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Recent Reviews and Restaurant News

Written By Scott Joseph On July 18, 2019

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News from the Flog  

Recent Restaurant Reviews

Soco 2019

Soco Patio

It hardly seems possible that Soco Thornton Park is approaching its fifth anniversary. The upscale casual restaurant, whose name means Southern contemporary, opened in fall of 2014 in the space that for many years had been Hue restaurant.

Much has happened with restaurants in the Thornton Park area in those years. Soco opened under the aegis of the then newly formed Thornton Park Restaurant Group, which had incorporated its existing Cityfish a few doors down into the group. In that time, Cityfish closed, TPRG opened and closed Baoery in that space, and Jax Thornton Park has moved in.

Around the corner, the Tijuana Flats became Verde Cantina and is now Jinya Ramen Bar. A block away, Mucho Tequila and Tacos became Muddy Waters and is now Menagerie. That’s a lot of change and turnover in a relatively short amount of time.

But Soco has remained a constant.

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Orlando Classic: Shakers American Cafe

Shakers wide soup

It’s official: Shakers American Cafe is a bonafide Orlando Classic. The College Park breakfast and lunch diner will celebrate its 26th anniversary next month.

But there’s more to Shakers than just longevity; it’s become a local institution for being a go-to place for friends and business associates to meet, but with a more casual agenda in mind.

What’s the opposite of a power lunch? It certainly isn’t powerless. Look around the room during a busy lunch hour (which is to say just about daily) and you’ll spot community and business leaders at several tables.

But here the agenda is less about the deal and more about the meal.

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No more Magical Dining Month?

Jaleo kitchen

Well, here’s some shocking news: There’s no longer a Visit Orlando Magical Dining Month.

Calm down, calm down…it’s now to be known as Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining. I suppose the Month was dropped from the name because for the past several years the popular event has spanned more than the original month of September. 

This year’s restaurant promotion will run from Aug. 23 through Sept. 30 and will feature a record number of participants: 120. Eleven restaurants are first-timers, including Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill and Jaleo by José Andrés.

Other restaurants of note include:

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Carolina barbecue, by way of New York, planned for Pointe

Brother Jimmy logoAnother new restaurant has been announced for the soon-to-undergo-renovations Pointe Orlando.

Brother Jimmy’s, a barbecue restaurant, will take over the second level space that was previously occupied by Adobe Gila’s. It is scheduled to open in late 2019.

Brother Jimmy’s specializes in North Carolina barbecue and is based in New York City. One of its first restaurants opened in 1989 in on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It has no locations in North Carolina.

I’ll just pause a moment so the North Carolinians out there can grab some smelling salts.

The restaurant’s motto is “Put some South in Yo Mouth.”

Sure, I can wait a few minutes longer; take all the time you need to compose yourselves.

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Other Stuff

Finalists for 2019 Best Vietnamese Restaurant Foodster Award

Vietnomz pho

Here are your finalists for the 2019 Best Vietnamese Foodster Award for Independent Restaurants. You may choose just one favorite. Click the circle next to its name then click VOTE at the bottom of the list.

Here are the finalists:

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Sous Chef Challenge 2019

In the hierarchy of the professional kitchen, it’s the executive chef and chef de cuisine at the top. But often running the show, especially when the top chef is absent, is the sous chef. If you’re a sous, this event is for you.

The second annual Scott Joseph’s Sous Chef Challenge: The Next Big Thing, part of the ACF Central Florida Chapter’s Culinary Arts Competitions, will be held Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, as part of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show at the Orange County Convention Center.

The event allows the region’s sous chefs to step to the front and demonstrate their culinary creativity. They’re challenged with coming up with “the next big thing” — the dish, ingredient or preparation that might become a trend. And for each sous to show why he or she is the chef to present it.

The winner selected by the judges will be awarded a prize of $1000.

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Venture Into the Unknown

Editor’s note: This is the first of a series of wine columns by Brittney Coutts.

Brittney Coutts

As a very young person in the wine industry here in Orlando, I feel the demographics of most areas in Orlando follow the same trend. We have various subcultures that blend well together, but there is always the “pedestrian palate,” or so we call it on the sales side of things. People are attracted to what they know, and persuading them to venture out is not for the faint of heart. Being a twenty-five year old in this industry is difficult. I’m the youngest in every group and it’s just assumed by looking at me that I know absolutely nothing. I am well aware I am nowhere close to done with my learning, in this industry fads come and go like seasons and everyone is constantly learning, even your friendly neighborhood master sommelier and master of wine.

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Your table is ready: On your mark, get set, eat.

Portscotho table

One of the more annoying things about going out to eat is showing up at the restaurant on time for your reservation only to be told the table isn’t ready and you’ll have to wait in the bar.

And then you wait in the bar. And wait. Until finally a party decides they don’t need a third coffee refill and there are no more dessert crumbs to glean from the table and they finally leave.

Reservationology is not an exact science. It’s a guessing game at best and an exercise in futility at worst. The restaurants do their best to estimate how long a table of average diners will take to eat a meal and then turn around and allow unaverage diners to book tables.

So we wait in the bar.

But on a recent trip to the United Kingdom, I noticed a trend. Several times when went online or called a restaurant to make a reservation, I was told that I would have to surrender the table after a certain amount of time, an hour and a half sometimes, two hours later. If it was an online reservation, I had to click a box to acknowledge that I understood the policy and agreed to relinquish the table.

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