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f2o exterior

There's a new player in the fast casual arena that would like to add another f to the description: fine. It's called Fresh to Order, a truly uninspired name, to be sure, and its motto is fine food fast. Or, more accurately: fine. food. fast. The conceit here is that even if you want to have a quick meal, you don't have to settle for sandwiches, burgers or crappy food.

Sandwiches are certainly available at the Waterford Lakes newcomer. Burgers, too. But you'll also find what the menu describes as "entree long plates," though I'm not sure what that means other than that the plates are not square. Here you will find such things as Brown Sugar Roasted Pork Loin, Almond Chicken Skewers and Chicken Wild Mushroom. Several of these items are available in smaller portions — three-quarters, rather than half, but I still like the option of having a smaller entree.

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Del Friscos DE logoDel Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House will open one of its premium steakhouses on International Drive in Fall of 2015. The restaurant is being constructed on a site that once held a Sizzler steakhouse, so there are bound to be comparisons. Not.

More likely the comparisons -- and the competition for meat-loving conventioneers -- will be between Del and The Capital Grille, which is essentially across the street at Pointe Orlando. Del's new address will be 9142 International Drive.

The Del Frisco's name isn't new to Orlando, but the Double Eagle brand is. The restaurant now known as Christner's Prime Steak & Lobster on Lee Road began as Del Frisco's Prime Steak & Lobster. That was in 1993 when Russ Christner convinced his friend Dale Wamstad, owner of the original Del Frisco's in Dallas (by way of New Orleans) to allow him to open a Del Frisco's in Orlando. The agreement included a 20 year license. During that time, Wamstad sold the business to the company that would create the Double Eagle chain brand. When the 20 years were up, in 2013, the license was not renewed, and the restaurant changed its name to Christner's. As part of the parting terms, Del Frisco's Double Eagle was excluded from entering the Central Florida market for the period of one year.

That was up in June, so it's surprising that it will be another year -- plus -- before the Double Eagle restaurant opens up.

And I was surprised that it will be a Double Eagle and not the Del Frisco's Grille, a more casual concept. One of those opened in the past year in the Tampa area. Let's take that as a positive indication that companies are betting that people are willing to spend expense account dollars at fine restaurants again.

Have you been to a Del Frisco's Double Eagle steakhouse? Are you excited about the one to open on International Drive?

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Remember when Paul Prudhomme (heck, do you remember Paul Prudhomme?) almost single handedly wiped out an entire population of a species of fish when his recipe for blackened red fish became popular?

According to this article from today's New York Times, cod is the latest fish that is feared to be dwindling in numbers. But this time it isn't because of a currently-hot chef and a specialized recipe. The warming ocean waters are sending the fish north in search of cooler temps. The implications aren't just culinary, they're economic. And they aren't going to change anytime soon. You don't have to agree about the reasons for the warming waters to know that this is a big problem.

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Fluffy Cloud Cookies

December is cookie time, and every year we look for a winner for our diva pal Julie's annual Cookie Party competition. That sublime sweet that will outshine all the others.

We think we found it at the Biltmore in beautiful Asheville, N.C., and with a little coaxing, we got Chef David Ryba from The Dining Room at the Inn on Biltmore to part with the recipe. You'll be on cloud nine after baking these Fluffy Cloud Cookies, a riff on traditional chocolate chip cookies with added lightness from cake flour.

Happy holidays from the divas!

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edge steakhouse Park City

Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa will break ground Monday on a retail center that will include a new steakhouse and a sports bar. Edge Steakhouse is described by the Orlando based time share company as a premium dining concept. Its Edge Steakhouse in Park City, Utah, is highly rated, ranked as the second most popular restaurant out of 207 on Tripadvisor. 

The planned $11 million retail village will also include Drafts Sports Bar & Grill, a grocery store, game room and two-lane bowling alley. In addition, the facility will have 32,000 square feet of banquet and meeting space, so maybe they can set up a couple more bowling lanes.

The steakhouse and sports bar are scheduled to open in June, although some aspects of the village will be available in April.

Orange County mayor Theresa Jacobs will take part in the Monday groundbreaking ceremony along with VisitOrlando president and CEO George Aguel and Orange County commissioner Scott Boyd.