Black Rooster Taqueria Curry Ford West

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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Black Rooster Taqueria, the popular Mills 50 restaurant, opened its second location, in the Curry Ford West District, last November, and when I visited it in late December I found that it wasn’t quite up to the standards of the original. Opening in a pandemic, supply-chain issues, staffing problems – who knows? Whatever the issues were back then seem to have been overcome or corrected, and based on a recent revisit, the Curry Ford West Rooster is proving itself to be a fine addition to the area.

Big Fin Seafood introduces new menu items

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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Big Fin Seafood’s executive chef, Eric Enrique, has been making some changes to the popular restaurant’s menu, and I stopped in recently to give them a try.

The most impressive addition, at least in a visual sense, is a shellfish tower, with chilled Maine lobster, Alaskan king crab, cocktail shrimp and raw oysters served on crushed ice and accompanied by mignonette, cocktail and stone sauces. All delicious, and even more stunning than the chilled seafood platter I had at Le Ronde in Paris in June.

Mei's Kitchen

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As I write this I’m enjoying my leftovers from Mei’s Kitchen, a Chinese restaurant on the east side of town, and the food is just as tasty as it was last evening.

I’m especially liking the Taiwanese sticky rice, which I ordered just to tick off Xi Jinping.

Añejo Cocina Winter Park

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Añejo Cocina, a Florida chainlet with locations in Ponte Vedra, Jacksonville, Daytona Beach and Yulee, has opened in the space in the Ravaudage Plaza that most recently was occupied by the New Standard (né Dexter’s New Standard) and before that TR Fire Grill.

Añejo calls its food “modern Mexican,” which means it isn’t traditional Mexican. In many ways, it isn’t traditional Tex-Mex, either. And that’s just fine. The food I sampled – some familiar, some creatively different – was all good, and the surroundings were pleasant and the service amiable.

Christner's at 29

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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I try to get to Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster about once a year to, you know, just make sure it’s still one of the best places in town for high quality steaks. It is.

On my most recent visit I was also able to introduce Christner’s to some friends who are new to town. I was able to tell them about the history – now celebrating its 29th year – and about its staying power – there are few independently owned steakhouses of this caliber still in operation, not just here but nationally – most, including Del Frisco’s, which was the original name of Christner’s, are owned by large chains.

But Christner’s is still owned and operated by actual Christner’s, including including Carol, original operator Russ’s widow, her son David and his wife, Alice, and, most recently, her daughter Diana Johnston.

And there seems to always be a Christner on hand, as well as many staff members who have been with the restaurant for years. They all make sure the consistency remains the same, which is to say excellent.

Plantees

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Do you find it odd that a restaurant that bills itself as “100% Plant Based” would have artificial turf out front?

Maybe I should have taken that as an omen and fled from Plantees, a new fast fooder with a limited menu of meat-free items in the Mills 50 District.

Now before the die-hard vegans get poised to tap out a poison-pixel letter let me assure you this is not an anti-vegan review. In fact, I would love to introduce more plant-based foods into my diet. Obviously, someone in my profession can’t entirely eliminate animal products from his diet and still present a wide variety of restaurants for your consideration.

But on my nights off, those evenings when I don’t have to go to a restaurant, I’ve been striving to be more meatless (meatlesser?).

I was hoping to find the food at Plantees to be so good that it could offer a vegetarian option if I didn’t feel like cooking. I did not.

Supper Club Redux: Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen

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After a pause of nearly three years, we finally had an in-person Supper Club again, breaking our pandemic fast at Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen. When I opened the reservations to my newsletter sibscribers, the dinner sold out in less than 24 hours. So the restaurant added another night – a Supper Club first.

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And at both nights, Richard Blais, the celebrity chef who has attached his name to the restaurant, was on hand to talk with us. When we were in the planning stage for the dinner, we discussed having Blais join us by Zoom – something we learned when we did a virtual Supper Club online. We could talk with chefs and winemakers anywhere in the world. But Blais said “No, I want to be there.”

He greeted us, joked amiably and talked about his vision for the restaurant. Then he introduced his resident executive chef, Shelby Farrell, who ran us through the menu.

Brazas Chicken

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You probably know Brazas Chicken from its restaurant in the Fort Gatlin Shopping Center in SoSoDo where it’s been serving its Peruvian style rotisserie chicken for 16 years. It had such a loyal fan base that it stayed open – and was the only food or beverage operation to do so – during the shopping center’s transition from its days of abandoned decrepitude to its current renovated and vibrant status as a happening restaurant venue.

Or you may have experienced Brazas when it opened a stand last year in the Marketplace at Avalon Park’s food hall.

But it’s unlikely you know the Brazas Chicken that recently opened. Yes, it has the same owner – Franco DelSolar – and its menu still features the crispy skinned/juicy meated chicken that first made it popular. But here the menu has been expanded to feature other Peruvian specialties.

Friends Indian Cuisine

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That little freestanding building at 1375 S. Semoran Blvd. in Orlando has been home to a wide array of international cuisines since it started life as a Captain D’s seafood joint.

Let’s see – it was Thai Chili in the late 1990s; a Scandinavian restaurant called Two Fat Chefs (at the time, there was a popular BBC cooking program called “Two Fat Ladies”; three successive Mexican restaurants – Las Carretas, Casa Rene and Casa Mexico; a Church’s Chicken franchise (the long-abandoned drive-thru order stand, still bearing the chain’s brand, still sits out back); then back to Mexican with A Taste of Yucatan; Coba Coffee & Bakery; and Amor, Amor Latin American cuisine.

So why not give Indian a try?

Y.H. Seafood Clubhouse

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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The initials in the name of Y.H. Seafood Clubhouse, a new restaurant in the Restaurant Row district, are easy to explain: They stand for Yummy House, a Florida Chinese restaurant group with a handful of locations.

The Clubhouse part isn’t quite as clear. For me, clubhouse evokes rustic, almost slapdash digs. But Y.H. Seafood Clubhouse borders on elegant, a bright and glittery room with walls of tall golden panels with delicate floral patterns and tables covered with crisp white cloths. (The space, in the Whole Foods plaza on the southeast corner of Sand Lake Road and Turkey Lake Road, was originally O’Charley.)

The Seafood part of the name speaks for itself. Although this is a Chinese restaurant, its menu focuses on the region of Canton and its coastline on the South China Sea.