Russell’s on Lake Ivanhoe, the upscale casual restaurant in the historic district north of downtown, isn’t a French restaurant per se. But with a French chef/owner, Emmanuel Clement, there are bound to be some dishes with French influences. Wonderfully so.
And now, with the addition of some new menu items created by Clement, there are a few more. I met with some friends for dinner at Russell’s recently and had a chance to sample some of the new dishes.
With the beginning of Lunar New Year just a few days ago, perhaps it’s fitting that Michelin Guide’s announcement Wednesday of the Central Florida restaurants that will be added to the Florida guidebook this year are all Asian.
Of the 19 additions for the Miami, Orlando and Tampa guide, five are from Greater Orlando. They are: Zaru, Sushi Saint, Natsu, Camille and Chuan Fu.
Field To Feast, the annual fundraiser sponsored by Edible Orlando, went on last weekend even though Edible Orlando ceased publication with its fall edition. While a new publisher and editorial team are sought, the original publication crew of Kendra Lott, Katie Farmand and Pam Brandon teamed up once again with the chefs of Walt Disney World Resorts to hold the popular event at Long & Scott Farms in Mount Dora.
It was a perfect afternoon, and a couple of hundred attendees wandered under and around the pavilion next to the cornfield nibbling, tasting, sipping and listening to the live band.
A record $43,022 was raised from ticket sales and a raffle. Proceeds go to Second Harvest Food Banks Kids Cafe program.
Scroll through the gallery below to see some of the highlights.
Judson’s Live, a music venue, officially opened this week at the Dr. Phillips Center, another world-class performance space for the jewel of downtown Orlando.
It’s a stellar room. Think of any of the well-known clubs in New York – 54 Below, Birdland, Cafe Carlyle, Blue Note – and it blows them all away, with the possible exception of Dizzy’s Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center, which served as the inspiration for the design of Judson’s. (The only thing missing is a vast window overlooking Columbus Circle.)
Judson’s Live bests the others I mentioned because it has better sight lines, isn’t cramped, has a more spacious stage platform that isn’t raised too high, creating a more intimate experience between audience and musicians, and its acoustics are pristine. They obviously took a cue from the sound designers of the amazing Steinmetz Hall.
Another arguable difference: You’re probably going to find better food at Judson’s than in any of those New York clubs. And I’ve eaten in most of them.
Bem Bom, which started as a food truck and then became a popular restaurant in Audubon Park, has closed.
Bem Bom was the concept of Francisco Mendonça, known as Chico, and his wife, Dee. They were early participants in Orlando’s food-truck scene, starting in 2012 with a menu based on Portuguese cuisine. They opened a brick and mortar version in a freestanding building on Corrine Drive in 2018, earning a mention in USA Today as one of “10 Best Value Venues in Orlando.”
But Mendonça was diagnosed with cancer and died in May 2021 at the age of 57. His loss and the pandemic apparently created hardships too great to overcome.