Eddie V's

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Eddie v 2019 interior 1

I had a rare evening recently when I decided I didn’t want to go out to eat at a place that I had to but rather revisit a restaurant I wanted to, just because I like it.

I chose Eddie V’s.

I love the elegance of Eddie V’s dining room, the sophistication of the tuxedo-styled tables with white linens and black napkins. The candles and fine stemware. The drum shaped light fixtures softly illuminating the room.

And the food is always first rate, too.

Slapfish

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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.

Supper Club Redux: Big Fin Seafood Kitchen

Written by Scott Joseph on .

BigFinSC table

For our first Supper Club of 2019, the chefs of Big Fin Seafood Kitchen at the Dellagio Town Center created a feast that delighted our intimate group with each course.

Executive chef James Slattery traded in his whites for a suit and served as front-of-the-house host for our gathering. (He’s learning some managerial ropes because his restaurant group has acquired Arrabellas restaurant in Winter Haven, and he’s letting his associate chefs — Darlene Christeleit, Brie Austin and Paulo Santos — shine.)

Pier 36 Fish Camp

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Pier 36 interior

Casselberry has a new seafood restaurant called Pier 36 Fish Camp. Why it’s called Pier 36 is unclear. Maybe a shortening of 436 in reference to the State Road that it’s on? Except that it’s actually on Cassel Creek Boulevard. So why not Cassel Creek Fish Camp?

Try not to overthink this one. It’s just a simple, old-style seafood restaurant with a wharfian decor. You know: oars, anchors, starfish, nets. It occupies a building that apparently was formerly a Hooters, so maybe the fishnets are just left over.

It’s an old style sort of menu, too. Judging from a quick-stop lunch recently, it takes its seafood seriously.

Poke Hana

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Poke Hana bowl

Poke popularity proceeds apace.

Poke, pronounced poh-kay but not spelled with an accent mark, because Hawaiian, is the meal in a bowl option that usually features fresh raw fish as its prominent protein.

Poke Hana is one of the more recent entries among the the local poke providers. It occupies a rather spartan but colorful spot in a storefront on East Colonial Drive in the Mills 50 district. One supposes the decor is meant to approximate a beachside shack somewhere in Hawaii. There are long narrow tables (too narrow, really, for two people to sit across from one another) with yellow and white metal chairs that no one would ever look at and think, "Boy, those sure look comfortable." Touches of neon, ceiling fans with a rattan look, and a projector splashing a video of surfers on one of the walls completes the Maui-like mien.

deep blu seafood grille

Written by Scott Joseph on .

deep blu mussels

One of the best things about Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month -- at least it was when it was first instituted -- is that it allows you to experience a restaurant that perhaps might be beyond your financial comfort zone. At some of the featured restaurants, you couldn't even afford an appetizer from the regular menu let alone a full three-course meal.

Magical Dining Month made those restaurants -- Ruth's Chris, Eddie V's and Morton's among them -- approachable. The smart restaurants knew that it was an opportunity to woo new customers, even if it was just for special occasion dining, by showcasing the best of their regular menus on the specially priced three-course Magical menu

Then some restaurants started changing what they would offer. In many cases today, the MagDinMo menu doesn't feature any items from the regular menu. What's the point of that? Others make subtle changes, such as offering smaller portions of changing the ingredients used in a dish.

When I put together my "How to Do Magical Dining Month" video last year, which emphasizes comparing the MagDinMo menu to the restaurant's regular menu, found on most of their websites, I dinged deep blu seafood grille for changing the makeup of its Bouillabaisse (the regular menu had lobster, the Magical menu did not). I had previously dinged it for its inability to use capital letters and misspellings.

So I made a point of checking deep blu's Magical menu this year, and boy howdy, is it a bargain. At least on paper -- the three entrees on the MagDinMo menu range from $35 to $42. And since the three course special menu is $35, there's no need to pull out a calculator.

Winter Park Fish Company

Written by Scott Joseph on .

WP Fishco ext

I hadn't visited the Winter Park Fish Company since it opened more than eight and a half years ago. Opening chef George Vogelbacher left the business a few years ago to cook at Maxine's on Shine. There have been lots of other changes, here and around the neighborhood (who remembers that O'boys was just up the block in the building where Ravenous Pig is now -- and where Vogelbacher's Le Cordon Bleu restaurant was for many years?).

I figured it was time to go back and check it out.

Big Fin Seafood Kitchen

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Big Fin dining room

Things have changed at Big Fin Seafood Kitchen. Then again, not so much.

What has changed is that Bobby Moore, the original owner of the restaurant in Dellagio Town Center, has retired and turned over ownership to a group that includes James Slattery, who has been the executive chef since Big Fin opened in late 2009. And because Slattery remains in the role of chef, what hasn't changed is the quality of the food. It's still first rate with some of the best seafood in Central Florida.

Grills Lakeside Seafood Deck & Tiki Bar

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Grills exterior

I've lost track of all the businesses that have occupied the space at 4315 N. Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando. I'm pretty sure my first encounter with the massive property on the shore of Lake Fairview was with Shooters Waterfront, an Orlando version of the Intracoastal Waterway hot spot from Ft. Lauderdale that opened here in 1990.

I know that it was a nightclub called Park Avenue, and I seem to remember that it was also known as Empire at one point.

Tim Webber, who operated a popular catering business for years in Orlando took over the space in 1996. Tim Webber's Pavilion by the Lake was a catering commissary as well as a place for private functions and parties. When I wrote in the Orlando Sentinel in November 1996 about a Sunday brunch he offered at his new place, I began the review, "What a smart thing Tim Webber has done." Two months later he filed for bankruptcy.

So to say that the property has had a troubled past is perhaps an understatement.

Something Fishy

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Fishy int

Naming restaurants is hard work. Unless you go for the obvious and default to something like Joe's Diner, it's difficult to come up with something clever, catchy and memorable that also conveys the concept. Hawkers is one that clicks on all levels. On the other hand, just about any restaurant with a number in its name is a head scratcher. I know there's a Tex-Mex restaurant in Winter Park called Cocina something or other, but I can never remember the number part of the name. It's the area code for Dallas, which would count as clever for a Tex-Mex restaurant, but memorable? No.

Like I said, it's hard work.

So what to make of Something Fishy, a seafood restaurant in Apopka? Clever? Sort of. Memorable? Yes, it is. Advisable? Ehhhhh. Should the Black Bean Deli rename itself the Musical Fruit Cafe?