Enzo's on the Lake

Written by Scott Joseph on .

I stopped in for dinner at Enzo's on the Lake in Longwood the other evening. It was the first time I'd dined there since Enzo Perlini died in October 2006. I hadn't really expected to see much change. After all, Perlini had pretty much turned over operations to his ex-wife, Joann Ross, after he became ill and, for a time, returned to Rome. She was doing a fine job when I last visited for a review in the Orlando Sentinel in 2005. Here are my latest observations...

Enzo's is situated in an old converted house on the shores of Lake Fairy. The old house is showing some age, but then aren't we all. Still, it would benefit from a little sprucing up. (And, again, wouldn't we all.)

The food is still first-rate, however. My dinner companions and I started with the antipasti, a platter of assorted goodies that our server culled from the table at the back of the main dining room. (Note: you are not allowed to go to the table to collect your own selections; it's not a buffet.) There were wonderful roasted peppers, olives and tangy cheese.

We followed with an arugula salad -- rocket salad, the Italians call it -- with a light vinaigrette.

Snapper was the feature of the main course, a slightly soft fillet but nicely grilled and dressed with oil and capers. We also enjoyed a side of pasta in a light cream sauce.

Other favorites remain on the menu. I've always been a fan of the bucatini alla Enzo, which features fat, hollow pasta tossed tableside with prosciutto, peas, bacon and mushrooms, all topped off with a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese. And the costaletta di vitello is about as good a veal chop as you're likely to find in the town, grilled to perfection and finished with butter and just the slightest waft of truffle essence.

And the abbachio del duca, delicate lamp pops stuffed with siitake mushrooms and fresh herbs, is a real treat.

When dessert rolls around, and if you're not rolling around too much yourself by then, go for the tiramisu.

Enzo's has been around a long time now. It's another testament to the growing sophistication of Central Florida's diners. When it first opened, locals didn't understand that what Perlini was serving was authentic Italian fare -- most wanted to know where the spaghetti and tomato sauce or manicotti were. (They were in the Americanized chain restaurant down the street.) Slowly, Central Floridians came to embrace true Italian food. Now it can be found in dozens of local Italian restaurants, and many do it quite well.

But few do it as well as Enzo's did, and still does.

Chatham's Place

Written by SJO Staff on .

Chatham's Place

Chathams Place

It had been a while since I'd dined at Chatham's Place -- five years, I think. And that time I was someone else's guest so I wasn't officially "working" and I wasn't paying close attention to what was going on. I do remember the food being quite good, as it always has been in the past.

Chatham's Place has gone through some changes, and much more than the fact that there are no members of the Chatham family involved in the restaurant. That's not an issue; Louis Chatham, who served as executive chef, and his mother, Bettye, who ran the dining room in those first years, sold the operation years ago to Chatham's sous chef, Tony Lopez, the maitre d', Maurice Colindres, and a hostess, Carol Conwell. The three of them kept it going as strong as ever, perhaps stronger. It was clear that this was an operation of love for the three of them, and they worked together to make it a continued success.

Late in 2006, Carol Conwell died. Lopez and Colindres have kept the place running pretty much the way it has always been run, as a fine dining restaurant with a small but versatile menu served with professionalism and grace in a romantic atmosphere.

Many of the dishes that became signatures back in Louis Chatham's days remain on the menu, including the Florida black grouper ($34), which has been one of my favorite Central Florida entrees for many years. It features a fresh fillet, thick and white, lightly sauteed and topped with pecan butter and scallions, dusted with just a soupcon of cayenne pepper. The pecan butter places the dish firmly in the south and the pepper points it towards New Orleans. But with the use of Florida black grouper I think we can just claim this one as one of our native dishes, don't you?

My companon had the rack of lamb ($34), another long-time favorite, this one distinguished only by its high quality meat, pan-roased to a flacid medium-rare, and served with rosemary infused jus.

Appetizers weren't as stellar as in the past. The lobster bisque ($7/cup) was heavy and with too little lobster flavor. Crabmeat en croute ($19.50) featured a very large puff pastry with jumbo lump crabmeat and shiitake mushrooms dressed in a garlic and Cajun butter sauce. The puff pastry overwhelmed in this case.

Service is still stellar, with Colindres handling the bulk of the dining room duties. It doesn't appear that much has changed in the decor, which is tastefully elegant with white tablecloths and red napkins in the intimately small dining room. The window into the kitchen, however, has never offered much of a pretty view.

When Conwell died, Colindres told me that it was the intention of the remaining partners to keep the restaurant open in her honor. They've done her memory proud. It's still one of the gems of Restaurant Row, and I hope it will continue to be for many years to come.

Liam Fitzpatrick's Irish Pub

Written by SJO Staff on .

Liam Fitzpatrick's Irish pub in Lake Mary

Liam Fitzpatrick's Irish Pub

Liam Fitzpatrick's is a new Irish pub in Lake Mary's Colonial Town Park complex, just across from  Dexter's and Amura and almost next door to the restaurant space that has had at least three tenants in just a few short years. Lake Marians, it seems, will not suffer inferior restaurants gladly.

So it will be interesting to see how they accept this new business. On one hand, it's a beautiful pub, elaborately styled with painstaking details that call to mind a sort of upscale Dublin drinking house.

On the other hand there's the food.

The menu has all the traditional pub favorites. There's shepherd's pie, fish and chips, and, of course, herb-marinated Hawaiian sunfish.

Huh?

I stuck with the shepherd's pie, a dish that, frankly, one never expects too much from. It's really quite basic. But this one was particularly disappointing. The meat was meager and the mashed potatoes that topped the soupy gravy were too thin. However, I did like the fresh vegetables that were served on the side. There were zucchinis. yellow squash and carrots, all in big hunks and all al dente.

I also liked the practice of bringing a bowl of thick, kettle-cooked potato chips to the table. It reminded me a little of Gallagher's in New York.

My server made a couple of missteps, but overall she was good. When a guest left all his change in the check folder, the server returned after picking up the folder to make sure he had meant to leave all that change for a tip. (He hadn't.) You don't see too many waiters do that, so kudos to her.

With only a single visit, my assessment of Liam Fitzpatrick's is that it would be a fine place to go for a pint or three, but they need a little help with the food.

For more information, go to Liam Fitzpatrick's Web site.

Tabla Bar & Grill

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Tabla Bar & Grill Indian restaurant near Universal Studios

Tabla

Tabla Bar & Grill is a terrific Indian restaurant in a really lousy location and space. The dining room has the feel of having once been the sort of diner you usually find attached to a motel. And, in fact, it seems to be attached to something similar, perhaps a timeshare facility. To get to the restaurant you have to pass a booth touting tickets to local attractions as well as a convenience store of sorts.

But the important things, the food and the service, are first-rate. The cuisine is authentic, and the staff is welcoming and friendly and they go out of their way to do a little extra.

Take, for example, the offering of rasam as an amuse bouche, or whatever the Indian words for that would be. Rasam is like a spicy, thinner tomato soup. At times it can be quite fiery, as was the case when I reviewed Udipi Cafe for the Orlando Sentinel. Tabla's rasam was delicious, although it was odd that on one occasion it was served warm and on another it was room temperature. One of the servers -- not our waiter but they all seem to work together to help each other out -- picked up the empty glasses the rasam was served in and told us if we liked it that way we should try it with pepper-infused vodka. We agreed that it sounded like a terrific idea. And a few minutes later she returned with two cocktails of a rasam-based bloody mary with a salt rim. Delicious. (And for those of you who know the area Indian restaurants, you'll be surprised to know that Tabla is apparently the only one in Central Florida with a full liquor bar -- no need to limit yourself to a Kingfisher beer.)

Another helpful server on a lunch visit suggested that instead of ordering two appetizers, each costing about $8, I could order a sampler of any three apps for a mere $9. That' a great bargain.

And the appetizers were very good. I especially liked the momo, steamed dumplings filled with ground lamb. The vegetable filled samosas were also good, light and crispy with seasoned potatoes and peas inside.

My favorite among the entrees was the alu bukhara gosht ($20), hunks of lamb in a sauce seasoned with plum and ginger, which gave a sweet note to counter the spiciness. I also enjoyed the murgh dhansak ($15), chicken in a sauce flavored with pumpkin and fenugreek with lentils. It was ordered medium-spicy, which was just hot enough to perk up the taste buds without singeing them.

Lamb rogan josh ($18) was a more recognizeable dish of lamb with tomatoes and almonds. There is a long list of vegetarian dishes. I had the cauliflower mussallam ($12), which had florets in a creamy sauce tinged with tomatoes.

One low point: the rice served with the dishes was a bit too dry and lacked the flavor usually found in basmati rice.

There is a good list of naans, the traditional Indian breads cooked in a tandoor. My guest and I favored the keema naan, which was baked with ground lamb in the bread.

TablaOne of the odd things about Tabla is that the sign out front doesn't say anything about it being an Indian restaurant, and most people who see it -- if anyone sees it, given its location behind the Twin Towers hotel (I've lost track of whether they're a Sheraton, Radisson or Crowne Plaza) -- will probably think it's Italian for table. However, tabla is a drum used in Indian music. A couple of them are displayed on the front table, part of a minimalist decorating scheme. 

But don't let the location or atmosphere sway you. Tabla is a good Indian restaurant, and those who love the cuisine with find some wonderful tastes not found at many of the other area restaurants specializing in the foods of India.

K Restaurant and Wine Bar

Written by SJO Staff on .

K Restaurant and Wine Bar

K Restraurant

It's nice to see that K Restaurant and Wine Bar is doing good business, at least at lunch time. With all the talk about people cutting back on eating out, it was good to see so many tables occupied there today.

Actually, it's probably a sign of the economic times that people are shifting their dining out patterns. Those who would go to a fancy restaurant at dinner now go to a more casual eatery. Or, instead of dinner as their meal out, they choose the more upscale restaurant for lunch.

Whatever, K is a good choice for either. I reviewed it in the Sentinel almost exactly one year ago, and that assessment stands. Add to it the delicious experience I had at lunch recently, with a plate of potato chips smothered in crumbled and slightly melted blue cheese. Sort of an upscale plate of nachos.

I had the Nicoise salad, which featured two big hunks of seared tuna on mesclun greens with chunks of potatoes, wedges of hard-boiled eggs and tangy olives.

I also had a taste of the diver scallops entree, three massive discs seared just so with a slight bit of salt to season. Tender yet with firmness.

Service was the usual K quality of attentiveness without hovering. My companions and I were allowed to set the pace.

K is still a terrific choice, lunch or dinner. And, by the way, if you're looking for a dining deal, try K's Monday night prix fixe menu.

Norman's

Written by SJO Staff on .

Norman Van Aken Celebrates Five Years of Fine Dining in Orlando at Anniversary Dinner with Dean Fearing

Norman's Norman's, the fine dining restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes Resort in Orlando, celebrated its fifth anniversary Sunday with a lavish five-course meal co-cooked by Dean Fearing. Fearing, who, like Van Aken, is a James Beard Foundation award-winner, rose to fame as the chef of the estimable Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas. He now has his own restaurant, Fearing's, at the Ritz-Carlton Dallas.

Van Aken, of course, was one of the innovators of New World Cuisine, also known as Floribbean, that caused a culinary sensation in the late '80s. Van Aken and others, including Mark Militello, recognized that Florida didn't really have a cuisine of its own, so they co-opted the cooking techniques of the islands and adapted them to Florida's ingredients.

Saturday's sold-out dinner filled the posh restaurant with regulars who paid as much as $250 per person for the special occasion. The evening began with a champagne reception with tapas, including wonderful ceviche served in spoons and doughy pot stickers.

Guests were seated at 10-top tables that circled the marble-floored room. The first course was a chilled salad of red and yellow beets garnished with a dollop of apple wasabi sorbet, toasted pistachios and a bit of paddlefish caviar, which gave the beets a delightful little pop. The salad was accompanied by a Portuguese white wine, a 2005 Quinta Do Feital Alvarino "Dorado."

WineDean's barbecued shrimp taco was next, a fresh flour tortilla rolled more taquito style and served with mango-pickled onion salad. A 2007 Melville Estate viognier, which had a wonderfully fruity nose and complex tastes of peaches and apricots in the mouth. A delightful little sipping wine, with or without food.

The fish course featured a salmon fillet rolled with lapsang souchong, a black, smoked tea, sitting atop creamy Yukon Gold potatoes and topped with three pearl onions and crispy wafer fashioned out of salmon skin, which people either loved or hated (it had a nice salty taste). Patz & Hall's 2005 Pisoni Vineyard pinot noir from Santa Lucia Highlands in California was the accompanying wine. It was chosen, we were told, because the sauce with the fish was made with pinot noir. I didn't quite taste the connection, but I loved the wine nonetheless.

But the best wine came with the meat course, a buffalo tenderloin crusted with maple and black pepper. The meat was surprisingly tender -- grass-fed, we were told -- and the plate included jalapeno grits and a wonderful taquito filled with butternut squash.

Two wines, both made with syrah grapes, were offered with the meat course, a 2006 French Crozes-Hermitage Silene from Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, and a 2005 Domaine Serene Rockblock from Seven Hills Vineyard in Oregon's Walla Walla Valley. The French wine was fine, but the Oregon Rockblock, so named because the vines grow in rocky soil, blew it away. The Oregon wine had rounder notes with tastes of black cherries and currants. 

The meal ended with stylized "s'mores" fashioned out of crushed graham crackers topped with brandied chocolate ganache and toasted marshmallow. A Spanish dessert wine, a 2004 Bodegas Olivares Dulce Monastrell, was offered, but I preferred to stick with the Rockblock.

It's wonderful to have a restaurant of Norman's quality as part of Orlando's fine dining scene. Here's to many more years of innovative cooking.

Visit  Norman's for information.

The Wave Restaurant

Written by SJO Staff on .

The Wave Restaurant at Disney's Contemporary Resort

The Wave Have you ever been at the beach, out in the water, watching the waves as they roll toward you, waiting for the perfect one to pick you up and carry you to shore? And then you spot it, off in the distance, coming at you as though it's going to break just right and give you a perfect ride. So you start paddling in anticipation only to have the wave fizzle out.

That's how I feel about The Wave restaurant at Disney's Contemporary Resort.

This is the first full-service restaurant to open on Disney property in quite a while, so anticipation and expectation were high. But it just seems that not enough effort was put into this concept, and there definitely is a lack of a follow-through on all fronts.

Things looked promising as I approached the new restaurant. The Wave occupies a space on the ground level of the not-quite-as-contemporary-as-it-used-to-be resort using an area that once held a game room and employee training classroom. You access the restaurant through a brushed metal tunnel that I suppose is supposed to resemble going through the curl of a wave. At the other end of the tunnel is a host stand, and on the other side of that, behind panels of mottled glass, is a large and stylish bar with cool blue lights and, overhead, glittering starlights.

It seems Disney spent all its money on the tunnel and the lounge area because the dining room is really quite plain. It's a vast, open space with seating for 220 at bare wood tables. Overhead are undulating metal panels -- oh, let's just call them waves, shall we? -- Above the metal waves are white and yellow neon lights that call attention to an unattractive acoustic tile ceiling.

The menu is surprisingly limited, and the food is even more surprisingly unexciting.

Appetizers were downright disappointing. The crab cakes ($11.49) had too much filler and a mealy texture. Lettuce wraps ($11.99) featured pebble-sized pieces of lamb along with bay scallops the size of an eraser on the end of a No. 2 pencil. They were sauteed in soy-rice wine vinegar and presented as a soggy mess that diners are supposed to scoop into lettuce leaves to eat. This one would have been a failure at half the price, which still would have been too much to charge.

The best among the entrees I sampled was the fish of the day, which is listed on the menu as "Today's Sustainable Fish" to capitalize on a current ecological buzzword. That aside, the halibut fillet I had was fresh-tasting and had a lovely crisped exterior and beautiful white flesh inside. It was topped with cilantro chutney that offered a nice herby note.

Braised chicken pot pie ($19.99) was an odd presentation of meat -- not much of it -- peas, mushrooms and carrots in a creamy sauce served in a small casserole with a flat biscuit on top. I get the pot part but where's the pie?

Braised lamb shank ($25.99) was a little more impressive, a huge hunk of tender meat laid atop a stew of bulgur wheat and lentils.

The wine list features an ecological gimmick in that all the wines -- sparklers excepted -- are in bottles with screw-cap closures. The ecological part is that cork trees needn't be ravaged just to make bottle stoppers. I have nothing against screw caps, called Stelvin closures, and in fact I think they're quite handy. The only problem with building a wine list around them is that availability is currently rather limited. So the Wave's list features wines almost exclusively from producers in the Southern Hemisphere, where the use of screw caps has been more widely embraced. I found no stars among the wines.

Oddly, a flight of wines is offered on the drinks menu in the lounge, but it is not made available in the dining room. And, I overheard two guests being told, dining at the bar is not available.

Service had the appropriate Disney perkiness, but timing was way off on both my visits and long, inexplicable waits were endured.

I wish things had been better, and perhaps the restaurant will improve over the months. But as it stands now, the Wave is a washout.

Hue

Written by Scott Joseph on .

HUE has been an important part of downtown Orlando and specifically the Thornton Park area for more than six years. Although there were other venues targeting young people at the time, HUE was among the first specifically designed to attract a more upscale and stylish group. And certainly the first to be successful at it. From my February 2002 review in the Orlando Sentinel:
… Hue is very hip. On just about any evening it is vibrantly alive with young urbanites frantic to unwind from the day’s pursuits. So they sip pretty cocktails and shout to each other to be heard over the din they themselves are creating. Then, after a suitable waiting period that seems necessary to demonstrate the popularity of the place, they might make their way to a table in one of the two small dining rooms, or perhaps on the patio that wraps around the corner of Central Boulevard and Summerlin Avenue...

Over the years, it has continued to draw young drinkers and not a few diners, too.

The menu continues to have a curious Asian bent, such as a tuna tartare appetizer presented on crispy wontons, or cripsy oysters served whimsically in the sort of spoons used in Vietnamese soups. But the best items here are the more straightforward, including grilled flatbread with duck confit; Burgundy balsamic braised short ribs; and one truly fine burger.

On one of my visits I had the wood-grilled rack of lamb and my companion chose the pan-seared halibut. Both were nicely done. The lamb featured two double chops, finished to the requested medium-rare, placed over a mound of risotto and accompanied by sautéed vegetables, including green beans, green pea pods, and red peppers. Although the menu said it was a red pepper risotto there was no indication red pepper had been involved.

The halibut was a good-sized fillet deftly cooked so the inside had white flaky flesh and the outside had a pleasantly crisped crust.

Servers tend to be young and range from green and inexperienced to highly trained and reliable.

Hue is at 629 E. Central Blvd., Orlando. It's open daily for lunch and dinner. The phone number is 407-849-1800. Visit the Web site for more info.

Orchid Thai

Written by Scott Joseph on .

This is a tale of two Thais.
I recently visited two new Thai restaurants, each with good food but each distinctly different from the other in its style and experience.
On one end of the spectrum is Orchid, a splashy and elegant restaurant with a hip vibe that befits its Park Avenue milieu.
And then there’s Chai Thai, a modest, unpretentious and unadorned eatery with a family-style mien. Unfortunately, it, too, has an ambience that matches its Curry Ford Road locale. (Isn’t there an Extreme Makeover: Urban Street Edition yet?)
But even with its decidedly downscale décor, Chai Thai delivers delicious Thai favorites. So does Orchid, but its menu also extends to more ambitious fare that is based on Thai seasonings and ingredients that may be unfamiliar even to devotees of the area’s many Thai restaurants.
Short rib massamam ($22), for example. It featured a large beef short rib, braised and then sautéed with potatoes and small pieces of sweet bell peppers with a chili sauce and a bit of roasted peanuts. That the meat was not the most tender hunk of rib I’ve had – a bit more braising might have helped – does not detract from the overall enjoyment of the dish.
And part of the enjoyment of this entrée, and indeed most every dish served here, was the elegant presentation, which almost invariably included luminous purple orchid blooms as plate garnish. (Yes, orchid petals are edible, but frankly I enjoy looking at them much more than ingesting them.)
More traditional entrees occupy the menu, including pad Thai (would it be possible for a Thai restaurant to operate without pad Thai?) I ordered mine with chicken ($14) and was surprised when the server asked me how spicy I wanted it. Pad Thai is done without spicy seasoning and is traditionally served with a condiment tray that includes crushed peppers and chili sauce, as well as chopped peanuts, for the diner to add at will.
There was no condiment tray, but the mix of rice noodles, bean sprouts, tangy chicken and ground peanuts was nonetheless delicious.
I also had the pad Thai ($9.95) at Chai, and again I was asked how spicy I wanted it. Are Thai restaurants going the way of Indian restaurants, succumbing to the uninformed notion of the dining public that these cuisines are nothing but spicy foods?
Chai Thai’s version was equally as good, the only difference being the presentation – and the price, which probably had something to do with the presentation. Orchids aren’t cheap.
Chai doesn’t decorate with orchids, but the crispy duck ($14.95) was a beautiful presentation all by itself. It was a fully platter of sliced meat with cispy crunchy skin topped with basil. There was a small amount of sauce, barely enough to wet the fluffy jasmine rice, but it wasn’t missed.
InWinter Park I ordered the Orchid duck ($24) and was surprised that what I was served was basically a salad. I didn’t think I was ordering a salad – the menu didn’t say anything about greens – and I certainly wouldn’t have ordered a $24 salad. When a server noticed my dismay he removed the dish from my table and the charge from my bill.
At Chai I had the red curry with beef ($9.95), which I ordered medium-hot. It was perfectly spiced, hot enough to put some heat on the tongue but not so much that it scorched the taste buds for the myriad other flavors.
Orchid did a nice yellow curry with chicken ($14), although here the spicing was more muted.
Both restaurants also offer one of my favorite Thai appetizers, stuffed chicken wings. These are wings that have the upper bone removed and its cavity filled with chopped chicken meat, clear noodles and vegetables. It’s then breaded and deep-fried to create a drumsticklike treat. Both were tasty and similarly priced, Orchid’s for $6 and Chai’s for $5.95. Orchid offered an unusual appetizer called mieng kum ($10), which was an assemble-yourself morsel. It included mounds of fresh ginger, tiny cubes of lime, onion, peanuts and – don’t be frightened – tiny freeze-dried shrimp. These were accompanied by fresh spinach leaves to wrap the ingredients in. Despite the woefully small leaves, it was an interesting and filling starter course, except there wasn’t enough freeze-dried shrimp, words I never thought I’d say.
I seldom order desserts in Thai restaurants, but I had to try the coconut sticky rice with mango ($7), a long pad of sweetened rice topped with slices of cool mango. It was quite nice.
Orchid is in the small space that was occupied by Bistro on Park before it moved across the street. The walls are a sedate mocha, and colorful, geometric-centric paintings adorn the walls. And, of course, there are plenty of orchids that line the small bar, which also, it seems, doubles as an office for the owner.
Chai Thai doesn’t have the decorative accouterments of Orchid, but each does a fine job with its common cuisine.

Rincon Cubano

Written by Scott Joseph on .

You may remember Rincon Cubano Cafeteria as Elijah’s Grill from a few years ago. Elijah’s moved to Eustis, of all places, and RCC moved in. They even kept the old phone number.
They must have kept some of the recipes, too, because just like Elijah’s the food here is first-rate.
The Hound stopped in recently and had the pernil, or roast pork shoulder. They referred to it on a hand-written specials menu board as pulled pork, but this wasn’t like what you’d find in your basic barbeque joint. The meat, which was moist and flavorful, was in large chunks and topped by a piece of delicious crispy skin. Woe to the person who takes this heavenly piece of epicurean epidermis and sets it aside. It’s OK to do that with chicken skin. But with pernil you have to eat the skin. And that’s that.
The dinner also came with a choice of rice – I had the white rice premixed with beans, because if I had ordered them separately I would have just mixed them together anyway. I also had a choice of fried plantains, tostones or yuca. I had the boiled yucca but I asked for the garlic sauce on the side. I had sampled the sauce on a previous visit and it was so strong that no one would speak to me for two days. The yuca was so good that it didn’t need any sauce, just a bit of salt to bring out the flavor of the pasty root.
I also tried one of the restaurant’s Cuban sandwiches, which had lots of thinly sliced ham and pork with a slather of yellow mustard and some tangy dill pickles.
The Cafeteria part of Rincon Cubano’s name is a bit misleading. This isn’t the kind of place where you grab a plastic tray and slide it along the rails as someone dishes out the food you point to. In fact, you place your order at the front counter and no rails are involved whatsoever.
But you can point at what you want, but you have to go to the other end of the counter. That’s where the few hot items that are offered each day are on display. This is unclear to those unfamiliar with the setup, and in fact if you just walk in the door and up to the counter and order from the menu board on the wall, you’ll miss out on the specials because they’re not listed there.
Back up by the order station, however, a few of the appetizers are displayed in a heated plastic cube. Be sure to point to a tamal, because they’re pretty good. The Cuban version of the tamale is mostly cornmeal with just a few flecks of meat that we’ll agree for the sake of argument is ham. This one didn’t need more meat because the steamed cornmeal was delicious on its own.

Rincon Cubano Cafeteria is at 3327 N. Forsyth Road, Winter Park. The hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. No alcohol is served but credit cards are accepted. The phone number is 407-679-5600.