I could begin this review of American Kitchen Bar & Grill by telling you what I think of the chef and restaurant at the B Resort — after all, that’s what you pay me for (cough).
But instead, let me share what Greg Richie, chef/partner of Soco Thornton Park, recently wrote on his Facebook page:
“There are plenty of restaurants and chefs in town (Orlando) that get their fair share of buzz and hype. You know who’s not getting their share? Chef Venoy Rogers III at American Kitchen Bar and Grill. This guy and his crew (sous Jacob Rios) are doing great things! Don’t sleep on this, folks. Go check it out. (Note- the dining room and atmosphere don’t do justice to the level of food. No disrespect intended.)”
My thoughts exactly. But let me go into some specifics.
There’s little from the outside of Bread & Co., a new “Artisan Bakery” in Winter Park, that gives a clue as to what’s inside. Yes, there is bread, as well as other baked goods. But they may not be what you expect.
That’s because Bread & Co. is largely a Korean bakery. It occupies a space that for a very brief time last year was home to Wonton Asian Kitchen. The same owners shut down the quick-serve hot-food operation and revamped the space for a bakery.
Raglan Road, the popular Irish Pub and Restaurant at Disney Springs, has a new executive chef, and he brings with him worldwide experience and Michelin-star credibility, not to mention the innate culinary acumen from being a native-born Irishman.
Mark O’Neill is only the second executive chef in the 13-year-old restaurant’s history. In an interview recently, O’Neill, 33, said that he’ll continue Raglan Road’s tradition of serving innovative Irish cuisine.
“I’d like to do really great gastropub food,” he said, “to have our team creating really nicely executed dishes like we have back home in Ireland.” But don’t expect to find Shepherd’s Pie or Irish Stew on the menu, at least not in familiar pubgrub form; think more contemporary. “It’s important that we stay in front of the modern Irish food trend and keep our guests excited about great new dishes on the menu,” O’Neill said.
Ten years ago today a switch was flipped and Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide came online.
In that time, we’ve published over one thousand restaurant reviews — an average of two per week, more than any other local media publication. And we’ve been your source for breaking news and updates about the local culinary scene. I’ve always referred to it as the flog — a food blog — but it’s actually a full-service website and database of restaurant information.
It takes a lot to keep a site like this running. I’m grateful for all the sponsors who have supported the journalism here over the years. And I’d especially like to to thank Steve Gunter of the Tap Room at Dubsdread. The Tap Room was the first one to sign on and has been an advertiser for the entire decade.
So in celebration of 10 years of flogging — and through Gunter’s generosity — we’re going to give away two gift certificates, each worth $50 to the Tap Room at Dubsdread. It’s my way of thanking you for being a reader, because frankly, if no one was reading this there wouldn’t be much reason to keep doing it.
As always, the winning names will be drawn at random from the list of recipients of my weekly (and surprisingly unannoying) e-letter. If you are already on the list, you’re already entered for this and all future drawings.
And there should be lots of drawings, usually one each week. I hope to keep that going for another 10 years.
From the good news/bad news files: Bongos, the Disney Springs restaurant owned by singer Gloria Estefan and her husband, Emilio, that serves what is arguably the worst Cuban food in Central Florida, is finally closing. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they’re opening another restaurant called Estefan Kitchen at Margaritaville Resort Orlando. The couple, above, made the announcement this week at the Kissimmee resort. Fall 2019.
The anticipated full service restaurant that will open adjacent to Epcot’s Mission: Space attraction will be operated by Patina Restaurant Group and executive chef Theo Schoenegger, who currently oversees Patina’s Maria & Enzo’s and Enzo’s Hideaway. Little details have been shared about the restaurant other than that it will have “internationally inspired cuisine.” I would have expected an intergalactically inspired menu. Maybe even chef piloted. Perhaps entrees will be served in little pouches. And if Disney hasn’t signed up Tang as a major sponsor, it’s losing its touch.
The James Beard Foundation held its annual awards ceremony earlier this month, an occasion Central Florida’s culinary community has come to observe as passover.
I have been a member and participant in the James Beard Foundation for over 30 years, almost since its inception. I often traveled to New York for the annual gala weekend events, a perk afforded to the regional judges. It was always a fun excuse to visit Manhattan and schmooze with writers, restaurateurs and chefs from around the country.
I just broke one of the foundation’s rules by telling you that I was a judge. But it doesn’t matter anymore: My association with the Beard Foundation has ended.