Café Linger

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Cafe Linger interior

I expected to find Avocado Toast on the menu at Café Linger, a new coffeeshop with food in College Park. I'm pretty sure a coffeehouse can't pass city inspection without Avocado Toast on its menu. I expected to find a Croissant Egg Sandwich, too, and I wasn't even surprised by the Smoked Salmon & Avocado Tartare.

But Spaeztle? That I didn't expect. Or Cod Fritters. And even Steak Frites, considering the place closes most days at 7 p.m.

But there they were, and there I was, so I ordered the Spaeztle (which for the record is spelled Spätzle on the menu). I had just returned from, among other places, Germany and was feeling bad that I hadn't had any of the traditional egg noodles the entire trip.

Cafe Linger spaetzle

Café Linger tosses its Spaeztle, which were uniform enough for me to wonder at first it they weren't actually bucatini (they weren't), with cream and mushrooms and tops it with frizzled fried leeks. The sauce was creamy and the mushrooms delightfully chewy. The leeks added a nice bit of crunch.

But it still seemed an odd thing for a coffeehouse menu.

Eastside Asian Market

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Eastside Asian exterior

There’s an interesting little Asian market on the East side. It’s called Eastside Asian Market.

What makes it more interesting is that along with the aisles and shelves of specialty foods and dry goods that you won’t find in your basic Publix, a corner of the store is dedicated to small cafe with an exclusively vegetarian menu. In fact, a note at the top of the menu board next to the kitchen reads, “Everything is vegetarian. Deal with it.”

There isn’t a whole lot to deal with. The menu is succinct and the food is good.

Curry Mantra

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Curry Mantra ext

The young man who greeted us and showed us to the lunch buffet at Curry Mantra, a new Indian restaurant, seemed genuinely interested in making sure my lunch guest and I were pleased with the food.

Unfortunately, we weren't. With the exception of a spicy lentil soup, everything was quite modest and mundane. And even worse, much of it was tepid or, like the mixed pakora, downright cold.

Taco Maker Mexican Grill

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Taco Maker tacos

Taco Maker Mexican Grill had me at goodbye. As I walked out of the fast fooder across the street from the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, the manager and her young staffer behind the counter both called after me, thanking me for coming in and hoping that I enjoyed my food. Hospitality management, indeed.

Unfortunately, everything before that wasn't so hot.

Manny's Original Chophouse

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Mannys ext

Manny's Original Chophouse was not what I was expecting. I'm not sure it was what Baldwin Park was expecting, either.

Manny's is a franchise operation that originated in Haines City. And before we go any further, it's necessary to mention that the Manny in the name is Nikolaidis, not Garcia. Nor Tato, for that matter, even though the latter at one time had a place called Manny's Chophouse on Markham Woods Road in Longwood. That was in 2006. According to the website for the new chophouse in Baldwin Park, Nikolaidis opened his first one in 2004, so apparently he has legitimate claim to the Original designation.

But back to expectations. I was expecting classy, I was expecting serene, both befitting the lakefront location in the upscale development.

Thai Island

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Thai Island ext

Today's review of Thai Island includes a right wing conspiracy. Or maybe it's left wing. Wings are definitely involved.

Thai Island is at the corner of Semoran Boulevard and Michigan Street. It sits next to Wingstop, a Buffalo wings chain, and a couple of doors down from Red Wing Shoes.

And as it turns out my favorite Thai appetizer, Angel Wing, is on Thai Island's menu. Angel wing is a chicken wing that has had the bones -- the humerus and the radius bones, as it were -- removed, with the resulting void filled with chopped chicken meat and clear noodles. The result resembles more of a drumstick. Why don't they just stuff a drumstick? you ask. I don't know, I'm just winging it here.

Sharon's Homestyle Cookin'

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Sharons ext

Another in a series of looking back at Classic Orlando Restaurants.

We've been discussing some of the restaurants celebrating milestones this year. Beefy King at 50, for example, and several others including Christner's Prime Steak & Lobsters and Pannullo's Italian Restaurant at 25.

I was surprised to learn about another restaurant to reach the quarter-century mark: Sharon's Homestyle Cookin'.

Although it's been cooking, or cookin', if you prefer, for that long, it has only been in its current location for about three years.

Wine Bar George

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Wine Bar George Ext

This is not your average wine bar. But then knowing George Miliotes, no one would have expected it to be.

Miliotes is the George of Wine Bar George, the latest venue to spring up at Disney Springs. It's big, situated in a newly constructed two-level building with a balcony overlooking the walkway below and part of the lagoon just beyond.

Wine Bar George downstairs

Wine Bar George upstairs

Inside, there is a bustling bar on the first floor, filled with people who perhaps don't know there's a second level. Upstairs is another bar with couch seating as well as conventional tables, and another room for dining and sipping.

Wine Bar George glass

Wine, of course, is the main draw here, and the list, personally curated by Miliotes, is extensive and varied. He wisely included popular names, go-to wines that people order out of habit or because they're intimidated by some of the more obscure names.

But if Miliotes gets to those people before they place their order, chances are they're going to be trying something they've never heard of. And in all likelihood, they'll have a new favorite wine.

Enzo's on the Lake

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Enzo sign

Photos from Enzo's on the Lake website.

I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of our classic restaurants, venerable dining spots that have withstood the vagaries of the industry and the fickleness of the public to endure and even thrive. Today: Enzo's on the Lake.

Enzo Perlini opened the restaurant in 1980 along with his then wife Jo Anne. They bought a private home on Lake Fairy and converted it from a house to a restaurant. The couple divorced in 2000 but they remained business partners. When Perlini was diagnosed with leukemia, he relinquished day to day operations to Jo Anne. Perlini died in 2006 at the age of 61.

Jo Anne is still at the Longwood restaurant. So are a lot of servers who have been working there for decades. And Enzo's has maintained a loyal base of customers, many of who drive great distances to dine there. When I wrote Perlini's obituary for the Orlando Sentinel, I quoted a couple who said they drove to Longwood every weekend from Daytona Beach just to dine at Enzo's on the Lake.