tofu scallops

Local chef Ed Hollingsworth is in final negotiations to lease the space on Mills Avenue that has been home to the original Funky Monkey for the past eight years. As I told you yesterday, FMI Restaurant Group owners Eddie Nickell and Nicolas Olivieri are closing that location on Sunday but will continue to serve as landlords for the building in the Mills 50 district.

Hollingsworth has cooked in a number of respected local kitchens, including Bistro on Park Avenue, CityFish, and, most recently, RusTeak in College Park. The new restaurant will be called Mills Bistro Wine Bar.

Hollingsworth says the negotiations are in the final stage. "We're just waiting for the contracts and lease agreement to make sure it meets our requirements," he says. Once the deal is signed, he and his investor hope for a quick turnaround to reopen the restaurant, perhaps as quickly as 45 days.

Hollingsworth says it will be a "farm to fork" type of restaurant and the menu will feature fresh, local ingredients. Some items he has planned include:

  • Airline chicken breast with black-eyed pea risotto
  • Tofu "scallops" with jasmine rice (pictured at top)
  • Lobster dip
  • Mussels in tomato and saffron broth
  • Beef tartare
  • Shrimp and Grits with smoked gouda and bacon and tomato gravy
  • Chocolate bomb dessert

Although he says part of the allure is that the restaurant is in turnkey condition, Hollingsworth says that there are plans to make the kitchen more open and to add a beer garden in back of the restaurant.


Time for a little potty humor.

As Dewayne Bevil at the Orlando Sentinel reported, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has started serving unusual desserts at one of its newest eateries. They are meant to resemble the droppings of an elephant, a giraffe, a rhino (not the politician), and a cotton-top tamarin, which is a type of monkey.

According to the report, the dung is disturbingly authentic in the way it looks, if not in the way it tastes, although so far no one has come forward with a taste comparison. I know, I know, we’ve all been served desserts that taste like crap, but this is different.

I think the culinears might be missing something by just sticking to the four that they’re presenting. There are all sorts of possibilities. Did no one suggest a poopcicle? A flaky millefece? Caca Cake? An Oopsie Pie? Sugar-free Shiitake? I’m sure they could do something with Floating Islands.

And why not get Orlando Brewing to come up with a special beer called the Ty-d-Bowl to wash it all down?

And I also think they made a mistake going with the tamarin. A better primate would have been a baboon, and then they could have had actual baboons behind the counter flinging the desserts at the customers. Now there’s an authentic experience.

What do you think: Would you order desserts that look like excrement? Tell me in the comments, and leave your suggestion for a dessert name.


Tapa Toro, a new restaurant from the folks at Taverna Opa, will open Monday, June 29 beneath the Orlando Eye. Things are getting so crowded under that gigantic Ferris wheel that they're going to have to start opening new businesses inside the passenger pods.

As the name suggests, tapas will be a feature of the menu, perhaps even tapas made with toro. The Spanish themed restaurant will also have what may be the area's first paella pit, which is described as a seven-foot paella cooker with a bar around it for guests to sit at. Sort of like a piano bar but without the singing.

The restaurant, from Katerina and Vassilis Coumbaros, is 5000 square feet and can seat 270 guests with indoor and outdoor dining. It will have four private dining rooms for parties and meetings.

I'm guessing more of those will be parties considering that Tapa Toro will also feature live music and tableside flamenco dancing. Tableside? At Taverna Opa the belly dancer frequently gyrates atop the diners' tables. And wooden tabletops are so nice for the kind of stomping flamenco dancers do, so I'm keeping a good thought.

Tapa Toro Orlando will be at 8441 International Drive, Orlando, and will be open for lunch and dinner daily. Reservations may be made at 407-226-2929. 

Guy Savoy dining room

PARIS — This is what a three star restaurant experience should be. Refined, unforced elegance; masterful, effortless service; and, of course, food that surprises and delights and ultimately satisfies.

Guy Savoy has been a Paris destination for connoisseurs for a long time, but the chef recently moved his restaurant from a side street near the Etoile and the Arc de Triomphe to a rather grand and stately new address: the Monnaie de Paris, or Paris mint, a neoclassical building on the Left Bank, just over the Pont Neuf, across from the Louvre.

Guy Savoy (say ghee sahv-WAH) is reached by climbing a grand, red-carpeted staircase to the second level. The small, intimate dining rooms mostly overlook the Seine and the famous museum on the other side. I was able to arrange a reservation for what would eventually be a highlight of my recent trip to this magnificent city.

FMI logoThe Funky Monkey Wine Company on Mills Avenue in the Mills 50 district will close Sunday. It opened eight years ago and became the initial business for what partners Eddie Nickell and Nicholas Olivieri would call FMI Restaurant Group. The Funky Monkey restaurant at Pointe Orlando, now called Funky Monkey Bistro & Bar, will continue to operate.

That will be the only remaining restaurant for the group, which at various times also operated Prickly Pear and Nick’s Italian Kitchen in Thornton Park, Banana’s Diner, also in Mills 50, and two other brands that took over the Banana’s space in a short period, including Mills Brewpub and Divas Dinner Theater.

In a message, Nickell said that he and Olivieri will retain ownership of the Mills 50 building and will turn it over to new tenants.

Funky Monkey will have a final event on Sunday from 6 to 10 p.m.