Brad's Underground

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Brads pizza

For me, pizza has always been a spur-of-the-moment food. It’s what you order when you’re too tired to cook or don’t want all the trappings that come with going out to a full-service restaurant. Most of the pizzas I’ve consumed in a nonprofessional setting have been last-minute orders.

But Brad’s Underground has introduced pizza by appointment only. Want one of Brad’s pies for your dinner tonight? Maybe the day after tomorrow. (Maybe.) And you say you’d like it for dinner? That’s fine, you may eat it whenever you like, but you may have to pick it up at 2 o’clock.

The ability to schedule a pizza is something of an improvement over Brad’s previous business model, which as near as I could tell involved hopeful customers sending him a message via his Instagram page and waiting, sometimes Godot-like, for a response. For some it would take weeks to receive an invitation to place an order; others never did hear back, leaving them to post lamentations on various social media platforms wondering what poor life choices they must have made to render them so karmically unblessed. At least that’s how I read it.

My take? Brad Czerkies – whose nickname is apparently, and perhaps ironically, Flash – is something of a marketing genius. Because the surest way to make people want something is to tell them they can’t have it.

Marketplace at Avalon Park

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Marketplace exterior

The Marketplace at Avalon Park had its much anticipated grand opening last weekend, officially debuting to the public with 11 food vendors.

It’s a big, urban warehousey kind of space in the center of the downtown area. Marquis-style lightbulbs spell out Marketplace over the awning that covers the many outdoor tables.

Inside is a big open space with tables and chairs in the center and the vendors lining the perimeter.

Space 220

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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Epcot on Monday opened its long awaited restaurant Space 220, an upscale dining experience with an expansive room and windows that look out into space and the Eastern Seaboard, 220 miles below (give or take a couple of hundred miles).

It’s a cool immersive effect with diners seated near large windows that look out to spacecraft zooming by, astronauts zipping around on hoverboards, and the green vastness of the curve of the earth (take that, Flat Earthers!). It’s sort of like dining at the Coral Reef restaurant in the Living Seas pavilion but with space through the windows instead of sea creatures (though the sea creatures have the advantage of being real).

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No Elon Musky rocket is needed to access the restaurant, which is located on the Centauri Space Station. Instead, you’re whisked upward in a space elevator – excuse me, Stellarvator, which I’m sure should have a trademark symbol after it. During the ride, you can look through the glass bottom to see Epcot and Florida slipping away; look overhead to see the space station coming into view.

It’s a very smooth transport, almost like you’re not moving at all. (Click the video below to get a feel for it.)

Entrance into the big, open dining room offers an impressive wow.

The menu is a little more down to earth.

Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips

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I am not a fan of Gordon [expletive] Ramsay. I think he’s rude as [expletive], a demeaning little [expletive] to his staff and generally comes off in his television appearances as a [expletive] [expletive]hole. When you read about restaurant staffers saying they’re reluctant to return to a toxic work environment, it’s places like Ramsay’s kitchen they’re referring to.

That said, the food at the new Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips at Icon Park in Orlando is pretty [expletive] good.

For all its standing as an iconic and even stereotypical dish of Britain, fish and chips is not an easy dish to pull off. And not just in American restaurants trying to recreate a bit of Old England. I’ve had mediocre to downright lousy fish and chips in London and other villages throughout the British Isles. For the record, the best f&c I’ve had was at the pub owned and operated by Kevin Dundon next door to his Dunbrody Country House Hotel in County Wexford, Ireland.

First Watch fall menu means cooler climes ahead

Written by Scott Joseph on .

FWFall donuts

Ah, September. An extra blanket on the bed at night, cool; crisp walks with the dog in the morning as my corduroys make a croosh, croosh, croosh noise; and I’ve started to look for firewood to stack on the hearth.

OK, ok, I know it’s still in the nineties, I’m cranking up the air overnight and I wear shorts on the morning walk (though oddly I still make that croosh, croosh, croosh sound).

But work with me here – it’s time to check out the fall menu options at First Watch.

Pammie's Sammies

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Pammies int

I’m always surprised at what a quick trip it is from downtown Orlando to downtown Winter Garden via the 408, turnpike and 429. The raison de trip was to visit Pammie’s Sammies, a rockin’ little sandwich shop a half block off of Plant Street.

The rockin’ part (more classic than hard) comes from the musical theme of the decor and overall ambience. The walls are decorated with guitars and band posters mixed among such eclectic miscellanea as wooden chairs nailed upside-down to the ceiling, a bank of unconnected beer taps (also upside down), and sundry works of local art.

All of this is curated by Pam Thomas, the Pammie in question, and her husband, Thorp, both of them die-hard and tie-dyed musicians. (Notice the vintage photos over one of the windows of Pam singing while Thorp plays the drums.)

Even the menus are printed on the backs of old album covers. Mine was from the Weather Girls’ “It’s Raining Men,” which was appropriate because it was drizzling outside (standard non-humanoid precipitation).

Ratatouilleland opens at Epcot with new crepey restaurant

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Creperie ext

Walt Disney World has opened an expanded section of the France pavilion that isn’t but really should officially be called Ratatouilleland.

You access the new area by going around the, um, derriere of the pavilion. There you’ll find a meticulously recreated Parisian streetscape with typical storefronts, ironworks and a not so typical fountain with gushing champagne bottles.

At the end of the rue is the new attraction Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, an immersive ride that combines 3-d animation and sensation-enhancing vehicles that take you on a rat’s-eye-view of a kitchen in a French restaurant.

After the ride you’ll want to visit Epcot’s newest French restaurant, the presumably rat-free La Crêperie de Paris. It’s a full service but tres casual restaurant featuring the crepes of Brittany, which are made with buckwheat and are a bit different from the usual rolled pancakes you might be familar with. But I’ll let Jérôme Bocuse explain in the video below.


RusTeak Thornton Park

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Rusteaktp sign

I’m wondering if there’s a sign maker in town that keeps a template at the ready for the marquee that hangs on the corner of the building at 101 S. Eola Drive. It’s touted Mucho Tequila and Tacos, Muddy Waters, and most recently the Menagerie in the past 10 or so years.

Now it reads RusTeak, the newest occupant of the corner restaurant space that recently relocated from its College Park location.

I reviewed that restaurant in November of 2014 and the original, in Ocoee, the year before that. Both were enjoyable experiences, with above average food and good service (in the case of the College Park RusTeak it was a little too good).

But for some reason, the Thornton Park RusTeak had me thinking it was a restaurant run by newbies who were still trying to figure how everything works. Instead of above average food, it was mostly just average.

Las Carretas

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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When I first saw that a Mexica restaurant called Las Carretas was opening in Winter Park, I figured it was a reboot of a restaurant with the same name that occupied a building on South Semoran Boulevard in Orlando a half dozens years or so ago.

But apparently not. The Winter Park restaurant, whose name means the carts, is a first endeavor for the owners, I was told. And as a first effort they’re doing a fine job.

The Porch South Orange

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Porchsodo ext

Things are really starting to pop in the Fort Gatlin shopping center in SoSoDo. The much anticipated Gatlin Hall Brewing food market is oh-so-much-closer to opening, maybe even this weekend, with food vendors Frenchy’s Wood-Fired Pizza, Willy’s Original smash burgers, and DaKine Poke, as well as the brewed-on-site beers.

We’ve already told you about Buttercrust Pizza. Nearby, Raptor’s Meals, a takeout-only dinner provider has made room for Clara Jean’s Polish Cuisine to work out of the same space. Brazas Chicken has been there longer than any of them (and I’ll have some news about Brazas soon).

But today we’re visiting The Porch South Orange, an outpost of the original Porch bar and restaurant in Winter Park (on North Orange) .