coq au vin exterior

The readers of Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide have voted Le Coq au Vin Best French in our Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants.

Cafe de France, one of Park Avenue’s oldest restaurants, was second and Chez Vincent third.

“Everything about Le Coq au Vin is superb,” wrote Sun Reyes.

Le Coq occupies an A-frame building — said to have once been the model home for a vacation home building — on South Orange Avenue. It was opened in 1976 by Louis and Magdalena Perrotte. In November of 2008, the Perrottes took Reimund and Sally Pitz on as partners. Louis said at the time that it was with an eye toward retirement. Indeed, less than half a year later, the Perrottes stepped aside and the Pitzes took over. Le Coq au Vin’s website still characterizes the relationship between the two couples as a partnership.

Cafe de France is no poulet de printemps, either. The little bistro opened in July of 1982 and has been owned by German and Dominique Gutierrez since 1986.

Vincent Gagliano is the man behind Chez Vincent, the Hannibal Square restaurant he opened in 1997 with his wife, Teri. Prior to opening the restaurant, which now includes the popular bar and lounge Hannibal’s next door, Gagliano was the chef at Cafe de France.

That all three Foodster finalists have been around so many years is a testament to their quality.

Congratulations to all, and thanks to all who voted. Watch for another Foodster category to be announced soon.


Columbia sign

Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City has been around for more than 114 years, longer than any other restaurant in Florida. The menu features an item called the 1905 Salad to commemorate the year it opened. Actually, when the restaurant was anticipating celebrating its centennial in 2005, the owners found documentation that it had really opened in 1902, but they decided to stick with the 1905 date. There would be the whole salad problem to deal with, after all.

A restaurant has to be doing something right to last that long. But if my recent experience is indicative of the way the restaurant operates now, it may not see another anniversary. It has a whole lot more problems than a misnamed salad.


Rocco pappardelle

If you’ve been to Rocco’s Italian Grille & Bar, you’ve probably had the Pappardelle alle Cinque Terra. Or maybe you just looked longingly at a nearby table where it was served.

The dish is a creation of owner Rocco Potami, and in this edition of Compliments of the Chef, he demonstrates how the dish can be easily accomplished. If you can, be sure to get fresh pappardelle, but the dried variety will do just fine.

Watch the video, then give the recipe below a try.


Mannys interior

  • Look for the Baldwin Park location of Manny's Original Chop House to close sometime in July or August and, after a 30 day or so redo, reopen as a more upscale steakhouse. It'll still be under the same ownership -- sorry to get your hopes up -- but I assume they'll get rid of the "Pump Boys and Dinettes" decor. The new name hasn't been finalized yet but it will be similar. Manny's Unoriginal Chop House? 

Monkey Mixer

  • Monkey Shoulder, a maker of a blended malt scotch whisky, will be pouring cocktails at Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace Friday and Saturday (March 29, 30) from a rather large shaker. It’s called the Monkey Mixer, and you’d be forgiven for confusing it with a tony cement mixer. The 2400 gallon mixer is attached to the rear of a semi truck. Technically, I think you’d have to agree that although it’s in the shape of a shaker, the device is actually stirring the cocktail. Said cocktail will be the Mixed Up Monkey and may be sampled 5:30 to 10 p.m. Wouldn’t just just love to see the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile pull up next to that thing?
  • If you’d rather wield a more conventional shaker, you may be interested in attending the Master Mixology Class hosted by the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of American on Sunday, March 31, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando. Registration is $50, which will get you in to all of the events that day, including an afternoon wine seminar, plus a $10 lunch coupon. It’s part of a Consumer Day outreach by the organization. Register here.
  • The people who own the Chai Thai restaurants will open Mai Thai in the former Artisan’s Table space on Pine Street in downtown Orlando. I told you that Artisan’s Table moved to 55 W. Church St., right? I wonder if the new tenants asked Artisan’s why they wanted to move. Or the Black Olive. Or Pine 22. Or Blue Smoke Burgers.


trebambine interior

I don’t suppose that technically there’s an absolute, written in stone recipe for Saltimbocca. After all, the word means “jump in the mouth” in Italian, and you could probably name a number of ingredients that you might like to have saltim your bocca.

But generally, in Italian restaurants, saltimbocca usually refers to a specific preparation, though even that is open to variations. I’ve had veal saltimbocca and I’ve had chicken saltimbocca. But until I visited Tre Bambine, a new restaurant in the former Spice Modern/Lake Eola Yacht Club space, I had never had meatloaf saltimbocca.

Mind you, it was veal meatloaf, but still. This culinary interpretation was completely lost in the translation.