Every so often, I like to stop by Shakers American Cafe, the longtime College Park diner, to remind myself what great food it serves. I go in expecting good, basic fare and I’m always impressed that it rises a few levels above that.
That was the case recently when a friend and I stopped in for a between breakfast and lunch meal – we didn’t call it brunch because that sounded inappropriately tony, and we were definitely there for breakfast.
My eyes were drawn immediately to the blackboard outside the restaurant that listed short rib hash as one of the day’s special. I’m a sucker for breakfast hash. If you’re ever sitting in a diner that has hash on its menu and you see me walk in, make a bet with your dining companion on what I’m going to order; you’re almost sure to win.
Whenever there’s a big change in a restaurant I’ve formerly reviewed, I like to return to see if there have been any major differences in the operation, whether it’s the food, the service or the physical surroundings.
I told you recently that Boca, the Park Avenue restaurant that opened in late 2014, had been sold. It was originally owned by a group out of Sarasota, where the original Boca was. (Curiously, there were no Bocas in actual Boca.)
The new owner is Artistry Restaurants, a relatively new group based in Winter Park that also operates Burger U at UCF. It also took ownership of Atlantic Beer and Oyster, the seafood bar in the Hidden Garden off Park Avenue, as well as the original Sarasota location. (A third Boca in Tampa’s Hyde Park had previously closed.)
Ownership changed several months ago, and after verifying that the kitchen had made all of the adjustments it was going to do, I decided to head back and check it out. I can report to you that Boca is virtually the same as it was when I first reviewed it in 2015.
The Restaurant & Allied Partnership of Central Florida (RAPCF) will host Monster Mash Masquerade on Thursday, Oct. 28, to benefit restaurant recovery. The event, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Dr. Phillips House at Lake Lucerne in downtown Orlando, will feature 30 food, wine, beer and cocktail experiences in an outdoor setting.
Tickets are $100 per person with a portion of the proceeds going to the participating restaurant partners, including flog favorite Stefano’s Trattoria. The fee includes entrance to Up in Smoke Cigar & Whiskey Experience on the venue’s rooftop patio and Elevate Below Wine Experience in the cellar. The wine tasting, conducted by Swirlery Wine Bar, will be limited to 10 tasters at a time.
Here are the nominees for the 2021 Best Sandwich Foodster Award for Independent Restaurants.
You may vote for as many as three nominees.
You may also write in a candidate, but please, make sure the name isn't already on the list -- if it is, your entry and any subsequent votes for it will be deleted. Also, do not nominate a restaurant with more than three locations.
The top vote getter will advance to the finals.
Nominations will be accepted through Tuesday, Nov. 2.
After you make your selection, leave a comment below telling us why you think your favorite should advance to the finals. Be sure to tell us the name of the restaurant in your comment.