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Recent Reviews & Restaurant News

Written By Scott Joseph On May 20, 2021

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News from the Flog  

Recent Reviews

The Licking

Licking ext

I recently visited The Licking, a Southern/soul food franchise in the Millenia area. I thought I had ordered one thing but received something different. And even that wasn’t what I expected it to be. But I’ll come back to that.

The Licking, out of Miami, bills itself as “Soul Food to the Stars” and lists DJ Khaled as its brand ambassador and co-owner along with Elric “E-Class” Prince, the founder of Poe Boy Records. Most of the seven locations listed on the restaurant’s website are in South Florida although one is in Chicago’s far West Side.

The name is a reference to the action taken upon one’s fingers following the eating of saucy or greasy foods, as in Finger Lickin’ Good, although that’s a phrase that would unleash a certain colonel’s army of attorneys should another restaurant try to use it. The Licking does include a flavor for its chicken called Fingalickin, but I’m not trying to start trouble.

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Road Trip Redux: Yardbird in Miami Beach

Yardbird exterior

I took my first road trip in more than 16 months recently, traveling to South Beach, Islamorada and Fort Lauderdale. I’ll be sharing some of my food visits with you.

First stop, Miami Beach and a visit to Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, a restaurant that has served as a template for others desiring to create a contemporary take on Southern cuisine.

It’s first year, the restaurant, started by Jeff McInnis, a Top Chef finalist, and Miami restaurateurs John Kunkel and Chris Romero, was a semifinalist for best new restaurant by the James Beard Foundation, and Bon Appetit named it one of the country’s 50 Best New Restaurants.

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Chico Mendonça, Bem Bom food truck founder, dies at 57


Francisco Mendonça, a classically trained chef who was one of the early participants in Orlando’s food truck boom, died Saturday at the age of 57. His wife, Dee, said that Mendonça had been diagnosed with cancer in October.

Known to his friends and customers as chef Chico, Mendonça and his wife founded a food truck in 2012 called Bem Bom that featured the cuisine of his native Portugal. The name comes from a Portuguese response given when someone is asked how the food tastes. It means good good.

Plenty of people agreed and the truck became a local favorite of the then-burgeoning food-truck scene. In 2014 it was featured on the Food Network’s “Eat St.” and it still operates today.

But in 2018, the Mendonças opened a brick and mortar version of the food truck in the Audubon Park neighborhood of Orlando. And it, too, became a hit, earning critical plaudits and a mention in USA Today as one of “10 Best Value Venues in Orlando.”

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Other Stuff

Newsy Nuggets: New rooftop bar at Bonnet Creek, milestones for Tap Room and Saffron

Illume bar

JW Marriott Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa has announced May 27 for the opening of its new rooftop restaurant and bar, Illume. The venue will offer panoramic views of the surrounding area, including the various nightly Disney fireworks shows.

The ninth-floor space was designed my Street Sense to take full advantage of the views, with glass walls, a 360-degree bar and an outdoor space that is larger than indoor. Illume will feature a sushi bar led by chef Myra Burkle. Heliana Bartlett is the general manager.

Illume joins the JW’s well-received Sear + Sea restaurant. Reservations for Illume are now being accepted at OpenTable.

taproom 20

Tap Room at Dubsdread celebrated its twentieth anniversary Monday by closing. Just for the evening. Owner and operator Steve Gunter and Barbara Teal wanted to celebrate the staff and not make them work – Tim Webber Catering sent over staff – and started the evening off recognizing those who have been on the team the longest, including Erick Ortiz, pictured above with Gunter and Teal, who’s been with Tap Room for the entire 20 years, joining shortly after the restaurant opened. He now is the senior banquet captain.

With this milestone, Tap Room at Dubsdread becomes an official Orlando Classic.

Saffron, the Indian restaurant on Sand Lake Road, is halfway there. It is commemorating 10 years on Restaurant Row. Chef/owner Sunny Corda recently shared his recipe for Goan Prawns Xacutti for a Scott’s Kitchen segment. Even if you don’t want to cook it, watch the video to get an appreciation for the complexities of Indian cuisine.

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Newsy Nuggets: A piggy pizza, new restaurants, and really bad beer


The owners of two independent restaurants, Pig Floyd’s and Stasio’s Italian Deli, are teaming up to create a new concept called Pigzza. I think I might have named it Pigsio’s or maybe Stasioyd’s. On second thought, that sounds like an uncomfortable medical condition. As you might deduce from the chosen name, though you’d be forgiven if you do not, it will be a pizza restaurant whose specialties will include P.F.’s style of barbacoa. It will be located in a former service station in the Mills 50 district.

Speaking of barbecue, Red Eye’s Git-N-Messy Smokehouse & Tavern announced on its Facebook page that William O’Neal has been named its new chef and pitmaster, replacing Git-N’s founder Chuck Cobb, who was killed in a motorcycle accident last month. Perhaps there was no delicate way of putting it, but the Facebook post wanted people to know that O’Neal has in fact been the sole pitmaster ever since the operation moved from its original gas station location to the Winter Springs tavern. Cobb, it said, had been “pursuing other projects.” O’Neal, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, is expected to add some new items to the menu.

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New York is a go!
Le Bernadin
New York City is reopening and should be at full swing by the time our December trip comes around. In case you missed it, I’m hosting a trip to New York with Art In Voyage – Beyond Travel. We’re going to tour Chinatown and Little Italy, take a cooking class, see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes and dine at the Michelin-starred Le Bernadin.
Dates are Dec. 8 through 12. Only two rooms remain, so buy yourself an early present. Get more details at the Art In Voyage site.

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Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide | P.O. Box 568344 | Orlando | FL | 32856



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