Dining Pavilion at The Florida Mall FINAL copy

Florida Mall is apparently trying to move beyond the common food court experience.

Simon (no last name given), the company that owns the mall, this summer will open what it is calling its Dining Pavilion, a 105,000 square foot space. It has announced the tenant lineup and there isn’t an Orange Julius among them.

Among the 23 restaurants that will be part of the Pavilion are: El Meson Sandwiches; CARVERA Argentinian Grill; Carlo’s Bakery; la Madeleine; Bubbleology; Tobu; Five Guys Burger and Fries; Charley’s Philly Steaks; Dumpling and Noodle Bar; Chicken Now; A&W All American Food; Asian Chao, Sbarro; Taco Bell; Häagen-Dazs; Spoleto Italian Kitchen; Nature’s Table; FRESH – Healthy Café; Ugrean; SUBWAY; and Jamba Juice. OK, that last one is a little Orange Juliesque, and aren’t we all a little tired of Nature’s Table? But I’ll admit I haven’t seen an Argentinian grill in a mall food court before, so that’s exciting.

According to a press release, the Dining Pavilion will be located “between American Girl and Dillard’s on the north side of the mall,” which is a way of avoiding saying that it replaces Saks Fifth Avenue, which bugged out of the mall a while back.

The Dining Pavilion will have indoor and outdoor seating — 1400 seats in all. Maybe diners won’t be forced to do the Food Court Walk of Desperation where you wander throughout the space looking for one empty space with a clean table.

When the Dining Pavilion opens, the existing food court and its adjacent retail space will be redeveloped for new retailers. Wouldn’t it be great if Saks moved in there?


Roadtrip Dunbrody

DUBLIN -- What a trip.

I'm sitting in the airport in Dublin after a whirlwind tour that included a fabulous meal at a Michelin-starred in this city; a visit to Dublin's most famous brewery where we learned how to pour a perfect pint of Guinness (and drank same); a visit to the last remaining water-powered grain mill in Ireland; one of the largest strawberry farms in the country; a livestock ranch with cattle destined for Raglan Road, the Irish pub in Downtown Disney (the meat anyway, if not the hoof); a cooking class with master chef Kevin Dundon (who is undoubtedly the most famous chef in Ireland); visited the oldest working lighthouse in the world and toured a hokum-laden "haunted mansion" (why should America have the only tourist traps?); went fishing on the Irish Sea, caught a cod, and cleaned, filleted, cooked and ate same; and experienced the grandeur and Irish hospitality of Dunbrody Country House in County Wexford, the hotel, cooking school and, not insignificantly, local pub operated by Dundon and his wife, Catherine. It was a lot to pack into four days and it was all wonderful (well, except for the haunted mansion, and I'll tell you about that some other time).


 Izziban interior

This is undoubtedly the largest sushi restaurant I’ve ever seen. Izziban Sushi & BBQ occupies a warehouse sized building on the shore of Lake Barton, which lies between Semoran Boulevard and Orlando Executive Airport. There have been a few failed businesses here, including a gay bar.

There is an immense indoor dining area and a couple of very large sushi bars, including one that is shaped like the bow of a big boat. There is also a large covered patio, screened in but with nice views of the lake and planes taking off from the airport. Its rusticity is more suitable for the type of fried foods you’d find at fish camps, but it isn’t inappropriate for sushi to be associated with a waterfront locale.


Ra sushi fundraiser

RA Sushi at Pointe Orlando is observing Nicky's Week, a chain-wide fundraiser for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital now through Sunday. During the week, RA Sushi will donate 100 percent of the sales from select menu items to the hospital in remembrance of Nicholas “Nicky” Mailliard, of Scottsdale, Arizona, who died of brain cancer in 2005 at the age of 13. Nicky was a nephew of one of RA Sushi's founders.

The special Nicky’s Week menu includes: edamame, Tootsy Maki, Shrimp Nigiri, Pork Gyoza, Sesame Garlic Chicken, Garlic Citrus Yellowtail, plus a variety of select beverages.

This is the 11th year for the event, which has raised more than $1.5 million in that time.

RA Sushi is at Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Drive. The phone number is 407-4454-5600.



Fresh Made omelet

The guy at the next booth, a Realtor, apparently, with no secrets, has a booming voice, so I shouldn't be surprised that I'm sitting in a place that used to be called Loudmouth Grill. That place was short lived. In fact, I didn't get around to visiting it before it closed. From what I had heard from others, I didn't miss much.

Now it's a business called Fresh Made Kitchen, which sounds more like a slogan than a name. It's embracing all of the current buzzwords and phrases: Chef driven, food focused, hormone free, free range. I think most of us have become inured to these terms.

Although it is a multipage thing (with pictures; my goodness the pictures!), the menu is fairly straightforward. All-day breakfast items, sandwiches, flatbreads, meat, poultry and fish. Several of the entrees sounded intriguing, and I wish I had chosen one of those instead of the omelet I got.