Dolce table

Dolce is a pleasant little cafe on Central Boulevard, across from an entrance to Lake Eola Park. It was a perfect place to meet a friend visiting from out of town. And surprisingly, we had the whole place to ourselves.

Although the name would suggest it specialized in sweets, it actually has an extensive menu of breakfast, lunch and brunch items, including crepes, pancakes, waffles and french toast. Yes, you can also get cinnamon rolls.


Fieri and Earl wp

Guy Fieri, the Guy of Chicken Guy!, stormed into Winter Park last week with brand partner Robert Earl of Earl Enterprises to introduce some new menu items. The ensuing scrum of media – both professional broadcast and Tik Tokkie avocationers – must have made the other fried fowl vendors jealous in that area known alternately as the Chicken Strip and Cock Block. (You can see Fieri’s spiky ‘do and Earl being interviewed in the photo at top. They stepped out to the parking lot to greet a firetruck that was there for a reason that was not made immediately clear.

Among the items being added to the menu is a springtime huckleberry shake.

Market on South, the plant-based mini food hall that opened on South Street in a small two story structure in 2015, has been “temporarily closed” for a while. Now, two of its vendors, Valhalla Bakery and Dharma Southern Kitchen have announced they will move on and into the Cheney Collective, another soon-to-be food hall on Old Cheney Highway that was Mi Bodega Latina Grocery until a few years ago. When it makes the move, Dharma will change its name to Dharma Southern Chick’n, that being the preferred spelling of the unmeated food substance that mimics the taste and texture of the real-meat chicken that vegans prefer not to eat.


Corks and forks overview

The third annual Corks and Forks will be Thursday, April 20, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Venue on Lake Lily, formerly known as the Maitland Civic Center. General admission tickets are $65 plus $6.21 fee; access to the VIP Lounge is $125 plus $10.23 fee. Proceeds benefit the Venue on Lake Lily.

It’s a walkabout event featuring food and beverage stations, including flog favorites Tap Room at Dubsdread and Francesco’s. There will also be wine, beer and cocktails plus live jazz.

More details and ticket buying opportunities at the event’s information venue, formerly known as its website.


Normans exterior

Norman’s, the upscale dining restaurant from one of Florida’s most celebrated chefs, Norman Van Aken, has opened in its new location at Dellagio Town Center in the Restaurant Row District after an absence of nearly four years. Its return immediately widens the field for anyone conducting a search for Best Restaurant of Central Florida.

Norman’s had previously been at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes Orlando and in fact opened with the hotel in 2003. It was the first time the luxury hotel chain had partnered with an independent chef. (Here’s a fun bit of trivia: The Ritz-Carlton originally approached Wolfgang Puck to open a restaurant there, but Puck already had a restaurant at what was then Downtown Disney West Side and his noncompete clause with Walt Disney World prevented him from having another restaurant that close.)

When it opened, Norman’s was a second location for Van Aken’s popular Coral Gables restaurant (since closed) and was known originally as Norman’s at the Ritz-Carton. In 2019 the Ritz decided to end its relationship with Norman’s and the restaurant closed in September of that year. (The space is now occupied by Knife & Spoon, headed by another celebrity chef, John Tesar.)

Although Van Aken and his partner, Thomas D. Wood Jr., found a property to move to fairly quickly – selecting a vacated Bravo! Italian restaurant at the Dellagio – the soon-to-rear-its-ugly-head pandemic brought the process to a halt before it could begin.

But here it is. And as Norma (not Norman) Desmond sings in “Sunset Boulevard,” it’s as if we never said goodbye.