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Spotlight

Spotlight: Copacabana


Copacabana, a Cuban cafe from Mount Dora, has opened a second location in Altamonte Springs. It’s a bright and spiffy spot with friendly service and decent food. The Altamonte location opened only recently, and I have to wonder if the owners knew that the parking lot would be nearly nonexistent when they first planned the new place. The small strip mall, which also is home to longtime Indian restaurant Kohinoor and two breastaurants, Twin Peaks and the Winghouse, is undergoing some sort of construction on the central parking lot. People who wished to eat at Copacabana had to hunt for parking along the sides and hike to the restaurant. It should be testament to the quality of the restaurant that …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Too Much Sauce


I cringed just a little when I first heard about a new place called Too Much Sauce, not because of the name, which is indeed cringe worthy, but because it is yet another in the long line of assemblage restaurants. maybe it wasn’t a cringe; it might have been an eye roll. I definitely sighed. But I found this new restaurant in the Mills 50 district to be absolutely charming and much less annoying than the average choose-from-each-column concept. And, not incidentally, the food was good. Even better, there are several preordained bowls that require no hand-wringing order choices. And for those who do wish to call the shots, the bowls are constructed in the back, so you aren’t forced …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Orchid Thai in Lake Mary


I’ve always enjoyed Orchid Thai on Park Avenue in Winter Park, so I was glad to learn of a new location in Lake Mary. Unfortunately, it’s just not the same. Of course it was bound to be different. The Winter Park restaurant has the ambience of Park Avenue and the lovely outdoor dining. In fact, I couldn’t imagine going to the original Orchid Thai and choosing to dine in the small, a bit-too-cramped dining room. There is no outside dining at the Lake Mary version. Even if there were it probably wouldn’t be very pleasant looking at the parking lot of the strip mall it’s located in. The Lake Mary restaurant’s dining room is nice enough. This is the space …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Jax


Jax Fifth Avenue has returned to downtown Orlando. Except that it’s no longer called Jax Fifth Avenue, which is fine because it isn’t on Fifth Avenue. But then, it never was on Fifth Avenue, it was on South Court Avenue. But who would name a restaurant Jax South Court Avenue? The original name was meant to be a tongue in cheek play on Saks Fifth Avenue’s name. Those who are old enough to remember the first Jax and who are still able to consume solid food will find that a lot is the same at the new place, which is in the former Baoery/City Fish space on Central Boulevard. In fact, Thompson said he was going for nostalgia. You’ll see …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Bates New England Seafood & Steakhouse


I drove out to Ocoee recently and found myself back in 1988. Well, not really, but as I had dinner at Bates New England Seafood & Steakhouse, I couldn’t help thinking of when Boston’s Fish House opened in Winter Park. That was when good seafood restaurants were hard to come by in Central Florida, which is odd to think of today considering we’re essentially surrounded by seawater. It’s even odder that one of the best new seafood restaurants in town back then was flying its fish in from New England. So does Bates. And just like Boston’s before it, it features New England specialities like Ipswich or whole belly clams and seafood platters of breaded and deep-fried fish, shrimp, scallops …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Mrs. Potato


I wonder what Mrs. Potato’s maiden name was. Does she call her kids tots? I’m also wondering if Mrs. Potato is Brazilian or Swiss? The Mrs. P in question has a small potatoria in south Orlando in the vicinity of Metro West. True to the name, Mrs. Potato serves mainly spuds, supplemented by a variety of meats, cheeses or combinations thereof. You can get them in the form of a boring, dull baked potato, or you can have the rosti type, which the website touts as “the original Brazilian style.” But technically speaking, rosti potatoes originated in Switzerland. If you saw them, however, you might think they were the product of Mel’s Diner, as they are essentially hash browns. Well, …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: The Halal Guys


If you’ve ever been to New York City and wandered around the around the area of 6th Avenue and West 53rd Street — and as a tourist, there’s a pretty good chance you have since it’s in the area of Rockefeller Center and the corner that the New York Hilton is on — you’ve undoubtedly seen an omnipresent food stand there where meats and onions are cooked on a griddle day and night and mounded in a corner of the hot surface awaiting customers. You may have even ordered a pita sandwich there. I did, many, many years ago, on one of my early visits to the city, while attending a convention, at the Hilton, in fact, in the days …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Orlando Meats


I pretty much knew what I wanted as soon as I scanned the small menu board over the ordering counter at Orlando Meats, a small butchery on Virginia Drive. As someone who always orders his burgers medium rare, I couldn’t pass up one whose entry on the menu actually reads “Medium-rare Burger.”
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Kona Grill


Silly me, I was expecting Hawaiian, or at least Polynesian. I mean, what else should one infer from a name like Kona Grill? And there are a lot of Asian and Pacific Rimmy kinds of dishes on the menu. There are sushi offerings and the requisite poke bowls, some egg rolls and some stir-frys. But of course the first thing I spot on the large menu is Jambalaya. The second thing is a Cuban Sandwich. So immediately I’m thinking WTF, which stands for What’s the Theme? I’m going to go with “big and splashy,” with a side of “feed as many people as you can at once.” It’s a very large space, and it doesn’t appear to have been cheaply …
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