A roundup of the week's restaurant reviews and news from Scott Joseph's Orlando Restaurant Guide.
A smorgasbord of bits and tids.
- Cask & Larder was cited recently in USA Today's 10Best list for Best Airport Dining. Actually, it was on two lists: Best Airport Local/Regional Dining (second) and Best Airport Sitdown Dining (fifth). (Don't confuse that last category with Best Airport Sitdown -- I'm pretty sure that's still owned by Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport.) Granted, the airport dining category isn't a hotly contested one, but it's nice to see Cask & Larder get some buzz.
- Ace Cafe was given an Award of Excellence from the Downtown Orlando Partnership at its annual Golden Brick Awards luncheon last month. No word on who won the Award of Mediocrity this year.
- Perhaps trying not to become the Todd English of Disney Springs, Rick Bayless plans to visit his restaurant there, Frontera Cantina, for An Evening with Chef Rick Bayless, Tuesday, May 1 from 6-8 p.m. Details are a bit sketchy but it appears that a special a la carte menu will be offered in addition to the regular menu. So, I guess Bayless will just be wandering around? Reservations can be made here.
- Speaking of Mexican-sounding restaurants, Pepe's Cantina will open its third location Monday, April 16, on International Drive in the former Giraffas Brazilian Grill space. (There's no reason in the world that you would know that's at 5451 International Drive.) Orlando Weekly reports that the Monday opening will be soft, with a hard opening on Cinco de Mayo, which should be somewhere around May 5.
How could I not order something called a Tallow Candle? Tallow is a more lyrical name for lard, and the very thought of it whisked me back to a bar in Firenze that listed lardo as one its bar snacks. And it was just what it promised: little chunks of lard to put on a cracker or slice of bread. With each bite it was like saying, "Here it comes, arteries; deal with it."
A Tallow Candle, as presented at Tartine in College Park, sounded like a more inventive presentation. And it was. Essentially, the tallow was in the form of a tea candle with a lighted wick that was to melt the lard into a spreadable goo. Unfortunately, unless you're willing to wait a long time, the flame is insufficient to melt the lard. And it wasn't really worth the wait. But I appreciated the effort.
Mark Baratelli, the original impresario of Orlando's food truck scene, has announced that he is discontinuing the monthly Food Truck Bazaar at Fashion Square Mall. The second-Sunday event was the first regularly scheduled food truck cavalcade in Central Florida. According to a statement from Baratelli, the gathering has been at Fashion Square nearly every month since its inception in May of 2011. Those early days often saw 15 to 25 trucks and served thousands of truck food fans. (At top, the line for the Korean BBQ Taco Box at the first Fashion Square Food Truck Bazaar.)
"To say the attendance dropped in the past 12 months is an understatement," Baratelli said in the statement.
Grand is a word that might come to mind when you enter Maria & Enzo's Ristorante, one of a few new dining venues that opened recently at Disney Springs.
Although guests enter the building from street level (or walkway level, as the case may be), they walk past the host stand to discover themselves standing on a mezzanine overlooking the vast dining room below, accessed by a sweeping staircase. The far wall is comprised of two-story floor to ceiling windows with a commanding view of the lagoon outside. It reminds me a little of the opulence of La Coquina, the late lamented fine dining venue at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, but on a larger scale. It's among the most impressive dining venues in Central Florida.