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Lebouchon ext

It seems that whenever I visit Miami I tend to look for the newer and trendier restaurants. Too often I’m just not impressed and find that the reality isn’t anywhere near the hype.

But on my recent road trip south I decided to take a different tack and chose a small, unassuming French restaurant in Coconut Grove called Le Bouchon du Grove. It was rustic and cramped and it was wonderful.

My companion and I were given a table up front, covered but facing the sidewalk, and sipped a complimentary glass of Champagne we'd been offered and nibbled on French bread with real butter while we waited for our dinners to arrive.

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piggza

The owners of two independent restaurants, Pig Floyd’s and Stasio’s Italian Deli, are teaming up to create a new concept called Pigzza. I think I might have named it Pigsio’s or maybe Stasioyd’s. On second thought, that sounds like an uncomfortable medical condition. As you might deduce from the chosen name, though you’d be forgiven if you do not, it will be a pizza restaurant whose specialties will include P.F.’s style of barbacoa. It will be located in a former service station in the Mills 50 district.

Speaking of barbecue, Red Eye’s Git-N-Messy Smokehouse & Tavern announced on its Facebook page that William O’Neal has been named its new chef and pitmaster, replacing Git-N’s founder Chuck Cobb, who was killed in a motorcycle accident last month. Perhaps there was no delicate way of putting it, but the Facebook post wanted people to know that O’Neal has in fact been the sole pitmaster ever since the operation moved from its original gas station location to the Winter Springs tavern. Cobb, it said, had been “pursuing other projects.” O’Neal, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, is expected to add some new items to the menu.

Congratulations to Tim Barber and Tamara McAndrew who were our most recent winners of our weekly drawing. They each won a $50 gift certificate to Tap Room at Dubsdread. If you’re signed up to receive my weekly News from the Flog eletter, you’re entered in every drawing. If you’re not, you can sign up here. This week’s drawing will be for a $50 gift card to Big Fin Seafood Kitchen.

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Licking ext

I recently visited The Licking, a Southern/soul food franchise in the Millenia area. I thought I had ordered one thing but received something different. And even that wasn’t what I expected it to be. But I’ll come back to that.

The Licking, out of Miami, bills itself as “Soul Food to the Stars” and lists DJ Khaled as its brand ambassador and co-owner along with Elric "E-Class" Prince, the founder of Poe Boy Records. Most of the seven locations listed on the restaurant’s website are in South Florida although one is in Chicago’s far West Side.

The name is a reference to the action taken upon one’s fingers following the eating of saucy or greasy foods, as in Finger Lickin’ Good, although that’s a phrase that would unleash a certain colonel’s army of attorneys should another restaurant try to use it. The Licking does include a flavor for its chicken called Fingalickin, but I’m not trying to start trouble.

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Francisco Mendonça, a classically trained chef who was one of the early participants in Orlando’s food truck boom, died Saturday at the age of 57. His wife, Dee, said that Mendonça had been diagnosed with cancer in October.

Known to his friends and customers as chef Chico, Mendonça and his wife founded a food truck in 2012 called Bem Bom that featured the cuisine of his native Portugal. The name comes from a Portuguese response given when someone is asked how the food tastes. It means good good.

Plenty of people agreed and the truck became a local favorite of the then-burgeoning food-truck scene. In 2014 it was featured on the Food Network’s “Eat St.” and it still operates today.

But in 2018, the Mendonças opened a brick and mortar version of the food truck in the Audubon Park neighborhood of Orlando. And it, too, became a hit, earning critical plaudits and a mention in USA Today as one of “10 Best Value Venues in Orlando.”

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Yardbird exterior

I took my first road trip in more than 16 months recently, traveling to South Beach, Islamorada and Fort Lauderdale. I’ll be sharing some of my food visits with you.

First stop, Miami Beach and a visit to Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, a restaurant that has served as a template for others desiring to create a contemporary take on Southern cuisine.

It’s first year, the restaurant, started by Jeff McInnis, a Top Chef finalist, and Miami restaurateurs John Kunkel and Chris Romero, was a semifinalist for best new restaurant by the James Beard Foundation, and Bon Appetit named it one of the country’s 50 Best New Restaurants.