Brass Tap

  • Some beer news to note: The Brass Tap in Mills 50 ceased to be a Brass Tap Sunday after more than five years there. A note on its Facebook page says that the owners will rebrand and reopen with the same staff. No word on what it will be, but I’m guessing it will have something to do with beer on tap. A location in Waterford Lakes continues to be Brass Tappy.
  • There’s no guessing about Persimmon Hollow Brewing Company at Lake Eola. The DeLand-based brewers opened their new location, on the corner of N. Eola Drive and Robinson Street, in the former Panera Bread space in the EO Inn Monday. Many beers on tap, some exclusive to this location. Food will be available, too.
  • As long as we’re discussing alcohol...Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a meeting with restaurateurs in Ft. Myers Thursday that he would support making “alcohol to go” permanent after the pandemic crisis. The provision instituted under DeSantis’s pandemic emergency order allows bars and restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages for off-premises imbibing. It’s not up to him – the Florida legislature would have to, um, legislate that.
  • And in nondrinking news, Luby’s, the parent company of the spooneristically named Fuddruckers, caused a panic among its burger fans when it announced the company would disband. That caused Luby’s chief operating officer to issue a statement saying that 80 Luby’s and Fuddruckers remain open and may continue to be operated by franchisees. Fast food history buffs, if they exist, may note that Beefy King was once a franchise. When it dissolved the Orlando franchisees kept the Bumby Avenue roast beef sandwicherie open. And the rest is history.


roys ext

Roy’s Restaurant, the Hawaiianesque fine dining venue on Sand Lake Road, has closed permanently.

The restaurant closed in March when all on-premises dining was forbidden and did not offer takeout and delivery as many others did. It had recently reopened for in-house dining and people were reported being seen there as recently as Monday.

Efforts to reach the corporate offices were not immediately successful. A manager at a neighboring restaurant said that he was unaware that the restaurant had permanently closed but had heard that it was struggling.

Roy’s was started in 1988 in Hawaii by James Beard Award-winning chef Roy Yamaguchi. The Orlando Roy’s opened in 2006 with Greg Richie, who trained with Yamaguchi in Hawaii, as the chef/partner. Richie is now the chef/partner of Soco in downtown’s Thornton Park.

Roy’s, in its heydays, was one of venues that elevated Restaurant Row to a dining destination for locals as well as for tourists and conventioneers. It had undergone some ownership changes that some say contributed to a decline in the quality of the experience. 


Russels exterior

  • Russell’s on Lake Ivanhoe is set to open its doors on Friday, Sept. 19. The new restaurant is owned by Philippe Villain and Kevin O’Donnell, who also own Big Fin Seafood Kitchen. They’ve brought on Emmanuel Clement as chef/partner. Clement worked with Villain at various Meridien properties, including the Parker Meridien in New York; at European Planet Hollywoods (Planets Hollywood?); and in the opening of Euro Disney. The menu is described by Villain as continental and will draw on Clement’s restaurant experiences of his native France and Spain, where he also owned restaurants. Steak tartare will be a signature dish, Clement told me.


PioPio ext

I first visited Pio Pio Latin Cuisine on Semoran Boulevard in the middle of March and, as irony would have it, I ordered takeout thinking that I’d return in a week or two for an in-house visit. And we all know what happened next.

But seeing as I had a good takeout experience, I figured I might as well go ahead and tell you about it.

There are other Pio Pios (Piae Piae?) in the area and although it doesn’t say so on any of the restaurants’ websites, they are all related via ownership. The menus are similar, but, as a pleasant young man at the Semoran Boulevard restaurant explained, “We all serve the same food, but there might be subtle differences like in a sauce.”


Okra iStill

In this episode, chef and cookbook author Hari Pulapaka shows me how to make bhindi masala, a popular okra dish from India.

It’s a recipe from Pulapaka’s upcoming book, Dreaming In Spice, a Sinfully Vegetarian Odyssey.

Many of the ingredients may be found in your favorite grocery store, but you may need to go to an Indian specialty store, such as Spice House in Longwood, for the curry leaves. (They keep the curry leaves behind the checkout counter, for some reason.)

Watch the video then read Pulapaka’s recipe below. And make the naan, too, it really adds to the enjoyment.

Here’s the excerpt from Pulapaka’s book: