Tasty Wok BBQ & Noodle House

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Tasty Wok exterior

I enjoy going to a restaurant where the staff greets me warmly when I come through the door, serves the food with an easy smile and thanks me for my business when I leave.

I hope to visit a restaurant like that soon, but for today I’m at Tasty Wok BBQ & Noodle House.

Tasty Wok is a new/not new Cantonese restaurant in the Mills 50 district. The location is new but the business is not. For many years it had been on the corner of Shine Avenue and Colonial Drive, but late last year it moved across the street, presumably for more seats and to be closer to across-the-lot sister restaurant Ming’s Bistro. (More parking, too, without patrons having to co-opt the spaces in Publix’s lot.)

On my most recent visit to the new space, I was...well, greeted isn’t the right word. I was noticed, eventually, by an unsmiling woman who pointed to a table that she presumably wanted me to sit at. This dour person turned out to also be my server. She brought me a menu and put down a plate with a paper napkin and a fork on it. (I’d have to flag someone down later for some chopsticks.)

Hungry Pants

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Hungry Pants interior

I have no idea why it’s called Hungry Pants. It could just as easily have been named Famished Footwear or Starving Sweater.

I also can’t say what it is that makes these particular pants so peckish. That will just have to remain a mystery.

Hungry Pants is the project of Joey Conicella and Alex Marin who were the original owners of the Yum Yum Cupcake Truck, one of the early entries in Orlando’s food truck scene. They describe Hungry Pants as offering “a plant-curious menu in a fast-fine setting.”

Tap Room at Dubsdread, a Guest Review

Written by Scott Joseph on .

taproom corner

As has become an annual tradition, I participated as a silent auction item at the Orlando Shakes gala. The prize is for a couple to join me at a restaurant and help me review it.

And as has also become a tradition, the successful bidders were John and Rita Lowndes. And so we gathered at Tap Room at Dubsdread, whose owner, Steve Gunter, had graciously donated the meal to benefit the theater company.

We gathered at the restaurant on a Thursday evening and found it at full capacity, but our reserved table was waiting for us. Tap Room at Dubsdread has been known as a place for power lunches with the city’s movers and shakers gathering to see and be seen as much as to have a good meal.

Tori Tori Pub

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Toritori exterior

At first glance, it’s hard to tell whether Tori Tori wants to be a restaurant or a bar that serves food.

Its name, which, roughly translated, is Japanese for Poultry Poultry or Chicken Chicken, would suggest the former. Its mien, however, is more of a cocktail lounge, with a large bar that dominates the sizable space and a few booths that ring the perimeter of the room. Even for those who choose to sit at a table – or can find an empty seat at one – there is no table service; orders for food and drinks must be placed with a bartender; food runners deliver the orders.

And there seem to be more drink options on the small booklet-size menu than food, which is all small plates (and presented in small print for that matter). There’s even a section of the menu labeled Bar Food.

But none of this is “bar food.” Each dish is thoughtfully conceived and expertly executed.

Bagel Bruno

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Bagel Bruno exterior

There are some who say that bagels are a site specific food, that only New York bagel bakers can do the round dough justice.

As it happens, as I type this, I am in New York and have a bagel here with me now, a toasted sesame slathered with cream cheese that I got from a bodega on the corner of 2nd Avenue in the East Village.

Amd I mss say, thuhs smmthng abt eetubbg a bgel in Nw Yor.

Excuse me, what? Oh, I said, “And I must say, there’s something about eating a bagel in New York.” And yes, my mother did teach me not to type with my mouth full.

Fig's Prime

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Figsprime interior

When I first reviewed Fig’s Prime, in November of 2017, when it was still new, I had a few issues but concluded that if the staff would pay more attention to details it could become a premier dining destination for the Altamonte Springs and Longwood community.

Attention has been paid.

On a return visit, I found the food and service had risen to match the lovely surroundings, and my dining companions and I had a very nice meal.

Hinckley's Fancy Meats

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Hinckley stand

I fancied a meat sandwich the other evening, so I stopped in at Hinckley’s Fancy Meats, a snout-to-tail butcherie at East End Market.

Matt Hinckley is the eponymous owner of the small stand. According to his bio on the website, he has spent a considerable amount of time traveling the world cooking in an array of kitchens, from a beachside cafe in Nicaragua to a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City. It was in Nicaragua, he writes, that he witnessed a man slaughter and butcher a cow on Christmas Eve and then distribute all of it to local residents to use in their Christmas meals. He says he was impressed that the butcher left nothing behind. That “zero waste” philosophy guides him in his meat market.

The menu is larger than the kiosk space should accommodate. There are charcuterie, sausages, smoked meats and bone broths.

And most of the products are available in sandwiches. Well, not the bone broths; the breads get too soggy.

Soco of Thornton Park Celebrates 5 Years with Collaborative Dinner

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Soco5 teamFrom left, Venoy Rogers III, Stuart Whitfield, Patrick Montana, and Greg Richie in the kitchen at Soco.

Soco, the Thornton Park Southern contemporary restaurant, recently celebrated its fifth anniversary with a collaborative dinner. Chef/partner Greg Richie invited Venoy Rogers III of American Kitchen, Patrick Tramontana of Antonio’s Maitland, and Stuart Whitfield of the Glass Knife to join him in the kitchen, and the result was a special dinner of great food and wine.

And cocktails, too. PJ Smerechansky of the Nomad Lounge in Animal Kingdom offered guests a choice of welcome drinks: Tea Time with Prudence, Sipsmith VJOP Gin, Earl Grey Tea, King’s Ginger Liquor, honey and rosemary; or Bootlegger’s Basil, Basil Hayden Bourbon, fresh blackberry, basil, Angostura Bitters, and orange peel. I managed to taste both of them and decided I liked the Bootlegger’s Basil best, even though I prefer gin to bourbon.

Nile Ethiopian Restaurant

Written by Scott Joseph on .

nile platter

I had the opportunity recently to join some people for a dinner at Nile Ethiopian Restaurant and found it to be just as wonderful as before.

I was also pleased to find it still doing well after 13 years.

We had other Ethiopian restaurants open in Central Florida before Nile, but for some reason they never lasted more than a year. I always assumed it was the location – one of the early Ethiopian restaurants was in a motel at 33d Street and I-4 and another was in a strip mall on South Orange Blossom Trail. Nile was smarter in choosing International Drive where a diverse clientele could find it.

It was even smarter to serve excellent food.

Paris Bahn Mi

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Paris bahn exterior

Paris Banh Mi Cafe Bakery has opened in a spacious corner spot in the Mills 50 District. And as its name suggests, it’s a combination French patisserie and Vietnamese eatery.

It was a banh mi – the distinctly Vietnamese sandwich – that brought me to the little shop. But it was the display of pastries that made the first impression.