I'm not really big on places where the customers are expected to cook their own meals. I call that home. When I go out to eat, I want someone else to do the cooking.
I'm apparently in the minority with this thought. At least I was the first time I visited Bulgogi House, a Korean restaurant on West Colonial Drive between downtown and College Park. Each table has a grill set into it, and most of the tables were occupied with people happily turning over meats and vegetables as they sizzled in front of them. My friend and I looked at each other and thought, Nah, not tonight. (We headed up to Tap Room at Dubsdread and had a wonderful prime rib dinner, all of it prepared in the kitchen; didn't even have to do dishes.)
I returned to Bulgogi House at lunch time when most of the grills are left cold and more of the guests order off the menu.
Exactly one month from today I will step off a plane in Paris, beginning a week of food, wine and more food and wine as part of a tour I'm co-leading with Kevin Fonzo and Art in Voyage - Beyond Travel. I can't wait -- it's been almost five months since my last visit to Paris. Luckily, I'll only have to wait three months after this trip to return.
I sort of like Paris.
One of the great comforts of Paris is waking up and strolling to one of the neighborhood boulangeries for freshly baked croissants, sitting in the flat on the balcony as the sun streams in, sipping coffee and nibbling on the croissant with just a smear of butter or jam.
I don't know why it should be so difficult to find suitable croissants stateside. But I found a pretty good one at Cafe 906 in Baldwin Park. In fact, with the exception of the atmosphere, which is a little too industrial, Cafe 906 is a very nice French cafe.
The owners of F&D Kitchen (above) and F&D Cantina in Lake Mary are the new owners of the just-closed Peppino's Organic Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria on Curry Ford Road in Orlando. The space is currently under renovations and will reopen this summer as F&D Italian Wood-fired Kitchen.
According to Tim Barber, who owns the concept with Charly Robinson and Neil and Glorian Leach, they are "pretty much blowing up the inside" and redoing the outside seating areas, as well. He said they would be bringing in a better quality pizza oven and will specialize in Neapolitan pizzas.
Anyone who's been reading my reviews for any length of time knows that I'm a stickler about service. A dinner with wonderful food can be less enjoyable with poor service. And a mediocre meal can become delightful if the serving staff is excellent. I've always considered the servers to be the most important people on a restaurant's staff because they have full control and the ability to turn any situation around.
Or at least they should.
So many times I've written phrases like "The serving staff could benefit from some training," or "My waiter didn't seem to know the basics of proper service."
I know that you've experienced it, too, as a diner.
What, you need more than free beer? Oh, details. Sea World Orlando is offering free beer to park attendees throughout the summer. Participation is not mandatory. Through Sept. 2, guests can visit Mama’s Pretzel Kitchen Patio and receive up to two complimentary 7-ounce beers per visit. Beer offerings will rotate throughout the summer and will include SeaWorld’s very own Mako Red Ale, Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite, Yuengling and others. It's OK to ask if Miller Lite is the beer that is being offered before you make the mistake of entering the theme park.
For those of you who like to plan ahead, tickets are now on sale for this year's Taste! Central Florida, the fundraising event for Second Harvest Food Bank and the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. It'll take place on Sept. 8 at the Orlando World Center Marriott. And because you plan ahead, you can save 25 percent off the regular ticket price of $175. Go to tastecfl.org and when you check out, type KICKOFFORL in the space for a promo code. Do not type FREEBEER, it doesn't work.