Recent Reviews and Other Stuff

Written By Scott Joseph On May 27, 2016

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Recent Restaurant Reviews

Heber’s Cuban Cafe East Orlando

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Heber’s Cuban Cafe in East Orlando was my destination, but apparently I was the only one seeking it out..

That is, I was the only customer in the place while I ordered my food — and then asked for it to go so I wouldn’t be sitting in the big space all by myself.

It’s not like other people weren’t out dining at the time. As I approached the restaurant in a plaza on Chickasaw Trail, I heard a lot of commotion just a few doors down at a Mexican restaurant. It felt as if all of those people knew something I didn’t. Maybe they’d already tried Heber’s and decided to eat elsewhere that night.

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Yappy Hour Brunch at TR Fire Grill

Yappy doggies

I’m thinking this Sunday will be busier for brunches than most other Sundays. For one thing, most people have Monday off so they won’t mind lingering over a meal with a few extra mimosas or bloodies with friends.

And this is a particularly good Sunday for you to try the brunch at TR Fire Grill with your best friend. That is, your dog.

That’s because this Sunday, and every last Sunday of the month, is a special version of TR’s Yappy Hour Sunday Brunch. Dogs are welcome on the patio of the Winter Park restaurant at all times, but on the last Sunday of the month the folks from Judy’s Pet Rescue set up next to the patio and bring along some of their adorable adoptables.

So if you go to brunch for a little hair of the dog, as they say, you could wind up with the whole hound.

And even if you go and leave dogless, the brunch at TR Fire Grill will certainly have you wagging your own tail.

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STK WDW Opens; Here’s a Preview



STK is next up in the ongoing procession of new and elaborate restaurants opening at Disney Springs, the reimagined dining, shopping and entertainment district formerly known as Downtown Disney. The NYC based STK will start serving to the general public beginning with dinner service on Wednesday, May 25, (lunch hours will be added soon). On Tuesday evening, the restaurant will throw a grand opening party, by invitation only. (I’ll be livecasting from the event on the SJO Facebook page.)

On Monday, I got a sneak peek at the restaurant, chatted with the Orlando restaurant’s chef, James O’Donnell, and tasted a few of the dishes that will be offered.


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Other Stuff

Bayless’ Frontera Fresco to Open June 20

BaylessOK, Sprinkles is baking. STK is up and open. Who’s next for Disney Springs?

That would be Frontera Fresco from Chicago restaurateur Rick Bayless. Look for it to open soft on June 20.

Frontera Fresco is a quick-service restaurant based on Bayless’ popular Frontera Grill, featuring Mexican cuisine.

The Disney Springs restaurant will be the first outside the Greater Chicago area.

Bayless is known outside Chicago for winning the “Top Chef Masters” title on Bravo network and for his own National Public Television series, “Mexico – One plate at a Time.”

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Rice Leaves Slate; Oltarsh Temps

OltarshDominic Rice, the chef who found a home in the kitchen at Slate after leaving the restaurant he moved to Central Florida to helm before it could open, has left Central Florida. According to Slate’s general manager, Shawn Tierney, Rice’s wife was offered a job in New York and the family has moved back there.

Rice, who had worked in Central Florida before going to New York, including in the kitchen at Luma on Park, was originally lured back to the area with the promise of leading the as-yet-to-open Boca on Park Avenue in Winter Park. However, due to conflicts with management, Rice separated from the company before Boca could open. He landed at Slate and opened the restaurant on Sand Lake Road almost one year ago. (Slate will celebrate its first anniversary on June 11.)


Looking for Vacation Restaurant Recommendations? There are No Guarantees

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As a restaurant critic, I’m used to being asked by locals and visitors for recommendations on where to dine, whether in my home area of Central Florida or in the various cities I’ve visited on my own travels.

(And no, to answer a question I’m often posed, I don’t mind being asked for recommendations. In fact, I’ll mind it very much when people stop asking.)

Especially when we travel, we want to know that a restaurant will be as close to a “sure thing” as possible. I’m no different. Yes, I enjoy the thrill of finding an out of the way place that no one else has written much about that delivers an extraordinary dining experience. But if I’m vacationing in, say, France, I don’t want to waste a meal on mediocre food. I want all of my meals to be exceptional.


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