Bullet Point Buffet: Celebrate the Year of the Pig

Written by Scott Joseph on .


  • Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year, officially begins Tuesday, Feb. 5. So today is New Year’s Eve. I’m sure you’ll want to tune into CNN tonight to watch Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen in New York’s Chinatown making small talk and giggling for four hours. Each year is associated with an animal, and 2019 (on the western calendar) is the Year of the Pig, arguably the tastiest of all the Lunar calendar animals. Next year is the Year of the Rat, which you could have guessed because it’s an election year. To celebrate, go to your favorite Asian restaurant and order your favorite foods. (Japanese don’t observe it, but if that’s your favorite Asian food, go for it.) If you order long noodles, you must slurp them without cutting them or you’ll have bad luck. And, just so you know, on the first day of the New Year it’s considered bad luck to sweep or clean, lest you sweep away good luck. I like that one.
  • Yum Brands plans to open one of its Taco Bell Cantina restaurants, notably different from other TB’s because it serves alcohol. That should help cut out the middle man for many of Taco Bell’s regulars because I assume most of them only go there after a night out of drinking.

Appetite for the Arches is March 2

Written by Scott Joseph on .


Appetite Post1 TW

This has really turned in to a big event.

It’s Appetite for the Arches, a fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida, and it will be Saturday, March 2, at Rosen Shingle Creek, from 7 to 10 p.m.

This is a walkabout food and beverage event like many others, with food stations featuring some of the area’s top chef talent set up around a ballroom, each paired with a wine or cocktail vendor.

But this one has a big twist: All of the chefs have been challenged to create dishes using one or more ingredients found on the menu at McDonald’s. But remember, we’re talking about some really creative culinary talent, so expect something more than McNuggets a la king.

For example, past creations have included Charmoula Chicken, an appetizer fashioned out of chicken breasts, hash browns and pickled red onions from Kathleen Blake of the Rusty Spoon. Or Chipotle BBQ Beef Enchiladas using steak, tortillas, iceberg lettuce, onions, cheese and barbecue sauce, a past entry from chef Kevin Fonzo.

This year’s participating restaurants include:

Bullet Point Buffet

Written by Scott Joseph on .

margaritville opening

  • Central Florida has a new Margaritaville, and depending on where you stand on the Salt! Salt! Salt! spectrum you’ll either find that thrilling or horrifying. Margaritaville Resort Orlando had a grand ribbon cutting ceremony last week to officially open the Kissimmee hotel. Yes, of course there are restaurants (though some are open only to resort guests). But don’t expect to find a Cheeseburger in Paradise — that food item is trademarked elsewhere. There’s no Jimmy Buffett, either, though you’ll certainly hear his music playing. And before you ask, no, there is no relationship between the Kissimmee resort and the Margaritaville restaurant at Universal CityWalk. I obviously don’t understand the intricacies of branding and intellectual property.
  • Everyone is waiting for the announcement of the opening date for Jaleo, the José Andrés at Disney Springs. The arrival of a truck should be a good sign, right? But unfortunately it isn’t a moving truck but rather a food truck. Or at least a food truck concept. It was announced last week that Jaleo will have attached to it a brick and mortar version of Pepe, a food truck owned by Andrés’s ThinkFoodGroup. It will serve a menu of hot and cold Spanish-style sandwiches. As for when Jaleo will open, I’m hearing that we should have a date by the end of the week. Stay tuned.
  • Do young people know what stay tuned means?

Do you remember Freddie's Steak House?

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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I wanted to light a fire the other night and I couldn’t find the clicker. That’s what I call the long-handled butane lighter with the trigger. Couldn’t find it anywhere, so I had to go the analog routed and use a book of matches. I reached up into the cupboard to the tall stein I store old matchbooks in and pulled down a piece of Central Florida dining history.

Do you remember Freddie’s Steak House? For many years it was a mainstay for local diners. It opened in 1943 as a roadside diner and was purchased in 1960 by Steven Larsson who turned it into a fine steakhouse. It was in a freestanding wooden structure at 7355 U.S. Highway 17-92, just south of State Road 436, in Fern Park. It was old-school steakhouse and even served a complimentary relish dish to each table.

Larsson sold the restaurant in 1977 to a partnership, which leased the name and concept to other restaurateurs. It closed in 1988 — the year I came to town — but reopened in 1989.

I don’t remember much of my review of it that year other than an observation that most of the patrons “looked as though they hadn’t had a steak since breakfast.” It closed soon after.

It reopened again in late 1991 and I went back to review it. My article ran in Florida magazine in the Sunday Sentinel on Jan. 5, 1992, along with a notice in the front of the paper that read: “Freddie's Steak House in Fern Park, reviewed in today's Florida magazine, closed last week. Due to publishing schedules, it was not possible to change the review. The magazine is printed in advance of the date of publication.” My review wouldn’t have done much to encourage the owners to keep it open.

(From that review I recall that the menu was in the shape of a piano. That was back in the days before printed takeout menus were offered and long before menus were printed online, mainly because there wasn’t an online. So I frequently had to steal...um...spirit away menus so I’d have something to refer to as I wrote the review. The piano shaped made it difficult to conceal.)

After it closed, there was a move by one of the property’s owners to turn it into a strip joint, but Fern Parkers protested. I seem to remember one or two other concepts giving it a go there with little success, but eventually the place was boarded up and razed.

I’ve been collecting matchbooks and boxes from restaurants for decades. I don’t look at them often, but it’s always fun to be bring back memories when I grab one, as I did Freddie’s. By the way, I don’t know why it’s Freddies on the matchbook. The missing apostrophe would make it seem that there were multiple Freddies involved. But no, there was only one Freddie’s.

All of this is to remind you that we’re currently accepting votes for the Best Steakhouse in our Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants. Click here to place your vote.

Not sure how Freddie’s would fare in the poll — or if it would even be on the list. Thirty years ago, it was probably just one of a handful of steakhouses (including Linda’s La Cantina, which is indeed on our list of finalists) so it might have had a shot. But I think the quality of our steakhouses today is a whole lot better.

What about you? Do you remember Freddie’s Steak House?