When Slate first opened, in 2015, I wasn’t much of a fan. It wasn’t that I couldn’t recommend the Restaurant Row newcomer, I just didn’t see any reason to.
Either it’s found its focus or I’m getting softer, but I enjoyed my recent visit to Slate. It seems to be a smoother operation, and it has settled comfortably into the Restaurant Row region....
|Address||8323 W Sand Lake Road|
Smiling Bison Sanford
Joining the ever growing list of independent restaurants is a second location of the Smiling Bison, the funky little cafe and bar on the near east side of Orlando. Anyone familiar with the original may not recognize the new place. Whereas the Orlando Bison is divey with a fun and grungy vibe that suggests a pop-up venue, Sanford’s seems more adult and established — like a real restaurant. Part of that is due to the age of the building and its old time-y mien. It feels as though it has been there for generations. If this were a new Disney restaurant, they’d slap a sign on the front of the place that reads “ Est. 1910” and include a backstory detailing its provenance and just exactly what first caused the bison’s grin.
What will be familiar to the already loyal Bisonians is the food, which has always been creative, full of integrity, and with a promise of brilliance at times....
|Address||107 S Magnolia Ave|
The latest buzz generator in downtown Orlando restaurants is Soco, the first "from scratch" restaurant from Thornton Park Restaurant Group. The menu is Southern contemporary (which is why it's called Soco) and highlights include a stylized vesrion of chicken and dumplings and a three-meat-blend meatloaf on lobster mashed potatoes....
|Address||629 E. Central Blvd.|
Sodo Sushi Bar and Grill
Sodo has a new sushi bar and grill. It’s called Sodo Sushi Bar and Grill. It took over the space of the oft troubled Olv, whose name had no hidden meaning or acronymic message. Sodo, or SoDo, is shorthand for south of downtown, which is where it is.
And that’s a good place for this new restaurant, too, because there aren’t any other sushi joints anywhere nearby. Bars and grills, yes, but not sushi bars and grills.
All that seems to have been required to transform the Olv space into a sushi restaurant was to plop a refrigerated case on top of the bar. Voila — or dekiagari, as they say in Japan — sushi bar.
|Address||25 W. Crystal Lake Street|
The full name is Spencer's for Steaks & Chops, but that's a bit limiting. Spencer's is a terrific all-around restaurant. Be sure to try the crab cakes and fried poached egg appetizers. Steaks are first rate, but so is the double-cut lamb chop and king salmon (served under a glass dome filled with smoke). Although Spencer's is located inside a hotel next to the Convention Center, this is a restaurant worthy of local attention. The decor is upscale casual, and a meal here is a relaxing evening....
6001 Destination Parkway