Rusty Spoon

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Rusty Spoon interior

In the nearly eight years since she opened her restaurant in downtown Orlando, Kathleen Blake has established it as one of the premier restaurants in Florida and herself as one of the area’s most prestigious chefs.

She was recently presented with the Beacon Award by the Foodservice Council for Women; is a leader in the national organization of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs; and has  been nominated four times for a James Beard Foundation as Best Chef South Region. And on Nov. 9, she will be one of the featured chefs at that organization’s annual gala, a $500-a-ticket dinner held at the swanky Pierre Hotel in New York.

And, like so many in the local culinary community, Blake is a generous contributor to area food events for charities, most recently as one of the chefs serving at Cows ’n Cabs (a delicious smoked mullet on fried cracker was her offering).

Still, with all that activity and civic participation, she, along with her husband, William, manages to keep the quality of the food and service at the Rusty Spoon top notch. And if she’s not at a local charity event or Manhattan fund raiser, you’ll find her, usually in her signature bib overalls, cooking in the kitchen of the Rusty Spoon.

American Kitchen Bar & Grill

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American Kitchen dining room

Magical Dining Month is over for another year, but that doesn't mean there aren't any great dining deals out there. Just look at what American Kitchen Bar & Grill is offering.

They're calling it, maybe just a tad tongue in cheekily, Enchanted Dining Month and offering a $35 three-course prix fixe menu. Sound familiar?

Executive chef Venoy Rogers explained that American Kitchen, which is the signature restaurant at B Resort, missed the cutoff date to sign up for Magical Dining Month. The restaurant didn't want to run a competing offer at the same time, so instead they decided to run it after MagDinMo was over, so you can now consider the entire month of October to be EnDinMo at American Kitchen.

Rogers invited me to come in and sample the menu choices. I had already known there was good culinary talent at the resort. I had experienced Rogers' cuisine in the past, and his sous chef Jacob Rios recently won my Sous Chef Challenge cooking competition at the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Show. So I was pretty sure I was going to like what I tasted, and I did.

Yellow Dog Eats

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Yellow Dog extPhoto: Yellow Dog Eats

It had been years since I first visited Yellow Dog Eats, longtime favorite sandwicherie and recent silver winner of our Foodster Award for Best Outdoor Dining. So I called up a friend who lives in Gotha and we made a lunch date.

There's also a location in New Smyrna Beach. But do you remember that the first YDE was in the Hidden Gardens off Park Avenue in Winter Park? It opened there in 1996, and I wrote my first review of it almost exactly 22 years ago, on Sept. 5, 1996, appropriately enough in my Chow Hound column in the Sentinel's separate Calendar section. Do you remember when the Sentinel had a separate Calendar section? Do you remember the Sentinel?

It moved to Gotha in 1999 (Yellow Dog Eats, not the newspaper) to a historic structure called the Brockman House, circa 1910. It was originally a residence but was converted to a store called Hamm's Grocery.

It's now owned by the Morgan family, and it's their son, Fish, who started Yellow Dog Eats in Winter Park and moved it to Gotha.

Supper (Brunch) Club Redux: Ravenous Pig

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Ravpig brunch cover

Our first meeting of Scott Joseph's Supper Club/Brunch Branch convened on Sunday, Aug. 5, at the estimable Ravenous Pig in Winter Park. Our group took over the bar and lounge in tables, booths and hightops under the old Cask & Larder sign. (You'll recall that C&L occupied this part of the building briefly before that restaurant moved to Orlando International Airport, but the brewing facility that remains is still technically under the Cask & Larder brandage.)

Chef de cuisine Nick Sierputowski greeted us and gave a rundown of the food and beverages that were to come. Some of the clubbers opted for the cocktail pairings with a different concoction with each course. Others were satisfied to sip their welcome drink of Broker's Gin, coconut tea, orange-lemon oleo and milk wash.

Big Time Street Food Co.

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Big Time ext

It seems to be something of a mini trend for bars to partner with nearby or even next-door restaurants. Most bar owners seem to want to focus on the alcohol and not have to worry about all the problems associated with serving food. Yet they recognize that their customers might want something to eat while they drink. And generally speaking, it's probably a good idea for the drinkers to have something in their stomachs.

Ocean Sun Brewing announced that it would allow customers to order food from La Fiesta Mexican restaurant when the two became neighbors on Curry Ford Road. And Hourglass Brewing in Longwood has an open-door policy with Wako Taco -- literally; there is a door from the bar to the restaurant so people can order without going outside. And when the food is ready, someone from Wako will find them in the bar to deliver it.

That's the setup at Big Time Street Food Co. in Thornton Park. There is a doorway from the nascent food operator into Burton's Bar, the longtime dive that has been a fixture of Thornton Park before it was Thornton Park. Order some food at the takeout-only Big Time and you can walk through the doorway to Burton's and wait for it at the bar. You can eat it there, too, if you like.

Glass Knife Revisit

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Glass Knife wide interior

Paid a return visit to the Glass Knife recently to see how it is settling in. When I first reviewed the cake restaurant, back in February, the place was still quite manic, the new kid in town that everyone wanted to try. The procedure was confusing, seemingly to both the customers and the staff, and there was a wild positioning for open seating, then a struggle to hold a conversation with your companion. The food was good, but the experience was lacking.

On my recent visit, in the evening, things were much calmer. The ordering procedure is still a bit confusing, but this time there were plenty of open seats — even one of the small booths so that my friend and I wouldn’t have to sit across from each other at the large communal table — and everything was more relaxed.

Sharon's Homestyle Cookin'

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Sharons ext

Another in a series of looking back at Classic Orlando Restaurants.

We've been discussing some of the restaurants celebrating milestones this year. Beefy King at 50, for example, and several others including Christner's Prime Steak & Lobsters and Pannullo's Italian Restaurant at 25.

I was surprised to learn about another restaurant to reach the quarter-century mark: Sharon's Homestyle Cookin'.

Although it's been cooking, or cookin', if you prefer, for that long, it has only been in its current location for about three years.

Wine Bar George

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Wine Bar George Ext

This is not your average wine bar. But then knowing George Miliotes, no one would have expected it to be.

Miliotes is the George of Wine Bar George, the latest venue to spring up at Disney Springs. It's big, situated in a newly constructed two-level building with a balcony overlooking the walkway below and part of the lagoon just beyond.

Wine Bar George downstairs

Wine Bar George upstairs

Inside, there is a bustling bar on the first floor, filled with people who perhaps don't know there's a second level. Upstairs is another bar with couch seating as well as conventional tables, and another room for dining and sipping.

Wine Bar George glass

Wine, of course, is the main draw here, and the list, personally curated by Miliotes, is extensive and varied. He wisely included popular names, go-to wines that people order out of habit or because they're intimidated by some of the more obscure names.

But if Miliotes gets to those people before they place their order, chances are they're going to be trying something they've never heard of. And in all likelihood, they'll have a new favorite wine.

Garp & Fuss

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Garp Fuss door

I don't know what Garp & Fuss is. I don't mean the name. Well, yes, I do mean the name, too. But I also mean that I don't know how to classify it as a restaurant.

The menu is kind of all over the place. There's a pasta dish right next to a schnitzel. Tacos, natch. Burgers, of course. A Cuban sandwich right above a Vietnamese Bahn Mi (though it's spelled on an online menu as bahni mi, which I thought might be a clever play on the French term bon ami, but apparently was just a misspelling because it is correct on the in-house menu).

There is a sandwich called Fuss that features fried chicken and another called Garp with Italian beef. Maybe I'm just overanalyzing it but I don't know what it all means.