K Restaurant & Wine Bar

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Krestaurant interior

There's always a bit of trepidation whenever a major change occurs at a popular restaurant. At K Restaurant & Wine Bar, of course, the change was a transfer of ownership from founding proprietor and chef Kevin Fonzo to Chad Phelps, a longtime chef with mainly institutional experience. (His resume includes 21 years as a chef in the U.S. Navy aboard a submarine, which probably prepared him for the cramped confines of the K kitchen.)

Fonzo seemed inextricably attached to the popular College Park restaurant; after all, it's his initial that gives the restaurant its name. And the James Beard Award-nominated chef has been a charismatic and visible promoter of the restaurant, regarded as one of the area's top chefs. Surely things would not be the same without Kevin at K.

Kevin who?

Buttermilk Bakery

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Buttermilk ext

I stopped by Buttermilk Bakery on a recent Saturday and found it bustling with people patiently waiting in a line that snaked through the shop.

Of course, we’re not talking about a big shop, so the snake would be more like a large garter than, say, an anaconda. Or maybe more like a racer because the line moved pretty fast.

Buttermilk pastries

A little too fast. You can’t really make your decision about what to get until you’re right up to the glass that separates the drooling public from the tempting array of freshly baked goods.

Orange County Brewers

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Orange County Brewers tanks

The chrome bumpers of Fiats have given way to stainless steel brewing tanks at the corner of Orange Avenue and Jefferson Street in downtown Orlando.

The storefront space is the new home of Orange County Brewers, which is not affiliated with any government entity. OCB is the latest entry in the burgeoning microbrewery sector.

I'm always impressed by the major hardware involved with setting up an operation like this. The OC's main tanks can be seen from an open garage door (apparently left from the previous tenant) in the back parking lot.

There are also tanks to be seen through the darkened windows behind the many taps behind the bar. Also in view there: kitchen racks and boxes, and jars of hops, all of it rather unkempt looking, but hey, it's a brewery.

It's also a pizzeria. Or I should say, a pizzeria also occupies the space. The food is done by Orlando Pizza & Wing Company, which is not owned by the same people as Orange County Brewers, apparently, as I found out on a recent visit.

Fig's Prime

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Figs int

I don't know if it's Figs or Fig's. I just know that the word Prime is also part of the name of this splashy, contemporary new restaurant in Altamonte Springs.

The restaurant's logo has a leaf -- let's assume it's a fig leaf -- where an apostrophe would be if the name is meant to be Fig's. This would be a rare case of a fig leaf revealing something rather than obscuring. But in postings on its Facebook page the restaurant refers to itself as Figs Prime, indicating more than one fig is involved. So I'm confused.

You probably think this is all just a niggle, but it's part of my job to pay attention to details. And if the people behind, um, FP paid more attention to that and other details, this could become a major player among restaurants in north Orlando.

Too Much Sauce

Written by Scott Joseph on .

sauce bowl interior

I cringed just a little when I first heard about Too Much Sauce, not because of the name, which is indeed cringeworthy, but because it is yet another in the long line of assemblage restaurants. Maybe it wasn't a cringe; it might have been an eye roll. I definitely sighed.

But I found this new restaurant in the Mills 50 district to be absolutely charming and much less annoying than the average choose-from-each-column concept. And, not incidentally, the food was good.

Even better, there are several preordained bowls that require no hand-wringing order choices. And for those who do wish to call the shots, the bowls are constructed in the back, so you aren't forced to shuffle an assembly line and watch your food being built.

As I approached the counter to place my order, I was greeted by a man who did not say, "Welcome" or "May I take your order?" but rather, "Let's have some good food!"

I was so disarmed that I didn't give the reply that I ordinarily might have given -- I plan to dine alone, thanks -- but instead took a beat and said, "Yes, let's."

Sinatra's Ristorante

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Sinatra ext

I avoid restaurants on holidays. It's difficult to get a snapshot of how the restaurant usually does business. And by snapshot I mean both literally and figuratively: It isn't desirable to have a photo of a dining room decked out for Christmas in a review that will live throughout the year.

Or in the case of Sinatra's Ristorante, one staged for Halloween. Actually, I'm not so certain that it isn't always set for Halloween. After all, the restaurant is in Cassadaga, the unincoporated community also known as the Psychic Capital of the World. Halloween, it would seem, is a big deal here.

So much so that the usual rituals, and you may interpret that word any way you wish, aren't confined to Oct. 31, as I found out on Oct. 30, Halloween-een, apparently.

An appointment had taken me to DeLand, and with so few restaurants in that city open on Mondays -- including some that list that they're open daily -- I figured it was a good time to visit Sinatra's, not far away. I had been told it had good Italian food and that it featured piano music. I appreciate both, so I wended my way there after calling ahead to confirm that it was indeed open.

I should have known something was amiss when the person who answered the phone at the restaurant had to yell into the receiver to be heard over the background din. Still, I went on.

Jax Thornton Park

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Jax Interior

Jax Fifth Avenue has returned to downtown Orlando. Except that it's no longer called Jax Fifth Avenue, which is fine because it isn't on Fifth Avenue. But then, it never was on Fifth Avenue, it was on South Court Avenue. But who would name a restaurant Jax South Court Avenue?

The same person who would name the new restaurant Jax Thornton Park, I suppose. That would be Jack Thompson. The original name was meant to be a tongue in cheek play on Saks Fifth Avenue's name. And no, I don't know why the original wasn't Jaks. Ask Thompson.

Those who are old enough to remember the first Jax and who are still able to consume solid food will find that a lot is the same at the new place, which is in the former Baoery/City Fish space on Central Boulevard.

Progressive Dinner at Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Written by Scott Joseph on .

 Wilderness exterior

I think I've found the most pleasant place in all of Walt Disney World Resorts.

Well, I didn't find it, I was invited here, to Geyser Point Bar & Grill, a new venue at Disney's Wilderness Lodge. It's a covered but open-air pavilion next to the lake, and when I visited earlier this month it was on a warm evening, at sundown, with a gentle breeze coming off of the water. I could have spent all evening sitting there.

But it was just a meeting point for a progressive dinner for media, a reintroduction to the dining venues at the resort.

I I was in need of a reintroduction. I had not been to the lodge or its restaurants since they opened in 1994, 23 years ago. With the exception of the starting point -- and the ending point -- not much has changed. Whispering Canyon is still the wild and wacky family dining place it always was, and Artist Point is still a more upscale venue that probably should be considered in the same vein as California Grill, Flying Fish and Citricos. Both serve very good food.

Orchid Thai Lake Mary

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Orchid exterior

I've always enjoyed Orchid Thai on Park Avenue in Winter Park, so I was glad to learn of a new location in Lake Mary. Unfortunately, it's just not the same.

Of course it was bound to be different. The Winter Park restaurant has the ambience of Park Avenue and the lovely outdoor dining. In fact, I couldn't imagine going to the original Orchid Thai and choosing to dine in the small, a bit-too-cramped dining room.

There is no outside dining at the Lake Mary OT. Even if there were it probably wouldn't be very pleasant looking at the parking lot of the strip mall it's located in.

Mrs. Potato

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Mrs Potato rosti

I wonder what Mrs. Potato's maiden name was. And is she related the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head? Do they call their kids tots?

I'm also wondering if Mrs. Potato is Brazilian or Swiss?