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A Look Back at the Restaurant Reviews and News of 2017

Written By Scott Joseph On January 4, 2018

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News from the Flog  

What a Year: A Look Back at the Restaurants that Opened, Closed and Made News

Park Plaza

Happy 2018. Or should that be a wish for a Happier 2018?

Looking back at the previous year, as one does at this time, it’s noteworthy that over the previous 12 months there were almost twice as many restaurants to close as there were to open, at least in terms of significance.

But look more closely and it isn’t quite as dire as it seems. Some, such as Citrus and Mucho Tequila and Tacos, closed to make way for new concepts, Reyes Mezcalaria and Muddy Waters in these respective cases. Some closed because the owners retired. Some from the usual mismanagement or miscalculations of consumer preferences.

Some just deserved to close.

I suspect that will be the case with 2018, too. Time will tell — and it won’t necessarly take 12 months.

Here’s a re-accounting of the restaurant reviews and news as documented in these pages throughout 2017, plus a look at what to expect this year. Continue Reading

Recent Restaurant Reviews

P is for Pie

Pie sign

P is for Pie was just made for cold, rainy days. Nothing is better than warm, baked goods when the weather is dreary. Well, except maybe being near the ovens that baked them.

P is for Pie is the name of a small bakeshop in the Audubon Park neighborhood, and no, it does not offer any helpful guidance for other letters of the alphabet, you’re on your own there.

C might be for Cake. Or Coffee. Or Cinnamon, especially if you combine it with an R for Roll. In other words — or other letters, if you prefer — PifP does a lot more than its syllabary namesake.

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Hemisphere preview window

My first critique of the then-new Hemisphere restaurant, in November of 1992, in the just opened Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport had one recurring word: grand.

The restaurant is on the ninth floor of the hotel, but diners entered on the tenth and descended a curved staircase that allowed them to take in the sweeping vista from the dramatic two-story windows. The lighting was golden and the decor posh. And the cuisine, Italian in the early days, was high quality. I encouraged readers to experience this new restaurant even if they had no travel plans (the complimentary valet at the hotel’s entrance made it hassle free).

Economics and changes in customer demands caused the restaurant to evolve over the years. The stairway entrance was scrapped; just take the elevator to the ninth floor and walk in, basically under the stairway. The cuisine focus shifted, as it has at many restaurants in more than 25 years.

Late in 2016 the restaurant underwent another redo. The decor is now cold and austere. There is little to remind you of its sumptuous beginning. Except for the windows overlooking the runway, it looks like the breakfast room you’d find in any hotel. And indeed, one corner of the dining room is set aside for hotel guests to serve themselves cereals and such in the morning.

Most disappointing, the food is inappropriately overpriced and not worth even half the cost.

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Win $100 to the Best Restaurant in Central Florida

Final Foodster Categories for 2017: Best New Restaurant, Best Restaurant Overall

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Our final two categories in our Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants for 2017 will be for Best New Restaurant and Best Restaurant Overall. Polls are now open for both categories.

The nominees for Best Restaurant Overall were chosen based on past performance and critical review, previous nominations and votes, and standing in the culinary community.

The nominees for Best New Restaurant were chosen from among the notable restaurants that opened within the past 18 months.

Unlike previous categories, write-in candidates will not be selected.

To thank you for participating in selecting the winners, Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide will give away a $100 gift card to the winner of the Best Restaurant Overall category. The winner will be selected by random drawing from among the list of Scott’s e-letter recipients. If you already receive the weekly mailing, you’re already entered to win. If not, click here and enter your email address; simple as that.

Voting will continue through Jan. 10 and the winning restaurant will be announced in the Jan. 11 edition of the e-letter.

After you place your ballot, leave a comment telling us why you think it’s the Best. We may use your comments when the winners are announced. Be sure to give the name of the restaurant in your comment, otherwise we won’t know which one you’re referring to.

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