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Lombardi diningLombardi's Cafe, shown in August, was a popular lunch spot.

Lombardi’s Seafood, the popular fishmonger, has long had a cafe component to go along with its retail market. Even in its former location, near the convergence of U.S. Highway 17-92, Harmon Avenue and Orange Avenue, there was a corner where one could grab a cup of chowder or seafood sandwich.

And when the market moved to Fairbanks Avenue in 2015, the new building had a more dedicated cafe space with seating inside and out. And owner Michael Lombardi had ambitious plans for the cafe, even at one time, just last year, hiring two well-known chefs, Austin Boyd and veteran sushi maker Yoshi Pintar.

But Lombardi’s Cafe never reached its full potential. In my most recent review, in August, I noted operational missteps that seemed rooted beyond the staffing issues currently plaguing so many restaurants.

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Cows and Cabs tent

Cows ’n Cabs, the popular fall event, returns to Winter Park’s West Meadow on Saturday, Nov. 13. The event is from 7 to 10 p.m., though VIP ticket holders may enter at 6 p.m.

CnC was started in 2012 by 4R Restaurant Group’s John Rivers and Dave Larue, Vice President of ABC Fine Wine & Spirits. It’s a walkabout event with food samplings from 26 Central Florida restaurants, including Soco Thornton Park and the new BoVine Steakhouse.

And there are plenty of wines, beers and cocktails served along side the food.

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shanghai lane ext

At Shanghai Lane it’s all about the soup dumplings. There are other things on the small menu of this quick-serve restaurant in west Orlando’s Chinatown mall at Westside Crossing, but it’s the soup dumplings that have fascinated most of the people who come here.

Officially, they’re known as Nanxiang soup dumplings, and they look like any other pot sticker except that they are filled with broth. The fascination comes from a curiosity similar to anyone who has studied a ship model inside a bottle – how did they get that in there?

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Grande Lakes Holidays logo

Well, Halloween has waned, so you know what that means: time for the real holidays to begin.

So, as they sing in “Mame”: “Haul out the holly; fill up the punchbowl; tote that fudge, lift that...” I may have confused my musicals.

But the point is, we need these holidays and we need to get back to enjoying them.

Our friends at Grande Lakes Orlando agree, and they’ve put together a fun list of events, activities and special dinners to celebrate the season.

Grande Lakes Gingerbread

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Amare SwanReserve

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Wednesday opened its new adjacent property, Swan Reserve, bringing another signature restaurant to the resort.

Amare offers a Mediterranean menu served in a casual atmosphere. It will be the 14-story hotel’s three-meal restaurant, featuring dinner dishes like lamb and beef Polpetti, Seabass Al Cartoccio, Bistecca All “Fiorentina,” and Tonnarelli Alle Vongole.