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As we start a new year here at Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide, I want to take a moment to thank the people who make it possible.

David Clow is the site manager and coding genius. He keeps things running smoothly and jumps in when things get wonky. Websites are always wonky.

And Nicole Spooner of Mpact Orlando, the sole approved representative for advertising on the site. Nicole and her team, including newcomers Gary Appelsies and Amie Hardin. And a thanks to Tiffany Hartmann for all her work in the past year.

Nicole and Mpact handle the requests from restaurants, hotels and other businesses that would like to advertise on these pages. They also manage the social media and eletter placements that are part of an advertiser’s package.

And speaking of advertisers, they allow us to keep the site free and accessible without the need for a subscription model or paywall. As you know if you’ve read my policy about advertisers, we accept only those businesses who maintain a certain level of quality. As Nicole could tell you, I’ve rejected a number of restaurants that have contacted her about advertising in these pages, and we’ve also dropped one or two over the years when their quality flagged.

So you can be assured that the advertisers you see throughout the site — and gathered here below — are worthy of your dining dollars. And I hope that when you visit them you’ll tell them that you saw their ad and thank them for supporting us.

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Big Fin periwinkle

Let’s start 2019 out right with a Supper Club at Big Fin Seafood Kitchen. We’ll convene at the Dellagio Plaza restaurant on Friday, Jan. 18, at 6:30 p.m.

Executive chef James Slattery and chef de cuisine Darlene Christeleit along with sous chefs Brie Austin and Paulo Santos have put together a menu of food with a story, paying homage to regional events of 2018 with a look ahead to the exciting possibilities of the New Year. I don’t want to give anything away but I know you’re going to find it to be a thoughtful and fascinating evening of food and wine. (See the menu below.)

And speaking of the wines, each course will be paired with wines that have been aged in bourbon or tequila barrels, which will be an interesting component on its own.

Cost of the dinner is $95, which includes tax and gratuity. Seating is limited and tickets can be purchased at this Eventbrite page.

Big Fin, of course, is the popular restaurant on Restaurant Row that is consistently recognized as one of the best places for seafood in Central Florida. It’s a fun space with a top-notch staff. I’m pleased to make this the first Supper Club of the year and I’m looking forward to enjoying it with you.

Here’s the menu as planned, but Slattery has told me he might have a surprise for us, as well.

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Champagne

There's more to New Year's Eve than just a quick toot on a paper horn and a sip of Champagne at midnight. Those of us who enjoy good food like to lead up to the countdown with a good dinner.

If you haven't made plans already, check out the New Year's Eve section of our Holiday Dining listings. You're sure to find something worth tooting about.

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chefs gala logo

  • You can’t possibly have many more social appointments on your 2018 calendar, so it’s time to start filling in dates for 2019. Pencil in March 2 for Chef’s Gala, the fundraiser for Heart of Florida United Way. On second thought, go ahead and write it in stone.
  • Winter Park Wine & Dine will be March 20 at the Winter Park Farmers Market.
  • California Tortilla, the yawner of a restaurant on Church Street is closed. They apparently just stopped opening up one day, so the landlord put a sign on the door saying the business was in breach of its contract and demanding that it reopen right away. To which I say, “Shhhhhhhhh.”
  • Beth’s Burger Bar has closed its original downtown location on Washington Street. Still open in Edgewood and Lake Cay, and opening soon at the Orange County Convention Center.

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Thepie interior

It’s been nearly two years since we first visted The Pie, the plainly named pizza seller in College Park, and nearly one year since word came that the original owner was closing and a new owner was taking over. I’m not sure when the new management moved in — recently a young fellow working there said it had only been a few months — but it still has the feel of a place that hasn’t quite found its niche.

And I don’t know why that should be because the food is actually quite good, though the pies of The Pie might not be the pizzas most people imagine when the topic comes up.