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Hammered logo

For more than six and a half years, the Hammered Lamb has occupied a space on North Orange Avenue across from Lake Ivanhoe. Previous occupants included Ethos, the vegan restaurant that moved to Winter Park, and various gay bars.

Most people who patronize the business today are arguably there to mimic the lamb, that is, get hammered. In other words, most people still think of it primarily as a bar.

But in recent months, HL has been striving to up its food game, offering a variety of appetizers and sandwiches. So I stopped by with a colleague to check out the menu. And, not incidentally, have a drink.

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Fifth Element rogan josh

Nominations are now open for Best Indian cuisine in our 2019 Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants.

Below you'll find the initial list of nominees. You may select up to three choices; the restaurants getting the most votes will advance to the finals.

If you don't see your favorite restaurant listed here, you may write in its name. Keep in mind that only independent restaurants – those with three or fewer locations – are eligible. DO NOT write in the name of a restaurant already on the list – duplicates will be deleted along with any accumulated votes.

After making your selection, leave a comment telling us why you think your nominee is the best (we can't see who you voted for, so be sure to mention the restaurant's name in your comment). 

Nominations will be accepted through Sept. 11. The finalists will be announced on Sept. 12.

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Attic Door counter top

I just returned from New Orleans and I don’t think I had a bowl of gumbo there any better than the one I had at the Attic Door in Winter Garden just before I left.

But I’m not surprised, given that the Attic Door’s menu is under the direction of Kevin Tarter, the talent behind Chef’s Table at the Edgewater and the adjacent Tasting Room. Now Tarter and his wife, Laurie, have taken over JR’s Attic Door, a wine bar and music room on the main downtown strip, upping its food game along with tweaking the decor.

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Lonnies logo

Lonnie’s Fusion Cuisine of Lake Mary was voted Best Seafood restaurant by the readers of Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide in our Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants. Cress of DeLand was second and Todd English’s bluezoo at the Swan and Dolphin Resort was third.

Sheila Campbell Parsons wrote: “Lonnie’s is a fabulous restaurant. The food is not only fresh but amazing. Chef Lonnie cooks the fish to perfection and the flavors are incredible.” And Crystal Hobby Homer added, “I know that I'm going to have a wonderful meal with a pleasant dining experience when I go there.”

About Cress, which just recently returned to operating as a restaurant with regular hours, Judy Buček wrote: “Cress Seafood is off the chain. Always perfectly cooked with amazing levels of flavour and wonderful presentation. Exquisite fine dining.”

Voting was robust for this category. It’s nice to see so many people passionate about good seafood, and it’s even nicer to see so many restaurants stepping up to serve it.

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Dexterstp interior

Note: This article has been updated to clarify the status of the Winter Park Dexter's.

You’re probably a bit confused about what’s going on with Dexter’s, aren’t you? I’ll admit it’s all a bit confusing, but let’s see if we can suss this out.

As background, and for those new to the area, Dexter’s started out as a popular wine bar and retail spot in Winter Park. It expanded, changed locations once or twice, went full liquor and lost the retail wine shop part of the business and expanded its food offerings to become more of a full restaurant. Along the way, it added a second location, in Thornton Park, and then Lake Mary and Windermere. Each became known by its address: Dexter’s of Winter Park, Dexter’s of Thornton Park, and so on.

Then, for a variety of reasons, all four were put up for sale last year. And, for the most part, each was obtained by separate entities. The Windermere location started flagging almost immediately following the sale and closed this summer. But the other three remain, although Dexter’s of Winter Park is planning an imminent move from its Hannibal Square location to the former TR Fire Grill space in the Ravaudage complex. Still Winter Park, so the name shouldn’t change, although there is a chance the new restaurant will be rebranded altogether; more on that soon.

But none of that explains what’s going on with Dexter’s. As it was characterized to me, each location still has some things in common with the other two – menu focus, for example, although that may change because none is contractually bound to present the same menu – but each also has something different. Winter Park, for example, is more music focused and regularly features live bands. Lake Mary’s vibe is more laid back to match its suburban (do we still call them bedroom communities?) locale.

But Thornton Park’s seems different from the other two. For one thing, it’s nestled in the well-established neighborhood and occupies a free-standing structure that was originally a Publix market. The Lake Mary and Winter Park restaurants are in newer developments, as was Windermere’s. Indeed, although it was the second Dexter’s, the Thornton Park location is the oldest, observing its twenty-fifth anniversary. It just has a homier feel.

And it also seems to focus more on its food than its estranged cousins.