Restaurant Listings
Crafted Block & Brew
Address2417 S. Hiawassee Road
CityOrlando
Phone407-601-6887
Price$$
Scott's Review
Crafted Block & Brew (I can't explain the Block part, although the food is served on wooden trays, so maybe that's it?) looks like it wants to stay a long time. With a little more attention to the food's quality and less time trying too hard to make it creative plus more even service, it could make it. ... Read more
Cress
Address103 W. Indiana Ave.
CityDeland
Phone386-734-3740
Price$$$
Scott's Review
Chef Hari Pulapaka, who, along with his wife, Jenneffer, owns Cress, has a creative touch, but he bases all of his dishes on classic culinary principles. That’s evident in the Cress seafood sampler of fresh black fin grouper, jumbo lump crab cake served with sauce remoulade, jumbo shrimp, with a sauce creole, and grits with bits of andouille sausage, mushrooms and thyme. The fish sat on al dente sauteed squash, and everything was topped with freshly made potato chips. Although the dish was comprised mainly of seafood, each component had a distinct flavor, and all of the tastes and textures played very nicely together. I especially liked the crab cake for the buttery notes in the crisp crust that held the lump meat together. And the firm texture of the black fin grouper was very pleasant. The restaurant, in an old downtown storefront, is pleasant and comfortable.... Read more
Crooked Spoon Gastropub
Address200 Citrus Tower Blvd
CityClermont
Phone352-404-7808
Price
Scott's Review
Chef/owner Steve Saelg was one of the pioneers of Orlando’s food truck boom, and his Crooked Spoon truck was one of the more popular ones at area food truck rallies. But Saelg, who started out as a Wall Street financier before turning to a life in the culinary arts, longed to stop roaming. So he parked the truck and opened a gastropub with the same name. In this case, gastropub probably means something closer to a sports bar. The atmosphere is casual, the bar is visible from most corners of the dining areas, and the requisite televisions hang all about. I loved the pork belly BLT, a thick and delightfully fatty belly section with a crispy exterior, served on fresh brioche bread with spicy arugula, marinated tomato and remoulade. And as a wonderful surprise, an egg, sunny-side up, on top. It’s called a sandwich, but just try to eat it with anything but a knife and fork. I also enjoyed the lobster grilled cheese, which was sort of like a lobster roll with a bit of melted cheeses, including brie, swiss and cheddar, on top. The sweet lobster meat was served with tomatoes on the buttery toasted bread.... Read more
Cuba 1800's
Address8700 E. Colonial Drive
CityOrlando
Phone407-270-4707
Price$
Scott's Review
I can’t really see the difference between this place and similar restaurants specializing in Cuban cuisine. But I can tell you I liked the food very much. And the casual picnic-style atmosphere. And especially the way I was welcomed by the staff of Cuba 1800’s.... Read more
Cuba Libre
AddressPointe Orlando
9101 International Drive
CityOrlando
Phone407-226-1600
Price$$$
Scott's Review

It's big and splashy, but early indications are that more effort was put into the ambience than into the food, which is under the direction of James Beard Award-winning chef Guillermo Pernot. It would seem the vibrant flavors of Cuban cuisine have been dumbed down for the tourist trade. Even the drinks are disappointing. It's bad enough that they can't seem to make a decent mojito, but you'd think they could at least have a stellar Cuba Libre.

We started with a salad of watercress with crumbles of Cabrales, the tangy blue cheese of Spain. Fresh, but indistinguished.

A fish course followed comprised of sea bass a la plancha a Chino-Cubano. Yes, a Chinese version of a Cuban dish, complete with fried rice and a sesame sauce. I found it rather strange, although the quality of the fish was good.

The meat course had grilled skirt steak on a sugar cane skewer paired with roast pork stuffed mofongo -- not an ingredient in the bunch that I don't love. Yet it was all almost flavorless, without any seasoning. It looks like this will be another Latin restaurant that's afraid of offending the delicate palates of tourists. That's a shame.

... Read more
Curry Mantra
Address6127 Westwood Blvd.
CityOrlando
Phone407-233-4636
Price$$
The young man who greeted us and showed us to the lunch buffet at Curry Mantra, a new Indian restaurant, seemed genuinely interested in making sure my lunch guest and I were pleased with the food. Unfortunately, we weren't. ... Read more