Nova exterior

According to Wikipedia: A nova ... is a transient astronomical event that causes the sudden appearance of a bright, apparently "new" star, that slowly fades over several weeks or many months.

Nova, the "scratch kitchen" that opened in early 2016, will fade out after Sunday's dinner service, according to Faiyaz Kara of the Orlando Weekly.

The restaurant at the corner of North Orange Avenue and Virginia Drive (the name was actually meant to be a syllabic abbreviation of North of Virginia) had an impressively renovated space that included the former Brian's Diner greasy spoon and expanded through to an adjacent business. The expansive covered patio looked out to Lake Ivanhoe across Orange Avenue.

I wasn't impressed with the restaurant when I first reviewed it, in March 2016, but I found it vastly improved for an updated review in January. As Kara reported, the opening chef, Valentinus Domingo, left the restaurant in August; AJ Kraft, former sous chef at Slate on Restaurant Row, came on as executive chef in September.

sauce bowl interior

I cringed just a little when I first heard about Too Much Sauce, not because of the name, which is indeed cringeworthy, but because it is yet another in the long line of assemblage restaurants. Maybe it wasn't a cringe; it might have been an eye roll. I definitely sighed.

But I found this new restaurant in the Mills 50 district to be absolutely charming and much less annoying than the average choose-from-each-column concept. And, not incidentally, the food was good.

Even better, there are several preordained bowls that require no hand-wringing order choices. And for those who do wish to call the shots, the bowls are constructed in the back, so you aren't forced to shuffle an assembly line and watch your food being built.

As I approached the counter to place my order, I was greeted by a man who did not say, "Welcome" or "May I take your order?" but rather, "Let's have some good food!"

I was so disarmed that I didn't give the reply that I ordinarily might have given -- I plan to dine alone, thanks -- but instead took a beat and said, "Yes, let's."

Church Street walkway

Hawkers, the Asian Street Fare concept, is moving its Central Kitchen headquarters to downtown Orlando and will be located on Church Street.

Make that over Church Street. The Central Florida-grown mini-chain will move from Clermont to 54 W. Church St. and its new space will incorporate the glass-enclosed bridge that spans the street at Church Street Market.

"I can't tell you how excited we are to get back to the urban core," said co-founder Kaleb Harrell. Team members, he said, have created a hashtag -- #CountdownToDowntown -- that they use as shorthand whenever they become frustrated with commuting to the current headquarters.

Harvest scene

Our friends at Grande Lakes Orlando put on a terrific event last week, and for the first time opened the grounds of the resort's onsite gardens, Whisper Creek Farms, to the public.

The occasion was the first Homestead Harvest, which featured not only the talented chefs of the restaurants at the Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott but also some of the top chefs from the community.

Harvest Blake

Kathleen Blake was there, serving her yummy Rusty Spoon deviled eggs and a duck mortadella. (When some people gave her a blank stare at the mention of mortadella, Blake apparently just told them it was bologna.)

Harvest Fonzo

Kevin Fonzo, formerly of K Restaurant was there representing his Kevin Fonzo Foundation. He was serving Red Kuri Squash Soup and Smoked Duck Leg Confit.

James Petrakis of the Ravenous Pig had Wood-grilled Octopus and Lamb Kofta.

Sinatra ext

I avoid restaurants on holidays. It's difficult to get a snapshot of how the restaurant usually does business. And by snapshot I mean both literally and figuratively: It isn't desirable to have a photo of a dining room decked out for Christmas in a review that will live throughout the year.

Or in the case of Sinatra's Ristorante, one staged for Halloween. Actually, I'm not so certain that it isn't always set for Halloween. After all, the restaurant is in Cassadaga, the unincoporated community also known as the Psychic Capital of the World. Halloween, it would seem, is a big deal here.

So much so that the usual rituals, and you may interpret that word any way you wish, aren't confined to Oct. 31, as I found out on Oct. 30, Halloween-een, apparently.

An appointment had taken me to DeLand, and with so few restaurants in that city open on Mondays -- including some that list that they're open daily -- I figured it was a good time to visit Sinatra's, not far away. I had been told it had good Italian food and that it featured piano music. I appreciate both, so I wended my way there after calling ahead to confirm that it was indeed open.

I should have known something was amiss when the person who answered the phone at the restaurant had to yell into the receiver to be heard over the background din. Still, I went on.