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Nikkis Fire

Nikki's Place, the soul food restaurant in Orlando's Parramore District, was all but destroyed by a fire on March 30. The fire, which started on the upper level of the two-story structure and resulted in heavy water and smoke damage, is under investigation by the Orlando Fire Marshal. 

In the meantime, Bungalower reports that a page at GoFundMe has been set up to raise money to rebuild and to support the staff while the restaurant remains closed. As of Tuesday afternoon, $750 had been donated toward a goal of $10,000. It isn't clear at the GoFundMe website, but according to Bungalower the restaurant has only a few more days to reach the goal.

Nikki's Place had been open for 16 years prior to the fire. The restaurant was reviewed here just last year. 

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aerlingus

Chef Kevin Dundon has named the five finalists for his Raglan Road Master Chef contest. Three are from Central Florida and the other two are from out of state. They are:

  • Janice Epaillard, Mt. Dora
  • Aaron Van Swearingen, Winter Park
  • Colleen Kerney, Orlando
  • Heather McBroom Walker, Scottsdale
  • Linda Rohr, Darien, Connecticut

The five will travel to Ireland on May 21 for a five-day stay that will include a night in Dublin before heading to Dundon’s hotel and cooking school, Dunbrody, in Wexford. While there, the contestants will get cooking tips from Dundon and visit local markets, farms and fishing docks. The winner of the competition will not be announced until October 10 at a special 10th anniversary dinner at Raglan Road Irish Pub at Downtown Disney.

To be considered, all applicants had to submit a brief video describing a three-course menu for the anniversary dinner.

“Total dream come true and i'm still pinching myself!” Swearingen posted on his Facebook timeline after he was told he was a finalist. “Get to mark a big one off the bucket list. Only 3 weeks til this amazing trip, time to go pack!”

Reached by phone, Swearingen told me about his three course meal that he presented, which included deviled “Scotch” eggs, a main course of bangers and mash stew and a caramelized pear tart with whiskey cream sauce. The graphic designer and website developer said he has always enjoyed cooking but had never entered a cooking contest before. He told me that Raglan Road was his favorite restaurant and the one he goes to for every special occasion.

If it wasn’t his favorite restaurant before, it certainly is now.

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segafredo logoIn the realm of consumable hospitality there are two choices: food and drink. Some places excel at food; these are generally referred to as restaurants. Some are better with just the drinks; we call them bars.

In some cases both food and drink are proffered with equal deftness. You’ll usually find this quality in the hospitality venues we call restaurants. It is rare, though not unheard of, that a place that focuses on specializing in drinks, on being a bar can do good food.

And if you need an example of what I’m talking about, just visit Segafredo, a new business in the Mills Park development.

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Farro Tabbouleh

The divas love a satisfying salad that involves more than a few greens – give us a hearty protein or grain, some crunch and sweetness for the perfect one-dish dinner. And one that can hang in the fridge for a few days for impromptu snacking.

Here’s our version of tabbouleh, a Middle Eastern salad that’s usually made with bulgar wheat. We’ve substituted farro, an ancient grain that’s making a comeback with a chewy, nutty goodness. The grain is full of minerals and said to zap cholesterol, what’s not to love?

We’ve added toasted pine nuts for a little extra richness, a handful of currants for sweet and a chopped jalapeño for a kick.

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You may have noticed some subtle changes here at the Flog. The site has been given a bit of spiffing up -- nothing too drastic, just a few tweaks here and there. Many of the changes are structural and designed to improve your overall experience when using SJO, especially on mobile devices. (Hey, Mr. Google, we're fully mobile friendly!) We're still making some fixes and smoothing out the inevitable glitches that occur whenever a project of this magnitude is taken on. And believe me, this was a huge undertaking. (By the way, if you notice anything out of place or not working properly, send us a note via the Contact Scott link.)

All of this was done in anticipation of our 6th anniversary on May 14. Six years! That's 72 in independently owned and operated website years. 

And it's all thanks to you. I appreciate the support you've shown by visiting, reading the reviews and news articles, buying the SJO Dining Deals and attending SJO Supper Clubs and pop-up events. And for supporting the good restaurants who advertise here. I always appreciate it when I hear from an advertiser that some new guests came in and said they were there because they saw the restaurant on Scott Joseph's Orlando Restaurant Guide. So again, thank you.

But let me express my appreciation in another way. Beginning Monday, April 27, and every day, Monday through Friday, until May 14 I will have a drawing for a gift certificate. That's 14 drawings, 14 chances for you to win a gift certificate. I've got some good ones to give away, too.

Rules are the same as always; you can read how to be eligible to win restaurant gift certificates here. The basic thing you need to know is that all winners are drawn from the list of subscribers to the SJO e-letter. If you're a subscriber, you're already entered and always will be until you unsubscribe. If you're not a subscriber, you can subscribe to the e-letter at this link.

So stand by and keep a watch for a message from me in the next few weeks telling you you're a winner.