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2014 – The Culinary Year in Review

Written By Scott Joseph On December 31, 2014

We packed a lot into 2014. Time to take a look back on all that happened in the Central Florida culinary community.

Notable newcomers

ScratchKappo prepKappo, the cubby hole sushi bar at East End Market, the charming small-plate place on Fairbanks Avenue; The Strand, a homey diner on Mills Avenue; Brown’s New York Deli, bring on the half-sour pickles; Artisan’s Table, Scott Copeland’s three mealer in downtown Orlando; Soco, the Thornton Park HUE replacement with Greg Richie’s Southern contemporary menu (the restaurant’s parent company is an SJC consulting client); South + York, finally a nice restaurant for the Oviedo/Winter Springs crowd; Highball & Harvest, another Southern style eatery, this one at the Ritz-Carlton; Txokos Basque Kitchen, Henry and Michele Salgado’s much anticipated East End Market restaurant; Bistro CloClo, authentic French cuisine in the Restaurant Row area; Hamilton’s Kitchen, technically not a newcomer, but new chef Marc Kusche made it feel like it was; Kappo, creative sushi in a cramped corner of East End Market; Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa, fun little Mills 50 ‘cuerie; Royal Indian, good food for the Casselberry crowd; American Gymkhana, exciting fine Indian replacement for Raga on Restaurant Row; RusTeak College Park, second locale for the Ocoee favorite (I like this one better); Mamak Asian Street Food, tapas with an Asian flair; JJ’s Grille, cute little assemblage concept on Curry Ford Road; American Q, cowboy culture meets the churrascaria; Mynt, another fine Indian concept in Winter Park’s Hannibal Square; The Coop, John Rivers’ homage to fried chicken.

Notable Trends
Southern cuisine (Soco, South + York, Highball & Harvest, The Coop) and Indian food as fine dining (American Gymkhana, Mynt, Royal Indian).

Burger Boom, or the Continuing Trend That Shows No Sign of Ending, saw these newcomers:


  • Burger U
  • Shake Shack
  • Spice Burgr
  • Smashburger

Notable News

  • Patsio’s closed.
  • Olv closed, then reopened.
  • Cliff Pleau left Darden (for Bonefish Grille’s corporate office); so did Clarence Otis (but not for Bonefish).
  • Chef Henry’s closed.
  • Cantina Laredo closed.
  • Four Seasons opened.
  • George Vogelbacher left Winter Park Fish Company, then joined Maxine’s on Shine.
  • Tony’s Deli closed.
  • Chalet Suzanne closed.
  • Memories of India closed.
  • Crave closed.
  • Bananas Diner closed.
  • Virgin Olive Market closed.
  • Khalid Benghallem left Venetian Room.
  • SoNapa Closed.
  • Matilda’s closed.
  • Culpepper’s closed.

The “Boy, That Was Fast” Award for restaurants that opened and then closed in a short period

  • Turkish Kitchen
  • Mingos
  • Terrace 390
  • Cafe Red
  • Frenchy’s
  • Blackfin
  • Mills Brewpub & Eatery
  • Elliott’s Public House
  • Culpepper’s

Memorable Meals

  • Emeril’s Tchoup Chop’s new menu from chef Ryan Vargas.
  • Banh Mi Nha Trang, hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese sandwich shop is crazy good, mainly because of the fresh-baked bread.
  • Latin Square Cuisine, hole-in-the-wall downtowner with copious portions of delicious Latin American dishes.
  • Chef’s Dinner at Citrus.
  • Supper club at Siro’s.
  • Supper club at Eddie V’s.
  • Supper club at Bistro on Park.
  • Pop-up party at 4 Rivers headquarters.
  • Supper club at Raglan Road, followed by one in Dublin, both hosted by Kevin Dundon.
  • Supper club at Highball & Harvest.
  • Supper club at Oceanaire.

What to look for in 2015

  • Le Cirque and Circo may be coming to town, the former perhaps to join Morimoto Asia, STK, the Edison, the Boathouse and others when Disney Springs opens.
  • Del Frisco’s will open on I-Drive in the fall.
  • North Quarter Tavern from the gang at Citrus restaurant in the North Quarter.
  • Wahlburgers will open in Central Florida, the celebrity owned burger concept brought to you by local restaurant legend Manny Garcia.
  • Swine & Sons Provisions, Cask and Larder’s charcuterie and takeout concept next door.
  • Two Chefs Seafood Bar from former Emeril’s chef Bernard Carmouch and Larry Sinabaldi.
  • And watch for reviews of newly opened Capa at the Four Seasons and Boca in Winter Park.

And there will be other openings and, sadly, closings. Because that’s the nature of the restaurant business. And it’s what keeps it interesting and fun.

We hope you find our reviews and news articles useful and entertaining. It has always been our goal to assist you in making informed decisions when spending your dining dollars. If we’ve helped you in any way, please consider making a contribution to help us continue our journalism. Thank you.

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