Correction: An earlier version of this article had an incorrect date for the book signing at Buttermilk Bakery. It is July 28, not June 28.
Too often, restaurant guides are just glorified directories, lists that offer little more information than you can get from the Yellow Pages. (You remember the Yellow Pages, don’t you?) I should know, I’ve participated in some of those publications, including a couple of Zagat Surveys.
But Kendra Lott, publisher of Edible Orlando, has produced a guide that goes beyond mere cross-referenced listings with her recently released book, “Unique Eats and Eateries of Orlando” (208 pp. Reedy Press. $20.95). It’s a great resource not only for newcomers but for longtime locals, as well, from an entertaining writer, dedicated culinarian and Central Florida native.
First of all, the book is not a comprehensive guide to every restaurant in the area, not even close. Even longevity and general popularity weren’t enough for some establishments to make the cut. (I was amused by the omission of one particular longtime restaurant with an inexplicably diehard following; If I see you at one of Lott’s upcoming book signings I’ll tell you which one.)
Instead, as the title promises, Lott focuses on eateries that offer singular experiences, and she profiles the pioneers behind them. So you won’t find 4 Rivers Smokehouse but you will find founder John Rivers’ comfort-food restaurant, The Coop.
Some entries are clearly Lott’s preferences and might seem at first too obscure to be included. But read what she has to say about one of them — Gezellig Cookies, for example, or Saba Bakes — and you’ll gain an appreciation for them, and maybe find a new culinary destination. I’ll admit that I’ve added some names to my ongoing list of places to check out based on Lott’s book.
Not that all the featured businesses are obscure. You’ll find Victoria & Albert’s, Soco, the Whiskey and Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster. But even in those listings you might learn something new.
“Unique Eats and Eateries of Orlando” is available wherever books are sold, as they say, but you can pick up a copy and have it signed by the author on Friday, June Sunday, July 28, from 9 a.m. to noon at Buttermilk Bakery, 1198 Orange Ave., Winter Park. What’s more, everyone who purchases a signed copy will receive a free kouign-amann.
And if you don’t know what a kouign-amann is, it’s explained in the Buttermilk Bakery listing (pp. 170-171) in Lott’s book.
Other upcoming signings will be at Barnes & Noble Oviedo on Saturday, July 27, from 3:30 to 6 p.m., and Barnes & Noble Florida Mall on Thursday, July 25, from 3 to 6 p.m. Can’t promise you a kouign-amann there.