cocina drink

Cocina 214 has the Best Happy Hour, according to the voters in our Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants. It beat out second place winner Santiago's Bodega by a mere two votes. Moonfish, the Restaurant Row seafood restaurant, was third.

Cocina 214 features a happy hour from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday with $5 214 Rocks, 214 Frozen and El Diablos; $3 Draft Beers; and $5 well drinks.

Santiago's Bodega has hours happy daily from 4 to 6 p.m. and again from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. with half off all wines by the glass, drafts, and premium well drinks, plus $5 tapas selections.

Moonfish, from the Talk of the Town Restaurant Group, gets happy daily from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. with special pricing on draft beer, select red & white wines by the glass, spirits, martinis and fresh fruit infusion cocktails.

Congratulations to all the winners. Maybe we should all get together for a drink or something.

round up

Tasty little bits and tids. Take all you want, but read all you take.

  • Our friends at the Chef's Table at the Edgewater are celebrating the restaurant's 10th anniversary today, Wednesday May 30. The festivities are throughout the facility, which, when it first opened a decade ago, did not include the Tasting Room. One of the things you can taste in that room, tonight only, are the mushroom torte appetizers usually available only in the Chef's Table venue. Congratulations to Laurie and Kevin Tarter on 10 terrific years. Chef's Table is at 99 W Plant St Winter Garden.
  • Of course another local restaurant is celebrating a milestone this year. Beefy King, the roast beef sandwich shop on Bumby Avenue in Orlando is having a half-century bash on Saturday. All the owners (or their kids) will be on hand serving sandwiches and other favorite goodies. I'll be broadcasting live from Beefy King on Friday at 2 p.m. with the folks at icFlorida, so tune in for that on Facebook.
  • Paradiso Pizzeria on Semoran Boulevard has new owners. Andrea and Rich Rosenfeld took over about six weeks ago. No changes in the works, which is good because Paradiso Pizzeria won the Best Pizza in Scott Joseph's Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants in 2017.
  • Washburn Imports, the eclectic furniture, antiques and gewgaws store that discovered if you install a bar in the shop you can sell a lot more eclectic furniture, antiques and gewgaws (just kidding) will open a third location on Morse Boulevard in Winter Park sometime this summer.
  • FRLA Central Florida Chapter is partnering with Orlando After-School All-Stars to support the annual “Round Up For Kids” fundraiser. From June 8 to Junly 31, guests at participating restaurants can help homeless youth by simply rounding up their checks to the nearest dollar amount. All proceeds benefit the Summer of Dreams, which supports homeless youth in Central Florida with meals, academic enrichment, tutoring, mentoring, and a backpack filled with school supplies for the fall. Last year, the Summer of Dreams program served 1,151 homeless students in Central Florida.
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  • Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando’s first annual “Dine for Paws” fundraiser is Tuesday, June 5. What is that, you ask? Simply dine out at any of the participating restaurants on June 5 and 15% of proceeds will be donated to Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, an animal welfare agency. Participating restaurants at this link.

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Stir sign

My most recent visit to the restaurant at the corner of Orange Avenue and Virginia Drive, just across from Lake Ivanhoe, had me thinking that the name should be Still instead of Stir. It was very quiet and largely unattended.

Actually, I think we're meant to present the restaurant's name as STIR. According to the About Us page on its website, the name is an acronym for Sip, Taste, Indulge and Relax. And you may do all those things at this restaurant and bar, which is located in the space that most recently was Nova (whose name was a syllabic abbreviation of North of Virginia). Whether you'll want to is another question.

The first time I went to Stir I did not intend for it to be a reviewing visit. I was meeting a colleague to discuss a business venture and the just-opened restaurant seemed like a convenient place to meet for drinks. As I often do, I ordered a negroni, the cocktail made with equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. What I was served tasted nothing like any negroni I've had before. And in fact when I mentioned this to someone, I was told that the bar did not stock Campari, so something was substituted.

Dear bartenders and beverage managers: You are not required to stock every bit of liquor, liqueur or mixer known to every drinking man or woman. And given your proclivity towards creativity, I understand your desire to play variations on a tippling theme. But for crying out loud, if you don't have the ingredients for a classic cocktail or your presentation strays from the original recipe, you might want to mention it to your customer ahead of time. "I don't have the ingredients for a negroni," you might say, "but I have something you might like instead." With that information at hand, I can either choose something else or go with your creative juices, so to speak.