Bad As's Sandwich Winter Park

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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Bad As’s Sandwich, a previous winner of the Best Sandwich Foodster Award, opened its brick-and-mortar restaurant in the Milk District just three years ago after doing business solely as a food truck.

Now chef and owner John Collazo has opened a second location in Winter Parks on Fairbanks Avenue in a space previously occupied by a pizza joint. Sandwiches are well suited as takeout food, so it seemed like a perfect time to check out the new place. Well, from the outside anyway, as I placed my order for curbside pickup.

U & Me Chinese & Sushi

Written by Scott Joseph on .

UandMe rice box

There are few foods more classically suited for takeout than Chinese. Before there was a proliferation of foam clamshell boxes and plastic containers, there was the folded paperboard box with wire handle that became synonymous with Chinese takeout. So much so that even today the emoji for takeout food is that little box.

So let’s do Chinese takeout.

I went online and found the menu for U & Me, a Chinese restaurant that also does sushi in the area of Kirkman and Conroy Roads. Actually, I found a few menus at a different websites, and with different prices, but I’ll give you the link to the best one below.

I’m a sucker for egg foo young, and I haven’t seen it on a menu in a while, so I knew that would be my entree choice. My companion chose the Triple Delight from the list of house specialites, and we also got some steamed dumplings and pan-fried pork buns to share.

Takeout from Ravenous Pig

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Since March, I’ve published approximately 40 reviews on takeout food from a variety of restaurants, and most of what I’ve sampled has made for good at-home eating.

But with the takeout I recently got from Ravenous Pig, I felt like I was having true “restaurant food” at home. What I mean is that even in takeout containers, the dishes from Ravenous Pig still had the sort of specialness that you’d expect if you were dining at the restaurant itself.

Takeout from Black Bean Deli in Winter Park

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I had been anticipating visiting the new Black Bean Deli location in Winter Park. I wanted to see how the former Winnie’s Oriental Garden had been transformed into a Cuban deli.

But since I’m sticking with takeout cuisine for the time being, I’ll have to wait a while longer to see the inside of the new dining room. But I can tell you the quality of the food is just as good as it was when BBD was just a little pocket place on Orlando Avenue.

And Black Bean Deli is especially appropriate for takeout because that’s how it started out. The original location, at 325 S. Orlando Ave., had no tables. There was a shelf in front of the window and six stools for people who couldn’t wait to tear into their boxed food. But for the most part, you were expected to pick up your order at the counter and take it home.

In fact, for many years Black Bean Deli was a frequent winner of the Sentinel’s Foodie Award for Best Takeout, both the readers’ award and the critic’s (my) choice. That included the 2002 awards, which is the year that the longtime owners of Black Bean, Gladys and George Miavitz, who opened the restaurant in 1982, retired and sold the operation to Andres Corton.

Bao's Castle

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We’ve had King Bao for about four years. Now we have Bao’s Castle. You’d think they might have some royal connection, but despite the monarchial monikers they are unrelated.

Bao’s Castle reigns over the SoDo Shopping Center. (Who am I kidding? Target is the imperial ruler here.) It occupies a humble storefront next to the complex’s Gator’s Dockside.

The menu is succinct, just eight baos and a few ancillary options.

I made my selections through the restaurant’s online ordering form, which is intuitive and easy to use, with options for pickup, including contactless curbside, or delivery through a third party.

Takeout from Hook & Reel

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One of the signature items at Hook & Reel, the Cajun seafood bar in West Orlando, is the seafood boil that comes to the table in a big poofed-up plastic bag. Inside is a mess – a wonderful mess – of seafood that you selected in a sauce of your choice. To eat it, you roll the sides of the bag down and start digging in with your hands.

I was pretty sure that experience couldn’t be duplicated in a takeout experience, so I was surprised to see the seafood boils as an option on the online ordering form. So I had to give it a try.

Takeout from Kadence

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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When I reviewed Kadence, nearly a year ago, I said that the omakase sushi bar was perhaps one of the best restaurants in Orlando, even though – or maybe because – it did not match the criteria for what we consider a restaurant to be.

One doesn’t make a reservation but rather purchases a (nonrefundable) ticket for a specified time to sit at one of nine seats. There is no menu; customers are served what the chef prepares, all receiving each dish at the same time.

But the experience itself was unique, and the quality of the food exceptional.

One particular thing that made the meal so enjoyable was watching the chefs work, especially Mark Berdin and his skillful one-hand method of shaping the pads of rice for the nigirizushi.

That, of course, can’t be experienced when getting takeout from Kadence, which currently is all that is being offered. But the quality of the sushi and other selections is unquestionably the same. And for once you can make your own selections.

City Works Eatery and Pour House

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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Note: All photos were taken before the coronavirus lockdown; masks and social distancing had not yet been mandated.

Here’s a little insight into the world of restaurant reviewing. Sometimes a restaurant gets visited and the review is written right away. It’s technically possible to write and publish a review before the credit card check slip is signed. That’s an advantage of the internet age.

A disadvantage, too. Sometimes it’s best to put some time between a visit and sitting down to write the review. Rumination can be a good thing. Plus, being the product of the print age, I had to plan which restaurants I would review weeks and sometimes months in advance. I still try to work ahead and visit restaurants that I won’t write about immediately.

That was the case when I ate at City Works Eatery and Pour House, a then-new restaurant and beer bar at Disney Springs, in early March. I remember having a conversation with my dining companions about this virus we were hearing about in the news. The U.S. had just seen its first case, but we had no inkling how things would quickly spiral downward. Two weeks later, businesses were closing, first voluntarily and then under orders. City Works went dark along with the rest of Disney Springs.

The Osprey

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The word Tavern is still on the outside of the building in Baldwin Park, and it still appears on the charge slip, but the owners of what originally was known as the Osprey Tavern would like you now to just call it the Osprey. And when you think of it, think of it as more of a seafood restaurant.

The owners are Jason and Sue Chin, whose restaurants are now under the auspices of Good Salt Restaurant Group. (Why not Best Salt or even Better Salt? I don’t know, but I like the name.) The disparate brands include Seito Sushi, just across the street from the erstwhile tavern, and Reyes Mezcalaria in the North Quarter. Reyes’ executive chef, the talented Wendy Lopez, is serving as culinary director at the Osprey, with Anthony Watler as its chef de cuisine. Elek Kovacs, who had been executive chef, left with the tavern.

Takeout from the Aardvark

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For as many years as I can remember, there was a sketchy looking business on Ferncreek Road just north of Michigan Street called Aardvark Beverages. It seemed to specialize in cold beer, especially those sold in hand keg sizes. It was undoubtedly of an age where a business’s position at the top of the Yellow Pages (ask your grandparents) was paramount. Now the most important thing is the algorithmic ranking (ask your grandkids). Although I probably drove past it thousands of times, I never felt the need to go inside.

Then, a couple of years ago, it started to change from a package beverage store to a boutique cafe (that also served packaged beer and still had kegs to go, because tradition). When I first visited the reimagined business, now called simply The Aardvark, I found it a charming place to have a bite to eat and a glass of wine or beer (both now on tap), but it didn’t seem fully baked.

The reason, I discovered, was that there wasn’t a real commercial kitchen, such as one with a certified fire hood, in the back, so the menu was limited to items that mostly could be cooked offsite and then assembled in the back. Sandwiches, flatbreads, yawn. I decided to wait a while to return.

Apparently it’s time because the new menu has more ambitious items, including some that couldn’t be pulled off from commissary cooking and onsite reheating.