Lotte Plaza Market

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Lotte Market exterior 1

Every now and then you need to break up your routine, step outside of your comfort zone and look beyond your narrow horizon.

I recommend you follow this advice the next time you go grocery shopping. Instead of automatically going to, say, Publix, try something different. And I don’t mean Winn-Dixie or Lucky’s. I mean something like Lotte Plaza Market.

Lotte is a small chain of 10 Asian markets out of Maryland and Virginia, of all places. Earlier this year an Orlando location, the first in Florida, opened near the corner of John Young Parkway and West Colonial Drive.

Sette

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Sette exterior

Tasting Table is a collaboration between Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide and WFTV-Channel 9’s Inside Central Florida.

Sette, one of the year’s most anticipated restaurants, has opened in Ivanhoe Village. The reason for the excitement is that it is the first full-service restaurant from Trina Gregory-Propst and Va Propst, owners of the popular Se7en Bites bakery. It took over the space that was previously Stir Restaurant & Bar, NOVA and Elliott’s Public House. All of those were startlingly short lived, so most people still thing of it as the location of Brian’s, a popular greasy spoon.

Little has changed with the decor from the previous tenant, which is fine — it’s a pleasant and comfortable atmosphere. The bar area seems a bit more accommodating, and the open kitchen allows guests to see the food being prepared.

And what good food it is.

Artisan's Table

Written by Scott Joseph on .

 

Artisan table exterior

Artisan’s Table has moved about a block and a half to Church Street from its original location on Pine Street in downtown Orlando. The five-year-old restaurant gained visibility with its move to a space on the ground floor of the 55 West apartment building across the courtyard from Rusty Spoon.

I wish now that it could regain some of the artisanality one would expect from its name. Instead, it offers a fairly unexciting menu of safe options. The food I sampled was all good; it just wasn’t what I would call artisanal.

My 5th Element

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Fifth Element exterior

As I write this I’m in London, which, I’m told, has more Indian restaurants than Mumbai. I don’t know if that’s true, and frankly, I’d be more impressed if Mumbai has more fish and chips joints than London.

I do know that every time I’ve visited London in the past, I’ve been disappointed with the Indian restaurants here. I suppose that’s because my concept of what good Indian food should be has been shaped by the restaurants I’ve experienced in the U.S. What I know to be good and not so good Indian food is from domestic eating. And based on that, I think 5thElement, a restaurant in Sanford, is good.

Tamale Co.

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TamaleTamale co top

It’s really impressive how much a restaurant’s serving staff can affect the overall experience. It’s a point I make repeatedly in my online Server’s Training Course.

Of course it doesn’t hurt if the restaurant has good food to go along with a pleasant serving staff.

Tamale Co. has both. And now the popular food truck purveyor of fine Mexican fare has a nonwheeled location in Orlando’s unofficially designated Hourglass District.

Orlando Classic: Lee & Rick's Oyster Bar

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Orlando Classics is an occasional look at Central Florida restaurants that have been in business for at least 25 years.

LeeRicks exterior

Whenever anyone asked about Orlando dives — and you’d be surprised how often people ask — there were always two immediate answers: Wally’s and Lee & Rick’s Oyster Bar.

Wally’s, as those still in mourning know, closed last year. And while it is scheduled to reopen soon with a new owner, its diveyness will have to be determined.

LeeRicks boat

But Lee & Rick’s, now in its sixty-ninth year, is still around and just as unrefined as always. From the cheesy boat facade to the concrete bar with big hunks chipped away from years of shuckers banging their knives on it to pry open oyster shells, this Orlando institution is a delight for the senses.

Mykonos

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Mykonos exterior

I finally made it up to the new Mykonos. Well, it was new 10 months ago when it started serving its popular Greek food again. Technically, it’s not new at all.

I first reviewed Mykonos back in 2000 when it first opened in the Springs Plaza in Longwood. Then it was called Mayerion Mykonos and it instantly served some of the best Greek food in town. Granted, there were only a few Greek restaurants in town back then. I remember that I liked the food, and I especially liked the lima beans. I think I even published the recipe.

But in 2016, the restaurant’s landlord informed the owner, Tina Karoutsos, that the lease would not be renewed. A medical clinic next door was expanding and needed the space. Instead of trying to find an existing restaurant that she could take over, Karoutsos signed for a new spot in the same plaza, directly behind where the original restaurant stood.

But the storefront had never been a restaurant, so it had to be retrofitted with all the equipment that goes into a new professional kitchen. You think your kitchen remodel took a long time? Mykonos was closed for over 18 months.

Eddie V's

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Eddie v 2019 interior 1

I had a rare evening recently when I decided I didn’t want to go out to eat at a place that I had to but rather revisit a restaurant I wanted to, just because I like it.

I chose Eddie V’s.

I love the elegance of Eddie V’s dining room, the sophistication of the tuxedo-styled tables with white linens and black napkins. The candles and fine stemware. The drum shaped light fixtures softly illuminating the room.

And the food is always first rate, too.

American Kitchen Bar & Grill 2019

Written by Scott Joseph on .

 Am kitchen couch

I could begin this review of American Kitchen Bar & Grill by telling you what I think of the chef and restaurant at the B Resort — after all, that’s what you pay me for (cough).

But instead, let me share what Greg Richie, chef/partner of Soco Thornton Park, recently wrote on his Facebook page:

“There are plenty of restaurants and chefs in town (Orlando) that get their fair share of buzz and hype. You know who’s not getting their share? Chef Venoy Rogers III at American Kitchen Bar and Grill. This guy and his crew (sous Jacob Rios) are doing great things! Don’t sleep on this, folks. Go check it out. (Note- the dining room and atmosphere don’t do justice to the level of food. No disrespect intended.)”

My thoughts exactly. But let me go into some specifics.

Bread & Co.

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Bread co exterior

There’s little from the outside of Bread & Co., a new “Artisan Bakery” in Winter Park, that gives a clue as to what’s inside. Yes, there is bread, as well as other baked goods. But they may not be what you expect.

That’s because Bread & Co. is largely a Korean bakery. It occupies a space that for a very brief time last year was home to Wonton Asian Kitchen. The same owners shut down the quick-serve hot-food operation and revamped the space for a bakery.