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PIGINABLANKET-THE-BOATHOUSE1-600x401Walt Disney World

Pam Brandon reports in her Disney Parks Blog that The Boathouse opened today at the Landing at Downtown Disney, which will be part of Disney Springs. 

Actually, the restaurant's full name is The Boathouse: Great Food, Waterfront Dining, Dream Boats (not to be confused with Dreamboats). As Pam notes, it's a big place and every seat has a view of the water.

Bob Getchell is executive chef. Getchell opened Sanaa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and then moved to T-Rex Cafe (I know, I know). The Boathouse was designed by Steven Schussler of Schussler Creative, who also developed T-Rex Cafe (Rainforest Cafe and Yak & Yeti, too). Getchell is a good chef, so we're keeping good thoughts.

The Boathouse: GF, WD, DB is open for lunch and dinner daily. With the recent opening of a massive parking garage (with signs that tell you which levels have open spots; thank you 21st Century!) parking it a bit easier, but the traffic getting to the garage is still a bear. 

Better to take a boat, dream or otherwise.

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rioja club gather

Note: Today's wine column is by Erin Allport of Wine on the Way.

It's always amazing to see the different types of personalities that come out at wine tastings. I have been on both sides of the table, the person pouring the wine and the person tasting the wine and having the 360-degree vision on this one, I have some simple things that you can do when attending wine tastings to make sure that you get the most out of the event and the money you spent to attend it.

1. Take care of yourself before the event – eat a snack and drink a couple of glasses of water before you go. This is the most important rule. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people get completely drunk - on accident - at wine events. Wine events give you "tastes," which is an illusion that you are not consuming a lot of alcohol. Every "taste" is typically one ounce of wine (spirits are the same, beer they give you a little more), if you do the math, tasting every wine at an event with 100 wines equals 100 ounces of wine, there are approximately 24-25 ounces of wine in a bottle so effectively, you will have drunk four bottles of wine. Not sure about the rest of you out there but four bottles of wine consumed in a three hour period is too much for any person of any size.

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TraderSam typhoonTraderSam serene

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort has been undergoing some renovations and it recently debuted a couple of new features, including Trader Sam's Grog Grotto, which is not to be confused with Trader Joe's. For one thing, there's plenty of parking available at the Polynesian.

Not that it would take many carloads of people to fill up Trader Sam's, a couple of SUVs should do it. That's because this new bar inside the resort holds only 50 people at a time. No surprise that people are waiting for hours for their turn to go inside.

What's the attraction? Well, the small space is chockfull of atmospheric gewgaws, from tiki style knickknacks to high-tech special effects.

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Americna Gymkhana logoEveryone knows the old adage about too many cooks in a kitchen, but no one ever mentions too many investors in a restaurant. Unfortunately, discrepancies among local investors and the operational team at American Gymkhana, the fine dining Indian restaurant on Sand Lake Road, are bringing about its untimely demise.

In a statement to be released later today from RB Hospitality Group, which has been operating the restaurant, "American Gymkhana will no longer be open for business after April 2015 in its current location. The decision to withdraw our concept and restaurant group from this project was made after considerate deliberation regarding our brand standards."

The statement acknowledges that the modern Indian restaurant and cocktail lounge has "flourished and has been well received by the Central Florida community." Conversations with people close to the operation reveal that some of the local investors wanted to make changes to the concept that the management team found unacceptable. Rather than acquiesce, the management team made the decision to sever ties with the investment group. The American Gymkhana name was conceived by Rajesh Bhardwaj, principal of RB Hospitality Group, and he will retain ownership of it. It is possible that an Indian restaurant will continue to operate in that space beyond April, but that has not been confirmed, and it would have to take on another name. Attempts to reach the investors have not been successful as yet.

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Scratch brunch

I've been an unapologetic fan of Scratch, the moody small-plates restaurant on Fairbanks Avenue, since I first visited, even as I sometimes wondered if the folks involved in it knew what they were doing right. There is bona fide talent in the kitchen, and the laid back attitude in the front of the house (though really there isn't much separation between front and back here — even the kitchen is out front) seemed right with the overall feel of the place.

But on a recent brunch visit everything fell apart, and I was left wondering yet again whether earlier enjoyable visits were only flukes.