Senate Passes Food Safety Bill

Written by Scott Joseph on .

The Senate today passed a food safety bill that is intended to reduce the amount of unsafe and contaminated foods that reach the consumer. The bill comes 16 months after a similar bill was passed by the House of Representatives. During that time, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, there have been 85 recalls of tainted foods that sickened 1,850 people. Way to move, senators! I guess they figured they didn't need to crack down on feces-laden lettuce or rotten eggs as long as there was a health care bill. Both Florida's senators approved the legislation, which grants the F.D.A. powers to increase inspections and recall tainted foods. Ironically, the bill could still die before the House can approve the Senate's version. Here's the complete story from the New York Times.

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How Small is Small for Small Business Saturday?

Written by Scott Joseph on .

small_bizYou may have seen the promotions for Small Business Saturday, a newly designated observance sandwiched between today’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which is, um, Monday. Small Business Saturday, Nov. 27, is the creation of American Express’s Open Business division. The sole purpose of Small Business Saturday is encourage people to patronize a local small business (preferably one that accepts American Express, which is offering incentives to both vendors and buyers).

The only thing missing from the full-page newspaper ads and the Facebook fan pages is the definition of what constitutes a small business. I think we all tend to think of a small business as the quintessential “mom and pop” store, situation, in Norman Rockwell style, on a neighborhood corner. Those places hardly exist these days. So what is a small business? Is it independently owned? Is it owned by locals? What about a local person who is listed as the independent franchisee of a sandwich shop? Small business?

Or what about a company like E-Brands? Its locally owned, and it operates restaurants such as Timpano and Samba Room, which have multiple locations across the country as well as unique restaurants like Paradiso 37 at Downtown Disney. Small business?

New Lincoln Center Restaurant has Central Florida Connection

Written by Scott Joseph on .

The new restaurant at Lincoln Center, which was reviewed in today’s New York Times, has a Central Florida connection: it’s owned by the Patina Restaurant Group, which also owns and operates the restaurants at Epcot’s Italy pavilion. Like its sister restaurants (or maybe it’s brother; I always find it difficult to tell the gender of restaurants), Lincoln Ristorante is Italian, and it received a very respectable debut rating of two stars in critic Sam Sifton’s review. The Epcot venues include Tutto Italia, which replaced Alfredo’s a few years ago, and the recently opened Via Napoli, with its special brick ovens imported from Naples and special water, imported from Pennsylvania. Even with those expenses, the two restaurants here probably didn’t cost as much as the new venue at the renovated Lincoln Center reportedly cost, which is a cool $20 million. With all that money, they couldn’t come up with a better name for it? Does anyone else find the name Lincoln Ristorante a bit odd? How about Lincolno? Or maybe L’Incolne. Lincoln Ristorante doesn’t speak to me. Or, to use a phrase more apt to the location, it just doesn’t sing.

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Le Rouge, New Tapas and Wine Bar, Opens on Restaurant Row

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Le_Rouge_interiorUpdated, 2:00, with new price range and menu.

Updated: Now scheduled to open Friday, Nov. 26, 2010.

Restaurant Row has taken a few hits recently with the closing of La Nuova Cucina, Pizza Fusion and Rice Paper. But it isn’t all bad news: a new restaurant opened Friday with a concept that is tailor-made for the current economic times.

Le Rouge Wine Bar and Tapas restaurant officially opened Friday. It’s located just a couple of doors down from where La Nuova Cucina closed last month (it’s in the group of storefronts between Seasons 52 and Roy’s). The restaurant is owned by Mounir Elidrissi; Faisal Sultani is the chef. Both previously worked in restaurants in the Washington, D.C., area among others.

The menu features charcuterie and cheese platters served with grilled rosemary ciabatta, honey and olives, as well as traditional tapas dishes such as seafood ceviche; a spicy merguez sausage; a traditional grilled asparagus dish served with romesco sauce; a firecracker shrimp served with a spicy kung pao sauce, peanuts, and cilantro; a marinated chicken served with garlic, lemon, mustard, parsley; traditional European mussels and frites; plus a selection of sandwiches, flatbreads, soups and salads. The restaurant also offers wine and beers from around the world.

The tapas concept -- we need to come up with a different name for tapas -- is timely not only for the current economic climate but also for the trend towards eating less. Smaller portions should be priced accordingly -- and have fewer calories!

I haven’t been yet, but the photos I’ve seen of the place suggest it has a chic, upscale feel. Seating is at small couches as well as a communal table (another national trend).

Le Rouge Wine Bar and Tapas is at 7730 West Sand Lake Road, Orlando.  Tapas prices range from $5-20. Le Rouge is open Monday-Thursday 11:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 a.m., and Sunday 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. The phone number is 407-370-0909. Here’s a link to the Le Rouge Web site.

Here is a list of the menu items: