Bangkok Thai Passion

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Bangkok Thai exterior

While I sat waiting for my food at Bangkok Thai Passion at one of only two occupied tables, a woman came rushing through the front door. She loudly expressed relief that the restaurant was open — she had tried to call in an order but the restaurant’s phone was not working. She apparently feared the worst.

I guess we all have different things that stir our passion. My experience at the Ocoee restaurant was more frigid. At least that’s what I felt from my server, who seemed desperate to be anywhere doing anything other than where and what she was. Clearly, waiting tables is not her passion. (This was in contrast to the genuinely warm welcome I had from someone I assume to be an owner when I first came through the door.)

Old Jailhouse

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Old Jailhouse extrior

Today we’re visiting the Old Jailhouse in Sanford, the area’s current hotbed of new and innovative restaurants and craft bars. But before we get started with the review, I want to make this pledge: I will not be making any puns about incarceration, and the only references to sentences will be the ones written here. Besides, most of the puns have already been made by the restaurant itself (see staff t-shirts that read “I serve more than thyme”).

Although I must say I’m surprised that, given the current craze for the Hawaiian dish of raw chopped fish, there isn’t an item on the menu called Pokey. And how could the bar not have a drink called the Hoosegow Hooch?

Slapfish

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Slapfish interior 1

The stated goal of Slapfish, a seafood franchise with a location in Waterford Lakes, is an admirable one: to get people to eat more seafood. I suppose if you owned a pizza franchise you’d likely set a goal to get people to eat more pizza.

Shortly after stating Slapfish’s goal in a statement on the website, the founder, whose name cannot be easily read in his signature (it’s Andrew Gruel), also says that people are disinclined to eat more fish because of “sensationalism in the media about contaminated seafood” with “mercury and this and that.” So, marketing apparently isn’t one of Andy’s fortes.

Further evidence: A logo that looks like a bloodied hand that has just done some serious spanking.

Coco Cucina

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Coco cucina wall

Is there any other restaurant space in Orlando whose short life has been so fraught with failure as the one mid-block in the Sanctuary condominium building?

It started out, in 2007, as Fifi’s Patisserie, then changed to Sanctuary Diner. Nick’s Italian Kitchen came next, in 2011 and closed in 2013. For three years after Nick’s closed, three concepts were proposed, including a champagne lounge to be called Pagne. None ever opened. Then Gaviota, a fine dining Peruvian restaurant, decided to give it a go in late 2016, and it lasted more than a year.

So we’ve had French, American, Italian and Peruvian in just 12 years.

Now comes Mexican in the form of Coco Cucina, a project from the owners of Oudom Thai, the restaurant next door. (That space has had its own multiple tenants.)

Coco Cucina is apparently striving for authenticity, and it certainly has an ambitious menu. You have to give them props for putting such things as braised beef tongue, huitlacoche (corn smut)quesadilla and cactus worms tacos on the menu. Those are tough sells even to people who live in Mexico, tasty as they may be.

Chianti's Pizza and Pasta Longwood

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Chianti pizza

Chianti’s Pizza and Pasta, the charming trattoria that opened in Sanford in 2012, now has a second location in Longwood. It has taken over the space in the Longwood Village Shopping Center that had previously been Carmela’s of Brooklyn and a Sbarro. So the walls should be sufficiently Italianized by now.

Of the two food genres in its name, Chianti’s seems to be more proficient in the pizza format. During a recent lunch visit, a flog associate ordered the Chianti Supreme Pizza, which featured slices of pepperoni and bits of sausage with mushrooms, red and green peppers and just enough mozzarella to give it some stringiness, all on a platform of a seasoned-just-right tomato sauce. The crust was just the right thickness, not too thin and crackerlike and not too thick and doughy. The edges of the crust had a decent char. And the 12-inch size is available as a lunch special for $8.99 with a beverage, to boot, a good deal for such a good quality pizza.

Le House

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Le House interior

The owners of a new Vietnamese restaurant in downtown Orlando named it Le House because they wanted customers to feel as if they were dining at their home. I can’t attest to that authenticity, but I can say that I certainly felt welcomed and accommodated on my visit, even if I wasn’t offered the guest room.

The menu here is more succinct than at other Vietnamese restaurants. Pho is available, as it must be at all local Vietnamese restaurants, apparently by law. But Le House’s menu has a manageable 10 entries instead of the three or four dozen you might be asked to negotiate elsewhere.

But pho is not a specialty of Le House. The young man who greeted me — welcomed me into his home, as it were — suggested two items under the Specialty banner: Nem Cuòn, a springlike roll with cured fermented pork; and Com Gà, or organic chicken.

The Nem was a must, I decided, but instead of the entree version, which comes as a build-it-yourself kit of ingredients, I opted for the no-assembly-required appetizer variety.

Columbia Restaurant Ybor City

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Columbia sign

Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City has been around for more than 114 years, longer than any other restaurant in Florida. The menu features an item called the 1905 Salad to commemorate the year it opened. Actually, when the restaurant was anticipating celebrating its centennial in 2005, the owners found documentation that it had really opened in 1902, but they decided to stick with the 1905 date. There would be the whole salad problem to deal with, after all.

A restaurant has to be doing something right to last that long. But if my recent experience is indicative of the way the restaurant operates now, it may not see another anniversary. It has a whole lot more problems than a misnamed salad.

Tre Bambine

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trebambine interior

I don’t suppose that technically there’s an absolute, written in stone recipe for Saltimbocca. After all, the word means “jump in the mouth” in Italian, and you could probably name a number of ingredients that you might like to have saltim your bocca.

But generally, in Italian restaurants, saltimbocca usually refers to a specific preparation, though even that is open to variations. I’ve had veal saltimbocca and I’ve had chicken saltimbocca. But until I visited Tre Bambine, a new restaurant in the former Spice Modern/Lake Eola Yacht Club space, I had never had meatloaf saltimbocca.

Mind you, it was veal meatloaf, but still. This culinary interpretation was completely lost in the translation.

Forever Naan

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Forever Naan sign

I don’t know why it’s taken so long for an Indian restaurant to take advantage of the street name Curry Ford, but Forever Naan has finally stepped up with the subname Curry Street Grill.

It’s a little slip of a place near the corner of Conway Road in a strip that holds a pawn shop (once a Blockbuster Video) and a payday loan business. If I remember correctly, the space that Forever Naan occupies was once a Hungry Howie’s Pizza. So we’re not talking the toniest district.

But inside, FN has a pleasantly casual space. Although it seems more suited as a takeout restaurant, it has seating for dining in, albeit on uncomfortable looking metal chairs and backless stools. A bright red wall in the front of the space seems dedicated to Bollywood, with film reel sculptures, movie ticket signs and lobby cards for Indian flicks.

Menagerie Eatery & Bar

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Menagerie interior

I’m not exactly sure what Menagerie Eatery & Bar wants to be, and I’m not sure the people running it know either.

The Menagerie is the latest occupant of the corner spot on South Eola Drive and East Pine Street. It replaced Muddy Waters, which replaced Mucho. Perhaps there’s something in the deed that stipulates any business occupying the space must begin with the letter M.

The owners of Menagerie are Jonathan Canonaco and Brian Buttner, who also own Teak Neighborhood Grill, RusTeak College Park and, more pertinently, the Stubborn Mule, directly across the street.

The menu is a mishmash of cuisines, styles and food genres, which I suppose befits a place called Menagerie. The restaurant’s Facebook page says it is “chef driven,” but nowhere could I find the name of a chef. Or a driver, for that matter.