Cafe Madrid wall

Cafe Madrid is gone; long live Cafe Madrid.

Cafe Madrid, you may recall, was the Cuban restaurant that occupied a corner of a strip mall on Curry Ford Road at Conway Road in Orlando for 28 years. I revisited it in January of this year to do an update review, and a week later it closed. (I swear it was a good review; here, read it yourself.)

In September, a new restaurant moved in, conveniently keeping the Cafe Madrid name but adding Deli & Bakery to it. As you might expect, it’s no longer a full-service restaurant as the old CM was, and selections aren’t as fulsome, either. There are no longer complete dinner entrees, for example. But the food I sampled at the new iteration is good and worth visiting if you’re in the area.




Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi, the very good Japanese restaurant at the Dellagio — and a Foodster Award winner for Best Sushi — is hosting a fun dinner event called Tokyo Soul. It will be offered on two nights, Thursday, Dec. 6, or Friday, Dec. 7, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Actually, you’re meant to choose just one of those nights, not both, but when you consider the cost — $50 per person — you may just opt to go twice.

It’s called Tokyo Soul because the menu features classic Japanese dishes with a southern twist from chef de cuisine Dequane Stobbs. For example, the first course features Kenchin Jiro, a Japanese vegetable soup with braised daikon, served with Family-style Tempura Corn Fritters. Other selections include Beef Ribs braised 36 hours; Tempura Curried Hogfish; and the Chef’s Seasonal Omakase. See below for the complete menu.

Dragonfly, which originated in Gainesville, opened its Orlando restaurant in 2010. For some, its reputation preceded it. For others, me included, it was a refreshing surprise. It’s decor is modern and stylish and the ambience is youthful and vibrant. The food has been first-rate since the beginning and continues to be popular. (A Foodster winner, after all.)

You can reserve your seat for Tokyo Soul at this link with a $10 deposit. The $50 fee does not include tax or gratuity but it does include an adult beverage.

Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi is at 7972 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando. There’s easy parking, by the way, in the lower-level garage just beneath the restaurant.

Here’s the full menu that’s planned for Tokyo Soul:


Epcot Holiday tree

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is over, so — Next! — it’s time for the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. That includes more food and wine, so it’s basically the same sort of festival but with more strings of lights and jingly bells.

Now, before you start putting on your war gear and asking why it isn’t called the Epcot International Festival of the Christmas you should know that there are plenty of other holidays celebrated at this time of year and they’re all represented here. For example, there’s L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen in recognition of Hanukkah (which starts Sunday, by the way) and there’s, um...well, that’s pretty much it. There’s a nod to the Lunar New Year observed by some Asian countries, but considering that the next Lunar New Year isn’t until Feb. 5 and the Epcot festival ends Jan. 30, so it’s a stretch )Epcot will already be into Festival of the Arts mode by then). (Kwanzaa is represented with music on the Fountain View Stage.)

But it’s still not all just Christmas. You’ll find Las Posadas, a Mexican and Latin America tradition; and Feast of the Three Kings, which technically also isn’t until after the festival ends, but work with us here, folks.

Mostly it’s a showcase for the way Christmas is celebrated in different countries and cultures, especially with food.


Fords Signature

I suppose it’s a good thing they didn’t call it GM’s Garage.

Ford’s Garage is a burger and beer brand born out of Ft. Myers and now headquartered in Tampa. You’d think Michigan, right? But there is a natural connection to the Sunshine State over the Great Lakes State: Henry Ford had a Winter home in Ft. Myers, less than a mile from where the first Ford’s Garage restaurant opened in 2012 (Henry did not attend).

Nearly all of the locations, just under a dozen so far, are in Florida, though one opened last year in Dearborn, Mich. The Orlando restaurant is in a freestanding building at the Orlando Premium Outlets on Vineland Avenue (it’s on the side with the Saks Off Fifth store).

As you might expect with a garage-themed restaurants, Ford’s is tricked out in a design that might be classified as early grease monkey. But except for the exterior, which like the rest of the mall structures is your basic faux Mediterranean-meets-Florida pale yellow stucco, it isn’t cheesy at all. In fact, there are a lot of nice details.


Fusionfest samosa

The first FusionFest was held Saturday and Sunday on Seneff Arts Plaza in front of the Dr. Phillips Center in downtown Orlando. It was a two-day celebration of the area’s diversity, with a parade of flags, multicultural entertainers, and food, food, food.

A number of diverse food vendors lined the plaza, which I consider to be Orlando’s Front Yard.

Fusionfest Serbia Terry

Organizer Terry Olson was spotted by the Serbian food stand.

I thought the sign on this African vendor was redundant when I saw that the food was “Togo,” but it meant that it was the cuisine of the nation of Togo. Don’t see that too often.