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Spotlight

Spotlight: Claddagh Cottage Irish Pub


Was it ever really gone? Any out-of-towners wandering into Claddagh Cottage Irish Pub in the last few weeks might be surprised to learn that it has been away for close to a year and a half. It thrums with the laughter and chatter of a full house, background to the lilt of traditional music, sometimes recorded, sometimes live. Despite its relative newness, it feels comfortably worn, familiar. We in-towners know that this is a new location for Claddagh, which was forced out of its small strip mall spot to make way for a new Walgreens. (You can blame us aging Baby Boomers and our need to have a pharmacy close enough get to using a walker.) The original closed its …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Chef Wang’s Kitchen


The young man who was waiting to take my order at Chef Wang’s Kitchen pointed helpfully (if not a little impatiently) at one of the pictured menu items. “Foreigners seem to like that one,” he offered. To understand the level of authenticity, or at least a level that rises above many westernized Chinese restaurants here is Central Florida, you need to know that when he said foreigners he was referring to Americans. Chef Wang’s Kitchen is located in the repurposed yet still worn looking shopping mall now known as Chinatown on West Colonial Drive. The restaurant occupies a modest storefront tastefully appointed with stone-look tables and substantial dark wood chairs (sturdy enough for any foreigners who come in). The item …
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The “Crunchy Chicken.” Photo: AJ’s Press / Facebook
Spotlight

Spotlight: AJ’s Press


AJ’s Press is, despite the name which makes it sound like a news organization, a Longwood sandwich shop in a small strip mall near the railroad tracks.
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Enzo’s Hideaway


In terms of splashiness and go-for-the-awe design and decor, Enzo’s Hideaway, from Patina Restaurant Group, offers much less than its sister restaurants at Disney Springs. Morimoto Asia has an opulent two-story dining room with elegant chandeliers; The Edison resides in what was supposed to have been an abandoned power producing facility, and Maria & Enzo’s has the dramatic effect of a grand old airline terminal with large windows overlooking the lagoon. Enzo’s Hideaway has no windows and no double-height ceilings. It’s dark and slightly dank and several of the walls are covered in graffiti. I enjoyed myself here more than at the others. Which is not to say that I don’t like the other restaurants; I do. But I think …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Tartine In College Park


How could I not order something called a Tallow Candle? Tallow is a more lyrical name for lard, and the very thought of it whisked me back to a bar in Firenze that listed lardo as one its bar snacks. And it was just what it promised: little chunks of lard to put on a cracker or slice of bread. With each bite it was like saying, “Here it comes, arteries; deal with it.” A Tallow Candle, as presented at Tartine in College Park, sounded like a more inventive presentation. And it was. Essentially, the tallow was in the form of a tealight with a lighted wick that was to melt the lard into a spreadable goo. Unfortunately, unless you’re …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante


Grand is a word that might come to mind when you enter Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante, one of a few new dining venues that opened recently at Disney Springs. Although guests enter the building from street level (or walkway level, as the case may be), they walk past the host stand to discover themselves standing on a mezzanine overlooking the vast dining room below, accessed by a sweeping staircase. The far wall is comprised of two-story floor to ceiling windows with a commanding view of the lagoon outside. It reminds me a little of the opulence of La Coquina, the late lamented fine dining venue at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, but on a larger scale. It’s among the most impressive …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Bugambilias Mexican Restaurant


Bugambilias isn’t the sort of place you’d just wander into, not unless you live in the vicinity of Lancaster Road between Orange Avenue and South Orange Blossom Trail. If you do, you know there are myriad Mexican restaurants, many as authentic as you’re likely to find in the area, to choose from. Bugambilas would be a good choice. Though it isn’t a guarantee of authenticity, it’s a pretty good indication when one has to ask if a menu is available in English. (One was.) While I was still trying to navigate through the Spanish version, I was drawn to the Pozole, a favorite of mine. But when I failed to notice it was available only on Sabado and Domingo, I …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Southern Spice


You might say that Southern Spice has brought back good memories. As in Memories of India, a once-fine restaurant from the same neighborhood. Southern Spice features the foods of South India (mostly), and presents a few items that might be unfamiliar to you if your only experience with Indian cuisine is from Central Florida restaurants. Though, like most local Indian restaurants, Southern Spice also features a buffet at lunchtime. But I haven’t experienced one quite so nicely presented and with such good food. Some of the best of what I sampled on my recent visit were the vegetarian offerings, beginning with the appetizer of Gobi 65. Made with cauliflorets, the bite-sized nuggets had a fiery red color from the peppers …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Jiko- The Cooking Place


Jiko – The Cooking Place is among the restaurants that will be participating in this year’s Chef’s Gala. I was asked if I’d like to sample the dish that Jiko’s chef, Edward T. Mendoza, would be offering at the April 14 event, so I said sure, why not? I hadn’t been to Jiko in a long time, it would be nice to see what’s going on there these days. Good things, it turns out. Let me put it this way: As soon as the bus drops you off at the World Showplace at the beginning of Chef’s Gala, head directly to the station, or cooking place, if you will, where Mendoza and his team will be serving their Isitambu. Isitambu …
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The General Public House. Photo: The General Public House / Facebook
Spotlight

Scott Joseph: The General Public House


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.
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