Big Time Street Food Co.

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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.

Stir Restaurant & Bar

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Stir sign

My most recent visit to the restaurant at the corner of Orange Avenue and Virginia Drive, just across from Lake Ivanhoe, had me thinking that the name should be Still instead of Stir. It was very quiet and largely unattended.

Actually, I think we're meant to present the restaurant's name as STIR. According to the About Us page on its website, the name is an acronym for Sip, Taste, Indulge and Relax. And you may do all those things at this restaurant and bar, which is located in the space that most recently was Nova (whose name was a syllabic abbreviation of North of Virginia). Whether you'll want to is another question.

The first time I went to Stir I did not intend for it to be a reviewing visit. I was meeting a colleague to discuss a business venture and the just-opened restaurant seemed like a convenient place to meet for drinks. As I often do, I ordered a negroni, the cocktail made with equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. What I was served tasted nothing like any negroni I've had before. And in fact when I mentioned this to someone, I was told that the bar did not stock Campari, so something was substituted.

Dear bartenders and beverage managers: You are not required to stock every bit of liquor, liqueur or mixer known to every drinking man or woman. And given your proclivity towards creativity, I understand your desire to play variations on a tippling theme. But for crying out loud, if you don't have the ingredients for a classic cocktail or your presentation strays from the original recipe, you might want to mention it to your customer ahead of time. "I don't have the ingredients for a negroni," you might say, "but I have something you might like instead." With that information at hand, I can either choose something else or go with your creative juices, so to speak.

AJ's Press

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AJs Press sandwich

I knew I was going to like AJ's Press the moment I stepped inside.

That's when I was welcomed, warmly and genuinely, and when, upon hearing that it was my first time there, someone shoved a Jalapeño Bacon Hush Puppy at me.

AJ's Press is, despite the name, which makes it sound like a news organization, a Longwood sandwich shop in a small strip mall near the railroad tracks. The Press part of the name refers to the device that applies heat and pressure to flatten the sandwiches, á la a Cuban sandwich.

Rustic Table

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Park Station exterior

Park Station was the name of the restaurant that opened in 2015 at 212 Park Ave. N. in Winter Park. The restaurant that is there now is called Rustic Table. The name is the only real change here.

It's the same owners, same concept. Even the menu is basically the same. So why the name change? I couldn't hazard a guess. Well, I could, but it would just be conjecture based on hearsay. Suffice to say that the owner felt a need to do so.

As with my review of Park Station in October of 2015, my experience at Rustic Station...I mean Table was a mostly pleasant one. The food was good, service was amiable, and the chance to dine at a sidewalk table on Park Avenue added allure.

Iron Cow Cafe

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Iron Cow ext

Where else would you expect to find a place called Iron Cow Cafe other than in the Milk District? Well, OK, maybe in the Rust Belt, but we're not there.

Iron Cow is rather a large place that in early evening hours (it opens most days at 6 p.m.) it looks like a big empty warehouse with a bar and kitchen set up on one side. Indeed, the business' own description calls it "a modern industrial warehouse merging food, beverage and music..." (Nothing comes after the ellipses, so I don't know what we're to infer from them.)

Only the food and beverage were evident when I stopped in. Although Iron Cow Cafe opened in December, it was still offering a "soft opening menu" in late March. You'd think a place with a name like this could harden that opening menu by now.