- Russell’s on Lake Ivanhoe is set to open its doors on Friday, Sept. 19. The new restaurant is owned by Philippe Villain and Kevin O’Donnell, who also own Big Fin Seafood Kitchen. They’ve brought on Emmanuel Clement as chef/partner. Clement worked with Villain at various Meridien properties, including the Parker Meridien in New York; at European Planet Hollywoods (Planets Hollywood?); and in the opening of Euro Disney. The menu is described by Villain as continental and will draw on Clement’s restaurant experiences of his native France and Spain, where he also owned restaurants. Steak tartare will be a signature dish, Clement told me.
Russell’s takes over the lakeside building that previously was Mesa 21 and Gargi’s before that. The name has historical provenance: George Russell had a pineapple farm (you’ll see the pineapple image throughout the restaurant, including in a painting above the new marble bar) and the strip of land the building sits on was once known as Russell’s Point.
Perhaps in a precursor to Orlando theme parks to come, Russell’s Point had some crude amusement rides, such as the toboggan slide, shown in a photo on the restaurant’s wall, that deposited riders into the lake. I think I might have called the ride Gator Bait.
The owners are avoiding the term fine dining, but the restaurant will offer a white tablecloth experience. Curiously, in a time when many restaurants are trying to create outdoor dining spaces, the patio that had previously existed here has been enclosed.
- And there’s a new restaurant coming for Jason and Sue Chin’s Good Salt Restaurant Group (Seito Sushi, Reyes Mezcaleria, Osprey). The Monroe will open in 2021 in the new Julian Apartments at Creative Village in downtown Orlando. There’s history in this restaurant’s name, too: Dr. William Monroe Wells was an African-American physician who opened the Wells’Built Hotel, now a museum dedicated to Orlando’s African American heritage. Nicely done, Chins.
- Se7en Bites is now shipping its baked wares through Goldbelly. Click that word and you can see the offerings available to ship nationwide – or to you home in Orlando if you don’t feel like going out.
- For those who hadn’t yet noticed, Cork & Fork has closed in Belle Isle.
- Taste of Chengdu has opened in Baldwin Park.
- Bars and breweries, even those that haven’t been feverishly trying to add kitchens and foodservice to their businesses, will be allowed to reopen Monday, Sept. 14, at 50 percent capacity. The announcement came Thursday evening via a tweet, because of course it did. I have a feeling that if Twitter had existed in his day, Moses wouldn’t have had to lug around those heavy tablets.