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.

Orlando Brewing and American Kitchen Impress with Pairings

Written by Scott Joseph on .

AmericanKitchen beer table

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to attend a beer pairing dinner at the American Kitchen restaurant in the B Resort & Spa at Lake Buena Vista. I accepted, because there isn't anything about the phrase "beer pairing dinner" that I don't like. But I was also anxious to see what's been going on culinarily at American Kitchen since some changes had been made from my last visit. I liked everything I ate and sipped.

The dinner was a collaboration between the resort's executive chef, Venoy Rogers III and John Cheek of Orlando Brewing.

AmericanKitchen beer scallop

Following an amusing little bouche we started the meal with a Scallop, served with white asparagus coated with pistachio dust, spring peas, some well place golden raisins and a small puddle of clam espuma. That's a lot going on on one plate, and it all worked beautifully.

So did the pairing of La Güera Blonde Lager, a light, non bitterish brew that had a sparkling finish. (It was apparent throughout the meal that Cheek and Rogers worked closely together to ensure the most appropriate pairings.)

Supper Club Redux: Pharmacy

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Pharmacysc menu

We had a wonderful pop-up Supper Club at the Pharmacy the other evening. I'd say that I wish you had been there but I don't know where we would have put you -- there wasn't a seat available at the table.

I probably should have capitalized The Table, because that's the space where the dinner was held. It wasn't the same big table from the old venue but rather an expandable version that allowed us to invite more people.


Truck Stop Pop-up Kitchen

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Truck Stop exterior

In the early days of the nation's interstate system, as people set out on long road trips, it became a popular notion that if you wanted to find good food on your journey you need only look for the cafes with the most trucks parked outside. Whether it was true or not, travelers assumed that truckers knew where to find the best food. (In that regard, they were the precursors to present day Yelpers.)

You won't find a lot of trucks parked outside Truck Stop Pop-up Kitchen, maybe one at the most. For one thing, the narrow streets of Thornton Park aren't suited for 18-wheelers. Also, the concept for this new restaurant is that on most evenings the kitchen is taken over by the operators of a local food truck, giving them the opportunity to cook in a kitchen not supported by rubber wheels and to have their food presented by servers to people sitting at actual tables.

The innovative concept is from Greg Peters, who founded the Graffiti Junktion chain. In fact, the first GJ opened in the same spot in December of 2008. The Graffiti Junktion concept of burgers with an attitude caught on, and as other locations opened, the original outgrew the space on Washington Street. So it moved down the block after Wildside BBQ moved out in August of 2016.

General Public House

Written by Scott Joseph on .

General Public wall

Today's review if for the General Public. Yes, all my reviews are always accessible to anyone, no membership required.

What I mean is that today I'm reviewing General Public House, a restaurant in Winter Springs. It seems to combine the characteristics of a general store and a public ale house. So, General Public.

Let's start with the food. It's all solidly good and everything I sampled tasted great. Pleasantly plated, too. In fact, I was surprised at how good the food was.

Surprised because so much of what I observed and experienced before the food got to me and my guests did not suggest that good food was soon to come.

The Edison

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Edison Tower

The Edison is one of the new Disney Springs venues from the folks at Patina Restaurant Group (Morimoto Asia, Tutto Italia). It's a multilevel fun factory of a restaurant with good food to go with the entertaining decor.

Thomas Alva is the Edison of the name, of course, and there are homages to his inventions and patents everywhere. Indeed, the very design of the restaurant is an old power plant (electric power distribution, 1882) and lit with a soft glow from what are nostalgically referred to as Edison bulbs (incandescent lamps, 1879). Music plays in the background (phonograph, 1887) and old-timey black-and-white movies are displayed on various walls (motion picture camera, 1891).

Apparently he had something to do with inventing bacon, too, given its near ubiquitousness on the menu.

The Glass Knife

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Glass Knife rendering

The Glass Knife is a little cakebox of a bakery and cafe. The pink walls don't appear to have been painted but frosted instead.

Indeed, cakes are the ostensible raison d'être of the Glass Knife. The name is a reference to cake slicers popular during the Great Depression. Glass didn't tarnish or impart an off taste as metallic slicers could.

The mother of the restaurant's owner, Steve Brown, collected glass knives, so the theme of his cafe was set with an ample stock of the delicate doodads to decorate. (My mother collected elephants; I will not be opening a restaurant.)

While cakes, pastries and other assorted baked sweets are a focus, chef Stuart Whitfield's menu makes a few forays into savory territory, mainly with soups, salads and sandwiches. A chicken pot pie is offered daily. Well, nightly, only after 4:30 p.m. All of the food I sampled was of high quality and expertly prepared.

However, the experience of eating there is less enjoyable, at least when there is a full house, as when I visited for lunch with a friend. And the process is a bit confusing, even with someone at the front door attempting to explain it.

Blue Jacket Grille

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Blue Jacket sign

The little building at 745 Bennett Road has been home to a number of food and beverage businesses over the years. It was the original location of Redlight Redlight before that popular beer bar moved to Corrine Drive. I believe there was a barbecue restaurant at one point, and in the 1990s it was a gay bar.

More recently it served as the first location for the Smiling Bison, which opened a second location in Sanford in 2015 then last year made that its only location by leaving Bennett Road.

Four Rebels American Taco Kitchen & Bar

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Four Rebels food with background

I'm just not getting what's so rebellious about about Four Rebels American Taco Kitchen & Bar.

Whatever disruption there was to be made in the taco category has already been done, and to satisfying effect with such tacomongers as Hunger Street, Black Rooster and even Pig Floyd's. The latter two are even within walking distance of Four Rebels, which took over the space vacated two years ago by the short-lived Segafredo. You probably didn't visit Segafredo -- that's one of the reasons it was short-lived -- but that's the building in Mills Park with the rooftop lounge. (The roof was closed on both of my visits to Four Rebels.)


Written by Scott Joseph on .

Hemisphere preview window

My first critique of the then-new Hemisphere restaurant, in November of 1992, in the just opened Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport had one recurring word: grand.

The restaurant is on the ninth floor of the hotel, but diners entered on the tenth and descended a curved staircase that allowed them to take in the sweeping vista from the dramatic two-story windows. The lighting was golden and the decor posh. And the cuisine, Italian in the early days, was high quality. I encouraged readers to experience this new restaurant even if they had no travel plans (the complimentary valet at the hotel’s entrance made it hassle free).

Economics and changes in customer demands caused the restaurant to evolve over the years. The stairway entrance was scrapped; just take the elevator to the ninth floor and walk in, basically under the stairway. The cuisine focus shifted, as it has at many restaurants in more than 25 years.

Late in 2016 the restaurant underwent another redo. The decor is now cold and austere. There is little to remind you of its sumptuous beginning. Except for the windows overlooking the runway, it looks like the breakfast room you’d find in any hotel. And indeed, one corner of the dining room is set aside for hotel guests to serve themselves cereals and such in the morning.

Most disappointing, the food is inappropriately overpriced and not worth even half the cost.