Roccos barThe bar and lounge at Rocco's Italian Grille.When Winter Park's Red Fox Lounge closed along with the Mt. Vernon Motor Lodge last weekend, Central Floridians lost a favorite kitschy entertainment hangout. The lounge act there for many years  featured husband and wife team Mark Wayne and Lorna Lambey. Wayne died in 2012, but Lambey continued to perform with Michael Moore on piano. But that duo appeared to be coming to an end with the Red Fox out of business.

But Rocco Potami, chef and owner of Rocco's Italian Cuisine a few doors away, has invited the musicians to be part of a newly expanded entertainment program at the popular Italian restaurant. Rocco's now features entertainment in its lounge Wednesdays through Saturdays beginning at 8 p.m. and continuting to midnight. Lambey and Moore will have their first performance in their new home on Saturday, November 8.

Rocco's Italian Grille is at 400 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park. It's open for dinner daily except Sunday. The phone number is 407-644-7770. Entertainment schedules will be updated on Rocco's Facebook Page.


White beans  provencale

Straight from the can, it's hard to make the case for the humble bean. But add a bit of this, a lot of that, and suddenly an economical bean dish is a deliciously trendy one-pot wonder.

White Beans Provencal, with the flavor-rich base of a classic mirepoix (onion, celery and carrots), herbs of Provence, fresh rosemary, thyme, garlic and white wine, is the perfect side, main course, or fabulously healthy lunch. Serve with roasted lamb, meaty cuts of lemon-and-oregano-marinated swordfish, or simply with love.


Americna Gymkhana logoAmerican Gymkhana, the restaurant that will replace Raga on Sand Lake Road's Restaurant Row, will open to the public on Saturday, November 8. The restaurant is operated by Rajesh Bhardwaj, who also owns the Michelin-starred Junoon in Manhattan.

American Gymkhana is styled after the sports clubs that were popular during the British raj. Although not a copy of Junoon, the Orlando restaurant will have a similar approach to its cuisines, which Bhardwaj describes as a restaurant that serves Indian food rather than an Indian restaurant.

Aarthi Sampath, who Bhardwaj brought from his New York restaurant, will head the kitchen.

American Gymkhana is at 7559 W. Sand Lake Road, Orlando, and will be open daily for dinner.


Morimoto-Asia-ExteriorRendering of Morimoto Asia from Studio V via WDW News

It seems that the folks at Walt Disney World finally got around to confirming what I first told you about in April and again in June: That some big name restaurants would be part of the current construction project to be called Disney Springs, and that one of those big names would be Morimoto.

In his article for the Orlando Sentinel this week, Theme Park Ranger Dewayne Bevil even included a quote from Masaharu Morimoto, the Iron Chef whose Morimoto restaurants in Philadelphia, New York and elsewhere have earned praise from sushi lovers and critics alike. However, the restaurant at the redone Downtown Disney will be called Morimoto Asia, not Morimoto like his other restaurants. Is that because this won't be his restaurant?

My sources now tell me that Morimoto is only licensing the use of his name for the restaurant, much in the same way that Todd English allows the use of his for Todd English's bluezoo at the Swan and Dolphin Hotel, also at Walt Disney World Resort. Originally, the restaurant was to be another Morimoto, but, according to people close to the project, the celebrity chef became disillusioned with the process involved in getting the restaurant project going. It shouldn't surprise anyone that working with a behemoth (or behemouse?) like Disney can be a bureaucratic nightmare.

I've been getting a few tidbits about another restaurant group that is in the planning stage to open a celebrity chef helmed restaurant, also at the Springs. Let's hope the process doesn't scare them away. I'll let you know when I have something concrete to pass along.

By the way, although this week's formal announcement also confirmed that the Boathouse, from Schussler Creative, would be part of the project, it did not mention the Edison or STK. But you should be hearing official word about them soon.