Manny's Original Chophouse was not what I was expecting. I'm not sure it was what Baldwin Park was expecting, either.
Manny's is a franchise operation that originated in Haines City. And before we go any further, it's necessary to mention that the Manny in the name is Nikolaidis, not Garcia. Nor Tato, for that matter, even though the latter at one time had a place called Manny's Chophouse on Markham Woods Road in Longwood. That was in 2006. According to the website for the new chophouse in Baldwin Park, Nikolaidis opened his first one in 2004, so apparently he has legitimate claim to the Original designation.
But back to expectations. I was expecting classy, I was expecting serene, both befitting the lakefront location in the upscale development.
As a treat before a cooking class scheduled for the afternoon, I led the group to Les Halles and the legendary E. Dehilleren cookware store.
There are no William-Sonomalike displays here, just stacks of cookware and utensils, many geared toward professional cooks. (Seriously, who else would need a massive turbot pan in the shape of the fish?) Still, I always find something small to take home, like a set of measuring cups (should have looked closer to see if they were metric) and what I plan to enter in the “Most Expensive Spatula in Orlando” contest should anyone ever hold one.
Then it was off to meet our cooking instructor for an afternoon class near Hotel de Ville.