Grande Lakes Orlando, the 500-acre luxury resort that is home to the Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott hotels – and their top-of-the-line restaurants – is celebrating its 20th anniversary with GLO Summer NIghts all season long.
Through Labor Day, the resort will feature fireworks every Saturday (Fridays, too, on holiday weekends), so if you’re going out to experience Knife & Spoon’s special four-course menu in celebration of its Michelin star rating, make your reservation for a Saturday to end the evening with a big bang. In addition to the fireworks, the evening will include stilt walkers, fire dancers (would love to see those two combined), live music and a dessert trolley. GLO Summer Nights are 7 to 10 p.m.
On Monday, June 5, Henry Moso will find out if he becomes the first Central Floridian to win the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: South award. He has already made history as the first local chef in the awards’ three-decade history to advance to the final voting round.
Moso, whose full surname is Phimmoso, is the owner and itamae of Kabooki Sushi, the Michelin-recommended restaurant with locations on East Colonial Drive and Restaurant Row. I had visited the original location, oddly situated across from Fashion Square Mall, several years ago and more recently for a takeout review during the pandemic. But I hadn’t been to Kabooki Sand Lake, which is actually on Turkey Lake Road in the Bay HIll Plaza, so I stopped in for dinner recently to gauge Moso’s chances of taking the Beard Award home.
Those chances are good, and not just because the organization’s ethics committee recently disqualified one of Moso’s fellow nominee. His food is creative, of unquestionable high quality and exactingly presented.
Big Fin Seafood, the elaborate restaurant at Dellagio Town Center on Restaurant Row, has been sold. Philippe Villain, who also owns Russell’s on Lake Ivanhoe and a new brand called Little Fin in the Villages, said he sold Big Fin last week to Estein USA, an investment company located on Apopka Vineland Road in Orlando.
In a phone call Tuesday afternoon, a spokesman for Estein said Big Fin will continue to operate the same with the current front- and back-of-house staff in place. Estein also owns and operates the private London House next door at Dellagio.
Ace Cafe, the downtown Orlando mega bar and restaurant that emphasized loud motorcycles and louder music, announced its closing over the Memorial Day weekend. The restaurant, at 100 W. Livingston St., opened almost exactly six years ago in the former Harry P. Leu building.
The Orlando location was based, loosely, on a venue in London that became popular with young people during World War II who would ride their motorbikes to the remote bar to listen to one of the few juke boxes in England. (For my review, in June 2017, I visited both the just-opened Ace Cafe Orlando and the one in London, near Wembley stadium, within a week of each other.)
Taste! Central Florida is Friday, Aug. 18, at Orlando World Center Marriott, and I’ll be there.
But right now I’m here – to save you some money.
Go to tastecfl.org and click on the link to Buy Tickets. You’ll see an option to “apply a promo code.” Click on that and type in SJO25. Update the amount and wah-la, you’ll see the purchase amount decrease by $25 for each ticket you’re purchasing. That doesn’t suck.
Taste!, of course, is the annual food and wine walkabout event that raises awareness and money for fighting childhood hunger. Proceeds benefit Coalition for the Homeless and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. And 100 percent of the monies raised stays in Central Florida.
As the event gets closer I’ll have more details on some of the participants and highlights of this year’s event. In the meantime, get your tickets now using the SJO25 code because it won’t last forever.