Laurel Latin Cuisine

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Laurel cuban interior

There's something about the name Laurel Latin Cuisine that I find quite forgettable. And that's not good for a restaurant that's hidden off the main thoroughfare, tucked in the back of a building on Park Avenue. So when I arranged to meet a friend for lunch in Winter Park, I said, "Let's go to that new restaurant."

"Fine," she said, "what's the name?"

"I can't remember," I responded, "but it's where Paris-Bistro used to be."

"Paris Bistro is gone?" She was shocked, even though she works just a few blocks away. That might help to explain why Paris-Bistro is gone.

"Only since April," I told her.

We met at the designated time at whatsitsname.

Now that I've eaten there, I think I'll have an easier time remember Laurel Latin Cuisine.

Hourglass Brewing and Wako Taco

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Hourglass

With just a little over a week left to vote for Best Craft Beer in our Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants (voting ends at midnight Aug. 23), I've been out doing some practical research. Very demanding, but I insist on it.

To that end, I met a friend at Hourglass Brewing in Longwood recently.But for some reason I hadn't gotten around to visiting it until now.

It's a big place and a big operation in terms of its brewing facilities. A big, boxy space, sort of like a warehouse with a bar set up in a corner, there's plenty of room for tables and stools and still space for brewing tanks, seen behind tall windows behind the back side of the bar.

They keep the beers rotating, as a good brewer should. In fact, the available beers listed on the website are under the heading Live Menu; currently they're featuring anniversary drafts with such variety as Auld Clootie (old ale), 'Round the Riverbend (farmhouse ale), Rusty Barnacle (American wild ale), and Apricaustic (fruit beer), which was concocted for the fourth anniversary. This year's commemorative brew is Giant Giant Braggot that blends two stouts blended in bourbon barrels and apple brandy barrels.

Pizzeria Roberti

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Roberti pies

Every day, Pizzeria Roberti, a new pie monger in East Orlando, features a specialty pizza. You might find braised short rib, Buffalo chicken or even foie gras pizza on offer.

Or a relatively mundane pizza bianca, as was the case when I visited. Oh well, luck of the draw, I suppose.

And the bianca was fine, just nothing out of the ordinary. The crust was New York-style thin and nicely done, and the toppings -- all white, because bianca -- were applied neither too amply nor stingily.

Progressive Dinner at Swan & Dolphin's Kimonos, Il Mulino and bluezoo

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Progressive Dinner at Walt Disney Swan Dolphin

I had a fun time recently taking part in a progressive dinner of sorts that had me and some other media members visiting the premium restaurants at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. We had been invited by the two hotels' PR team as a way of reacquainting ourselves with some restaurants we may not have visited in a while.

It had been a long while since I had been in Kimonos, the elegant sushi bar in the Swan where we started our evening. In fact, it occurred to me that the last time I did a full review of Kimonos I liked the food but I took management to task for not offering a nonsmoking section.

M Lounge

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Mlounge exterior

Even if you're a regular visitor to Ivanhoe Row, you'll get a whole new perspective of the surrounding neighborhood from M Lounge, a new bar that officially opened over the weekend.

That's because it's a rooftop bar, sitting atop a newly remodeled two-story building on North Orange Avenue.

It's all quite open, as you would expect a rooftop to be. And even though it's only three floors up, it offers a comparative towering vantage of Antique Row, the residential area and downtown Orlando in the not so distant distance.

It's especially lovely at sunset, as when I visited a couple of weeks ago.

LemonShark Poke

Written by Scott Joseph on .

lemonshark exterior

Sometimes when a food fad starts trending, we scratch our heads in befuddlement of what all the fuss is about. (I'm looking at you, cupcakes.)

But occasionally, you'll happen upon someone who is doing the current food a la mode in such a way as to produce an aha moment, where you say, "OK, now I get it."

If you've been wondering about the surge in restaurants offering the Hawaiian raw fish bowls, your eureka! is waiting for you at LemonShark Poke on Restaurant Row.

Himas Indian Cuisine

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Himas interior

I must say I rather enjoyed my brief visit to Himas Indian Cuisine, a Punjabi restaurant that opened earlier in the year. Despite its Tourist World location, adjacent to an outlet mall and across the street from the now-defunct Artegon Marketplace, Himas offers a relaxed and pleasant dining experience with welcoming service and very good food.

As with most Indian restaurants in the area, lunch at Himas means a buffet. This one is smaller than most, but it offers a well thought out array.

Lion's Pride

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Lions pride tvs

For a place called Lion's Pride, there's not a whole lot to be proud of here.

I suppose the developers could take some satisfaction in having created a sports bar of epic proportions. The orchestra-and-balcony style stadium seating facing a wall of giant televisions, all tuned to the same game (at least when Orlando's home team is playing), provides great viewing.

Se7en Bites Wins Gold Foodster Award for Best Breakfast

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Se7ev award

Boy, did I choose the right time to visit Se7en Bites, the "Sweet & Savory Bake Shop" on Primrose Drive in Orlando's Milk District.

Not that there's a bad time to visit. There's always something good being baked or assembled by pastry chef and owner Trina Gregory-Propst and her team.

But I chose Sunday morning brunch time to stop by and present Gregory-Propst with her Foodster Award plaque. Se7en Bites was voted the Gold Award for Best Breakfast in the first annual program that recognizes excellence in the area's independent restaurants.

And even better than choosing Sunday brunch, I happened to be there shortly after 10:30 a.m. That's the approximate time that Cinnamon Bun Sunday occurs. Gregory-Propst explained that each Sunday she bakes some cinnamon buns -- different recipes, but clearly cinnamon buns -- and she makes only two sets of two dozen. When they're gone, they're gone.

And I got one!

Should have grabbed two. Dozen.

Pepe's Cantina Church Street

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Pepe church platter 1

Pretty soon, I'm going to have to start writing reviews in Spanish.

Or Spanglish, perhaps.

In case you haven't noticed, we've had a lot -- A LOT -- of Mexican, Tex-Mex and tacomongers open lately. So many that it was a factor in Mucho Tacos and Tequila's decision to close and make way for Muddy Waters, a New Orleans style restaurant (which we could certainly use more of).

But el market will supply what el dining public demands.