Bogard's is Closed

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Bogard’s, the International Drive restaurant that opened a couple of years ago in the former Darrel’s space, has closed. Someone who answered the phone at Salt Island, sister restaurant to Bogard’s, said the closing was a business decision. I’m thinking the bright orange tax lien sticker on the front door may have had something to do with it, as well.

I never officially reviewed Bogard’s. My first visit was mediocre or slightly lower, and I just never got around to going back. It served a menu not easily classified that wandered from oyster bar to seafood restaurant to steakhouse. Its motto was, “The restaurant your mother warned you about.” The servers, almost all women, wore torn fishnet stockings. I think the place was going for a biker bar sort of aura. I don’t know why that would mean their stockings had to be torn, but I wasn’t involved in the branding decision. The centerpiece of the dining room was a clear plexiglass shute that ran from the roof down through the two-story room. Every few minutes a load of ice cubes would shoosh noisily down the chute to the bar.

Although Bogard’s is closed, Salt Island remains open.

Houston's Becoming Hillstone

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Updated 9:55 a.m. with Winter Park Hillstone menus; dowload below.

Over the years, so many restaurants have tried to emulate the success of Houston's, trying to capture its combination of food, ambience and service. So many, it seems, want to be Houston's.

Now, Houston's doesn't want to be Houston's. At least not the Winter Park link in the national chain. The restaurant, which sits on the shore of Lake Killarney, is in the midst of transitioning its brand to Hillstone. Hillstone is the name of the parent company, whose brands also include Gulfstream, Bandera and Rutherford Grill. There currently are Hillstones in New York City, Boston and San Francisco.

The transition has begun. The menu has been switched, but so far the sign out front still says Houston's. A woman who answered the phone at the restaurant -- she thanked me for calling Houston's -- said there were no plans that she knew of for a big announcement; the sign will be replaced and that will be that. The Winter Park Houston's opened in 1996 to instant acclaim.

Hillstone is not known for its marketing acumen. Even as Houston’s, the Web site address is, and it offers no more information about each restaurant brand other than its address, phone number and manager’s name.

Hillstone’s New York menu features, like Houston’s, a short list of appetizers and regularly-scheduled soups of the day. Sandwiches and burgers are joined by sushi rolls, and entrees feature fresh fish and steaks but, sadly, no prime rib, one of Houston’s fortes. (Update: WP Hillstone menu has prime rib; prices range from $17 to $33 for dinner entrees. Download menu below.)

Sandwiches at the New York Hillstone are in the mid to upper teens; entrees range from $17 for a dinner-sized salad to $37 for the bone-in cowboy salad.

I’ll update with the Winter Park menu as soon as I get it.

Winter_Park_Dinner_051310.pdfWinter_Park_lunch_051310.pdf . Winter_Park_wine_051310.pdf .


Greek Flame Taverna Moving?

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Flogger Les pointed out in the Forum today that Greek Flame Taverna, the popular Winter Park Greekery, was closed and had no notice of relocating on its front door. A peek at its Web site, however, shows that its address is the Marketplace at Dr. Phillips in the Sand Lake Road Restaurant Row region. No one is answering the phones other than a recording that doesn't give any details. The Web site shows pictures of the old location but the address of the new. Anybody have details? Let us know here or in the Forum. (I must say, not great marketing sense not to leave a forwarding message on your old place!)

Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation a Huge -- Really Huge -- Success

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Share Our Strength put on another terrific Taste of the Nation event Saturday. Sadly, it was the 21st annual.

I say sadly because the event’s purpose is to raise awareness and money to put an end to childhood hunger in the U.S. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have had more than a couple of these events. But there you go.

This year, the grand affair took place at Orlando World Center Marriott. I sure hope they gave Share Our Strength a good deal on the space, because they almost certainly made a hefty profit on the parking alone. Rates were $22 for valet and $8 for the privilege of parking in the hotel’s garage. There was no alternative. The resort is pretty remote and there is no other place to park and walk.