Illume bar

JW Marriott Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa has announced May 27 for the opening of its new rooftop restaurant and bar, Illume. The venue will offer panoramic views of the surrounding area, including the various nightly Disney fireworks shows.

The ninth-floor space was designed my Street Sense to take full advantage of the views, with glass walls, a 360-degree bar and an outdoor space that is larger than indoor. Illume will feature a sushi bar led by chef Myra Burkle. Heliana Bartlett is the general manager.

Illume deck

Illume joins the JW’s well-received Sear + Sea restaurant. Reservations for Illume are now being accepted at OpenTable.

taproom 20

Tap Room at Dubsdread celebrated its twentieth anniversary Monday by closing. Just for the evening. Owner and operator Steve Gunter and Barbara Teal wanted to celebrate the staff and not make them work – Tim Webber Catering sent over staff – and started the evening off recognizing those who have been on the team the longest, including Erick Ortiz, pictured above with Gunter and Teal, who’s been with Tap Room for the entire 20 years, joining shortly after the restaurant opened. He now is the senior banquet captain.

With this milestone, Tap Room at Dubsdread becomes an official Orlando Classic.

Saffron, the Indian restaurant on Sand Lake Road, is halfway there. It is commemorating 10 years on Restaurant Row. Chef/owner Sunny Corda recently shared his recipe for Goan Prawns Xacutti for a Scott’s Kitchen segment. Even if you don’t want to cook it, watch the video to get an appreciation for the complexities of Indian cuisine.


Ootoya sign

Suddenly there’s a surge of new sushi joints popping up around town. One is Ootoya Sushi Lounge, which replaced Shari Sushi in Thornton Park, which closed in October of 2019. Much seems the same about the space, and Ootoya doesn’t present anything that would distinguish it above the other sushi restaurants that are opening or that have established themselves, though what I sampled on a recent visit was enjoyable.


Saffron Recipe

Here’s a recipe for the adventurous. It’s for the Goan Prawns Xacutti served at Mynt in Winter Park and Saffron on Sand Lake Road’s Restaurant Row. Both restaurants, along with Madras, are owned by Sunny Corda, who shares this recipe in celebration of Saffron’s 10th anniversary.

This one is presented as a no-recipe recipe. That is, it isn’t in the conventional format with exactly measured ingredients at top and strict instructions for the procedure. That’s because xacutti, which refers to a blend of spices, is open to interpretation and improvisation. You’ll need to feel a little comfortable with tasting and adjusting as you go.

But watch Corda prepare the dish in the video, then gather up the spices and prawns (large shrimp are fine, too) and have some fun.


Chuck Cobb

As they have so many times in the past, Orlando’s culinary community is coming together once again to help one of their own.

On Wed., May 12, about 20 or so restaurants will participate in BBQ Around Orlando to benefit the wife and four children of Charles “Chuck” Cobb, the chef/owner of Git-n-Messy Barbecue who was killed last month while riding his motorcycle. He was 34.

The fundraising is an initiative of Ryan Manning (MX Taco) and Joseph Creech (Hunger Street Taco). The two contacted other chefs around town who have all agreed to donate the proceeds from the one-day sales of a featured dish.

Despite the event’s name, however, barbecue won’t be the only thing offered. Denny Tornatore, owner of Torntatore’s, the College Park Italian restaurant, said in a message: “Chuck ate at our place a day before his accident. He had fettuccine Alfredo with sausage. So in honor of him we will feature that.”

Alejandro Martinez, owner of Stefano’s Trattoria in Winter Springs, is putting up the proceeds from the sales of Tortellini Stefano, which should bring in plenty of money because it’s one of the popular restaurant’s biggest sellers.

But there will be barbecue, too. All local 4 Rivers Smokehouse locations will participate, and Swine & Sons is offering a pulled pork sandwich. My friend Amy Drew Thompson at the Orlando Sentinel has a good list of participants – and the list is expected to grow – so check out the link to her story here.

All you have to do is show up at one of the participating restaurants and order the featured menu item (ask your server if it isn’t evident). Tip your server as usual, but I’m sure if you’d like to leave a little extra for Cobb’s family you can arrange to do that with the restaurant’s manager.


Bridge Bar

The Bridge is a New York restaurant. We know that because it says so in large letters, right beneath the name, on a big sign that, um, spans the backbar.

You’re probably wondering what makes it a New York restaurant, aren’t you, but you’re too embarrassed to ask. That’s OK; that’s what I’m here for. It’s my job to observe and scrutinize, to look for the subtle clues.

Perhaps the answer is in the menu where we find such things as hummus, guacamole and quesadillas. There is also menemen, a Turkish egg dish, as well as a few pastas, which for some reason are called macarna (probably after makarna, a Turkish word for pasta).

Burgers and steaks get us a little closer to New York, but also to just about any other city. Oh, hey – the Bridge has branzino on its menu, and for the last several years you couldn’t go into a restaurant in one of the five boroughs and not find branzino listed. It’s like the official fish of New York.

But branzino does not a New York restaurant make. So I did the only thing left to do: I asked my server.