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Recent Reviews and Restaurant News

Written By Scott Joseph On February 20, 2020

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News from the Flog  

Recent Reviews

Stefano’s Trattoria

Stefano20 interior

I’ll admit to having some trepidation about a Stefano’s Trattoria without Stefano. The LaCommares sold the popular Winter Springs restaurant about five years ago to F. Alejandro Martinez and I worried that it was Stefano, his wife, Marie, and their children who added an extra ingredient that made it all so delicious and delightful.

But after a recent visit my qualms have been calmed. Stefano’s Trattoria is every bit as good as it was in the early days, the food is still expertly crafted with a satisfying homeyness and served by a staff that treats every guest like a member of the family.

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Chi Kin bowl

Menus don’t get much more succinct – succincter? – than the one at Chi-Kin, a new quick-server in the Mills 50 district.

It’s basically chicken, as you probably phonetically guessed, and Korean fried chicken to be more precise. (Preciser?)

Korean fried chicken, KFC, if you will, is known for being extra crispy and usually extra spicy. It’s been a popular breakout item on many Korean menus for the past several years and has even made its way on to otherwise American menus. For all its Southern contemporaneousness, Soco in Thornton Park has had KFC on its menu since its first day.

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Other Stuff

Downtown Food & Wine Fest is Feb. 22 & 23

Downtown foodwine screen

There’s just one week to go until the 12th annual Downtown Food & Wine Fest, which is a festival dedicated to food and wine that takes place downtown.

What else do you need to know?

OK, how about that it is at Lake Eola, on Robinson Street, on Sat., Feb. 22, from noon to 9 p.m. and Sun., Feb 23., from noon to 7 p.m. Besides food and wine, the festival features lots of live entertainment on a big stage.

Tickets are $15 each day or $25 for both – food and wine purchases are separate; more about that in a moment. There are also some VIP package tickets that you can learn about at the website.


Bullet Point Buffet: Sawbucks, Stammitsches and Volcanic Victuals

HH Bar2

  • Highball & Harvest at the Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes is now offering a happy hour menu from 3 to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Called South of the Sawbuck, the HH at H&H will feature menu items from a buck fifty to a sawbuck. By the way, do you know how sawbuck came to be slang for a 10 dollar bill? It’s because the tenner had a Roman numeral X, which some people said resembled a sawhorse, also known as a sawbuck. We’re talking mid 19th century, so people had a lot of time on their hands.
  • Ryan Manning, founder of MX Taco, has a new project. Beginning in March he’ll start hosting a popup event called Stammtisch German Restaurant. It’ll feature tapas, or whatever the German equivalent is. Stammtisch is a German word for an informal, unstructured meeting, such as a friendly get together. I’ll be very disappointed if the menu doesn’t feature a Stammitsch Sammich.

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Robert Earl Launches Ghost Kitchen Concept Wing Squad

Wing Squad

Robert Earl is really chickening up.

In 2018 the Orlando restaurateur and founder of Planet Hollywood opened the first Chicken Guy! at Disney Springs, a collaboration with celebrity cooking dude Guy Fieri. Since then, they’ve opened CGs in Aventura and at FedEx Stadium in Maryland and Levi’s Stadium in California, the latter two on game days only. The concept looks poised to follow the path of Earl Enterprises’ Earl of Sandwich chain. (I still think Earl of Chicken would have been a better name.)

Now comes Wing Squad, a chicken wing concept with a twist: There are no physical locations – you can’t say, “Hey, honey, let’s head on down to Wing Squad and get a mess of wings.” It’s a delivery-only operation, and the wings, side dishes and desserts are prepared in “ghost kitchens,” which means Wing Squad will not have its own culinary base. The mess will be in your own home or office.

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Restaurant Romance: Owning and Operating a Restaurant with a Spouse

Petrakis portraitJames and Julie Petrakis

Drop into just about any restaurant on Valentine’s Day and you’ll find it filled with couples.

But in several Central Florida restaurants, you can find a couple any day of the year: They’re the married people who own and operate some of the area’s most popular restaurants.

What’s it like working every day with a spouse in such a demanding and fast-paced business? We asked some of them what they do to make it work. Here’s romantic advice from James and Julie Petrakis (Ravenous Pig, Cask & Larder); Katerina and Vassilis Coumbaros (Taverna Opa, Tapa Toro); Joey Conicella and Alex Marin (Hungry Pants); Hari and Jenneffer Pulapaka (Cress); and Trina Gregory-Propst and Va Propst (Se7en Bites, Sette).

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Brought to you by…

 Downtown Wine

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