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Spotlight

Spotlight: Enzo’s On The Lake


I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of our classic restaurants, venerable dining spots that have withstood the vagaries of the industry and the fickleness of the public to endure and even thrive. This week: Enzo’s on the Lake. Enzo Perlini opened the restaurant in 1980 along with his then wife Jo Anne. They bought a private home on Lake Fairy and converted it from a house to a restaurant. The couple divorced in 2000 but they remained business partners. When Perlini was diagnosed with leukemia, he relinquished day to day operations to Jo Anne. Perlini died in 2006 at the age of 61. Jo Anne is still at the Longwood restaurant. So are …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Wine Bar George


This is not your average wine bar. But then knowing George Miliotes, no one would have expected it to be. Miliotes is the George of Wine Bar George, the latest venue to spring up at Disney Springs. It’s big, situated in a newly constructed two-level building with a balcony overlooking the walkway below and part of the lagoon just beyond. Wine, of course, is the main draw here, and the list, personally curated by Miliotes, is extensive and varied. He wisely included popular names, go-to wines that people order out of habit or because they’re intimidated by some of the more obscure names. But if Miliotes gets to those people before they place their order, chances are they’re going to …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Bulgogi House


I’m not really big on places where the customers are expected to cook their own meals. I call that home. When I go out to eat, I want someone else to do the cooking. I’m apparently in the minority. At least I was the first time I visited Bulgogi House, a Korean restaurant on West Colonial Drive between downtown and College Park. Each table has a grill set into it, and most of the tables were occupied with people happily turning over meats and vegetables as they sizzled in front of them. My friend and I looked at each other and thought, Nah, not tonight. (We went elsewhere and had a wonderful prime rib dinner, all of it prepared in …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Hong Kong Alley’s Kitchen


I’m sure the staff at Hong Kong Alley’s Kitchen were just trying to be nice. They were effusive in their greeting when I walked into the strip mall storefront restaurant on East Colonial Drive. And the young man who took my order had a smile on his face at all times. But no one could quite believe me when I told them, multiple times, I didn’t need the fork they kept trying to place on my table. The chopsticks were fine, I said. Not showing off, I just think Chinese food tastes better when the proper utensils are utilized. And I eat less. I had stopped in on a whim, noticing as I drove by the banner out front announcing …
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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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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: 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: 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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Spotlight

Spotlight: The Edison At Disney Springs


The Edison at Disney Springs is 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. Apparently he had something to do with inventing bacon, too, given its near ubiquitousness on the menu. That includes an appetizer called the DB Clothesline Candied Bacon, with long rashers of bacon clipped, for some reason, with clothespins to a rod suspended between two tall poles. (The clothespin was not an Edison). The bacon, thick and chewy, was slathered with sticky maple syrup and dotted with …
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