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Crooked Can medal

  • Frank Galeano has left the kitchen at Tapa Toro and is moving to San Francisco to accept the position of head chef at Wingtip, a private social club. He’ll be joining two former colleagues – Brian Moll and Mark King – from his days at Isleworth Country Club and Club at Mediterra in Bonita Springs. “So basically three Florida boys will be running things there,” Galeano said in a message.
  • Mia’s Italian Kitchen on International Drive in Orlando has introduced a “bottomless dining” options, but I caution you that this does not refer to the dress code. Learn from my mistake, people.
  • Speaking of bottoms, Hungry Pants, the new restaurant from the former owners of the Yum Yum Cupcakes food truck, has opened softly on South Orange Avenue in the former Carol’s Place place. It will have limited hours through the softness of the opening and then serve lunch and dinner daily when it opens hardly on Nov. 4.

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RaglanSC table

I’m delighted to inform you that Raglan Road, the Disney Springs Irish pub and restaurant, is in excellent hands with its executive chef, Mark O’Neill. Raglan Road was the setting for our recent meeting of Scott Joseph’s Supper Club and O’Neill put together a Harvest Dinner menu that had us all over the moon.

RaglanSC shepherd

Following a welcome cocktail, we began our dinner with O’Neill’s version of Shepherd’s Pie. That classic dish has always been stylized at Raglan but this version elevated it to something wonderful. It had the usual beer and lamb along with root vegetables in a red wine based gravy. But the mashed potatoes that were piped on top had been smoked in Irish peat. That gave it a moody grace note. It was paired with King of Shoals IPA from Crooked Can Brewing. I could have been happy with that as the only dish of the evening.

But that was just the beginning.

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Fusionfest Serbia Terry

FusionFest, the ethnically diverse celebration that takes place in downtown Orlando the weekend following Thanksgiving, is endeavoring to continue the cultural exploration throughout 2020 with the initiation of FusionFest Diversitastic! Dining Club.

Once a month, FFD!DC will select a restaurant from among Central Florida’s diverse collection of cuisines to showcase. The dinners will feature a speaker to explain the heritage of the food and culture of the country or region.

FusionFest is inviting restaurants to apply to be a part of the 10-month dining adventure (July and December excepted). Applicants should expect a group of 35 to 100 diners and should offer a menu of representative foods for about $35. Participating restaurants should feature a decor appropriate to the country or culture. Ideally, the restaurant should have a private room for the event.

Interested restaurants can apply to be considered for the inaugural year of Diversitastic! at FusionFest.org/restaurant. Deadline for applications is Nov. 1. Selected restaurants will be notified by Nov. 18 and tickets will go on sale at this year’s FusionFest at the end of November.

Note: I am serving on the steering committee for FusionFest’s Diversitastic! Dining Club (but I did not choose the name).

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Dexterstp interior

Brian Minkel, a longtime Thornton Park resident, is the buyer of the downtown Orlando Dexter’s, according to a source with information about the transaction. He has previously worked as a bartender at Burton’s, across the street from the Dexter’s building, and as general manager at the Woods, a bar on Orange Avenue.

Minkel was profiled in the Downtown Community Paper, a sister publication of the College Park Community Paper, in February. The article, by S.T. Cardinal, noted that Minkel, a Wisconsin native who moved to Orlando in 2001, is also vice president of the local chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild.

Dexter’s of Thornton Park has occupied the space on Washington Street in a former Publix grocery store, for 25 years. It was shuttered Monday following the closing of the deal for Minkel to buy the business. However, it is not expected to reopen as Dexter’s but rather a new concept.

No further information about the concept was available and Minkel did not immediately answer a request for comment. He is said to have met with Dexter’s staff members to ask them to stay on, which would indicate an intention to open sooner rather than later.