For many years, Central Florida’s best Indian restaurant was housed in Bay Hill Plaza, a grandly named strip mall that was anything but grand, especially as the anchor tenant, Kmart, became drearier and drearier.
But that’s where Memories of India first opened, in 1999, when much of the plaza was a veritable international restaurant destination, with Japanese, Italian and Chinese (1-6-8, also one of the area’s best at that time). Memories faded. The restaurant I mean, and it finally closed just a couple of years ago. There’s a new Indian in the plaza. It isn’t in Memories’ old space — that’s occupied by a Graffiti Junktion now — but it’s nearby at the address that was Lolaillo until recently.
I wonder if there is a time during the day, any day of the week, when Metro Diner isn’t overflowing. When I visited after 1 p.m. on a weekday recently, there were multiple groups of people, both inside and out, waiting for tables to open.
Such, apparently, is the power of a popular television show like Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network. I’m not sure the Jacksonville restaurant’s reputation would have preceded it to its new location in Altamonte Springs without host Guy Fieri’s raves.
Not that the raves are not deserved. The food is impressive and sincere, and the atmosphere leaves no question about the diner designation.
To be perfectly honest with you, I never really thought that Shannon’s Casual Cafe would make it. I had breakfast there recently, and it wasn’t until I was leaving and turned around to leave a tip on the table that I noticed I had been sitting beneath a framed copy of the Chow Hound column I wrote when the place first opened.
The publication date in the Orlando Sentinel was January 8, 1993.
Doc’s Streetside Grille has closed, an announcement that will come as a surprise only to anyone else who has been holding an unpaid invoice from the business. Also not surprising: The owners of the building on South Orange Avenue, which is across the street from Orlando Health and who upper floors are largely occupied by medical offices, are once again trotting out plans to convert the property into a hotel. I first wrote about that in the Orlando Sentinel in June, 2008. Although this time the plans call for about 100 fewer rooms — 54, according to the barebones website for the project, tentatively called the Delaney Hotel; or the Delaney Park Hotel — and will include a restaurant. Bungalower quoted an executive with the project as saying the restaurant would be “friendly” and feature “everyone’s favorite dishes from around the globe,” so I’m glad they’ve settled on a concept that can work. The executive also said the project should be finished in 12 to 14 months, which I think is just adorable. That sounds like a good time frame to complete the permitting process.
When I reviewed Stefano’s Trattoria, the wonderful mom and pop Italian restaurant in Winter Springs, I made special mention of the pizza that I had sampled during one of my visits.
“The crust was a perfect thickness, the cheese not too gloppy, and the sauce added just the right tomatoey note,” I wrote in the review published in the Orlando Sentinel in August of 2006.
The mom and pop were Stefano and Marie LaCommare, and their children Leonardo and Antoniella worked also worked at the restaurant, as did Antoniella’s husband, Frank Paradiso, who was the trattoria’s pizzaiolo. I also wrote in the review, “Nice pie, Frank.”
I got a note in my inbox yesterday that made me sit up and take notice. It was an invitation to the reopening of Maison et Jardin.
I just got your attention, too, didn’t I?
Even more intriguing was that the note was from Bill Beuret, the owner, along with his wife, Judy, of the elegant country club-like restaurant in Altamonte Springs. If you haven’t lived in Central Florida more than 10 years, you’re likely unfamiliar with Maison et Jardin. Or if you’ve heard old timers refer to it, they may have called it the Mason Jar, the tongue-in-cheek name locals gave it as a wink to its upscale mien.