Anyone who questions whether there is a market for vegetarian restaurants only needs to visit The Sanctum, a new meat-freetery in the Mills 50 district whose slogan is “Real, damn good food” and whose online description calls its menu plant-based. It seems that it is always packed.
Admittedly, it doesn’t take a lot of people to fill the space, which is set back from Colonial Drive at the northeast corner of Fern Creek Avenue. The space is small and narrow, with a bar and communal seating up front and a few tables hugging the wall down the side, across from the kitchen area. But it was clear to me when I lunched with colleagues there recently that more than a few were repeat customers hungry for vegetarian and vegan options.
That may be one of Sanctum’s secrets of success: It isn’t totally vegan but offers several items that can easily be veganized. As long as you’re not concerned about the purity of the kitchen as far as your food commingling with mere vegetarian offerings, you should be just fine....
|Address||715 N. Fern Creek Ave.|
Cute little place in Orlando Milk District. You can order your food at the bar or have a seat at one of the very few tables. Sandwiches are creative -- variations on a theme of Reuben, for example -- but built on good bread and with ample fillings....
|Address||2432 E. Robinson St.|
Santiago’s Bodega has opened in the space formerly occupied by Logan’s Bistro on Virginia Drive in Orlando. Actually the place takes more than the Logan’s space. It has incorporated the storefront next door and has produced a new brick porch/patio in front. For all its newness, Santiago’s has a well-worn look that makes it immediately likable and comfortable.
This is a tapas restaurant. Although Santiago’s is new in Orlando, this is a second location for a restaurant in Key West. So the concept isn’t new and neither is the menu. Still, the restaurant was struggling the night I visited as hordes of curious diners descended on the place and overwhelmed the staff.
Mistakes were made, most of them accountable to the vagaries of a new operation, new location and a staff unfamiliar and shell-shocked. Those things can be ironed out.
My main complaint was the cost. My check came to over $68 for five tapas and one glass of wine. (We had two other glasses of wine but the server said they were on the house because of some problems at the beginning of the meal; otherwise the check would have been over $90.) That isn’t a tremendous amount of money for a night out, but the cost-to-quali...
|Address||802 Virginia Drive|
Santiago's Bodega Altamonte Springs
Saporito Italian Restaurant & Bakery
For some reason the name Saporito sounds like it would be Japanese takeout place. But, no, it’s an Italian restaurant, and a very pleasant one at that. Or should I say a tasty one, for tasty is the translation of Saporito....
|Address||2759 Old Winter Garden Road|
Here’s an interesting little place on the west side of town. It’s a Japanese restaurant called Sapporo Ramen in a weary worn shopping center now called Chinatown.
Most Americans know ramen only as something they haven’t eaten since grad school. But this is not same as the incredibly cheap -- multiple meanings there -- Top Ramen sold as a dry noodle soup mix in the crinkly packages. This is something truly delicious.
Ramen is, indeed, a type of wheat noodle. Although it is mainly associated with Japan -- and here is served in a restaurant named for either the city or the brewery in that country -- ramen originated in China, so it isn’t so strange that Sapporo Ramen is located in a place called Chinatown (the Italian restaurant around the corner is another matter).
And as long as we’re on the name, you should know that ramen isn’t the only type of noodle available. Soba and udon noodles have their own sections. And if you prefer rice, there’s a section on the menu board for curries served with rice.
I love Japanese curries, which tend to be roux-ier than Indian curries. And in fact it was the spicy beef stew curry that was the favorite dish I tried at Sapporo. By appearan...
|Address||5080 W. Colonial Drive|
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater
It’s an outdoor drive-in theater indoors. The movies glorified here are the wonderfully trashy movies of the '50s - those low-budget flicks that had spacemen clad in Reynolds Wrap and rocket ships dangling by all-too-visible wires. Of course, when you go to a drive-in, you sit in a car, so the Disney folks have constructed some special vehicles. The cars are convertibles set up as booths, and everyone faces forward. Most of the cars have a front seat, a back seat and a middle seat. A family of six can sit two by two by two. If the kids start acting up, Dad can turn around and take a swat at them. There's a real possibility, however, that you'll be seated in a car with strangers. If those strangers' kids are acting up, it is not all right to take a swat at them. As for the food, well, no one ever went to a drive-in movie for the cuisine. ‘Nuf said....
|Address||Disney's Hollywood Studios|
|City||Lake Buena Vista|