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Black Rooster Taqueria, the popular Mills 50 restaurant, opened its second location, in the Curry Ford West District, last November, and when I visited it in late December I found that it wasn’t quite up to the standards of the original. Opening in a pandemic, supply-chain issues, staffing problems – who knows? Whatever the issues were back then seem to have been overcome or corrected, and based on a recent revisit, the Curry Ford West Rooster is proving itself to be a fine addition to the area.

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This should have been a banner year for Orlando Meats, the boutique butcher and cafe that started on Virginia Drive in Orlando in 2017 and last year moved to a larger space in Winter Park’s Ravaudage Plaza and in June was named one of the area’s Bib Gourmand recommendations in the Michelin Guide’s inaugural Florida edition.

Instead it has closed permanently.

Things apparently began to fall apart when Orlando Meats’ culinary director, Eliot Hillis, and its chef de cuisine, Seth Parker, announced they would be leaving to start a new restaurant called Red Panda Noodles. That restaurant is expected to open later in the year in a still-unannounced location.

No word on what will move into the Ravaudage space.

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  • The next is a series of sorta monthly events celebrating local foods is Saturday, Aug. 13, from noon to 7 p.m. at Ivanhoe Park Brewing Company. The 407 Food Fair will feature more than 20 independently owned local food purveyors selling their wares, including Pass Kitchen, Royal T Tapas and the eagerly anticipated Red Panda Noodles from the former Orlando Meats guys. The 407 Food Fair is usually the second Saturday of each month but there are two events scheduled for November.
  • The owners of Big Fin Seafood (formerly known as Big Fin Seafood Kitchen) will soon open a restaurant in the Villages called Little Fin. It will be similar to Big Fin in concept but, you know, smaller.

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Big Fin Seafood’s executive chef, Eric Enrique, has been making some changes to the popular restaurant’s menu, and I stopped in recently to give them a try.

The most impressive addition, at least in a visual sense, is a shellfish tower, with chilled Maine lobster, Alaskan king crab, cocktail shrimp and raw oysters served on crushed ice and accompanied by mignonette, cocktail and stone sauces. All delicious, and even more stunning than the chilled seafood platter I had at Le Ronde in Paris in June.

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Norman’s update: Construction is continuing on the relocation space and the exterior now sports a Norman’s sign over the front door. It has a fresh coat of paint but still looks very much like a construction site, which it is and will be for a while yet. Thomas D. Wood, Jr., an owner, said in an email that he’s hoping for late fall but, “I can’t predict anymore the way construction goes.” He said that the interior walls would be going in over the next two weeks and, “then the pretty stuff starts.” The patio should be complete by the end of September, he said.

Norman’s, from the eponymous Norman Van Aken, closed its original Central Florida location in September of 2019, vacating the space at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando that is now home to Knife & Spoon. Even as it closed it announced that it would relocate to Dellagio Plaza on Restaurant Row and move into the former Bravo! Italian restaurant space.

Then 2020 came along and, well, you know.

It’s taken longer than anyone expected for the new Norman’s – Knife & Spoon opened within a year – but at least we know it’s still happening. Said Wood: “We are not going to rush anything just to open as it is too important .”