Newsy Nuggets: A return to indoor dining, St. Patrick's Day, Pi(e) Day and news of Norman's

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Shining Spice interior

Today marks one year since I had a full dining experience inside a restaurant. It was at Shining Spice in Winter Park, and I chose it specifically because it was a Chinese restaurant. What was then known only as a novel coronavirus had originated in Wuhan, China, and Chinese-Americans were facing bewildering discrimination. I wanted to make a point.

We knew a shutdown was imminent, though we didn’t know it would last this long. In the past 52 weeks I’ve written more than 100 reviews, most of them about takeout and delivery with a handful being accounts of outdoor dining.

I’m now fully vaccinated and ready to start dining in again, though I’m going to heed the experts’ advice to continue avoiding places that are overcrowded. Seems the responsible thing to do until we’re all fully dosed.

Shining Spice, by the way, apparently did not make it. It’s website is down and its phone disconnected.

  • Of course, the shutdowns, coming just days before March 17, affected last year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. You’ll probably find some this year, but please see note above regarding responsible behavior. One possibility is the St. Paddy’s Day Pub Crawl in the Mills 50 district on Sat., Mar. 13, from 7:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. A $10 wristband, purchasable at Wally’s or Ten 10 Brewing, will get you access to drink specials at a dozen and a half businesses. I guess it doesn’t matter that St. Patrick’s Day isn’t on Mar. 13.
  • Speaking of St. Paddy’s, I was at Dellagio plaza recently and noticed a bar there called Paddywagon Irish Pub, a second location for a Lake Buena Vista business. The name struck me as odd – surely they know that paddywagon is a derogatory term. It was a nickname given to the police vans that would transport drunk and disorderlies to New York City jails. It fed into a stereotype that Irishmen drank too much.
  • I spotted the pub while trying to get a closer look at the former Bravo! Italian restaurant space where Norman’s, which formerly occupied a key space at the Ritz-Carlton, is expected to relocate. Didn’t see much going on, but the restaurant’s eponymous chef, Norman Van Aken, tells me, “We are steadily working towards our return.” He said that some real estate changing hands caused a delay, as well as the pandemic. But, he wrote in a text: “we are still on track to be there. I’m not going to say when b/c I really don’t know.”
  • The real reason I was at Dellagio was to dine at Big Fin Seafood Kitchen (patio), which I reviewed earlier this week. And I’m please to announce that this week’s drawing will be for a $50 gift card to Big Fin. If you already get my weekly News from the Flog e-letter, you’re already entered to win. If not, click here and sign up. It’s painless, and the e-letter is surprisingly unannoying. (Want to see a sample e-letter? Click here for the most recent.)
  • Finally, this weekend is Pi Day, which has been coopted as Pie Day. If you paid attention during high school math, you’ll know that Pi Day is Mar. 14. Or 3/14. Or more specifically, 3.14159265359... You may celebrate it by getting apple pie, cherry pie or even pizza pie. Eat it with a slide rule, if you like. And no, you can’t celebrate Pi Day on any day but Mar. 14. That would be like having St. Patrick’s Day on the 13th.

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