India Blue is Closed

Written by Scott Joseph on .

India Blue, the massive restaurant that opened last year on International Drive, has apparently closed. The restaurant was open Monday for Valentine’s Day dinners, but today there is a sign on the door saying that the restaurant is closed for renovations. My sources say that if any renovations are to occur, they most likely will be handled by future owners. A call  to the restaurant Tuesday evening was answered by a recording that said, “We are open at this time but we are assisting another guest.” Extensions for the kitchen and for reservations were also answered by recordings.

My review of India Blue noted a few good things about the food, but mostly found it overpriced and spotty. There was also the annoying practice, common among London Indian restaurants, of charging extra for rice, a commodity that it almost necessary with Indian dishes.

India Blue occupied a huge free-standing building that for many years was Darryl’s, a chain restaurant. For a short time it was Bogard’s, another restaurant that closed rather abruptly.


Ravenous Pig's James Petrakis Finalist in Food & Wine's Best New Chef Poll

Written by Scott Joseph on .

James Petrakis, co-chef and co-owner, with his wife, Julie, of The Ravenous Pig, is in the running for Food & Wine magazine’s People’s Best New Chef. Petrakis is listed with nine other chefs in the Gulf Coast region. Really? Miami, New Orleans, Birmingham -- Gulf Coast? Whatever.

I could find nothing on the site that stated the criteria for “new” chef. Petrakis has been around for a few years now,James_Petrakis but whatever helps get some attention to the fact that Orlando has some terrific culinary talent is OK by me.

Food & Wine has divvied up the country into 10 regions. Again, I don’t know what the criteria were for selecting the finalists, but in all those 10 regions, F&W managed to find only nine women to put up for votes. In several regions, one entry features two chefs who share cooking duties. Seems to me the magazine could have added another woman to the roster by featuring both Petrakises. To vote for James Petrakis, and to show your support for one of our top chefs, follow this link to Food & Wine’s poll.


Oblivion Taproom Planned for Former Straub's Space

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Oblivion Taproom's logo is a good indication that early bird dinners will not be a focus here.
Coming soon to an abandoned Straub’s near you: Oblivion Taproom. That’s the name -- and one hopes not the status -- of a planned restaurant in the former Straub’s Fine Seafood restaurant on East Colonial Drive in Orlando. The restaurant will be owned by Pete Wesenberg and his wife, Melissa Jahn. Jim “Goody” Goodman, formerly of the JW Marriott, has signed on as chef.

Wesenberg told me that “the idea is to offer gastropub quality food at bar & grill prices.” He said the menu will be typical pub far but made from scratch, including, he said, the patties for the burgers. “No pre-formed Sysco patties here,” he said.

With Taproom as part of the name, the restaurant will offer a large assortment of craft beers, at least 20 on tap, plus an “ample bottle selection.” There also will be wine and full liquor.

The decor, says Wesenberg, will have “a bit of an edgy feel to it, more rock ‘n roll, less institutional. Needless to say we’re not exactly targeting the early bird crowd from our previous tenant.” (Straub’s was known for its early evening menu, popular among seniors. The seafood restaurant closed several years ago ostensibly because, a tenant said at the time, needed repairs to the property’s septic system were prohibitive.) Plans call for Oblivion Taproom to operate 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

Sounds like they’re paying attention to detail and have an eye toward good quality, from what Wesenberg has told me. Not sure why they’ve chosen the name Oblivion, which the dictionary defines as “the state of being forgotten, esp. by the public.” Irony, I’m guessing.

Wesenberg says the team is aiming for a late March 2011 opening. Stay tuned for updates.


Inside the Disney Dream Galleys, an Exclusive Tour

Written by Scott Joseph on .


Inside the Disney Dream Galley

When I sailed on the Disney Dream's christening cruise last month, I was granted an exclusive tour of the ship's main galleys, the massive kitchen facilities that most passengers will never see. (Click on the image above to see a video tour with James Willoughby, hotel director in training.) The galleys are on two decks and serve the three main dining rooms: Royal Palace and Animator's Palate on deck 3 and Enchanted Garden on deck 2. The ship's two premium restaurants, Remy and Palo, have separate kitchens on upper decks. It's from the main galleys that the ship's crew prepares over 15,000 meals daily for the passengers and crew on Disney's newest ship.

Click on the image above to see the video or click this link to watch "Inside the Disney Dream Galleys."

See also: Review of Remy on the Disney Dream and a video of all the dining options on the Disney Dream