txokos tortilla

Brunch is suddenly big again. Or maybe I'm just, shall we say, waking up to it. But it seems that it's almost a requirement that a restaurant now offer one. A restaurant that recently opened in downtown Orlando had barely finished serving its first guests before they started asking when the new business would add brunch. Sort of like new parents being asked if they'd selected the newborn's college yet.

If you're among those who don't quite get the allure of Sunday brunch — and in most cases we're talking about Sundays, though Saturday brunches are beginning to be more available — you might enjoy an article from the New York Times on the subject by freelance writer David Shaftel. Its title, "Brunch is for Jerks," will give you an idea about how Shaftel feels about them.

But if you read that title and thought, "Hmmm, jerked chicken omelet sounds good," then let's start exploring some of the brunch places available.

McDonalds-menu-board USA

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce Tuesday new rules that will require chain restaurants and other food outlets to list the caloric content of the dishes on their menus. Movie theaters and pizza chains would also be included in the ruling. Details about the announcement are in this article from the New York Times. The reasoning behind the ruling is the belief that if customers know the number of calories in the food they eat, they will make more healthful choices and perhaps help turn around the country's obesity epidemic.

My question is: Why limit the ruling to chain restaurants?

There are plenty of fat people walking around who wouldn't be caught having a heart attack in a Burger King or Applebee's. One is just as able to eat too much in an independently owned eatery. No one is more aware of that than I. I know that among the chefs who prepare the wonderful food we have in this town there most likely isn't even one with a nutritionist background. It isn't their job to provide a nutritiously balance meal. It's their job to impress the diners with ample amounts of delicious food, often made tastier with the addition of flavorful fats.

mamak interior

Comparisons between Hawkers, which opened a few years ago, and the new Mamak are inevitable. Both have similar concepts of serving small plates, and even the sub names are almost the same, Asian Street Fare for Hawkers and Asian Street Food for Mamak. And they're both in the Mills 50 district.

And they're both quite good.

Mamak takes over the space that most recently was Ha Long Bistro, a Vietnamese restaurant. The interior has been beautifully renovated and sports bright yellow walls and decorative accents of nautical ropes that hang from the ceiling in swooping patterns and hang from the walls. There are individual tables and banquets as well as a couple of hightop communal tables with yellow metal stools. Despite the way that sounds, it actually has a classy appeal.

In news that will surprise no one, Mingos in downtown Orlando is closed. The restaurant, in the former Graze and Prickly Pear space in the Sanctuary condominium building, was largely financed by Nik Patel, who is under indictment for fraud. A second Mingos, in the Doubletree by Hilton near UCF that opened a few months ago, is under new management. A woman who answered the phone there Friday evening said she didn't know if it would continue to be known as Mingos or would be called something else. 

I'm guessing something else.

On its Facebook page, Mingos in downtown Orlando said it was closing because of "an inability to reach an agreement in lease negotiations within a timely manner..." 

The restaurant was not poorly reviewed, but having a partner embroiled in a messy legal issue that has seen him selling off homes and cars doesn't bode well.

H/T Joe Sarrubbo.

kevin-dundon2Kevin Dundon, master chef and co-owner of Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant at Downtown Disney, has been nominated for a Taste Award from the Lifestyle Entertainment Industry for his PBS and Create TV series, "Kevin Dundon's Modern Irish Food." Dundon is nominated in two categories: Best Food travel Series and Best Chef in a Series.

The awards recognize and acknowledge excellence in video, film, mobile and interactive content focused on food, drink, fashion, design, travel and lifestyle.

The winners will be announced in December and they will be feted at a red-carpet celebration in Hollywood (the one in California) on January 15. 

Dundon also owns Dunbrody Country House Hotel and Cookery School in Wexford  on Ireland's south coast, where much of the series is filmed. He was also the charming host for the first international Scott Joseph's Supper Club in Dublin in August. We congratulate him on the nomination and wish him good luck.