My 5th Element

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Fifth Element exterior

As I write this I’m in London, which, I’m told, has more Indian restaurants than Mumbai. I don’t know if that’s true, and frankly, I’d be more impressed if Mumbai has more fish and chips joints than London.

I do know that every time I’ve visited London in the past, I’ve been disappointed with the Indian restaurants here. I suppose that’s because my concept of what good Indian food should be has been shaped by the restaurants I’ve experienced in the U.S. What I know to be good and not so good Indian food is from domestic eating. And based on that, I think 5thElement, a restaurant in Sanford, is good.

Tamale Co.

Written by Scott Joseph on .

TamaleTamale co top

It’s really impressive how much a restaurant’s serving staff can affect the overall experience. It’s a point I make repeatedly in my online Server’s Training Course.

Of course it doesn’t hurt if the restaurant has good food to go along with a pleasant serving staff.

Tamale Co. has both. And now the popular food truck purveyor of fine Mexican fare has a nonwheeled location in Orlando’s unofficially designated Hourglass District.

Orlando Classic: Lee & Rick's Oyster Bar

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Orlando Classics is an occasional look at Central Florida restaurants that have been in business for at least 25 years.

LeeRicks exterior

Whenever anyone asked about Orlando dives — and you’d be surprised how often people ask — there were always two immediate answers: Wally’s and Lee & Rick’s Oyster Bar.

Wally’s, as those still in mourning know, closed last year. And while it is scheduled to reopen soon with a new owner, its diveyness will have to be determined.

LeeRicks boat

But Lee & Rick’s, now in its sixty-ninth year, is still around and just as unrefined as always. From the cheesy boat facade to the concrete bar with big hunks chipped away from years of shuckers banging their knives on it to pry open oyster shells, this Orlando institution is a delight for the senses.

Mykonos

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Mykonos exterior

I finally made it up to the new Mykonos. Well, it was new 10 months ago when it started serving its popular Greek food again. Technically, it’s not new at all.

I first reviewed Mykonos back in 2000 when it first opened in the Springs Plaza in Longwood. Then it was called Mayerion Mykonos and it instantly served some of the best Greek food in town. Granted, there were only a few Greek restaurants in town back then. I remember that I liked the food, and I especially liked the lima beans. I think I even published the recipe.

But in 2016, the restaurant’s landlord informed the owner, Tina Karoutsos, that the lease would not be renewed. A medical clinic next door was expanding and needed the space. Instead of trying to find an existing restaurant that she could take over, Karoutsos signed for a new spot in the same plaza, directly behind where the original restaurant stood.

But the storefront had never been a restaurant, so it had to be retrofitted with all the equipment that goes into a new professional kitchen. You think your kitchen remodel took a long time? Mykonos was closed for over 18 months.

Eddie V's

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Eddie v 2019 interior 1

I had a rare evening recently when I decided I didn’t want to go out to eat at a place that I had to but rather revisit a restaurant I wanted to, just because I like it.

I chose Eddie V’s.

I love the elegance of Eddie V’s dining room, the sophistication of the tuxedo-styled tables with white linens and black napkins. The candles and fine stemware. The drum shaped light fixtures softly illuminating the room.

And the food is always first rate, too.

American Kitchen Bar & Grill 2019

Written by Scott Joseph on .

 Am kitchen couch

I could begin this review of American Kitchen Bar & Grill by telling you what I think of the chef and restaurant at the B Resort — after all, that’s what you pay me for (cough).

But instead, let me share what Greg Richie, chef/partner of Soco Thornton Park, recently wrote on his Facebook page:

“There are plenty of restaurants and chefs in town (Orlando) that get their fair share of buzz and hype. You know who’s not getting their share? Chef Venoy Rogers III at American Kitchen Bar and Grill. This guy and his crew (sous Jacob Rios) are doing great things! Don’t sleep on this, folks. Go check it out. (Note- the dining room and atmosphere don’t do justice to the level of food. No disrespect intended.)”

My thoughts exactly. But let me go into some specifics.

Bread & Co.

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Bread co exterior

There’s little from the outside of Bread & Co., a new “Artisan Bakery” in Winter Park, that gives a clue as to what’s inside. Yes, there is bread, as well as other baked goods. But they may not be what you expect.

That’s because Bread & Co. is largely a Korean bakery. It occupies a space that for a very brief time last year was home to Wonton Asian Kitchen. The same owners shut down the quick-serve hot-food operation and revamped the space for a bakery.

Proper & Wild

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Proper exterior

There’s probably no better way to begin this review of Proper & Wild than with the owners’ Mission Statement, even though I generally am not a fan of mission statements because they’re so general and ethereal and lacking in specifics that they usually are meaningless.

But I like what Chelsie and Jamie Savage have to say here: “We believe community matters, food matters, and health matters, so we make damn good food that’s good for you, and we hold the space for Central Florida to come together and enjoy it.”

It still isn’t very specific in details, but the “damn good food” pretty much gets to the heart of what they’re doing with this Winter Park restaurant.

Simply Gyros

Written by Scott Joseph on .

 Simply Gyros exterior

Restaurateur Sunny Corda, whose current brands include Rasa, Southern Spice, saffron and Mynt, is stepping out of his Indian milieu and dabbling in a bit of Greek with Simply Gyros.

Located next door to Rasa, on Restaurant Row, SG is a fast-food style outlet for everyone’s favorite Mediterranean sandwich.

As the name suggests, the menu is straightforward and focuses on gyros. However, if your concept of a gyro is lamb and beef sliced from a vertical tower of meat that continually spins on a rotisserie, you should know that here a falafel sandwich is also considered a gyro. So is chicken, though in both cases I would classify them as shawarmas or doners. But far be if from me to be difficult about a place called Simply Gyros.

Fiorenzo

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Fiorenzo19 decor2

Fiorenzo, the Hyatt Regency Orlando restaurant formerly known as Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse, has emerged from its monthslong renovation. Even though it shortened its name, it is still Italian and you can still get a good steak.

But Italian steakhouse didn’t fit the restaurant’s new designation as an all-day restaurant. And there is a preconceived notion of what a steakhouse looks like.

And before the renovation, Fiorenzo lived up to that stereotype: it was dark and moody.

Fiorenzo19 decor3

That has changed. The space has been brightened and opened up, including at the entrance, which used to be behind a wall hidden from the lobby but now is fully visible with a lobby bar. George Wong Design did the renovation.