Mee Thai

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Mee Thai interior

First we had Mai Bistro, now we have Mee Thai. Is there a trend in ego centric eateries?

I'll leave that discussion to Freud, and I certainly won't comment on a restaurant whose name is uncomfortably similar to a contemporary hashtag movement.

Let's just be be straightforward here. Mee Thai is a pleasant little cafe on Lee Road serving simple Thai favorites. If there is one thing that sets Mee Thai apart from other Thai restaurants in the area, it's that it specifies that it offers the cuisine of the Isan region of Thailand, or Esan, as they spell it here. Frankly, I didn't spot anything on the menu that wouldn't be available at other Thai restaurants. And it would have been a good opportunity for a restaurant specializing in Isan cuisine to offer a current local favorite -- sticky rice is a staple of that region. That dish is not on the menu.

General Public House

Written by Scott Joseph on .

General Public wall

Today's review if for the General Public. Yes, all my reviews are always accessible to anyone, no membership required.

What I mean is that today I'm reviewing General Public House, a restaurant in Winter Springs. It seems to combine the characteristics of a general store and a public ale house. So, General Public.

Let's start with the food. It's all solidly good and everything I sampled tasted great. Pleasantly plated, too. In fact, I was surprised at how good the food was.

Surprised because so much of what I observed and experienced before the food got to me and my guests did not suggest that good food was soon to come.

The Edison

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Edison Tower

The Edison is one of the new Disney Springs venues from the folks at Patina Restaurant Group (Morimoto Asia, Tutto Italia). It's a multilevel fun factory of a restaurant with good food to go with the entertaining decor.

Thomas Alva is the Edison of the name, of course, and there are homages to his inventions and patents everywhere. Indeed, the very design of the restaurant is an old power plant (electric power distribution, 1882) and lit with a soft glow from what are nostalgically referred to as Edison bulbs (incandescent lamps, 1879). Music plays in the background (phonograph, 1887) and old-timey black-and-white movies are displayed on various walls (motion picture camera, 1891).

Apparently he had something to do with inventing bacon, too, given its near ubiquitousness on the menu.

El Buda Latin Asian Restaurant

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Elbuda napkin

The word fusion is one of the most misused terms in culinarydom. More often than not, a restaurant will tout itself as a fusion restaurant when in fact all it does is offer two or more cuisines on the same menu. An Chinese restaurant, for example, might also offer some Thai dishes, or maybe a sushi selection. That might be considered diversification, but it isn't fusion.

Fusion occurs when two or more items come together to form something different, something unique.

And as you might deduce from the name, it isn't putting together similar Asian cuisines, though it does work with pan-Asian dishes, but rather a melding of Latino and Asian. The results are refreshingly distinct.

So you might have Chimichanga Eggrolls or Peking Duck Nachos. Or Congri Fried Rice. It's inventive, and even better, most of it works.

Sticky Rice

Written by Scott Joseph on .

sticky rice

I love rice.

Even though I have limited real estate on my kitchen counter, my rice cooker has a permanent dedicated space. Food processor, mixer, slow cooker -- all relegated to the pantry or even the garage. But the rice cooker is used too often to put away. I've been known to make a full meal out of rice with just butter, salt and pepper.

So a new restaurant called Sticky Rice certainly got my attention. I'll admit, though, that I was a bit wary. That's because Sticky Rice moved into a small space on Colonial Drive in the Mills 50 district that in a very short span of time has been home to at least two (and I think three) really disappointing restaurants.

But those memories faded during my visit to SR. The food is good, the staff, though not especially warm or fuzzy, work hard, and the overall experience is positive.

Peppino's Organic Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria

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Peppinos pizza

I've lost track of all of the restaurants that have tried to make a go of it in the little freestanding building at 2420 Curry Ford Road in Orlando. Little is the operative word there. The space is so small that it didn't provide enough seats to support most restaurant concepts. I don't think that most of the people considered the "butts in seats" calculation -- the number of customers that must be served each day -- that would be necessary to provide enough income to sustain a business.

And so there was a steady flow of hopeful new restaurants over the years, the majority of them Latino. When I started reviewing restaurants in Orlando, in 1988, it was International Cafe. That business moved -- to a larger space -- on Orange Avenue. It was called Cruzin' Crabs for a short time, and Señor Frogi even shorter (though that business may have complicated its chance for survival by choosing a name similar to a major chain's). La Fiesta Mexican Grill started there, too, before moving to a slightly larger space a couple of blocks down the road and then, last year, across the street to even larger digs. Butts in seats, people, butts in seats.

So when it was announced that the next business to move in would be a pizzeria, I thought brilliant, that's just the sort of restaurant that can work in such a space. Besides a potentially lower food cost, pizzerias are historically reliable for takeout business, which does not require a seat therein to put a butt.

But...

Peter's Kitchen Chinese Bistro

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Peters Chinese sign

The Lunar New Year celebration begins Friday when the Year of the Dog is ushered in. Dog years are my favorites, even though they seem longer than the others.

Sometimes called Chinese New Year, the event is celebrated by several Asian countries. It's never on the same day but rather is tied to the occurrence of the first new moon between January 1 and February 20. The moon will be newest on Feb. 16 this year.

So you might see some celebrations around town, especially in the area of Mills 50 where there is a high concentration of Asian businesses and restaurants. Look for lanterns, red ribbons and firecrackers. There might be dragons.

Cilantro's Taqueria

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Cilantros counter

It's Taco Tuesday. And also Fat Tuesday. So I was hoping for some Fat Tacos. Taco Gras, if you will.

So I headed over the the area of town that is still not officially designated the Hourglass District to try out a new place called Cilantro's Taqueria. It's in a small group of storefronts that also holds the oddly named businesses Hair Partners and Ambrose the Printer. The latter always makes me think of a medieval scribe.

Cilantro's is charming. I have no idea what was in this space before, even though I've passed by this corner several times a week for more than 25 years. It might have been a wonderful business, but even without knowing, I'd say Cilantro's is an improvement.

F&D Cantina Lake Mary

Written by Scott Joseph on .

FD Cantina bar

To understate it just a bit, I wasn't all that impressed with F&D Cantina when it opened in mid 2016 in Waterford Lakes. Besides being served food that was at a temperature lower than what could legally be considered warm, the service was lacking and the surroundings offered nothing to enhance the experience.

That location has closed.

But another F&D Cantina has popped up in Lake Mary, not far from F&D Kitchen and Bar, which causes a bit of a problem itself. I arranged to meet an associate at F&D Cantina, but Google Maps sent him to F&D Kitchen, which is not far away physically but is a logistical challenge. Thank God one of us wasn't in Lake Mary and the other in Waterford Lakes.

And thank God, or the chef, that the F&D Cantina in Lake Mary is good enough to put the Waterford Lakes location a distant memory.

The Glass Knife

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Glass Knife rendering

The Glass Knife is a little cakebox of a bakery and cafe. The pink walls don't appear to have been painted but frosted instead.

Indeed, cakes are the ostensible raison d'être of the Glass Knife. The name is a reference to cake slicers popular during the Great Depression. Glass didn't tarnish or impart an off taste as metallic slicers could.

The mother of the restaurant's owner, Steve Brown, collected glass knives, so the theme of his cafe was set with an ample stock of the delicate doodads to decorate. (My mother collected elephants; I will not be opening a restaurant.)

While cakes, pastries and other assorted baked sweets are a focus, chef Stuart Whitfield's menu makes a few forays into savory territory, mainly with soups, salads and sandwiches. A chicken pot pie is offered daily. Well, nightly, only after 4:30 p.m. All of the food I sampled was of high quality and expertly prepared.

However, the experience of eating there is less enjoyable, at least when there is a full house, as when I visited for lunch with a friend. And the process is a bit confusing, even with someone at the front door attempting to explain it.