Wine 4 Oysters Dr. Phillips

Written By Scott Joseph On July 13, 2023

Wine 4 Oysters

Wine 4 Oysters Bar & Bites, the restaurant and raw bar from East Orlando, has opened its second location in Bay Hill Plaza on Turkey Lake Road in the Restaurant Row District. There are some differences between the two W4Os: the new location has a full liquor bar but a more compact menu, though the roster of oysters is still robust.

The biggest difference between the two is that the Bay Hill Plaza location shares a space with King Cajun Crawfish even though they are separately owned. But as Tatiana Golenkova, who owns the Wine 4 Oyster with her husband, Andrey Makhotin, told me, this sort of setup is becoming more common – think of it as a mini food hall – and has advantages such as being able to use each other for overflow seating. Also, customers can order from either restaurant’s menu despite where they happen to be seated.

But there’s plenty on Wine 4 Oysters’ menu to keep you satisfied.

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Written By Scott Joseph On May 18, 2023

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Narcoossee’s, the Grand Floridian restaurant that sits apart – physically and experientially – from the more well known Victoria & Albert’s and Citricos in the “main house,” recently reopened after a renovation and menu refresh.

Like the other restaurants in the nearly 35-year-old hotel, Narcoossee’s has undergone renovations before – it was originally an oyster bar – but this one changed the physical layout and removed a sunken part of the room so that it is now all on one level. It still takes full advantage of its lagoonfront location and proximity to the Magic Kingdom. And while it is still a decidedly casual dining experience, the food is more elevated than I remember from past Narcoossee’ses (Narcoossi?)


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Wine 4 Oysters Bar & Bites

Written By Scott Joseph On December 15, 2022

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Wine 4 Oysters Bar & Bites is a charming little restaurant on South Alafaya Trail in the Shoppes of Eastwood. It’s a small storefront space with a few tables and chairs along one wall and a bar on the other. That the spaces at the bar seem to fill up before the tables lets you know that this is a neighborhoody kind of place.

It’s a mom and pop operation run by Tatiana Golenkova and Andrey Makhotin, who are mom and pop to Nikolay, who also works at the restaurant on weekends.

As the name suggests, oysters are a forte here, but this is not your divey kind of oyster bar with a concrete counter and shuckings scraped on the floor. The wine part of the name conveys its more boutiquey atmosphere, which may be one of the reasons that women made up most of the guests on the evening I visited recently.


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Boston’s Fish House: An Orlando Classic

Written By Scott Joseph On August 18, 2022

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Boston’s Fish House and I both made our Orlando debuts in the same year, 1988. The restaurant opened in February and I rode in to town in May. We didn’t meet each other until that November, but it was instant love, at least for me.

As someone who had moved to Florida from the desert Southwest, I expected that every other restaurant I would be reviewing in my new job at the Orlando Sentinel would specialize in seafood. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

It may seem odd now (actually, it seemed odd then) but despite Central Florida’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean their bounties made it into few of its restaurants. Instead, fish offloaded onto local docks were immediately boxed and sent flying to other parts of the country to restaurateurs who appreciated fresh seafood.

What made this doubly ironic was that it took a family from Massachusetts to move to town to demonstrate that Central Floridians do indeed appreciate good seafood. Want triple irony? The family was flying in its seafood from New England.


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Big Fin Seafood introduces new menu items

Written By Scott Joseph On August 11, 2022

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Big Fin Seafood’s executive chef, Eric Enrique, has been making some changes to the popular restaurant’s menu, and I stopped in recently to give them a try.

The most impressive addition, at least in a visual sense, is a shellfish tower, with chilled Maine lobster, Alaskan king crab, cocktail shrimp and raw oysters served on crushed ice and accompanied by mignonette, cocktail and stone sauces. All delicious, and even more stunning than the chilled seafood platter I had at Le Ronde in Paris in June.


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Supper Club Redux: Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen

Written By Scott Joseph On July 19, 2022

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After a pause of nearly three years, we finally had an in-person Supper Club again, breaking our pandemic fast at Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen. When I opened the reservations to my newsletter sibscribers, the dinner sold out in less than 24 hours. So the restaurant added another night – a Supper Club first.

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And at both nights, Richard Blais, the celebrity chef who has attached his name to the restaurant, was on hand to talk with us. When we were in the planning stage for the dinner, we discussed having Blais join us by Zoom – something we learned when we did a virtual Supper Club online. We could talk with chefs and winemakers anywhere in the world. But Blais said “No, I want to be there.”

He greeted us, joked amiably and talked about his vision for the restaurant. Then he introduced his resident executive chef, Shelby Farrell, who ran us through the menu.


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Y.H. Seafood Clubhouse

Written By Scott Joseph On June 30, 2022

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The initials in the name of Y.H. Seafood Clubhouse, a new restaurant in the Restaurant Row district, are easy to explain: They stand for Yummy House, a Florida Chinese restaurant group with a handful of locations.

The Clubhouse part isn’t quite as clear. For me, clubhouse evokes rustic, almost slapdash digs. But Y.H. Seafood Clubhouse borders on elegant, a bright and glittery room with walls of tall golden panels with delicate floral patterns and tables covered with crisp white cloths. (The space, in the Whole Foods plaza on the southeast corner of Sand Lake Road and Turkey Lake Road, was originally O’Charley.)

The Seafood part of the name speaks for itself. Although this is a Chinese restaurant, its menu focuses on the region of Canton and its coastline on the South China Sea.


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Fish On Fire

Written By Scott Joseph On April 26, 2022


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Fish On Fire has been operating on the lonely corner of Daetwyler Drive and McCoy Road since 2004, though not consistently, and not just because of pandemically forced shutdowns.

In April of 2010, a fire all but destroyed the structure, proving that the gods have a taste for irony. But owners Jay Herrington and John Mitchell rebuilt the restaurant, which sits in front of a motel across from the elevated Beachline Highway, and reopened it in 2011.

Except for the lack of a nearby body of water – Lake Conway Chain of Lakes is about a tenth of a mile away but that doesn’t count – FOF has all the trappings of a classic fish camp, especially in its overt rusticity. I did notice on my recent trip that the floors that were once bare concrete are now tiled, and galvanized buckets have been fashioned into overhead light fixtures, a bit of whimsy that might be considered too precious for an actual fish camp.


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Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen

Written By Scott Joseph On February 8, 2022

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There was a time when the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress was a dining destination for special occasions. La Coquina was one of the top fine dining restaurants in the area with an incomparable Sunday brunch. Hemingway’s had a casual elegance that made guests feel as though they were dining in an elite Key West house.

La Coquina regularly took a summer hiatus, but in the fall of 2012 it simply did not reopen, a casualty of changing dining preferences; the gorgeous space now used for special events. Hemingway’s closed at the beginning of the pandemic shortly after it underwent a remodel. But it didn’t reopen either, though it wasn’t missed much – its panache had paled in its last years.

Now the hotel has opened a new restaurant in the Hemingway’s space called Four Flamingos. And the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress may once again see locals booking tables.


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The Catfish Place of Apopka

Written By Scott Joseph On November 23, 2021

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I have just enough time to induct the Catfish Place of Apopka into our list of Orlando Classics before it goes away forever. After 38 years, the restaurant has been sold and will soon change its name to Nauti Lobstah.

Michael Rumplik and his wife, Cara, along with Christine Gonzalez purchased the landmark eatery from Bob Johnson last month. Rumplik’s name should be familiar to longtime readers as the executive chef at Rosen Centre, where he oversaw Everglades restaurant. So he knows seafood (though one of my favorite Rumplik dishes is his focaccia-crusted lamb).

But devoted Catfish Placers should take heart: Rumplik says that although he’s adding to the menu – a live lobster tank is now on premises and he’s featuring more oysters and clams – he has no intention of deleting the erstwhile eponymous items. Translation: Catfish will still be available. “I kept many of Bob’s recipes and favorites on the menu,” Rumplik told me by phone. “I want to keep everybody happy and content.”


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