I don’t think that 2016 is going to go down as a momentous year for many people, but culinarily speaking, it was pretty memorable.
1921 by Norman Van Aken — Florida’s most celebrated chef brought fine dining to Mount Dora, of all places.
DoveCote — Downtown Orlando gets a French style brasserie with excellent food from chef and co-owner Clay Miller in the former Harvey’s Bistro space.
Viet-Nomz — Just may be the best Vietnamese food in the area, served fast-casual style in a small but tidy space.
There were also some noteworthy redo’s and reimaginings, including Venetian Chop House (formerly the Venetian Room), Flying Fish (formerly Flying Fish Cafe) and TR Fire Grill, which finally got it right with their second location (after closing the first).
Other places I liked:
These restaurants closed this year:
Paco’s, longtime Winter Park Tex-Mexer
Alfresco, Winter Garden
Txokos Basque Kitchen, the Spanish flavored restaurant from Henry and Michele Salgado
Somm, the wine bar from the owners of Slate
Bistro Le Coq, a Dr. Phillips version of downtown Orlando’s Le Coq au Vin
Rangetsu, the Japanese and sushi restaurant closed five years after moving to Maitland from International Drive.
Park Plaza Gardens, still closed only “temporarily” but now mired in legal battles that will prevent a quick reopening.
But places do close and then reopen, as demonstrated by Tartini Pizzeria & Spaghetteria and Oblivion Taproom, the burger bar.
And what do we have to look forward to in 2017?
The Luma and Prato people will open Luke’s Kitchen and Bar in the Maitland space that was ever so briefly Blackfin but which most people still refer to as “the former Steak & Ale building.” Planet Hollywood Conservatory will open at Disney Springs with menu contributions from Guy Fieri. Also at Disney Springs, but probably not until the end of the year, master somm George Miliotes will start pouring at Wine Bar George. Also also at the Springs, James and Julie Petrakis will add the Polite Pig to their porcine portfolio. Also also also…Paddlefish will set sail (not really) in the former Fulton’s Crab House.
Look for Circo, the Italian brand from New York’s Le Cirque folks, to open mid year on the top of an as-yet-to-be-constructed parking garage.
We’ll be keeping an eye on Osprey Tavern now that Joseph Burnett has left the kitchen. And we’ll be watching for Burnett, too — he tells me he’s looking for a Winter Garden location to open his own restaurant. And speaking of Winter Garden, Ryan Freelove’s Market To Table is expected to open soon in the space vacated by Alfresco last year.
And Stefano’s Trattoria fans are excited that Stefano LaCommare is coming out of retirement to help his son, Leonardo, open Nonno’s in Altamonte Springs. That should happen soon.
Will get started next week with new reviews and breaking news. In the coming weeks, watch for reviews of Maestro Cucina Naploetana, the new Hemisphere at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport; the relocated Ravenous Pig; Sidebar Mary’s, on the side of Hamburger Mary’s; and Domu at East End Market.