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Outpost bar

The College Park neighborhood has a new eatery that even includes that word in its name. The Outpost Neighborhood Kitchen is charming and has a rustic mien that belies its newness. It isn't perfect — few restaurants are right off the starting block — but most of its shortcomings are from trying too hard, and that is something i'm hesitant to suppress.

I like the menu because it does not try too hard to be more than it should be. Fried or roasted chicken, pulled pork sandwich, a meatloaf melt — nothing haughty or overwrought, all very approachable. That makes sense for a restaurant that wants to cultivate a clientele of neighborhood regulars.

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PH GoaA photo of one of the rooms at the Planet Hollywood Beach Resort, Goa, from the hotel's website.

Orlando based Planet Hollywood International has opened its newest resort, this time in India. Planet Hollywood Beach Resort, Goa follows the company's first big hotel, Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. PHBR, G is located in Uttorda Beach in South Goa, an area known for its white sandy shore. The new resort has "130 rooms, suites and luxury tents paying homage to various genres of cinema." I believe that is the first time I've typed the words luxury and tents in the same sentence. For comparison, the Vegas hotel has 2,567 rooms. But no white sand beaches.

"We are extremely excited to have opened the newest incarnation of Planet Hollywood in Goa," said Robert Earl, founder and chairman of Planet Hollywood International. "India has long been a center for cinematic creativity and innovation so it is only natural that we bring the iconic Planet Hollywood brand to the area with this exciting new property."

The hotel will have a grand opening celebration Wednesday. I'm not sure what Earl has planned for the event, but when he opened the Vegas property he hired Barbra Streisand for a private concert in the resort's grand theater. It was impressive.

You can expect more PH branded hotels as the company plans to expand.

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Whisper Kitchen

The JW Marriott at Grande Lakes Orlando quietly opened its lastest restaurant a few weeks ago. Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen was designed to showcase ingredients from the on-site 7000-square-foot garden. Located inside the front door of the hotel next to the lobby, WCF:TK is not meant to provide a full restaurant experience but rather will offer small plates, sandwiches, charcuterie and such. The Kitchen seats 100 indoors and 50 on the outdoor terrace.

In addition, The Kitchen will feature beers from the hotel's new nano brewery. Don't go looking for the brew tanks in the restaurant, however. They're located in a small room back in the hotel's vast kitchens. I got a sneak peek a few weeks ago (see some photos below).

I'll have more on Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen and Whisper Creek Farm: The Brewery next week.

The new restaurant is open for dinner daily.

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taboon decor

I'd been in this space before, five years ago when it was known as Wa Restaurant. Then, I spent a goodly amount of the first part of the review of Wa discussing the hidden location in a corporate sort of building on the west side of the Universal Orlando campus. I mentioned the beautiful decor of the restaurant and the very good, upscale Asian food, but also noted that most of the rest of the spaces in the building appeared to be unoccupied. I concluded that it was a hidden gem that was worth looking for. Not enough did, or succeeded in finding it, and Wa went away.

Little seems to have changed with the physical aspects of this address. If any of the other spaces in the building are occupied it was not evident in the early evening when my guest and I arrived to visit Taboon Bistro, the current culinary tenant. As with Wa, the decor of the restaurant is lovely, an upscale, modern Mediterranean design with moody lighting (and inappropriate and inappropriately loud music). As with Wa before it, Taboon is hidden, but a gem? No.

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Jessica Bryce Young at Orlando Weekly reported today that Cafe 118, the raw-food vegan restaurant in Winter Park, has apparently closed. It wasn't exactly fine dining, but it offered a more upscale dining experience than most vegan restaurants.

The name was a reference to the preparation of the food, with nothing rendered over 118 degrees, or essentially raw. If you think of veganism as extreme vegetarianism, the food here might be explained as extremely vegan. 

And it was good, too. In my review of the restaurant in January of 2009, I remarked about the high quality of the food, and I was surprised that I felt full for hours after eating there. Still, I thought a raw fod vegan restaurant would be a hard sell. I wouldn't have put a bet on a six-year run, so I hope that shows that there is some sort of demand for this type of restaurant.