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Shari overlook

Shari, the Thornton Park sushi lounge that opened in 2002, is currently closed.

According to a source familiar with the situation, the owner, Chris Mistretta, no longer wishes to operate the sushi bar and is seeking a buyer. The closing is being classified as "temprorary." The source said that the lounge’s sushi chef may be interested in taking it over. Mistretta did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

According to Shari’s Facebook page, it was voted one of the Top 50 Restaurants in the U.S. by OpenTable and has won numerous accolades from local publications over the years. Last year, the restaurant dropped Sushi Lounge from its name. It was remodeled and the menu was changed to feature Asian and Latin fusion dishes alongside the sushi selections.

This story is developing.

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Dexterswp bar

As of today, Dexter’s of Winter Park, the original of the Dexter’s group of wine bars and restaurants, is closed. Beginning Friday, Oct. 18, Dexter’s New Standard will begin serving customers by invitation when it soft opens at the Ravaudage Plaza at Lee Road and Orlando Avenue.

A year ago, the four Dexter’s restaurants were sold to different entities. The Winter Park store, considered the original, though its location has changed over the years, was purchased by Nathan Landwer.

Following the sale, none of the Dexter’s were required to follow any menu or appearance guidelines, as would be expected in conventional franchises or with businesses with similar names and identities. Indeed, each of the three remaining Dexter’s, including Thornton Park and Lake Mary, has something distinct about it. The Winter Park Dexter’s is known for its live music. (The Windermere location closed over the summer and further news about Dexter's of Thornton Park is anticipated Monday.)

Landwer said last month that he was rebranding to further distinguish his restaurant from the others but he wanted to keep Dexter’s in the name as an homage.

Dexter’s New Standard is moving into the space that was originally a TR Fire Grill. Landwer is bringing in two former chefs from K restaurant in College Park: Ryan McLaughlin as executive chef and Jason Wolfe as executive chef de cuisine. Those hires are being seen as an indication that Dexter’s New Standard will have a renewed focus on the menu, although it will continue to be a venue for live bands.

Landwer said in September that the move was prompted because the landlord of the Hannibal Square location indicated Dexter’s lease would not be renewed. The lease is not set to expire until April. At the time, Landwer did not say whether or not he would keep the Hannibal Square restaurant open, but he did say he had no interest in operating two restaurants. The staff members from Dexter’s of Winter Park are expected to move to Dexter’s New Standard.

According to information from Erin Allport, spokeswoman for Dexter’s New Standard, the restaurant will run a Test Kitchen preview while the staff trains. Here are the details:

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Field to feast18

  • The seventh annual Field to Feast will be Feb. 22. Why am I telling you this now? Because it always sells out and you need to get your tickets right away. The event, co-sponsored by Walt Disney World and Edible Orlando, is a fundraiser benefitting Second Harvest Kids Cafe and featuring chefs from Disney venues with beer, wine and cocktails pairings selected by George Miliotes. That’s the feast part. The field is at Long & Scott Farms in Mt. Dora. One of my favorite events of the year. Tickets at the Field to Feast event page.
  • We mentioned earlier this week that we enjoyed the food from the Sushi & Seoul on the Roll food truck at Redlight Redlight. Now comes word that the owners, Alfred Ruiz and Emilio Molina, will be taking over the kitchen space at Celery City Craft beer garden in downtown Sanford beginning Oct. 18. I hope that doesn’t mean I won’t be able to get an Avocado Tower at RLRL on Friday nights.
  • Tori Tori, an Asian pub and restaurant in the Mills 50 district that has been in soft opening for the past month, will open hard on Wed., Oct. 16.
  • Lotus Asia House is angling for the annual Boy, That Was Fast Award. The pan-Asian restaurant, which opened at Pointe Orlando in February, is closed. 
  • The Curry Ford West district, which is east of downtown, is getting a Peruvian restaurant. Papa Llama, which has been holding popup dinners in various venues, will move into the space previously held by King’s Pizza. No set date but look for it after the first of the year.

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Guru exterior

When I called for nominations a couple of months ago for Best Indian in our Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants, Guru, a Clermont restaurant, kept popping up as a write-in candidate.

I wasn’t familiar with the restaurant, so I headed west to check it out. And when I got there I was surprised to learn that I’ve known the owner for nearly 30 years.

His name is Uday Kadam, and I first reviewed his restaurant in May of 1990. That restaurant was Passage to India, on International Drive in Orlando, and it was very good. Kadam liked my review so much that he had it blown up and hung it in the front window where is stayed for years. In 2008, I revisited the restaurant and in my followup review I asked that the poster-sized, decades-old reprint be removed from the window. Not because it was yellowed and faded but because it was no longer valid. The quality of the experience – food, service, atmosphere – had deteriorated so much that it was no longer valid.

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VandA uniforms

Here’s something about 30 years overdue. The serving staff at the upscale Victoria & Albert’s restaurant at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa now wear uniforms worthy of the upscale venue.

Gone are the Downton Abbeyish turn of the 20th century costumes of high-collared blouses and footman jackets. They served the story of the restaurant but somehow were contrary to the level of dining to which the restaurant aspired, and which it always achieved in terms of food, ambience and service quality.

Now, both men and women servers wear dark tuxedo-like suits. It completely changes the tenor of the room, and the cast members look like the professionals they are.

The servers began wearing the new uniforms Tuesday, and a quick survey revealed that they are thrilled with the change.

You may remember that when the restaurant first opened, not only did the servers wear the Victorian costumes, their name tags all read either Victoria or Albert. That bit of hokum was abandoned early on.

What do you think of the new style?