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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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Spotlight

Spotlight: Tandoori Bowl


Next up in the assemblage line of restaurants: Indian cuisine. Tandoori Bowl is a new restaurant on Alafaya Trail in Oviedo that employs the “one from column A, one from column B…” style of meal construction. Indian cuisine being what it is, however, you can expect more columns. Here you start with your carb, either white rice or brown, which is simple enough. (You also have to begin by choosing regular or large size bowls; regular is plenty big.) Next you choose your protein, which might be chicken, lamb, paneer, chickpeas, pork or steak. Pork or steak? Holy cow, what kind of Indian restaurant is this? Then you add a vegetable, a less contemplative decision in that only carrots or …
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Photo courtesy of Scott Joseph.
Spotlight

Spotlight: Mai Bistro In Mills 50


Mai Bistro, a Vietnamese restaurant, has opened in the Mills 50 district, bringing a bit of difference to the Asian-restaurant-rich neighborhood. Not only different, but very good. The menu features street foods of Vietnam — nothing new there, Hawkers and Mamak are also in the street food business. But Mai — that’s M-A-I —brings a combination of fast- and quick-serve. And instead of the small-plate, Asian-style tapas servings, Mai Bistro offers full sized portions. You’re going to want a complete serving of the Sticky Rice, one of Mai Bistro’s specialties and a dish that is surprisingly hard to find locally. I love sticky rice and it’s one of my go-to street foods whenever I’m in New York’s Chinatown. In Vietnam, …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Cork & Fork


I recently made a second visit to Cork & Fork, a restaurant in the Belle Isle neighborhood. I made my first visit there two years and three days earlier. I didn’t write about it then because I found the restaurant, its food and its service to all be equally banal. (The name of the place, too, as long as I’m at it.) Also, it occupied a space that had not been known for keeping tenants very long. I figured it would slink off into obscurity without any help from me. But it’s stayed on. So I figured it was time to stop in again and check the place out, to see what has kept it going. And it certainly appeared …
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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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