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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: 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: F&D Cantina Lake Mary


To understate it just a bit, I wasn’t all that impressed with F&D Cantina when it opened in mid 2016 in Waterford Lakes. Besides being served food that was at a temperature lower than what could legally be considered warm, the service was lacking and the surroundings offered nothing to enhance the experience. That location has closed. But another F&D Cantina has popped up in Lake Mary, and I’m pleased to say that the F&D Cantina in Lake Mary is good enough to make the Waterford Lakes location a distant memory. Let’s start with the restaurant itself. The interior design makes good use of the storefront space, with a dominant bar with a high backbar that rises to a mezzanine …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Grills Lakeside Seafood Deck & Tiki Bar


I’ve lost track of all the businesses that have occupied the space at 4315 N. Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando. I’m pretty sure my first encounter with the massive property on the shore of Lake Fairview was with Shooters Waterfront, an Orlando version of the Intracoastal Waterway hot spot from Ft. Lauderdale that opened here in 1990. Didn’t last long. The new tenant is Grills Lakeside Seafood Deck & Tiki Bar, which is similar to Shooters in that it is an inland location of an open water eatery, namely Port Canaveral. But Grills differs from the old Shooters in one major aspect: It offers good food to go with the view. Because of its proximity to water, Grills has always …
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