BoVine, an upscale steakhouse that opened last year amid pandemic strictures and limitations, occupies the space that for many years had been the jewel of Winter Park’s poshest boulevard when it might have been considered the area’s first Restaurant Row: Park Plaza Gardens.
It would be difficult to come up with a more venerable and iconic restaurant than Park Plaza Gardens. It was a jewel of fine dining in an era when few special occasion restaurants existed in the area, back when its menu was described as continental cuisine (a term that has thankfully been eighty-sixed). Over the past several decades, its menu and ownership changed (Robert Earl had it at one time; Manny Garcia was on a management team) and at one point even the name was tweaked, known briefly as Chef Justin’s Park Plaza Gardens for Justin Plank, now the executive chef at Terralina Crafted Italian in Disney Springs.
But through it all, the decor and design of the restaurant remained, with the signature element of a main dining room under a glass ceiling with brick floor and lots of green plants. It had the effect of dining outside but without the vagaries of Florida’s weather.
All of that is gone. It had to go. The building had fallen into disrepair – it became harder to keep those Florida elements out – and a dispute between the last owner of the restaurant and the building’s landlord involving accusations of infestation had damaged any brand goodwill that might have remained.
But don’t lament the loss. The restaurant that has taken its place is arguably better than any iteration that preceded it.
Almost inevitably, Honest, a vegetarian Indian restaurant, describes its cuisine as street food. How did we ever find things to eat that weren’t from the streets? But Honest comes to the term, um, honestly, having originated as a family-run food cart in 1975 in the city of Ahmedabad in the Gujarat state of western India. The street cart became a restaurant that expanded to Thailand and now is opening locations in the United States. The Orlando location joins one in Coral Springs.
It’s a quick-serve operation with orders taken at the counter. You may select from the menu board behind the counter with categories that include Bombay chaat, South Indian dishes, Indo Chinese foods and, almost as inevitable as street food, pizza.
You may find, however, a dearth of descriptions, so unless you’re well versed in the various Indian cuisines you may feel a bit at sea. But throw a dart, as it were, and you’re bound to find something enjoyable.
The Walt Disney World Swan Resort held a springtime version of its popular fall Food & Wine Classic, a sort of dry (though not in the alcohol sense) run for any changes that might be needed for the October event. It was a beautiful evening and everything ran smoothly. Well, except for the restaurant from the Swan Reserve kept running out of lamb and having to send someone jogging back to the indoor kitchens. They kept running out because it was arguable the best thing there. Check out the gallery above for more.
Our friends at Southeast Steel, the popular appliance warehouse in downtown Orlando, are in the middle of an exciting project: replacing the working showroom kitchen with a new line of high-end appliances from LG. The Signature Kitchen Suite is LG’s bid to compete with the likes of Wolf, Viking and Sub Zero, and Southeast Steel will be the area’s exclusive dealer.
Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” is about London and Paris, but for two local restaurants involved in a dispute it’s all about two Parises. The owners of Paris Banh Mi Cafe Bakery in Mills 50 filed a complaint against the owner of Paris Banh Mi & Tea Cafe in east Orlando. Two make it just a little more confusing, both restaurants are on Colonial Drive, albeit separated by nearly 11 miles. A judge has told the Tea & Cafe to stop using Paris Banh Mi in its name for the time being and until a jury can render a verdict. Both parties say they came up with the idea for the name first, but the Mills 50 PBM opened in April of 2019 whereas the east Orlando restaurant didn’t open until the summer of 2020. Hey, maybe one of them can use the name London Banh Mi.
The two Paris Banh Mis may have more to worry about. Besides the Vietnamese sandwiches that are part of their names, both restaurants also serve boba tea, and the world is facing a shortage of tapioca, which is used to make the boba pearls. Have we as a humanity not suffered enough! The shortage is the result of freighters stuck at sea and in ports with a dearth of workers to offload goods. These ships came from Asian countries across the Pacific, so you can’t blame this one on the ship that was stuck in the Suez Canal.