Recent Reviews & Restaurant News

Written By Scott Joseph On July 22, 2021

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Recent Reviews

Loading…Gastrobrunch Dinner

Loading interior

It doesn’t sound like a place called Loading…Gastrobrunch would be a place for dinner. And when the downtown St. Cloud restaurant first opened it served only breakfast and lunch.

But now dinner hours have been added, and new dinner items to the menu, too. So a friend and I were invited to stop in and sample.

I was at Loading last year for a lunchtime visit but at that time I was confining my dining to outdoor tables. So it was nice to experience the interior this time. It’s rustic, befitting its location in the historic Hunter Arms Hotel. Horizontal wood planks on one wall, a brick wall behind the bar and a fieldstone fireplace at the far end give the room a cabinlike feel. A mishmash of gewgaws give the decor an eclectic feel.

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Road Trip Redux: Rivertail, Ft. Lauderdale

Rivertail interior

Driving from the Keys to Orlando in one day isn’t impossible but it’s daunting. So on my recent road trip to South Florida, my companion and I decided to break up the return with a stopover in Ft. Lauderdale. Besides the respite, it gave me a chance to try Rivertail, which had opened in the final days of 2019.

Rivertail is the first Broward County project for Miami-based José Mendín, a James Beard nominated chef known for his Pubbelly restaurants. It’s situated on the New River, which runs parallel to Las Olas Boulevard. For those familiar with the Las Olas scene, Rivertail took over a space previously occupied by Briny Riverfront Pub.

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Dates, restaurants announced for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining

Magical Dining 21

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining will run from Aug. 27 through Oct. 3 this year with participating restaurants offering special three-course menus for $37.

This is the sixteenth year for the promotion, which began as an attempt to help boost business during what is historically a slow time for area restaurants. (Originally called Magical Dining Month, it ran only during September.) It quickly became one of Central Florida’s most anticipated culinary events.

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Other Stuff

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is up and running, but it’s not quite a full stride

EpcotFW21 sign

After more than a year of offering abbreviated editions of its year-round schedule of festivals, Walt Disney World has dropped the qualifying words “taste of” and is once again hosting the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

Except that it’s still not the food and wine festival you know from prepandemic days. There are no cooking demonstrations from visiting celebrity chefs; no wine tastings hosted by world renown winemakers; no food-pairing dinners or luncheons; and most notably, there are no Party for the Senses events on the schedule, the Saturday night extravaganzas that were always a highlight of the festival.

So basically, it’s still just a “taste of” or a festivalette.

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Newsy Nuggets: RusTeak on the move, permanent parklets and sausage without pants

4Rivers sausage

I told you back in February that the RusTeak folks were considering moving that concept to the Menagerie Eatery & Bar space in Thornton Park. That happens this weekend and follows last week’s closing of the College Park RusTeak. My dining companion and I both commented on how busy the College Park location was when we ate recently at a nearby restaurant. I wonder if their regulars will follow them downtown. RusTeak’s new address is 101 S. Eola Drive, which has also been home to Muddy Waters and Mucho Tequila & Tacos. This will be the first occupant that doesn’t start with M.

4 Rivers Smokehouse is now selling its smoked pork and beef sausage links at area Costcos. They’re available in three-pound packages (because Costco). The real news is that apparently you don’t have to wear pants to shop at Costco. I knew they’d relaxed their mask policy but …

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Newsy Nuggets: DoveCote down, culinary job fair and, of course, a new chicken franchise

Dovecote 2018 interior

I’m guessing that DoveCote, the French brasserie in downtown Orlando, was looking forward to a cheerier summer. Just earlier this month it announced that Brian Lamparski had been hired as its new executive chef. Lamparski had previously been with Walt Disney World (sous chef at Golden Oak, according to his Linkedin profile) and had also, according to a press release, “[established] his bonafides in internationally known restaurants such as Spago’s,” which Wolfgang Puck would tell you is called Spago. (Also, bona fides.)


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