Enzo’s on the Lake

Written By Scott Joseph On August 20, 2008

I stopped in for dinner at Enzo’s on the Lake in Longwood the other evening. It was the first time I’d dined there since Enzo Perlini died in October 2006. I hadn’t really expected to see much change. After all, Perlini had pretty much turned over operations to his ex-wife, Joann Ross, after he became ill and, for a time, returned to Rome. She was doing a fine job when I last visited for a review in the Orlando Sentinel in 2005. Here are my latest observations…

Enzo’s is situated in an old converted house on the shores of Lake Fairy. The old house is showing some age, but then aren’t we all. Still, it would benefit from a little sprucing up. (And, again, wouldn’t we all.)

The food is still first-rate, however. My dinner companions and I started with the antipasti, a platter of assorted goodies that our server culled from the table at the back of the main dining room. (Note: you are not allowed to go to the table to collect your own selections; it’s not a buffet.) There were wonderful roasted peppers, olives and tangy cheese.

We followed with an arugula salad — rocket salad, the Italians call it — with a light vinaigrette.

Snapper was the feature of the main course, a slightly soft fillet but nicely grilled and dressed with oil and capers. We also enjoyed a side of pasta in a light cream sauce.

Other favorites remain on the menu. I’ve always been a fan of the bucatini alla Enzo, which features fat, hollow pasta tossed tableside with prosciutto, peas, bacon and mushrooms, all topped off with a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese. And the costaletta di vitello is about as good a veal chop as you’re likely to find in the town, grilled to perfection and finished with butter and just the slightest waft of truffle essence.

And the abbachio del duca, delicate lamp pops stuffed with siitake mushrooms and fresh herbs, is a real treat.

When dessert rolls around, and if you’re not rolling around too much yourself by then, go for the tiramisu.

Enzo’s has been around a long time now. It’s another testament to the growing sophistication of Central Florida’s diners. When it first opened, locals didn’t understand that what Perlini was serving was authentic Italian fare — most wanted to know where the spaghetti and tomato sauce or manicotti were. (They were in the Americanized chain restaurant down the street.) Slowly, Central Floridians came to embrace true Italian food. Now it can be found in dozens of local Italian restaurants, and many do it quite well.

But few do it as well as Enzo’s did, and still does.

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Chatham’s Place

Written By Administrator On August 17, 2008

Chatham’s Place

Chathams Place

It had been a while since I’d dined at Chatham’s Place — five years, I think. And that time I was someone else’s guest so I wasn’t officially “working” and I wasn’t paying close attention to what was going on. I do remember the food being quite good, as it always has been in the past.

Chatham’s Place has gone through some changes, and much more than the fact that there are no members of the Chatham family involved in the restaurant. That’s not an issue; Louis Chatham, who served as executive chef, and his mother, Bettye, who ran the dining room in those first years, sold the operation years ago to Chatham’s sous chef, Tony Lopez, the maitre d’, Maurice Colindres, and a hostess, Carol Conwell. The three of them kept it going as strong as ever, perhaps stronger. It was clear that this was an operation of love for the three of them, and they worked together to make it a continued success.

Late in 2006, Carol Conwell died. Lopez and Colindres have kept the place running pretty much the way it has always been run, as a fine dining restaurant with a small but versatile menu served with professionalism and grace in a romantic atmosphere.

Many of the dishes that became signatures back in Louis Chatham’s days remain on the menu, including the Florida black grouper ($34), which has been one of my favorite Central Florida entrees for many years. It features a fresh fillet, thick and white, lightly sauteed and topped with pecan butter and scallions, dusted with just a soupcon of cayenne pepper. The pecan butter places the dish firmly in the south and the pepper points it towards New Orleans. But with the use of Florida black grouper I think we can just claim this one as one of our native dishes, don’t you?

My companon had the rack of lamb ($34), another long-time favorite, this one distinguished only by its high quality meat, pan-roased to a flacid medium-rare, and served with rosemary infused jus.

Appetizers weren’t as stellar as in the past. The lobster bisque ($7/cup) was heavy and with too little lobster flavor. Crabmeat en croute ($19.50) featured a very large puff pastry with jumbo lump crabmeat and shiitake mushrooms dressed in a garlic and Cajun butter sauce. The puff pastry overwhelmed in this case.

Service is still stellar, with Colindres handling the bulk of the dining room duties. It doesn’t appear that much has changed in the decor, which is tastefully elegant with white tablecloths and red napkins in the intimately small dining room. The window into the kitchen, however, has never offered much of a pretty view.

When Conwell died, Colindres told me that it was the intention of the remaining partners to keep the restaurant open in her honor. They’ve done her memory proud. It’s still one of the gems of Restaurant Row, and I hope it will continue to be for many years to come.

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Liam Fitzpatrick’s Irish Pub

Written By Administrator On August 16, 2008

Liam Fitzpatrick’s Irish pub in Lake Mary

Liam Fitzpatrick's Irish Pub

Liam Fitzpatrick’s is a new Irish pub in Lake Mary’s Colonial Town Park complex, just across from  Dexter’s and Amura and almost next door to the restaurant space that has had at least three tenants in just a few short years. Lake Marians, it seems, will not suffer inferior restaurants gladly.

So it will be interesting to see how they accept this new business. On one hand, it’s a beautiful pub, elaborately styled with painstaking details that call to mind a sort of upscale Dublin drinking house.

On the other hand there’s the food.

The menu has all the traditional pub favorites. There’s shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, and, of course, herb-marinated Hawaiian sunfish.


I stuck with the shepherd’s pie, a dish that, frankly, one never expects too much from. It’s really quite basic. But this one was particularly disappointing. The meat was meager and the mashed potatoes that topped the soupy gravy were too thin. However, I did like the fresh vegetables that were served on the side. There were zucchinis. yellow squash and carrots, all in big hunks and all al dente.

I also liked the practice of bringing a bowl of thick, kettle-cooked potato chips to the table. It reminded me a little of Gallagher’s in New York.

My server made a couple of missteps, but overall she was good. When a guest left all his change in the check folder, the server returned after picking up the folder to make sure he had meant to leave all that change for a tip. (He hadn’t.) You don’t see too many waiters do that, so kudos to her.

With only a single visit, my assessment of Liam Fitzpatrick’s is that it would be a fine place to go for a pint or three, but they need a little help with the food.

For more information, go to Liam Fitzpatrick’s Web site.

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Tabla Bar & Grill

Written By Administrator On August 15, 2008

Tabla Bar & Grill Indian restaurant near Universal Studios


Tabla Bar & Grill is a terrific Indian restaurant in a really lousy location and space. The dining room has the feel of having once been the sort of diner you usually find attached to a motel. And, in fact, it seems to be attached to something similar, perhaps a timeshare facility. To get to the restaurant you have to pass a booth touting tickets to local attractions as well as a convenience store of sorts.

But the important things, the food and the service, are first-rate. The cuisine is authentic, and the staff is welcoming and friendly and they go out of their way to do a little extra.

Take, for example, the offering of rasam as an amuse bouche, or whatever the Indian words for that would be. Rasam is like a spicy, thinner tomato soup. At times it can be quite fiery, as was the case when I reviewed Udipi Cafe for the Orlando Sentinel. Tabla’s rasam was delicious, although it was odd that on one occasion it was served warm and on another it was room temperature. One of the servers — not our waiter but they all seem to work together to help each other out — picked up the empty glasses the rasam was served in and told us if we liked it that way we should try it with pepper-infused vodka. We agreed that it sounded like a terrific idea. And a few minutes later she returned with two cocktails of a rasam-based bloody mary with a salt rim. Delicious. (And for those of you who know the area Indian restaurants, you’ll be surprised to know that Tabla is apparently the only one in Central Florida with a full liquor bar — no need to limit yourself to a Kingfisher beer.)

Another helpful server on a lunch visit suggested that instead of ordering two appetizers, each costing about $8, I could order a sampler of any three apps for a mere $9. That’ a great bargain.

And the appetizers were very good. I especially liked the momo, steamed dumplings filled with ground lamb. The vegetable filled samosas were also good, light and crispy with seasoned potatoes and peas inside.

My favorite among the entrees was the alu bukhara gosht ($20), hunks of lamb in a sauce seasoned with plum and ginger, which gave a sweet note to counter the spiciness. I also enjoyed the murgh dhansak ($15), chicken in a sauce flavored with pumpkin and fenugreek with lentils. It was ordered medium-spicy, which was just hot enough to perk up the taste buds without singeing them.

Lamb rogan josh ($18) was a more recognizeable dish of lamb with tomatoes and almonds. There is a long list of vegetarian dishes. I had the cauliflower mussallam ($12), which had florets in a creamy sauce tinged with tomatoes.

One low point: the rice served with the dishes was a bit too dry and lacked the flavor usually found in basmati rice.

There is a good list of naans, the traditional Indian breads cooked in a tandoor. My guest and I favored the keema naan, which was baked with ground lamb in the bread.

TablaOne of the odd things about Tabla is that the sign out front doesn’t say anything about it being an Indian restaurant, and most people who see it — if anyone sees it, given its location behind the Twin Towers hotel (I’ve lost track of whether they’re a Sheraton, Radisson or Crowne Plaza) — will probably think it’s Italian for table. However, tabla is a drum used in Indian music. A couple of them are displayed on the front table, part of a minimalist decorating scheme. 

But don’t let the location or atmosphere sway you. Tabla is a good Indian restaurant, and those who love the cuisine with find some wonderful tastes not found at many of the other area restaurants specializing in the foods of India.

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K Restaurant and Wine Bar

Written By Administrator On August 13, 2008

K Restaurant and Wine Bar

K Restraurant

It’s nice to see that K Restaurant and Wine Bar is doing good business, at least at lunch time. With all the talk about people cutting back on eating out, it was good to see so many tables occupied there today.

Actually, it’s probably a sign of the economic times that people are shifting their dining out patterns. Those who would go to a fancy restaurant at dinner now go to a more casual eatery. Or, instead of dinner as their meal out, they choose the more upscale restaurant for lunch.

Whatever, K is a good choice for either. I reviewed it in the Sentinel almost exactly one year ago, and that assessment stands. Add to it the delicious experience I had at lunch recently, with a plate of potato chips smothered in crumbled and slightly melted blue cheese. Sort of an upscale plate of nachos.

I had the Nicoise salad, which featured two big hunks of seared tuna on mesclun greens with chunks of potatoes, wedges of hard-boiled eggs and tangy olives.

I also had a taste of the diver scallops entree, three massive discs seared just so with a slight bit of salt to season. Tender yet with firmness.

Service was the usual K quality of attentiveness without hovering. My companions and I were allowed to set the pace.

K is still a terrific choice, lunch or dinner. And, by the way, if you’re looking for a dining deal, try K’s Monday night prix fixe menu.

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