Ash portrait

If only there were a clever opening line for an article announcing that a restaurant called Ash has closed.

That would be Restaurant Ash, the sandwich concept from FMI Restaurant(s), headed by Ashley Nickell. Or at least it was headed by Nickell until, as was reported by Watermark last month, she left to head up the Rainbow Cafe at the Parliament House. (But that’s only until August, the newspaper said, when she will move to New York City and work as a private chef.)

Rising out of the space on Mills Avenue, which was the site of the original Funky Monkey Wine Company restaurant, will be a coffee shop that is ironically (and coincidentally, if you think about it) called Brooklyn Coffee Shop. The irony is that it is a company out of Brazil, and both its Facebook page and website are in Portuguese. (Also ironic: the quote over Nickell's photo above.)

I don’t speak Portuguese — I can barely manage Brooklynese — so I’m not sure what we can expect from BCS. But apparently it will serve things que todo mundo adora.

FMI, of course, is the restaurant company owned by Nickell’s fathers, Eddie Nickell and Nicholas Olivieri. The now Ashless chaps have told other news outlets that they didn’t have time to run the sandwich shop and that they are also are looking for a place to relocate it. They own the Mills Avenue space and will be Brazilian Brooklyn’s landlords.

Cheddar pie and side

I’ve been avoiding Cheddar’s, the Texas-based chain that now has a half dozen or so area locations, ever since they entered the Central Florida market a few years ago. There were plenty of smaller, locally owned restaurants to warrant attention in these pages. I didn’t see any reason to visit.

Then, in March, Darden Restaurants announced that it was buying Cheddar’s. And so I felt a certain duty to be familiar with the latest addition to the hometown megafeeder’s portfolio. So off I went to check a Cheddar’s.

After just one visit, I have only one question: What the hell was Darden thinking?

whitewolf brunchThe restaurants listed here have been nominated for Best Brunch in our Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants.

To vote for your favorite, check the box next to the name and then click the VOTE button at the bottom of the list of nominees. You may vote for only one nominee and you may vote only once. After you have voted, the VOTE button will no longer appear on the page.

You may write in the name of a restaurant that you'd like to nominate. But remember: The Foodster Awards are exclusively for independent businesses, defined as having three or fewer locations -- no chains. Any write-in nominees that don't meet that definition will be removed from the list. Also, do not write in the name of a restaurant or lounge that is already named in the list -- by doing so you may actually reduce the number of votes that restaurant might receive because only the votes on the first listing will be counted.

After voting, leave a comment below telling us who you voted for and why. We may use your comment if your favorite is the winner. (Be sure to put the name of the restaurant in your comment or we won't know which one you're referring to.)

Voting ends at midnight June 14.

TR Fire Grill Mai Tai

We’re having our Dinner Party at TR Fire Grill in Winter Park Thursday. It’s sold out, but if you weren’t able to get tickets but want to pretend you’re joining us, make yourself the TR Fire Grill Mai Tai. That’s what we’ll be sipping on for our first course.

In the video below, beverage manager Jerry Spoto shows you just how it’s done.

Polite pig exterior

The Polite Pig has opened at Disney Springs, bringing a much-needed local voice to the assembled chorus of celebrity-owned restaurants and national chains.

The Polite Pig, of course, is the latest from the Swine Empire ruled over by pigtators James and Julie Petrakis, whose other restaurants include the Ravenous Pig and Cask & Larder. (Interesting to see DoveCote, the downtown French brasserie, also listed as a sister restaurant on PP’s website.)

The Polite Pig is something new from the Petrakises, not so much in the type of food as in the delivery. The restaurant, in a plum position at the foot of the escalators of the Lime parking garage, is set up primarily as a quick-serve operation. Customers queue up and order their food at a counter, pay, then take an electronic tracking device to a table. A server will bring the food to you when ready and also offer to help with any additional ordering or condiment needs.