Glass Knife Revisit

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Glass Knife wide interior

Paid a return visit to the Glass Knife recently to see how it is settling in. When I first reviewed the cake restaurant, back in February, the place was still quite manic, the new kid in town that everyone wanted to try. The procedure was confusing, seemingly to both the customers and the staff, and there was a wild positioning for open seating, then a struggle to hold a conversation with your companion. The food was good, but the experience was lacking.

On my recent visit, in the evening, things were much calmer. The ordering procedure is still a bit confusing, but this time there were plenty of open seats — even one of the small booths so that my friend and I wouldn’t have to sit across from each other at the large communal table — and everything was more relaxed.

Antonio's House of Pizza

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Antonios House interior

I sometimes feel that navigating all the restaurants with Antonio in their names is like playing a pizza version of Where's Waldo. By my count, there's a pizzaiolo's dozen of eateries named Antonio, and that doesn't count the one's named Anthony's.

Add now to the list Antonio's House of Pizza, the new, though not original name for the business that was Maestro Cucina Napoletana. Maestro, you may recall, was a project of longtime area restaurateur Rosario Spagnolo (Terramia) and business parther Antonio Martino. (Maybe there's a law that all pizzeria must have an Antonio involved.) Maestro opened in late 2016; Spagnolo sold it a year and a half later because he did not see a way to scale the business and open others, which was his original plan.

And yes, the new owner is named Antonio. Well, he goes by Anthony. Zeka is his last name, and he owns the Park Avenue restaurant with his wife, Sandra Valencia. (The two of them are responsible for two other pizzerias Antonio's.)

Inay's Kitchen

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Inays kitchen food int

Even with the pin on my phone's Google Maps app indicating I had arrived at my destination, I had a hard time spotting Inay's Kitchen, a Filipino restaurant in Ocoee. Despite the open signs in the window, which were covered with bamboo matchstick blinds, I had a hard time identifying it as a restaurant.

Once I figured it out, I went inside and was greeted by a sign inside the door instructing me to proceed to the back of the space.

That's where you'll find the actual Kitchen, tended to by the actual Inay and a couple of other women.

Urban Hibachi Sushi + Grill

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Urban Hibachi rolls

Urban Hibachi Sushi + Grill, a minichain with three locations spread across Greater Orlando, is really slick. Or at least the Oviedo location I visited is. The decor is bright and modern with minimalist decorations.

I think maybe I just misordered.

Stopping in for lunch, I selected the Makimono Lunch Special, which allows you to choose two selections from a small list of specialty rolls. The two that sounded the most interesting to me were the Sumo and the Tokyo.

Urban Hibachi sumo

The Sumo had escolar and salmon rolled with avocado and scallions with a bit of spicy mayo dotted on top. I somehow missed the note that said the roll was deep fried, but I don't think it would have been a deal killer anyway. I was in the mood for some escolar. Also, not at all sure why this was called the Sumo. No wrestling was involved and they certainly weren't bigger than other rolls.

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

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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

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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.