Is anyone accepting wagers on when Dexter’s New Standard will officially drop the first word in its name?
The name, of course, is homage to Dexter’s of Winter Park, one of what was once a quadruple of restaurants. The Winter Park location was the original, though it did not start out in the Hannibal Square space that it recently vacated. It began as a wine bar and retail shop, owned by Dexter Richardson, and expanded to become more of a restaurant. As other locations opened, Winter Park’s took on the identity of also being a venue for live music.
A little more than a year ago, all of the Dexter’s were sold to different entities. Only Dexter’s of Lake Mary remains, if you don’t count Dexter’s New Standard.
And I don’t. I suppose it made sense initially to keep the Dexter’s name as a connection to its roots, a tribute to the beginnings of what once was a beloved bôite. But the new moniker that was attached when the restaurant was moved to its current home in Winter Park’s Ravaudage plaza more than suggests a breakaway from the past – you can’t get any more succinct than New Standard.
But while there are certain echos of a Dexter’s past – popular menu items, though reimagined; a continued dedication to live music; and a renewed commitment to an ambitious wine program – this clearly is a new restaurant.
Every now and then another restaurant will come up with the idea to serve a menu featuring “global cuisine,” with dishes cherry picked and compiled from cuisines from around the world. A little Italian, a little Latin, maybe some French.
It never works. No less a restaurant Midas than Manny Garcia tried it in 1988 with a concept called Latitudes, which had an airport lounge decor to suggest the diner could travel to faraway places through the menu. It didn’t work, and Garcia converted the restaurant into the Winter Park location of his already successful Pebbles.
Restaurants need cohesion and focus. It’s admirable to want to be all things to all people, but it’s better to be one thing to the people who want that thing, and to do it well enough that they’ll come back often.
El Vic’s Kitchen in College Park is the latest to make the “we are the world” mistake. (The name of the restaurant is another misstep, but I’ll come back to that.) And it’s unfortunate because the path the restaurant should take is obvious. And it would offer a much more satisfying dining experience.
Gin is really big in Ireland right now, maybe even more so than whiskey. In this episode of On the House, Alan Delahunt of Raglan Road Irish Pub at Disney Springs demonstrates how to make PJ’s Poison, a signature gin cocktail at the popular restaurant.
Watch the video below, then grab the ingredients and give it a try. Sláinte.
David Ramirez Chocolates is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary and David, Nicole and the whole gang of chocolatiers are hosting a party to celebrate.
The event is Fri., Feb. 7, from 5 to 9 p.m. at DRC headquarters and candy-making facility, 2154 Central Florida Parkway, Suite B-8, Orlando. It’s free but they ask that you let them know that you’re coming by visiting the registration page.
The proposed menu has been released for this year’s Field to Feast, the terrific event featuring some of Walt Disney World’s top chefs that is held at Long & Scott Farms, and it has a fascinating twist.
F2F is a walkabout event with the chefs cooking onsite at booths under an open-air pavilion. It will take place on Sat., Feb. 22, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Each cooking station also has its own sommelier pouring selections to match the food. (The wine selections are once again under the direction of master sommelier George Miliotes of Wine Bar George.)
What’s interesting is that this year, each chef station will have two offerings, as they have in the past, but one will be a plant-based alternative.
Michael Symon will be the headlining chef for the second annual Orlando Wine Festival & Auction March 13 through 15 at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. Symon is a Cleveland chef and restaurateur who became a celebrity in the early days of the Food Network with his show The Melting Pot. He won the first season of The Next Iron Chef and was co-host for the ABC daytime talk-and-cooking show The Chew.
At the wine event, which is sponsored by the Orlando Magic, Symon and the crew from his Cleveland restaurant Lola will cook the Saturday evening dinner for about 450 festival attendees. Follow this link for more information about the Orlando Wine Festival & Auction.
During a recent phone conversation, I asked Symon about his journey from cook to television star, his challenges as a restaurateur, whether he would consider opening a restaurant in Orlando, and what he really thinks about Miracle Whip.