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Lotte Market exterior 1

Every now and then you need to break up your routine, step outside of your comfort zone and look beyond your narrow horizon.

I recommend you follow this advice the next time you go grocery shopping. Instead of automatically going to, say, Publix, try something different. And I don’t mean Winn-Dixie or Lucky’s. I mean something like Lotte Plaza Market.

Lotte is a small chain of 10 Asian markets out of Maryland and Virginia, of all places. Earlier this year an Orlando location, the first in Florida, opened near the corner of John Young Parkway and West Colonial Drive.

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Tempura Avocado

One of the best things I sampled when I recently reviewed American Kitchen at B Resort Orlando was the Tempura Avocado appetizer. It featured firm wedges of avocados in a light tempura batter topped with a tangy jam made with tomatoes and chipotle peppers.

I liked it so much that I asked executive chef Venoy Rogers III for the recipe. He presents it here with his compliments.

Watch the video that start heating your oil. Or stop by American Kitchen and sample these tasty tidbits yourself.

 

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Sette exterior

Tasting Table is a collaboration between Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide and WFTV-Channel 9’s Inside Central Florida.

Sette, one of the year’s most anticipated restaurants, has opened in Ivanhoe Village. The reason for the excitement is that it is the first full-service restaurant from Trina Gregory-Propst and Va Propst, owners of the popular Se7en Bites bakery. It took over the space that was previously Stir Restaurant & Bar, NOVA and Elliott’s Public House. All of those were startlingly short lived, so most people still thing of it as the location of Brian’s, a popular greasy spoon.

Little has changed with the decor from the previous tenant, which is fine — it’s a pleasant and comfortable atmosphere. The bar area seems a bit more accommodating, and the open kitchen allows guests to see the food being prepared.

And what good food it is.

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Wally new bar

FIRST ON SJO -- Wally’s Mills Avenue Liquors is scheduled to reopen later this month with a new owner and a refreshed look. Yes, some of the old wallpaper is still there but much of it was crumbling after years of damage from cigarette smoke.

What remains will have a better chance of surviving for years to come because of one major policy change: The new Wally’s will be a nonsmoking bar.

That may disappoint many of the barflies that sat on the stools around the three-sided bar chain smoking and sipping the notoriously stiff cocktails. But it should also delight others who wanted to patronize the popular bar but decided they didn’t want to damage their lungs along with their livers.

There’s something else you should know about the new Wally’s: it is no longer a dive bar.

It’s actually kind of gorgeous.

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Pulse foundationMX logo

  • MX Taco will donate the day’s profits on June 12 to the One Pulse Foundation in commemoration of the anniversary of the massacre. It’s a nice thing to do.

American Kitchen Burger

  • Central Florida is well represented in this year’s Blended Burger Project, which challenges restaurants to create a burger that uses chopped mushrooms with beef. The Mushroom Council is a sponsor of the event. The goal is a more healthful and sustainable burger. American Kitchen Bar & Grill has submitted an entry called La Vaca Trufa (the truffle cow), with house-ground angus beef and Kissimmee River Mushrooms (pictured). The Ravenous Pig’s entry is the Duxelle Burger, with shiitake duxelles blended with short rib and brisket. Other’s from the area include: Cedar’s Cafe, Melbourne; Bearded Chef Food Truck, Palm Bay; Coasters Taphouse, Cocoa Beach; Darci's Bacon Blues, Cape Canaveral; Ember & Oak, Melbourne; The Nomad Cafe, Melbourne; North by South Bistro, Satellite Beach; Playalinda Brewing Company - Brix Project, Titusville; Pompano Grill, Cocoa Beach; and The Snug Pub and Eatery, Cocoa. All the restaurants are featuring their blended burgers on their menus. You can vote for your favorite at the Blended Burger Project website through July 31. The 25 restaurants receiving the most votes will advance to the finals to be judged by a “panel of experts,” who will evaluate the burgers based on culinary creativity, best flavor profile and presentation, though it is not apparent if the judges will actually taste the burgers. Did I mention the competition is co-sponsored by the James Beard Foundation?

Sagamore Flyer copy

  • Soco restaurant in downtown’s Thornton Park is hosting a collaborative dinner with Sagamore Spirit Master Distiller on Tuesday, June 25. Pre-dinner drinks (whiskey based, of course) will be served at 6:30 p.m. A five-course dinner by chef/partner Greg Richie will follow. Cost is $95 per person plus tax and gratuity. Reserve your spot by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..