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Earl of Sandwich logo

Orlando based Earl of Sandwich has been cited as the top Fast Casual pick in TripAdvisor’s 2019 Choice Awards for Restaurants. The winners are determined by a full year of reviews on the travel advice platform. Earl of Sandwich came in ahead of Shake Shack at number two and In-N-Out Burger in third place. You can see the full list of winners at TripAdvisor.

The Earl of Sandwich chain was started by Robert Earl in conjunction with John Montagu, the 11th Earl of Sandwich and a member of the British Parliament’s House of Lords. It was actually one of Montagu’s sons, whose name, coincidentally, is Orlando, who first wrote to Earl suggesting he team up with the family whose ancestor – the 4th Earl of Sandwich – is credited with first putting meats between two pieces of bread, in 1762.

The first Earl of Sandwich opened in March of 2004 at Disney Marketplace, now known as Disney Springs. There are now more than 35 locations throughout the U.S. as well as in Paris and Manilla. Ironically, a location in London near St. Paul’s cathedral has closed.

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Dexterstp bar

As anticipated, Dexter’s of Thornton Park has closed. New owners – investors from Vero Beach – are expected to take over the space with a new concept that a source says will be upscale dining.

Dexter’s of Thornton Park was the second location for what would grow to be a four-restaurant chain. But at 25 years, it was the oldest in terms of location.

The closing makes Dexter’s of Lake Mary the only remaining “original” Dexter’s. Dexter’s of Winter Park closed its Hannibal Square restaurant and reopened over the weekend as Dexter’s New Standard in the Ravaudage Plaza at Lee Road and Orlando Avenue. A fourth Dexter’s, in Windermere, closed over the summer.

More details on the new owners of the Thornton Park space on Washington Street and the restaurant they plan to open are expected soon.

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Enchanted sign

Wonderful news: The drabbest bar on Disney property, the miserable Mizner’s Lounge, is no more, and Enchanted Rose has taken its place – and then some.

Mizner’s was on the second floor of the beautiful Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, tucked behind the bandstand of the orchestra that plays for the guests in the lobby below. Mizner’s was a step down from the entryway, it was dark and cramped, and perhaps that affected the mood of the cast members who worked there because they were uncharacteristically surly.

That space is now is all lounge – the bar for Enchanted Rose is next door in what used to be a gift shop where racks of t-shirts blocked the windows. A three-sided bar now occupies that space, and the windows offer an unobscured view of the lagoon (or at least they will once the trees are trimmed back a bit.

Enchanted bar

A chandelier of golden rods hangs overhead. It’s meant, I’m told, to represent the gown Belle wears in Beauty and the Beast, the Disney property that inspires the Enchanted Rose.

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Lake Buena Vista Rendering1 copy

  • Portillo’s, a Chicago-based hot dogger, is coming to Lake Buena Vista. The company made the announcement in a press released that proclaimed, “The most magical place on Earth is coming to the Orlando area...” Because what’s more magical than wieners?
  • Central Florida Veg Fest will be Saturday, Oct. 26, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Orlando Festival Park. The vegan-centric event is free and will have vendors and demonstrations (friendly demonstrations, not the protest kind). I wonder if they’ll have a vegan hot dog, because that would be really magical.
  • Crepe Delicious, which describes itself as “Canada’s largest mall-based creperie,” has opened at 55 W. Church St., which is not a mall. But it’s also not Canada. And does Canada have a larger creperie that is not mall based?
  • Damning the torpedos sinking other microbreweries, Persimmon Hollow Brewing Company of DeLand is moving full speed ahead with plans to take over the former Panera Bread in the EO Inn across from Lake Eola. It will brew beers available only in that location, and it will partner with an as yet unnamed food vendor to use the kitchen space. I hope they have better luck with that than Orange County Brewers did in downtown Orlando.

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Chefstable bucket

I just spent a perfectly lovely evening at an old favorite I hadn’t visited in too long a time, Chef’s Table at the Edgewater.

Owners Kevin and Laurie Tarter were ahead of the Winter Garden renaissance when they opened their intimate restaurant in the historic Edgewater Hotel there in May of 2008. Eleven years later, the West Orange County hamlet is a hopping with good restaurants and evening entertainment. And the Tarters have expanded their domain with the addition of the Tasting Room, which occupies a space in front of the Chef’s Table’s dining room, and, earlier this year, the acquisition of the Attic Door.

But the Chef’s Table remains the jewel, a leisurely evening of three courses, with wine pairings if you like, served by a friendly and attentive staff.