The Bridge is a New York restaurant. We know that because it says so in large letters, right beneath the name, on a big sign that, um, spans the backbar.
You’re probably wondering what makes it a New York restaurant, aren’t you, but you’re too embarrassed to ask. That’s OK; that’s what I’m here for. It’s my job to observe and scrutinize, to look for the subtle clues.
Perhaps the answer is in the menu where we find such things as hummus, guacamole and quesadillas. There is also menemen, a Turkish egg dish, as well as a few pastas, which for some reason are called macarna (probably after makarna, a Turkish word for pasta).
Burgers and steaks get us a little closer to New York, but also to just about any other city. Oh, hey – the Bridge has branzino on its menu, and for the last several years you couldn’t go into a restaurant in one of the five boroughs and not find branzino listed. It’s like the official fish of New York.
But branzino does not a New York restaurant make. So I did the only thing left to do: I asked my server.
Suddenly there’s a surge of new sushi joints popping up around town. One is Ootoya Sushi Lounge, which replaced Shari Sushi in Thornton Park, which closed in October of 2019. Much seems the same about the space, and Ootoya doesn’t present anything that would distinguish it above the other sushi restaurants that are opening or that have established themselves, though what I sampled on a recent visit was enjoyable.
Laurent Hollaender has left his job as executive chef for the Grand Bohemian in downtown Orlando to assume that role at a soon-to-open hotel in Washington, D.C. Taking over the executive chef position at the Bohemian is Venoy Rogers III, who was previously with B Resort near Walt Disney World.
Hollaender will be part of the opening team of the Kimpton Benneker Hotel near Dupont Circle. He will oversee a ground-floor French bistro called Le Sel as well as a rooftop lounge and restaurant called Lady Bird. Not sure if there’s any relation to the former First Lady or Lyndon Johnson but Hollaender does include a stint as executive chef for the National Democratic Club on his resume.
Here’s a recipe for the adventurous. It’s for the Goan Prawns Xacutti served at Mynt in Winter Park and Saffron on Sand Lake Road’s Restaurant Row. Both restaurants, along with Madras, are owned by Sunny Corda, who shares this recipe in celebration of Saffron’s 10th anniversary.
This one is presented as a no-recipe recipe. That is, it isn’t in the conventional format with exactly measured ingredients at top and strict instructions for the procedure. That’s because xacutti, which refers to a blend of spices, is open to interpretation and improvisation. You’ll need to feel a little comfortable with tasting and adjusting as you go.
But watch Corda prepare the dish in the video, then gather up the spices and prawns (large shrimp are fine, too) and have some fun.
I fell in love with pasta e fagioli, the ubiquitous Italian soup, the first time I tasted it. I recall one particular version early in my reviewing career that was especially notable. It was served at Toscanelli, a little mom and pop osteria where Mario and Evita Morosi were the pop and mom. It’s long gone, but if anyone ever forces me to sit down and list the best restaurants I’ve reviewed in Central Florida, Toscanelli would certainly make the cut. And the pasta e fagioli would be on my list of best things I’ve tasted.
Why? It’s just a simple bean and noodle soup. Yet if I’m dining at an Italian restaurant and it’s on the menu, I’m almost certain to order it.