I feel a certain connection with Tabla, the Indian restaurant, because it was the first restaurant I reviewed for this website after leaving the Orlando Sentinel in 2008. Back then, it called itself Tabla Bar & Grill and was located in a nondescript space in a motel or timeshare (I could never figure which one) near Universal Studios Orlando.
Fifteen years later, that first location still exists. But in the past few years owner Nora Jain and family have grown the business to four locations. The Winter Park Tabla opened in 2020 in the off-Park space that had been Paris Bistro. Then Lake Nona got a version in late 2021.
Now, Tabla has opened in Oviedo in Center Lake Park overlooking the quiet lake and fountain. To maintain bragging rights that I’ve visited all four Tablas, I headed to Oviedo recently. And I had to smile at how far Tabla has come.
There is very little about Farm & Haus, the new full-service version of the East End Market vendor that took over the Cafe de France space on Park Avenue, that is farmy or hausy.
The decor is austere. The walls feature Art Deco-style light fixtures and sconces. Table tops are plain white marble. Each wall is lined with a hard-bench banquette. The facing chairs aren’t much more comfortable. The floor is white tile and the ceiling is high. With all those hard surfaces, it is loud and conversation is difficult.
The food is worth discussing. It is both good quality, as it is at the original location, and a bit odd, at least in the terms of the Cobb salad.
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The Restaurant Row/Dr. Phillips location of Wine 4 Oysters, the Alafaya Trail raw bar, is coming along nicely, according to owner Tatiana Golenkova. The new place is in Bay Hill Plaza on Turkey Lake Road and will feature 10 craft beers on tap, sake, and of course wine. And oysters. Also, a full liquor license may soon be obtained. That would be put well to use at the 35 foot long bar. Golenkova says everything is ready to go, just waiting on final inspections. In other words, an opening date can’t be predicted yet.
The Park Avenue Barnie’s Coffee & Tea Co. cafe, formerly known as Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen, is scheduled to reopen next week following a renovation of the space and a revamping of the food menu. CoffeeKitchen – you know they paid a branding expert lots of money to remove the space between the two words – was kicked off more than 11 years ago and featured the estimable chef Camilo Velasco as the company’s executive chef. Onsite bean roasting was planned, and pour-over coffee was meant to be a forte. By now, CoffeeKitchens (CoffeesKitchen?) should have been dotting the countryside.
Remember when the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress was THE Sunday brunch destination? That’s when there was still a La Coquina, and the various brunch stations were set up in the kitchen rather than around the dining room.
On Sunday, Feb. 26, from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen will host Brunch with Blais, and it sounds as though there will be some vestiges of the old La Coquina brunches put into play.
The setup will include a buffet, carving stations, a noshing table and a raw and chilled seafood station, some of which will be set up in the kitchen, I’m told (though the Four Flamingos kitchen is somewhat smaller than La Coquina’s; I’m still anxious to see how it’s done.)
The menu will feature:
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