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Recent Reviews and Restaurant News

Written By Scott Joseph On March 3, 2022

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Recent Reviews

Chef & I

Chef and I chef

Last week I told you about Hall on the Yard, the new food market in Ivanhoe Village, and how it’s different from a typical food court because it has full table service and restaurant quality vendors.

One of those restaurants that is helping to make it special is Chef & I, from Nashville, which joins SJO this month as a sponsor.

Chef & I is owned by Chris and Erica Rains – he’s the Chef and she’s the I. C&I is only one of two of the restaurants in the complex with a food counter at its open kitchen. (The plant-based eatery Humbl is the other.)

As Chris Rains explains in the video below, Chef & I intends to take full advantage of the food counter and accentuate the ability of the diners to communicate directly with the chefs cooking in front of them. People sitting at Chef & I’s (Chef & My?) counter can technically order from any of the restaurants in the hall, but Rains said it’s his goal to make them want to order from him.


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Isan Zaap Thai Cafe

Isan ext

Isan Zaap Thai Cafe has taken over a space in a small group of businesses Gardens Park Boulvard, which fronts Millenia Boulevard. In fact, it replaced a fast fooder called Thai Express.

Thai Express had the typical layout with a lane along the left wall for arriving customers to approach the ordering station. Isan Zaap is a full service restaurant, so that lane isn’t needed. But instead of removing the barrier, the owners have just blocked it off.

In fact, much of the space is the same, including furniture, wall coverings and overall decor. Only the menu and name have changed.

Isan refers to the northeast of Thailand; zaap is a word that can mean spiciness or sassy.

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Newsy Nuggets

Orlando’s Se7en Bites wins big prize at SOBEWFF

Seven Bites win

The South Beach Wine and Food Festival, or SOBEWFF, took place last week in Miami and over four days hundreds of chefs, celebrities and celebrity chefs participated in dozens of events.

There was a new event this year, a walkabout food and wine tasting called Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives LIVE, based on the Food Network program of the same name (without the LIVE). As with the television, or nonLIVE, version, this one was hosted by Guy Fieri, who selected 30 participants who had been featured on DDD.

And right there on the sand Thursday night representing Central Florida were George Markward of the Pastrami Project and Trina Gregory-Propst of Se7en Bites.

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Newsy Nuggets

Honolulu ext

Spam, chicken, donuts and doctors.

HOnolulu harryWho would have thought Hawaiian cuisine would emerge as a food trend of 2022? I mean, we’ve been seeing restaurants specializing in poke, the dish of sliced raw fish and other accouterments, for a few years, but restaurants with menus that expand to include other traditional Hawaiian foods is new.

Last year the 808, named for its address on Washington Street, which also happens to be Hawaii’s area code, took over the former Dexter’s of Thornton Park. And there’s Hawaii Grill & Sushi in St. Cloud.

Now, Honolulu Harry’s is set to open soon in College Park, apparently taking over the former Scoops ’n’ Brew space, shown at top in butcher paper splendor, on the ground floor of the Wellesley Condominiums building. Expect Spam.

It will take some more Hawaiian themed restaurants to catch up with the overwhelming trend of chicken sandwich shops. Two new ones coming: Dave’s Hot Chicken is slated for Waterford Lakes, and ChicknCone is set for the Winter Park district along Orlando Avenue that is quickly becoming known as the Chicken Strip (or Cock Block to some).

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Other Stuff

Matchbook Memories: Positano

Positano matches

You’re probably familiar with Caffe Positano, especially if you live in the Apopka area where the restaurant has been in business since 1997 and will be celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

And of course you’ll recall that Tornatore’s Cafe & Pizzeria in College Park was originally called Caffe Positano. There was also one in Lake Mary for a time.

But you may not remember that there was a Positano on West Colonial Drive that in a way begat the others.

It was in a strip mall at the corner of Good Homes Road and when it opened, in 1991, it was about the only place in that area where you could find something that might qualify as fine dining. (The matchbook cover says the address is in Orlando but Google Maps indicates it is in Ocoee.)

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We hope you find our reviews and news articles useful and entertaining. It has always been our goal to assist you in making informed decisions when spending your dining dollars. If we’ve helped you in any way, please consider making a contribution to help us continue our journalism. Thank you.


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We hope you find our reviews and news articles useful and entertaining. It has always been our goal to assist you in making informed decisions when spending your dining dollars. If we’ve helped you in any way, please consider making a contribution to help us continue our journalism. Thank you.

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