the marquee that hangs on the corner of the building at 101 S. Eola Drive. It’s touted Mucho Tequila and Tacos, Muddy Waters, and most recently the Menagerie in the past 10 or so years.

Now it reads RusTeak, the newest occupant of the corner restaurant space that recently relocated from its College Park location.

I reviewed that restaurant in November of 2014 and the original, in Ocoee, the year before that. Both were enjoyable experiences, with above average food and good service (in the case of the College Park RusTeak it was a little too good).

But for some reason, the Thornton Park RusTeak had me thinking it was a restaurant run by newbies who were still trying to figure how everything works. Instead of above average food, it was mostly just average.

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Cheese Share Torres

The much-anticipated Marketplace at Avalon Park has finally announced an opening date – Sept 18 – and when that date rolls around, Cheese to Share will be among the vendors in the upscale food hall.

This will be a second location for Cheese to Share, which opened in Mount Dora in 2019. The shop is owned and operated by Luis and Erika Torres, pictured at top, along with their son, Luis, and will feature cheeseboards that customers can watch being assembled through the glass behind the counter. “We’re very artistic with our cheeseboards,” said the younger Luis Torres.

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carretas ext

When I first saw that a Mexica restaurant called Las Carretas was opening in Winter Park, I figured it was a reboot of a restaurant with the same name that occupied a building on South Semoran Boulevard in Orlando a half dozens years or so ago.

But apparently not. The Winter Park restaurant, whose name means the carts, is a first endeavor for the owners, I was told. And as a first effort they’re doing a fine job.

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Bigfinmag

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining is underway, running through Oct. 3, and I’m bringing you some of my recommendations over the next few days.

Next up: Big Fin Seafood Kitchen

Above you’ll see the Magical Dining choices for the first and last course. If you want to go straight for the best bang for your buck, you’ll order the clam chowder and the cheesecake. (True, the house salad is the same price as the chowder but I’ll always choose a chowder over a salad.)

Now let’s take a look at the entrees.