CFS Coffee

Written by Scott Joseph on .

CFS ext

It was a whim stop. Driving through Winter Park’s Hannibal Square, my companion and I spotted an isolated table outside Café Frustos Selectos, more commonly known as CFS Coffee. It was brunchtime, Sunday, and we were weary of takeout. So we took a chance on dining onsite.

But there being no table service, we did have to go inside to order our food (which we preselected from a paper menu outside the front door.

Vanbarry's Public House

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Vanbarry taco cu

Vanbarry’s Public House, on a hill above Orange Avenue overlooking Lake Jennie Jewel, has always been a pleasant place to sit, especially with its beachy atmosphere. And it might be a good choice for those looking to transition to onsite dining – it has lots of outside seating and the indoor dining area feels like it’s outside, thanks to open walls that give good circulation.

But if you’re like me and still hesitant about venturing out, the food is takeout worthy; you just have to provide your own beachside mien.

Keke's Breakfast Cafe

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Kekes ext

My but Keke’s Breakfast Cafe certainly has grown.

In just a little over 10 years it has grown from two Central Florida locations – first near the Mall at Millenia then on Fairbanks Avenue in Winter Park – to a franchise with nearly 50 restaurants throughout the state.

It didn’t start out as Keke’s, you may remember. That first restaurant on Conroy Road was originally called Florida Waffle House, and that opened more like circa 2007. But of course that name was eventually challenged. So the owners, brothers Keith and Kevin Mahen, took their shared first two initials and cobbled them into Keke’s.

I hadn’t visited a Keke’s since 2010 when I reviewed the one on Fairbanks Avenue (which had previously been Bakely’s). So when I decided recently that I wanted a big breakfast, including pancakes, but not the cleanup (or the trouble), I gave a call to the location at Conway Avenue and Curry Ford Road in Orlando.

Sixty Vines

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Sixty Vines ext

Update: Since this review was published it has come to light that a manager for Sixty Vines tested positive for COVID-19. According to another manager, Stephanie Jones, the person who tested positive has not been in the restaurant for 12 days. Jones also says they are confident the virus was not contracted at the restaurant. She noted that all staff are wearing masks and the restaurant has been properly cleaned. All other managers have been tested and the results have been negative, said Jones. Some other staff members had been tested but not all, according to Jones.

Talk about timing.

Sixty Vines, a Texas based concept, opened its fourth location, the first outside Texas, at Lakeside Crossing in Winter Park on March 17. That was, you’ll recall, the same day the state of Florida ordered restaurants to operate at no more than 50 percent capacity and just days before they were ordered to cease all on-premises dining.

I’ve heard of soft openings before but this one must have been positively flaccid.

Since that time I’ve focused almost exclusively on reviewing the takeout experience of restaurants that quickly adjusted to the new restrictions. But when I saw that Sixty Vines was open under the current Phase 2 guidelines – and I noticed it had some outdoor tables – I thought I would try onsite dining. I also liked that the restaurant was requiring reservations so as to limit occupancy.

However, I was not able to reserve an outdoor table. “First come, first seated,” I was told about the four tables in front of the restaurant. Without the guarantee of being seated outdoors, and not wishing to go inside, I reverted to ordering for curbside pickup.

Nikki's Place Southern Cuisine

Written by Scott Joseph on .

nikkistogo ox wide

I got takeout recently from the wonderful Nikki’s Place, the southern restaurant on Carter Street, and came to the conclusion that Nikki either needs to decrease the portion sizes or get sturdier takeout containers.

I vote for the latter.

I ordered three meals for curbside pickup because I couldn’t decide on just two. I pulled up to the restaurant and before I could put the car in park someone, properly masked, was coming out the front door with my food in a plastic sack. She placed it in my trunk and I was on my way.

But when I got home, I discovered that the weight of the two dinners on top had crushed the foam clamshell container on the bottom, such was the heft of the food inside. A little gravy had spilled out from the crushed box, but most of it was still intact.

And there was no detriment to the quality of the food, which is as first rate as ever.

DaJen Eats

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Dajen ext

I had been wanting to try DaJen Eats for a while and now seemed like the appropriate time.

DaJen is a Jamaican tinged vegan cafe in Eatonville, owned and operated by Jenn Ross, an ebullient and enthusiastic proponent of a vegan lifestyle and an irie outlook.

Irie, pronounced EYE-ree, is a word in Rastafarian and Jamaican dialect that means nice or pleasant. With that being the case, everything at DaJen Eats is perfectly irie.

Terralina Crafted Italian

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Terralina20 bag and menu

As I said in my recent column about my observations on my visit to Disney Springs, whose reawakening is ongoing, I was excited to have my first experience at a restaurant in months that didn’t involve foam clamshells, aluminum foil trays and plastic takeout sacks.

I had set a low bar.

After strolling around the Springs and considering the dining options – we had agreed that we would select a restaurant with outdoor dining – my companion and I decided on Terralina Crafted Italian, a restaurant whose food and service I’ve enjoyed in the past, especially since the talented Justin Plank took over as head chef.

We were only mildly disappointed to be shown to a table at the outdoor bar at the front of the building instead of at the back, which overlooks the lagoon. But we accepted the table and took a seat.

Madras Cafe

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Madras Cafe ext

Orlando has a new Indian restaurant with an all-vegetarian menu that includes some vegan selections and even some that follow Jain dietary restrictions that exclude vegetables grown underground (potatoes, garlic, carrots) as well.

The Madras Cafe is part of the family of restaurants from Sunny Corda that include Mynt in Winter Park’s Hannibal Square and Saffron, which is just a couple of doors down from Madras on Restaurant Row.

The menu, which focuses on the cuisine of southern India, is extensive and may be intimidating to some, but Corda’s crew is knowledgeable (and patient) and happy to make recommendations.

I left the ordering to one of Madras’s managers and brought home a veritable feast of tastes and textures and myriad spices.

It included my first thali to go.

Takeout Review: Hunger St. Tacos

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Hungerst togo tacos

Being a fan of alliterative literature, I can think of only one thing better than Taco Tuesday: Taco Tuesday Takeout.

Surprisingly, the first two taquerias I looked up online had no information about takeout, let alone their safety protocols. But when I got to the website for Hunger St. Tacos, it clearly listed curbside pickup as an option on its front page.

What’s more, it’s initiated an online menu system that makes it easy to place a contactless order – you don’t even have to speak to anyone. I chose to call in my order anyway.

My quarantine companion and I each ordered a taco and a quesadilla. Together we shared the Fried Avocado and El Mañanero tacos and the Rajas con Crema and Campechana quesadillas.