I recently dropped off a long-overdue Foodster Award for Best Indian to Saffron on Sand Lake Road, and based on the lunch I also ordered, it is still deserving of the honor.
Saffron is part of the group of Indian restaurants that includes Madras Cafe, the all vegetarian and vegan restaurant, and the estimable Mynt in Winter Park’s Hannibal Square neighborhood.
Saffron, and its sister restaurants, has implemented a well-thought-out online ordering system that is easy to use. Its menu is a sizable one, however, so you’ll need some time to browse through all the tempting entries.
It occurred to me as I was sitting on the front patio of Loading... Gastrobrunch on a recent afternoon that in my nearly 33 years in Central Florida I had never been to downtown St. Cloud. And after a year of no travel, I relished the feeling of visiting someplace new, or at least new to me. It turns out there’s a lot of history in St. Cloud, but I’ll come back to that.
And besides the allure of a day trip – albeit one only a 40 minute drive away – I was enjoying a nice brunch on a beautiful day.
Frontyard Festival, the clever initiative to make use of the vast space in front of the Dr. Phillips Center for concerts and other events, is adding a food element to go with the entertainment, including a Sunday brunch series. Seating is in boxes, just like in chichi theaters except these are constructed with metal pipes that look like scaffolding sections and they’re all on the ground instead of above the orchestra section. But they allow for distancing. And each box has a QR code you can scan with your phone to order drinks and food that someone will deliver to you. Upcoming brunches include Latin music performer Ángel López (Jan. 31); opera with Gabriel Preisser and the Opera Orlando chorus (Feb. 7); and jazz with members of the Jazz Orchestra (Feb. 14). Details and tickets at the Frontyard Festival website.
Want more outdoor options? The Promenade at Sunset Walk will have a Super Bowl watch party on Feb. 7, which as luck would have it is the day the big game is being played this year.
Portillo’s to the People: Portillo’s, the Chicago based beeffeeder, is parking its beef bus at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando through Jan. 30. Known for its beef sandwiches and hot dogs, Portillo’s plans to open its first Central Florida restaurant on March on Palm Parkway.
Shake Shack, the New York burgery, plans to open its first drive-through facility. Or drive-thru, as shorthand would have it. Artist renditions show three lanes, two for people who want to just drive up and order and one for people who preordered using an app. Considering Shake Shack’s history of long lines, you’d think maybe they’d have a nonglobal-warming lane just for electric vehicles. Later this year, at Vineland Pointe.
Bread & Co., the Asian artisan bakery, is back operating out of its facility on Fairbanks Avenue near Orlando Avenue in Winter Park.
The downtown location of Taco Bell Cantina, the alcohol-serving version of the fast food chain that sells menu items resembling tex-mex cuisine, is back on. In fact, if you’re downtown Wednesday you may happen upon its soft-as-a-real-taco-toritlla opening. The TB Cantina, which I hope the company doesn’t call it, has been in the works for a long time and was put on hold last July. At the time, some people placed wagers as to whether it would open at all. And yes, I will honor my bets.
Another soft opening is scheduled for Thursday when Outpost Kitchen, which used to be in College Park, opens in its new home in Maitland. The restaurant’s Facebook page asks people to make a reservation and admonishes them to honor its mandatory mask policy – keep it on unless you’re seated and eating and drinking. They’ll also take your temperature and email address for tracing purposes, if needed. Too intrusive? Stay home. We all need to make concessions to keep each other safe, and that includes the people who work in the restaurants.