Luma on Park announces it is closing

Written by Scott Joseph on .

luma ext

Luma on Park, one of the area’s most critically acclaimed restaurants, has announced that it will be closing after 15 years at the corner of Park and New England Avenues in Winter Park. A posting on the restaurant’s Facebook page said that Park Lights Hospitality, which owns the Luma brand, was “unable to come to terms on a reasonable rent structure to continue operating in our current location.”

“It’s a sad time for all of us,” said Tim Noelke, the longtime manager and a principal of Park Lights. Noelke, reached by phone Wednesday morning, said the group had “been negotiating for some time now” with the building’s landlord, Battaglia Group. Noelke said that negotiations began before the pandemic-forced shutdown.

Knife & Spoon set for October opening

Written by Scott Joseph on .

KnifeSpoon logo

I had a chance recently to get a look at Knife & Spoon, which will open in October at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes.

The restaurant is headed by Dallas chef and restaurateur John Tesar and takes over the space previously occupied by Norman’s. Knife & Spoon will feature steaks and seafood, both referenced in the name, with Knife representing the meat, obviously, and Spoon a type of fishing lure, as seen in the logo.

KnifeSpoon meat

KnifeSpoon meat locker

But steak is definitely going to be a focus here. Tesar and his chef de cuisine, Gerald Sombright, told a small group of socially-distanced and masked media members about the extensive dry aging process that will be will be incorporated. Diners will be able to choose from steaks that have been aged 45, 60, 90, 120, 150 or 240 days. The longer the meat ages, the more tender it becomes, with a penicillin-like substance forming on the crust. And you don’t have to order in advance – they’ll have steaks of all ages on hand all the time. In fact, the meat locker is already being stocked in advance of the opening.

By the way, the seafood on the menu will not – I repeat NOT – undergo a similar aging process.

Also interesting, the steaks will be cooked in a pan instead of on a grill. Tesar believes that locks in more of the flavor.

All of the beef will be sourced from 44 Farms, which is just one place, in Texas, that specializes in cattle fed with very little corn.

KnifeSpoon cloud

KnifeSpoon moss

Construction on the space is still ongoing, mostly in the bar and lounge area, but the main dining room, which features a lava-dome ceiling (technically it’s called a white cloud) and a curious moss-covered sculptured mound in the center of the room, is largely finished.

The interior is by Schoos Design and will have 235 seats when it’s allowed to have full capacity.

We were given nibbles of some of the steak, but I’ll reserve my comments until the restaurant opens. But let’s just say I’m really looking forward to it.

"Taste of" is an Epcot International Food and Wine Festivalette

Written by Scott Joseph on .

TasteEpcot sign

In normal times – remember those? – Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival would be getting underway about now, settling in for a run that would last until sometime in November.

This year, on what is at least officially the festival’s 25th anniversary, the theme park is offering Taste of Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, with “Taste of” the clue that this is a more limited experience. There are no tastings, no cooking demonstrations, no visiting celebrity chefs, no Eat to the Beat concert series.

But there is food, there is wine, and plenty of other beverages, too.

Newsy Nuggets: Orlando loses a fine fine dining restaurant, no mystery on I-drive for a while, and no hooley this weekend

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Elize tuna

  • Sad news out of downtown Orlando this weekend: Elize, the very good Dutch-accented restaurant that took over the Rusty Spoon space just over a year ago, has closed due to the economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus. Elize was owned by Michelle Lagerweij, who has a similarly named restaurant in her hometown of Utrecht in the central Netherlands. She brought in Leon Mazairac, once recognized by Gault et Millau as the Netherlands’ most talented chef, to head the Orlando kitchen. The food was excellent, and the menu unique in Central Florida. Elize had recently reopened under the Phase 2 guidelines “to an immensely positive response,” according to a not on its Facebook page, but “the large economic impact resulting from the coronavirus pandemic has made it impossible for us to sustain operations.”

Another Church Street restaurant a few doors away, Ceviche, closed permanently in June.