Openings

PIMENTO CRUNCH SANDWICH- crispy chicken, homemade pimento cheese, bibb lettuce, sea salt potato chips, bacon

PDQ, the abbreviation for “People Dedicated to Quality” opens today on the corner of Minnesota and Orlando Ave.  We got a first look of the restaurant yesterday during their media preview and we were very impressed with this new addition in the Winter Park area.  At PDQ you can expect great service and great-tasting food that is always fresh, never frozen.

This is their fourth location in Central Florida with two more locations coming soon in Waterford Lakes & Altamonte Springs.

Chef Mark’s son, Riley, working hard at the PDQ opening.

Riley’s mom told me that this was his 5th PDQ opening!

PDQ – Winter Park operator Cody Langford with his new crate!!  Every PDQ operator gets to design their own crate.

THAI PEANUT BOWL – crispy chicken, broccoli, mango salsa, peanuts, toasted coconut, rice, thai peanut sauce

YIA YIA’S GREEK SALAD – grilled chicken, mixed greens, red bell peppers, marinated cucumbers & tomatoes, kalamata olives, pepperoncini, feta, hummus, pickled onion, lemon-chile vinaigrette

CHILE-LIME CORN – sautéed corn with feta & scallions

ZUCCHINI FRIES – hand-breaded fresh zucchini with choice of homemade sauce

LOADED TOTS

HAND-BREADED TENDERS WITH FRIES

ALL THE SAUCES!

GENERAL TSO BOWL – available for a limited time only so it get it fast before it’s gone!

Be sure to check out PDQ – Winter Park the next time you are in the area!

PDQ – Winter Park
925 S Orlando Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 605-2312
eatpdq.com

JINYA Ramen Bar officially opens today!  Experience Japanese offerings and ramen at the Thornton Park District like it was meant to be – with thick, rich broth in perfect balance with handmade noodles.  We got a sneak peek of JINYA Ramen Bar yesterday during their media event and we are very happy with this new addition in the downtown Orlando area.

Crispy Chicken – juicy fried chicken thigh with an original garlic pepper served with mixed baby greens and JINYA’s original ponzu sauce.  It was delicious!

Spicy Tuna Taco – spicy tuna in a crispy wonton taco shell.  This was so good!!  You gotta try this one!

JINYA Quinoa Salad – baby greens, green kale, broccoli and white quinoa, kidney beans, garbanzo beans tossed with goma seasame dressing, corn and cherry tomatoes

JINYA Bun – steamed bun stuffed with slow braised pork chashu, cucumber, and baby mixed greens served with JINYA’s original bun sauce and kewpie mayonnaise.  One of the better buns in Orlando!  The flavors were on point!

Chicken Chashu Bowl – slow-braised chicken breast “chashu”, ground chicken sober, spinach, green onion, rice, seasoned egg, sesame seeds

Sake

Spicy Chicken Ramen – chicken broth, chicken chashu, spinach, spicy bean sprouts, green onion, served with thin noodles

A sample of the JINYA Tonkotsu Black

JINYA Tonkotsu Black – pork broth, pork chashu, kikuragem green onion, nori dried seaweed, seasoned egg, garlic chips, garlic oil, fried onion, spicy sauce served with thin noodles.  This one was my favorite!

Panna Cotta – homemade panda cotta with caramel cream sauce, graham cracker, vanilla ice cream

Behind the scenes shot from yesterday’s media event!


A special appearance by the chef from Japan.  Thank you Chef and JINYA Ramen Bar owner Trang Liao for having us!  Be sure to check out JINYA Ramen Bar – Thornton Park soon for some delicious food!

JINYA Ramen Bar
8 N Summerlin Ave Orlando, Florida
(407) 704-1825
http://jinya-ramenbar.com

Marie Mercado and Ricardo Williams team up to create specialty space-themed ice cream for the summer.

The Greenery Creamery and Nerd Nite are collaborating on an assortment of nerdy, space-themed ice cream flavors, called THE GALAXY COLLECTION.

Samples of a few flavors will debut at the Nerd Nite event on Thursday, July 12th. Following which, all flavors will be available at the Greenery Creamery for a limited time offer.

###

The Greenery Creamery is an ice cream boutique in downtown Orlando.

Nerd Nite is an evening of entertaining yet thought-provoking presentations.

THE GALAXY COLLECTION is all deliciously vegan with coconut cream base for all of the nerdy, spacey ice cream flavors!

COSMIC CREAM
An Einstein-Rosen bridge trip for the taste buds with a swirl of colorful, fruity flavors.

GARGANTUA
A mix of dark cocoa, Oreo chunks, and chocolate chips with a delicious and irresistable gravitational pull.

LITTLE GREEN MENTHE
Minty ice cream with chocolate chips coming in piece(s).

MISSION READY CARAMEL
Smoke salted thai tea with a blast of vegan sauce swirls.

SPACE JUNK
Black ash coconut littered with marshmallows, crunchy cinnamon bites, chocolate galactic swirls, and pretzel.

Seafood Linguine – Lobster meat, scallops, shrimp, calvados, cream

There is just something calming about dining to the smell of saltwater with the view of the ocean in front of you.  We were invited to Daytona Beach’s newest beachfront hotel and the fourth Hard Rock Hotel in Florida to check out their restaurant, Sessions, and stay overnight.  Our experience at Sessions was exceptional.  The food, service and energy was unlike any other media event that I have ever been to.  Our server named Pastor was fantastic.  I give Sessions 5-stars!

Dining at Sessions restaurant will exceed your expectations.  Luxurious rock-star style, contemporary decor and celebrity-style atmosphere coupled with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean adds to experience.  Dine on unforgettable breakfasts, savory lunch offerings and innovative suppers that will leave you wanting more.  Craft cocktails and libations are also available at Sessions indoor/outdoor bar.

Artisan Charcuterie & Cheese – Mini cornichons, pickled peppers stone mustard, sourdough

Tuna Tartare – Avocado, shallot, scallion, dash soy, wonton chips.  My favorite appetizer!

Crab Cakes – Spicy aioli, cucumber relish

New York Strip – Rainbow carrots, crispy onion, sautéed onions and bell peppers.  It was amazing!

Crème Brûlée – Strawberries, blueberries.  This dessert was perfect, so addicting!

Red Velvet Cheesecake – Philadelphia cream cheese frosting, strawberries, blueberries.  It was beautiful and delicious!


Constant Grind the total café experience, serving up hot and cold drinks, quick bites, house-made gelato, and more.

Take a plunge in the heated pool and enjoy the tunes from the underwater speakers or lounge on the oceanfront pool deck.

Wave Terrace is located on the third floor of Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach.  Wave Terrance is Daytona’s newest experience serving up local beer, craft cocktails and an inspired seafood menu featuring ceviche, gazpacho, fresh seafood towers and straight from the oven bread—in a chic casual atmosphere.  Add glowing fire pits and live music and you have a night out that can only be Hard Rock.

 

Frank Sinatra impersonator.  He sounded exactly like him!

The kiddie pool is shaped like a guitar

The Elvis impersonator got the crowd rocking the entire night!

Didn’t bring your yoga gear on tour at at Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach? #RockOm you covered. Experience peace of mind in the comfort of your hotel room with a yoga kit that includes a Manduka PROlite yoga mat and convenient Go Play carrier, all delivered to your room free of charge.  A regionally-inspired Yogitoes towel is also available for purchase. On-demand yoga videos are available on your hotel room TV, as well as on your personal device at HardRock.com.

Snap a pic of your best yoga pose around the hotel, post to instagram with the hashtag: #RockOm. If your pic is selected, you can win a custom Yogitoes Hard Rock yoga towel.

We throughly enjoyed our stay at Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach and we felt like celebrity rockstars the entire time.  The music-inspired property is only two months old as they just opened on May 1, 2018.  I highly recommend staying at this hotel during your next visit in Daytona Beach, FL!

(Source credit: Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach)

Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach
918 N Atlantic Ave, Daytona Beach, FL 32118
(386) 947-7300
http://hardrockhoteldaytonabeach.com

Egg N’ Bacon Pizza.  This was my favorite!

We were invited to check out the new MidiCi Daytona Beach, Pink Narcissus Daytona Beach, Clair de Lune and Kasa Living during their First Day of Summer in Style Event at ONE DAYTONA.  ONE DAYTONA is a new outdoor shopping, restaurant and entertainment center located across the street from the World’s First Motorsports StadiumDaytona International Speedway.  We really enjoyed checking out this new addition in Daytona Beach aka “World’s Most Famous Beach” and we are looking forward to our visit again next week!

Special promotion:  Use code “CDLINFLUENCER” at Clair de Lune and Kasa Living for 30% off regular price items with white tags in store.  Expires July 21, 2018.

MidiCi Daytona is the restaurant’s second location in Florida.  Their first location is in Kissimmee and their third location will be in Maitland.

House Meat Board


House Cheese Board


Burrata With Melon & Prosciutto


Purple Kale & Ricotta Salad

Double Pepperoni

The Margherita

White (Blanca)

The Meats

Signature Nutella Calzone

Uplifting message in the women’s restroom mirror

I love that they have these hand prints at both MidiCi locations.

Pink Narcissus, a Lilly Pulitzer signature store

Lilly Pulitzer swimwear

Little Lilly

A Lilly Pulitzer artist painted all the walls in the fitting rooms

Erin modeling in the Lilly Pulitzer fashion show

Little Lilly Pulitzer fan Madeleine with store manager Alex

Thank you Pink Narcissus for the amazing gift bags filled with Lilly Pulitzer goodies!!

Hands down the best gift bags that I have ever received at a media event!  Thank you Hayworth PR, Pink Narcissus Daytona Beach, MidiCi’s Daytona Beach, Clair de Lune and Kasa Living, Ben & Jerry’s Daytona Beach, Plato’s Closet Daytona Beach and ONE DAYTONA!

Kasa Living – Daytona Beach is the first location in the U.S.  The company’s first location is in Hawaii.

“Cactus Fever” at Kasa Living

BEFORE.  We got to design our own tablescape!

AFTER!!! <3

Clair de Lune specializes in home decor and fragrances, including aromatic lamps and decorative candles.

That’s all, folks!

Be sure to check out the new ONE DAYTONA complex the next time you are in Daytona Beach!

MidiCi
1860 Victory Circle Daytona Beach FL 32114
(386) 492-9240
http://mymidici.com

Pink Narcissus
230 Daytona Blvd, Daytona Beach, FL 32114
(386) 256-1234
http://facebook.com/Pink-Narcissus-Daytona-Beach-161209781146667

Clair de Lune and Kasa Living
1 Daytona Blvd Daytona Beach, FL 32114
(386) 267-8851
http://kasaliving.ca

We were invited to a media preview at the new Zero Degrees, an Asian-Hispanic fusion chain with unique drinks and snacks.  We tried a few of the menu items and my favorite one of them all was the Strawberry Milk Boba Tea topped with fresh chopped strawberries, pictured above.


Mangonada – Mango slush with chamoy, Tajin and fresh mango chunks

Spicy dole whip – Pineapple Dole Whip float with fresh strawberries, dressed in chamoy and Tajin

Matchata & Vietnamese iced coffee split cup

Zero Degrees
5282 W Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32808
(407) 487-4597
zerodegreescompany.com

First Watch will open their newest location in Waterford Lakes, next to Chuy’s, on Memorial Day, May 28.  This location is different than the rest of their Central Florida locations because it is about 1,000 square feet larger and includes its own bar.

Fun facts:
– First Watch is a Florida-based company. They opened their first restaurant in Maitland in 1993.
– They now have 300 locations nationwide.
– They don’t use microwave ovens, heat lamps, or fryers.

The dining area is modern and spacious.


The Waterford Lakes location is the second location with a bar, the first is Jacksonville.

Million Dollar Bloody Mary, Cinnamon Toast Coconut Milk

Pomegranate Sunrise, Morning Glory, Vodka Kale Tonic

Lemon Ricotta Pancake with Scrambled Eggs, Bacon. Side of Seasoned Potatoes and Biscuit.

 Smoked Salmon & Roasted Vegetable Frittata with Salad and Ciabatta Toast.

Roast Beef & Havarti Sandwich

Housemade Granola


Kale Tonic (Non-Alcoholic).  I need more of this fresh juice in my life!

Be sure to check out the new First Watch – Waterford Lakes soon for delicious breakfast or brunch and amazing service!  Shout out to our wonderful server, Myles.  He is the best!

(Source credit: First Watch)

First Watch
1448 N. Alafaya Trail Suite 150. Orlando, FL 32828
(941) 907-9800
firstwatch.com

We were invited to the Pre-Opening Party for Wine Bar George at Disney Springs; and it was certainly a “magical night”. The rain stopped just in time for the party to begin, and a rainbow appeared. How perfect is that?

Wine Bar George officially opens Saturday, May 19th, and from my experience during the event, I only see a very busy future ahead for George and his amazing crew (I’m booking my babysitter in advance to return soon). George Miliotes, Master Sommelier (one of only 249 in the world), has personally hand-picked every available ounce of wine in the wine bar. Paired perfectly with small bites (such as house-made meatballs, jicama salad, grilled octopus), family-style platters (such as skirt steak and wine braised chicken), charcuterie and artisanal cheese boards, and desserts (olive oil cake and key lime pie).  One dessert is an event in itself: The Chocolate Experience (pairings of wines and chocolates). Plus, other amazing offerings of beer and cider, and specialty cocktails. Presently, Wine Bar George is the only Master Sommelier-led wine bar in Florida. George brings a lifetime of wine knowledge and education to his new venture. Practically growing up with a glass of wine in his hand (I like this family), working alongside his father (Chris Miliotes) at a young age in his father’s former restaurant off of John Young Parkway, Chris’ House of Beef, success with California Grill, Seasons 52, and Capital Grille, George Miliotes and Wine Bar George are truly special. George also has an amazing crew working by his side, and from what I saw, working extremely hard. All of them passionate about being an intricate part of Wine Bar George, and it shows with their every gesture and word, so quick to recommend the perfect pairing, and share what they know and love with guests. As if the fantastic staff, wine, and food isn’t enough to love this place, there is also the amazingly beautiful atmosphere of Wine Bar George. Soft lighting, large paneled windows overlooking great views of Disney Springs, oak floors, elements of stone and metal, brick walls, and hints of George’s personal wine collections and treasures, make up the two-story (a bar on both levels) wine bar with plenty of comfy seating. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I don’t think my pictures (taken on my iPhone) adequately do the beauty of this place justice. Until you can see for yourself, here’s a sampling of our night at Wine Bar George:

Meeting Chris Miliotes
Meeting George Miliotes

I want Wine Bar George to be my Cheers, where the staff knows my name, I have my very own bar stool in both the upstairs and downstairs bar, and my favorite glass (or glasses) of wine awaits when I enter. This was an event I will never forget and I loved the experience of trying new wines hand-picked by George, eating delicious bites, talking with the amazing staff and fellow foodies, and having the honor of meeting George Miliotes and his father, Chris (both completely modest and easy to talk to). I know you will enjoy Wine Bar George as much as I did…so, plan a visit soon…but, if I find you sitting in my stool at the bar…game on (who am I kidding…I’ll just smile at you and find another spot).

 

Wine Bar George

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/disney-springs/wine-bar-george/

 

Orlando’s new premier golf-entertainment destination has arrived!  Drive Shack – a three-story, indoor/outdoor all-weather golf-entertainment complex pairing the most advanced golf games and technology with good eats, cold drinks, and long drives is now opened in Lake Nona’s vibrant Sports and Performance District.  Drive Shack’s flagship location features 90 hitting bays with a 220-yard range, a full-service restaurant and bar, an outdoor lounge, three fully equipped meeting and event rooms for parties up to 1,000, and a complimentary game lounge with classic games like shuffleboard, skee-ball, basketball arcade and Pac-Man.

Orlando is home to the very first Drive Shack.  Additional locations are expected to open in Raleigh, N.C., Richmond, Va., West Palm Beach, Fla., Marietta, Ga., and New Orleans, La.

Below are some pictures from our media preview visit.  The brunch menu is available from 9am-11am on the weekdays, 9am-2pm on the weekends.

Deep-dish spinach quiche – spinach and Swiss cheese quiche in a rustic buttery crust

Skillet baked cinnamon buns – hot & fresh from the oven drizzled with icing

Loaded morning tots – crispy tater tots, melted cheddar cheese blend, bacon crumbles, and green onions topped with a sunny side up egg

Chocolate chip pancakes – fluffy pancakes sprinkled with chocolate chips, topped with whipped cream and strawberries, and served with maple syrup

Truffled tots

Grilled chicken breast slider – Swiss cheese, tomato, and lemon aioli

Classic all-beef slider – cheddar cheese, DS secret sauce, and a dill pickle

Complimentary game lounge

Outdoor bar

The meats flatbread – Italian-style, all-beef meatballs, chunky pork sausage, pepperoni, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil

Maple bourbon bacon wings – delightfully sticky with a savory, sweet fin

Bavarian pretzel sticks – fresh from the oven sprinkled with crunchy salt, served with tangy honey mustard and rich pimento cheese dips

Gardender’s Cup & Bushwood Clubhouse

The veggies flatbread – red and green peppers, Kalamata olives, caramelized onions, and marinara sauce with mozzarella and ricotta cheeses

Mediterranean dips & veggies – Garlic hummus and tzatziki dips with fresh-baked pita chips, crisp cucumber, bell pepper, and grape tomatoes

Stacked nachos – freshly made tortilla chips topped with melted cheese, black beans, pico de Gallo, sour cream, jalapeños, green onions, salsa, and guacamole

Mahi tacos – three grilled flour tortillas with blackened mahi-mahi, cider slaw, and cilantro lime aioli

Hole in one – cheddar cheeseburger loaded with crisp applewood-smoked bacon, a fried egg, shredded lettuce, and tomato, topped with our housemate bacon-tomato-onion jam and avocado mayo with French fri

Bucket of balls – Italian-style, all-beef meatballs in a zesty marinara sauce, served with toasted garlic bread and grated Parmesan cheese, and topped with fresh torn basil

Rocky road parfait – chocolate pudding layered with toasted marshmallow, chocolate cookie crumbles, and salted peanuts topped with chocolate sauce 

Strawberry shortcake parfait – shortcake layered with fresh strawberries and whipped cream

Salted butterscotch parfait – salted butterscotch pudding with gingersnap cookie crumbles, layered with whipped cream and caramel sauce

Churros – hot and crispy then dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with a warm chocolate sauce

Be sure to check out the new Drive Shack – Lake Nona soon!  It’s so much fun!

(Source credit: Drive Shack)

Drive Shack – Lake Nona
7285 Corner Dr, Orlando, FL 32827
driveshack.com
(407) 553-8820

Congratulations to our long-time friend Sam Lau on his newest business venture: ViVi Bubble Tea at Mills 50 – it is such a cute little bubble tea shop that you need to check out asap!  They officially open tomorrow and will be running a buy one, get one free special on select drinks.  My big sister Krystle & I enjoyed their Blue Galaxy (pictured above) a caffeine-free herbal tea beverage with no artificial coloring.

Tiramisu Slush

Signature fruit tea

Blue Galaxy

Be sure to check out ViVi Bubble Tea soon!

ViVi Bubble Tea
1111 E Colonial Dr. Orlando, Florida
(321) 310-4147
vivibubbletea.com

Pictured: Chicken gyro bowl

We were invited to a media preview today at The Simple Greek – Oviedo as seen on CNBC’s “The Profit” – one of my favorite show that comes on after my favorite show, Shark Tank.  The food was so good and fresh and the restaurant was very clean.  They will be running a Grand Opening special tomorrow 3/9 of $1 GYROS ($7.95 value) from 11am-3pm, limit one.

The Simple Greek redefines the traditional Greek restaurants with an interactive concept that combines fresh, high-quality ingredients and Greek atmosphere in a fast casual setting. The concept utilizes a build-your-own assembly line style set up in an open kitchen to show off all of the fresh food being prepared.  The menu features a variety of dishes such as build your own bowls, salads, pitas and Greek yogurt with a variety of proteins, toppings and sides to choose from at an affordable price.

The Oviedo location is owned by Jonathan Tonn.   Jonathon opened his own franchise after witnessing its success on “The Profit” and he is in partnership with DeSisto Restaurant Group.  DeSisto Restaurant Group also owns The Simple Greek locations in Tampa, FL & East Providence, RI.

Build-Your-Own Gyro Bowl

Top to Bottom:
Gyro Bowl
Greek Fries
Chicken Gyro Whole Wheat Wrap

House-Made Sauces: Hummus, Spicy Hummus, Tzatziki (middle)

Dolmades – rice & herbs rolled in grape leaves

Avgolemono Soup – traditional rice soup

Lentil soup (vegetarian) – lentils & vegetables in a vegetable broth

Baklava – crispy golden filo dough, walnuts, honey.  I highly recommend this dessert!

(Source credit: The Simple Greek)

Be sure to check out The Simple Greek – Oviedo soon to discover your inner Greek!

The Simple Greek
945 City Plaza Way, Oviedo, FL 32765
(407) 542-0106
thesimplegreek.com

My sister and I got to meet Food Network Chef Roberto Treviño from Iron Chef America (he battled against and beat Mario Batali) at his new restaurant El Buda on Church Street and we enjoyed trying some of his delicious and flavorful Latin-Asian food that he prepared for us.  Chef Roberto Treviño’s concept of blending two cultures together is so unique and the fusion of flavors in all of his dishes were all on point, I really appreciated and loved it.  Overall, I give five stars to the food, service, ambiance, and the entertainment at El Buda.  You must check them out next time you are in the Downtown Orlando area.

El Buda has a Daily Happy Hour from 4-7pm and includes 2 for $5 Draft Beers, $9 Craft Cocktails (they are normally $11 and feature top shelf liquors) and$5 Sangria. 

Sunday Brunch (Saturday coming soon!) is from 11am – 4pm.  $22 Brunch includes unlimited top shelf mimosa and top shelf craft cocktails. 
Guava Gelee Gimlet. They offer nightly drink specials at “The Cellar” downstairs, a speakeasy type atmosphere. 
Herame Con Coco
Pork Dumplings
Duck Nachos
Prawn Tempura with Forbidden Rice
Ho Fun with Grilled Churrassco
Peking Style Duck Confit with Scallion Pancake and Seasoned Vegetables
Churro
Be sure to check out El Buda – Downtown Orlando soon!  You will love it!
El Buda
116 W Church St, Orlando, FL 32801
(407) 203-8171

0 856

We were invited to check out the new Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Winter Park and we got to try a few of their menu items.  I LOVE smoothies.  They are my favorite thing to consume whether I am at work, home, or just finished a grueling workout and want something ice-cold and replenishing in my system to hold me over until I get ahold of some food.  Fortunately, Tropical Smoothie Cafe sells smoothies and hot items, so you can get both on the same stop.  The new Winter Park store is beautiful, bright, clean, and inviting and the smoothie and hot items were fresh and delicious.  You can expect to see me in line tomorrow morning trying to win free smoothies for a whole year!

Detox Island Green (seasonal) – Spinach, kale, mango, pineapple, banana & fresh ginger (naturally sweetened).   The serving is generous, the smoothie had a great consistency and it tasted fresh.  I really enjoyed the fresh ginger in it too, since it’s so good for you!

Cali Chicken Club Flatbread – Bacon, smashed avocado, tomatoes, romaine, mozzarella & basil garlic mayo.  This was my favorite!

Buffalo Chicken Wrap – Made it vegetarian by substituting the chicken strips with Beyond Meat®Chicken-Free Strips, no lite ranch & mozzarella, and adding extra avocado & veggies.  It includes tomatoes, romaine and buffalo sauce.  This was my second favorite!

Turkey Bacon Ranch Sandwich – Bacon, tomatoes, a romaine spinach blend, swiss & lite ranch on ciabatta

Kale & Apple Slaw – It was really good.  The best kale & apple slaw that I have ever had in my life.  I loved the flavors of their sweet dressing, apple slices and julienne carrot married together to balance out the kale which is naturally bitter but so good for you as well!

Be sure to drop by the new Tropical Smoothie Cafe – Winter Park early tomorrow,  January 10, for your chance to win FREE smoothies for a year!  They open at 7:00 A.M.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe – Winter Park
501 N Orlando Ave. Ste. 209B Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 637-5002
tropicalsmoothiecafe.com

We were invited to the media preview and grand opening of Maria and Enzo’s Ristorante with a special dedication moment including leadership from Disney, Patina Restaurant Group and Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.  Following the dedication, we went inside the brand new Italian restaurant for a media reception and we celebrated National Spaghetti Day with some apps, pasta, wines, cocktails and sweet treats; perfect for the occasion.  Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante is a warm and dreamy restaurant with friendly staff, delicious food, and airline themed aesthetics that is adventurous and playful.

The backstory is that the building was a once-abandoned Disney Springs airline terminal from the 1930s.  Italian immigrants Maria and Enzo owned a small bakery business inside the airline terminal and they purchased the entire building after the airline terminal closed down.  As an airline pilot, Enzo was drawn to the abandoned airline terminal and to open a spacious restaurant in it was a dream of his and Maria, who both wanted to introduce Italian cuisine to guests at Disney Springs.

CACIOCAVALLO FRITTO – fried sicilian cheese, spicy tomato and pomodoro sauce

SPAGHETTI ALLA CHITARRA – burrata and meatballs

ARANCINI DI CARNE – fried rice stuffed with meat ragù, peas and mozzarella.  They were delicious!

PROSCIUTTO-WRAPPED BREADSTICKS

CHERRY TOMATO AND MOZZARELLA SKEWERS

Delicious TIRAMISU!

These were the best CHEESECAKE POPS that I have ever had in my life!

CANNOLI– sheep’s milk ricotta, chocolate chips, candied orange.  It was the best cannoli that I have ever had in my life!

Randomly selected guests will be upgraded upon arrival to the First Class Lounge and will receive a more upgraded level of service.  Guests 21 years of age or older will be served a complimentary glass of Prosecco and kids will receive a complimentary airline pin.

Be sure to book a reservation at Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante, link below, so you can experience this amazing new restaurant for yourself!
BONUS:
We also got to take a tour around the new Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar.
…and The Edison.
Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante
The Landing, Disney Springs, 1570 E. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
(407) 560-8466

mariaandenzos.com

Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar
1570 E. Buena Vista Drive Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32830
(407) 560-9288
enzoshideawayfla.com

The Edison
1570 E. Buena Vista Dr. Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32830
(407) 560-9288
theedisonfla.com

0 1014

Outback Steakhouse, the Tampa-based Australian-themed American casual dining restaurant chain, has recently moved from its original Oviedo spot down the street to a new location just across the way from Sushi Pop. It was previously the location for Bojangles Fried Chicken.

One of their newest dishes is: Big Aussie Bloom

NEW Address: 215 W Mitchell Hammock Rd, Oviedo, FL 32765

Mon-Thu: 11:00 AM-10:00 PM
Fri-Sat: 11:00 AM-11:00 PM
Sun: 11:00 AM-10:00 PM
for more info, visit:
https://www.outback.com/locations/fl/oviedo

0 1001

We were invited to check out F&D Cantina – Lake Mary in Colonial TownPark which recently just opened in August.  The restaurant is owned by the same owners as F&D Kitchen and Bar.

The Mexican-inspired decor was eclectic and spectacular.  I recently celebrated The Day of The Dead for the first time so I do understand the skeletons aesthetics while some others may not – The Day of the Dead is a Mexican tradition in remembering deceased ancestors and friends.

The staff was very accommodating.  The food came out very timely, they don’t play, which I appreciated and the presentation of the food is unique and well thought out.  I tried the bacon wrapped jalapeño, sizzling chicken enchiladas, and the shrimp and chorizo street tacos (that was my favorite!).

Bacon wrapped jalapeño – 4 stuffed jalapeños with Chihuahua cheese and glazed with jalapeño jelly


Sizzling chicken enchiladas – Served with habanero/jalapeños pesto cream sauce topped with cotija cheese, pickled red onion and green onion

Shrimp and chorizo street taco – red peppers, sautéed onions, avocado, and chili de arbol aioli

Be sure to check out F&D Cantina – Lake Mary soon!

F&D Cantina – Lake Mary
1125 Townpark Ave Unit 1071
Lake Mary, FL 32746
(407) 915-7012
fdcantinalakemary.com

0 1121

The most popular and most requested burger, Drunken Monk – Angry Orchard onion jam, roasted cherry tomatoes, smoked bacon, herb mayo, provolone cheese & Teak chips topped with melted white cheddar cheese served on a pretzel bun.  It was fresh and savory.  Whenever I order burgers I never eat the entire bun but I ate both pretzel buns on the Drunken Monk and I was craving for more.

We were invited to check out the new Teak Neighborhood Grill – Maitland in the Village at Lake Lily and as soon as we arrived we were immediately impressed with how gorgeous the restaurant was, it is a certainly a great addition to the Maitland area. We chose to sit in the outdoor patio which was clean, crisp and overlooks the breathtaking Lake Lily nearby. The quality and presentation of our food was top notch. The service was friendly and attentive and management was knowledgeable and flawless. We highly recommend this new restaurant and we will be coming back to try the other dishes.

We ordered some of their popular menu items such as the Drunken Monk, Garlic Bistro Side Winders, Cedar Plank Scottish Salmon and The Ultimate Cronie for dessert and they did not disappoint.  Other popular dishes include: loaded peirogies, veggie burgers, flatbreads, and mussels.

They also have a secret burger menu called the “Underground Menu” which you need a password to obtain.  You can get the password (it changes every month) on their facebook page here.  Both menus has a combined total of 40 creative and delicious burgers.

Food & drink specials are available from open to close on Teak-uila Tuesdays and every Saturday and Sunday they offer a brunch menu.

The pet-friendly outdoor patio that overlooks Lake Lily.

Garlic Bistro Side Winders – with a side of marinara-based ketchup (Very tasty and addicting!  We could have eaten this all day!)

Caesar Salad

Cedar Plank Scottish Salmon – roasted garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus, lemon dill Buerre Blanc sauce. (Gluten-free and healthy!)

Scalloped Potatoes

The Ultimate Cronie – French doughnut deep fried then tossed with cinnamon-sugar topped with vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce & powdered sugar. (Cronie burger also available!)

Be sure to check out the new Teak Neighborhood Grill – Maitland at the Village in Lake Lily soon!  You will love it!

Teak Neighborhood Grill
901 S Orlando Ave, Maitland, FL 32751
(407) 335-4835
http://teakorlando.com

Fast-casual chain Cafe Rio Mexican Grill will give a free meal and drink to the first 300 people that are at the ribbon cutting ceremony promptly at 10:30AM on Wednesday, October 4.  Cafe Rio Mexican Grill will be opening its first Florida location at 1050 N. Orlando Ave. Winter Park, FL 32789, located in the same plaza as the new Whole Foods.  The new Winter Park restaurant will mark the company’s 111th national location.

Cafe Rio and the Winter Park chamber welcomes the public and the media to join them for their grand opening.  The restaurant will host their signature “giant burrito” and ribbon cutting.  In keeping with their tradition of giving back to the community, Cafe Rio will give a $2,500 donation to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida during the grand opening festivities of events.  “This demonstration of social responsibility on the part of Cafe Rio is a great indicator of their approach to service and to community-building,” said Greg Higgerson, Vice President of Development at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. “Because they care, more than ten thousand meals will reach the plates of low-income families, children, seniors, veterans, and others who are struggling,” he added.

Cafe Rio Mexican Grill, Inc., headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, has been serving its loyal customers fresh Mexican food since 1997.  Their menu is inspired by the traditional Mexican cooking found in the Rio Grande region of Northern Mexico, Southern Texas, and New Mexico.  Cafe Rio specializes in serving its customers the highest-quality, made from scratch Mexican meals, using only the freshest ingredients.

They are a scratch kitchen with a strict “no freezer and no microwaves” policy in all of their locations.

Each Cafe Rio restaurant features a wide-open kitchen.

Guests can clearly view sauces simmering, team members hand scooping avocados, chopping tomatoes, grilling meats and squeezing over 1000 fresh limes each and every day.

Fresh tortillas are made in house and are available in flour, corn, or wheat.

Nachos – Crispy handmade tortilla chips piled high with a blend of Mexican cheeses or chile con queso, your choice of beef, chicken, or pork, black or pinto beans, Pico de Gallo, sour cream, and fresh guacamole.

Tostada – A corn tortilla topped with your choice of meat, cilantro lime rice, black or pinto beans, fresh cut romaine lettuce, Pico de Gallo, crispy tortilla strips, cilantro, sour cream, and cotija cheese. Choose your dressing, but they recommend the house dressing.

Salad – A large freshmade flour tortilla, baked with cheese and filled with black or pinto beans, cilantro lime rice, your choice of chicken, pork, beef and romaine lettuce. Topped with Pico de Gallo, fresh guacamole, tortilla strips, cilantro, cotija cheese and your choice of insanely delicious dressing.

Enchilada – Fresh corn tortillas stuffed with cheese, sauce, and your choice of beef, chicken, or pork. Baked in an oven, served with black or pinto beans, and topped with additional cheese and sauce.

Tacos – Fresh flour tortillas, stuffed and overflowing with your choice of mouth-watering beef, chicken or pork, a blend of Mexican cheeses, crisp romaine lettuce, and Pico de Gallo. Homemade, handmade and handheld.

Burrito A delicious, hand-made tortilla stuffed full with cilantro-lime rice, black or pinto beans, cheese and your choice of meat, then baked in an oven. Optional side of pico de gallo and shredded romaine lettuce.  Get it Enchilada Style – baked with Cheese & Sauce.

Fresh Lime Pie – Fresh Squeezed Lime Mixed into a Creamy Blend, Baked in a Crumb Crust.  Made fresh every morning with hand-squeezed limes and a graham cracker crust, this one’s a fan favorite.

Famous Tres Leches – A light, creamy, fluffy cake baked fresh every morning and soaked in three types of milk

 The Horchata beverage is a must try!

Children six and under eat FREE!

Download the free CAFE RIO app and get a free $5 food credit.

Promo codes for $5 more food credit: wpflcp, wpfljb, wpflid.  One code only.  Expires October 22.

Be sure to make it out to the grand opening of Cafe Rio Mexican Grill in Winter Park on October 4 at 10:30am to snag your free meal and drink!

Cafe Rio Mexican Grill – Winter Park
1050 N. Orlando Ave.
Winter Park, FL 32789
(321) 422-2099
www.caferio.com

 

We are so happy to announce that Miami’s very popular Bocas Grill has finally arrived to Orlando bringing its fusion of vibrant Latin contemporary food, with an addition of a full bar.

The Venezuelan restaurant features all the classic favorites like arepas, wagyu burgers, and the crazy shakes they are known for like the churro shake.

Bocas Grill & Bar is a classy establishment with unforgettable high quality flavors, it is exactly what Orlando needed.  All meats are USDA prime.

Strawberry Juice

Appetizer Sampler – 8 mini Arepas, 5 Cheese Fingers, White Guayanés Cheese, Cream, Cilantro Aioli

Arepa Llanera – Beef, Chopped Avocado,  Tomato, Red Onions, and Soft White Cheese


La Levin Truffle Burger – 10 ounces of hand-cut Picanha 100% Wagyu with Lettuce, Tomato, Truffle Oil, Ketchup, Bacon, and Truffle Mayonnaise on a homemade black Bun

Churros with Nutella, Condensed Milk, Dulce De Leche

Bocas Grill Milkshake – Chocolate Flips Milkshake with Nutella and Flips all around the rim, crowned with Galleta María, a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream, a Nutella Brownie Donut, Brigadeiro de Toddy and a homemade Nutella popsicle on top

Follow @bocasgrill on instagram and be sure to visit them soon and meet all of their delicious flavors!  Reservations are recommended.

 

Bocas Grill & Bar
7600 Dr Phillips Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 723-8351
bocasgrill.com

0 2261

Local entrepreneurs and mother/daughter team, Jane
Livelsberger & Cate O’Brien (pictured above) have opened the doors to their steampunk 1920’s inspired Celebration Tea Room near Disney.

We were invited to their soft opening this past Saturday and it was a truly beautiful and breathtaking establishment with great food, amazing teas, and a delightful staff.  Celebration Tea Room has become one of my new favorite family businesses and I cannot wait to go back there with more friends.   I live near the University of Central Florida, almost an hour away from Celebration Tea Room, but since I am a frequent Disney Springs junkie, I am excited to add more Celebration Tea Room experiences to my upcoming trips.  This spectacular Victorian tea room is located in The Shoppes at Celebration Place located next to Holler and Dash and in the same building as the new Buca Di Beppo.

Celebration’s locals and visitors will enjoy a tea bar area that is decorated in reclaimed wood, brick, and very cool copper steam punk elements.  Jeremy, Cate’s husband leads the bar crafting, serving specialty tea smoothies along with hand-shaken iced teas and their trademark tea snow.

Any tea can be turned into a tea snow, so I choose a  tea that was more on the sweeter side.

Bingo Blueberry Tea Snow
A full-flavored tea with superb and well-defined blueberry highlights
Luxury ingredients: Elderberry, raisin, & apple pieces, hibiscus & cornflower petals, natural flavors

Guest will enjoy a beautiful décor in the main fine dining room where they can certainly order the traditional English tea service with a pot of their favorite type and flavor of tea, traditional tea sandwiches, scones, and of course a sweet dessert.

I got to try a few dishes and they were all delicious!  I love that it is a scratch kitchen so everything is made when you order.  My favorite was the “The Mad Hatter” special which consists of:
• A pot of tea
• Cup of soup
• Assortment of shaved imported and domestic cheeses with fresh fruit and honey
• Four assorted tea sandwiches
• Scone and pastry with whipped butter, honey, jam
• Premium dessert

Goji Berry oolong tea

Assortment of shaved imported and domestic cheeses with fresh strawberry and honey + broccoli cheddar soup (vegetarian)

I also got to try the following soups below:

Potato leek soup (vegan) + Butternut squash soup (vegetarian)

For dessert, I got this:

Mini acorn cake

The menu is diversified and will have daily house specialty soups along with special offerings with an emphasis on wholesome seasonal ingredients. Great salads with entrees include cottage pie, quiche, and strawberry stuffed French toast, Cuban sliders, cheeseburger wraps with a special house sauce and salmon Wellington among others.  The diverse and wholesome menu was developed with Jane’s traditional family recipes and Chef Yamira Lee “Mira” Johnson’s whole-hearted take on traditional staples.


As part of Cate’s vision, Celebration Tea Room’s over the top décor includes a special private room that transports you into the woods with the Cheshire cat for a special Whimsical Wonderland tea party. The banquet/party room will be available for birthday parties, bridal showers, baby showers, and any other special occasion when a small group might like a special venue to meet in.

The family owned Celebration Tea Room, invites the community to visit and enjoy the laid-back vibe and tea room offerings, doors opened on Monday, August 28, 2017.  A scrumptious Brunch Menu is available Monday to Saturday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.

(Source credit: Celebration Tea Room)

Celebration Tea Room
6266 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway
Kissimmee, FL 34747
407-507-8304

We were invited to a media event at a new lakefront restaurant named The Waterfront.  This American restaurant was bought in February and opened in April.  Everything is made in house except the bread.  It is important to support independent restaurants in Orlando, Florida so make sure you check them out!

Adult Swim Saturdays every Saturday in August at 2pm.


Outdoor patio with a roof to protect you from the sun or rain.  Or both.  Florida weather.



Food, brews, and views.

Chips & Pimento Dip – Salsa, Jalapeños, Corn Tortillas.  The pimento dip is prepared with pimento cheese, poblano peppers, garlic, and baked in the oven.

Wings – House Hot

Paired with the “Florida Crush” – Effen Blood Orange Vodka, Triple Sec, Fresh-Squeezed Florida Oranges, Lemon-Lime Soda

Crab Cake Sliders  – Arugula, Tomato, Pickled Red Onion, Avocado, Remoulade.  The blue crab is from Gulf of Mexico and they use the meat from its claws.

Tuna Poke Salad – Ahi Tuna, Seaweed Salad, Arugula, Romaine, Cucumber, Tomato, Radish, Avocado, Sesame Seeds, Sweet Onion Vinaigrette

Paired with the “Jennie Jewel” -Effen Cucumber Vodka, St. Germain, Fresh-Squeezed Lemon, Simple Syrup and Lime, Mint

The Waterfront Burger – Ground Chuck, Swiss, Blue Cheese, Caramelized Onions, Bacon, Arugula

French Dip – Roast Sirloin, Swiss Cheese, Caramelized Onions, Au Jus, Horseradish Mayo

Paired with the “Dixie Belle” – Jim Beam Black, Muddled Mint + Cucumber, Simple Syrup, Fresh-Squeezed Lime

Pan Roasted Catfish – Sautéed Kale, Cheddar Grits, Remoulade, Pickled Red Onion
Fried Chicken Thigh – Hot Honey, Cheddar Grits, Pickled Green Beans


Steak Frites – Pan Roasted Sirloin, Cut Fries, Blue Cheese Butter

Paired with House Red Wine – 2015 Drumheller Cabernet Sauvignon

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie  – Whipped Cream
Bread Pudding – Key Lime Syrup, Whipped Cream

Paired with a sampling of the “Margaret” – Jim Beam Vanilla, Butterscotch, Cocoa, Licor 43, Irish Cream

The Waterfront
4201 South Orange Ave
Orlando, Florida, FL 32806
(407) 866-0468
@TheWaterfront

0 3165

SNOWBEAN Cafe at Colonial And Semoran

Korean Dessert Cafe “SNOWBEAN” is now open at 5310 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, sharing the same address as Izziban Sushi and Korean BBQ.

Snowbean is a “Dessert & Coffee Cafe, serving coffee beans locally sourced from Roasters located in Orlando Florida. Serving a modern twist on a traditional Pat-bing-soo”

15585318_1516661748362268_4206311568594461729_o 15675605_1510530225642087_6703061072637198417_o o o-1

SNOWBEAN Cafe
5310 E Colonial Dr
Orlando, FL 32807
(407) 270-8811
https://www.instagram.com/snowbean_orlando/

Halal Guys at Waterford

The Halal Guys began in 1990, when the three founding partners opened up a hot dog cart on West 53rd & 6th Avenue in New York City. The Halal Guys became famous for their chicken and rice with special white sauce on late nights in the city – and has made a huge push for expansion in recent years.

They will now be coming to the Orlando Waterford area in early 2017 (March/April) and are looking to expand to more than 15 locations. Look out for more updates from us here

15016379_1359040627454130_5521207855486676986_o 15875291_1412992088725650_2918434552428626413_o

Halal Guys Orlando at Waterford
626 North Alafaya Trail suite 103
Orlando, Florida
(347) 527-1505
http://thehalalguys.com/
17053082_1482987062-9494_funddescriptionGOFUNDME
Help Achilles Art Cafe in Winter Garden get back on its feet after a destructive fire
https://www.gofundme.com/ashandthecoffeeshop?u=12119866

Capa steakhouse at Four Seasons Resort Orlando offers a “From Matsusaka With Love” special for Valentine’s Day weekend –

In February 2016, for the first time in history, Matsusaka beef, the ultimate within the Japanese beef industry, will be directly imported from the Matsusaka Region of Mie Prefecture, Japan and introduced at Capa restaurant at Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort.

For six evenings, February 10 to 15, 2016, the Matsusaka beef will be on the menu at Capa in a special tasting called “From Matsusaka with Love.”

Read more from their Press Release below:

————

Japanese beef, known as wagyu, is famed for its soft, buttery texture, high marbling ratio and superior taste.

Matsusaka beef from Mie Prefecture has been recognized and honored with the highest rankings for decades in the Japanese beef market. Four Seasons Resort Orlando Executive Sous Chef Sam Faggetti travelled to Japan in March 2015 to learn about Matsusaka beef.

Later this January, Stephen Wancha, Director of Food and Beverage for Four Seasons Resort Orlando, will travel to Japan as well.

“We strive to offer a variety of exceptional meats on the menu at Capa, and our wood burning grill gives our steaks an amazing flavour profile,” says Faggetti. “It has been a privilege to travel to Japan to learn more about the care and preparation of the Matsusaka beef, and we are honoured to offer this special tasting at Capa.”

For six evenings, February 10 to 15, 2016, the Matsusaka beef will be on the menu at Capa in a special tasting called “From Matsusaka with Love.”

The tasting menu is offered for USD 250 per couple, with an optional wine pairing available for USD 75 per person.

The Matsusaka Beef Tasting for Two includes:

– Trio of wood grilled special grade Matsusaka beef: 3-ounce strip loin, tenderloin and ribeye
– Served with side dishes of patatas bravas, blistered pimientos, roasted asparagus and truffle aioli
– Trio of steak sauces: rioja, peppercorn and verde

By definition, Matsusaka beef cattle can only be virgin female cows of the Japanese black wagyu variety that have spent the majority of their lifespan, up until the time of slaughter, in Matsusaka City and its surrounding area and are registered under the Matsusaka Beef Identification and Management System.

Some cattle farmers provide beer to cows to stimulate their appetites and give them thorough massages to improve blood circulation and encourage even fat distribution. Many farms raise their cows in individual rooms so they can be finely managed and assure a comfortable, stress-free life for their cows.

Matsusaka beef producers spare no effort to produce the highest quality, richest, most finely dispersed marbling possible while managing their cows on a day to day basis. The rich marbling results in an exquisite taste.

Reservations to experience the Matsusaka Beef Tasting for Two at Capa can be made by calling 407 313 6161.

Here are some photos from a recent media preview of the Matsusaka Beef Tasting at Capa:

IMG_1958
SAMSUNG CSC
New York Strip Tataki Nigiri
Filet Flash Seared Sushi Roll
Raw Filet Maki Roll
Hand Roll

SAMSUNG CSC

IMG_1961

48 Hour Sous Vide Short Rib
Served with a Red Wine Natural Reduction and Baby Tatsoi (Micro Green)

IMG_1962

Grilled New York Strip (left) Filet Ribeye Seasoned with Maldon Salt (middle) Filet Seasoned with Maldon Salt (right)

IMG_1968

Dessert from Assistant Pastry Chef Peter Whitley. An Open Face Macaroon with Green Tea Cream and Raspberry Jelly.

SAMSUNG CSC
Staff and chefs of Four Seasons Resort Orlando and Capa

SAMSUNG CSC
Best of Orlando award!

GTNphotoLogo

By Gina Nguyen

DSC_0117

My sweet tooth was satisfied at Sugar Factory’s media event last Thursday. Sugar Factory is located right next to the Orlando Eye on International Drive. One side is a candy store and the other side has a bar and seating area. I heard of Sugar Factory just this year while researching places to visit in Chicago a few months back. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to stop by during my trip so as you can imagine, I was ecstatic when I found out Sugar Factory was coming to Orlando, Florida. I got to taste popular drinks, milkshakes, food, $99 ice-cream, and took a bag full of candy home. Extra bonus for parents – these drinks featured here all come virgin for the kiddos!

DSC_0001

DSC_0004

DSC_0003

 

DSC_0006

Started it off with the Ocean Blue. Hpnotiq cocktail featuring gummy sharks and dry ice!

DSC_0022

 

Next was the Mai Tai. A Tahitian style drink. Fresh orange and pineapple juices blended with coconut and light rum and then topped with a oat of Dark Myers rum, with dry ice!

DSC_0032

 

My personal favorite is the White Gummy. A fruity cocktail that was so delicious! Comes with dry ice of course!

DSC_0062

 

Lastly, the most visually stunning, Lollipop Passion. A mix of melon, coconut and pineapple. Garnished with lollipops and dry ice!

DSC_0082

Fried Macaroni and Cheese with Tomato Bacon Jam.

DSC_0030

Meatballs with Marinara, Fontina Fondue, and Polenta.

 

DSC_0036

Red Velvet Pancakes

DSC_0076

 

From left to right, Chocolate Milkshake, Birthday Cake Milkshake with a candle, and Berry Milkshake with candies.

DSC_0110

Sugar Factory’s World Famous King Kong Sundae $99. Includes 24 scoops of ice cream, topped with Chocolate and Caramel Sauce, Whipped Cream, Gummy Bears, Waffle Cones, Oreo Crumbles, Brownie Chunks, Chocolate Chips, Bananas, Toasted Marshmallows, Reese’s Pieces, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Giant Lollipops, and sparklers!

DSC_0140

DSC_0151

GTNphotoLogo

By Gina Nguyen

1 8028

The 105,000 square-foot Dining Pavilion at the Florida Mall will feature unique dining options, additional retailers and an expanded seating area, opening in phases throughout the summer. Also of note, Wassabi, the sushi conveyor belt restaurant near the center of the mall has closed. A new business will take its place soon.

On June 1st, Puerto-Rico based El Meson Sandwiches, named one of the top restaurant chains in the world by Travel + Leisure, opened with huge lines – and no signs of abating. Either they’re really good at what they are doing with sandwiches, or they need to get more efficient with their lines. El Meson features unique options like all-day breakfast and healthy vegetarian menu items. The Florida Mall restaurant is El Meson’s first U.S. location.

SONY DSC

Located between American Girl and Dillard’s on the north side of the mall, the Dining Pavilion will offer a total of 23 restaurants, five of which are new-to-market concepts, including El Meson Sandwiches, CARVERA Argentinian Grill, Carlo’s Bakery, la Madeleine and Bubbleology. The additional restaurants to join the Dining Pavilion include Tobu, Five Guys Burger and Fries, Charley’s Philly Steaks, Dumpling and Noodle Bar, Chicken Now, A&W All American Food, Asian Chao, Sbarro, Taco Bell, Häagen-Dazs, Spoleto Italian Kitchen, Nature’s Table, FRESH – Healthy Café, Jamba Juice, Ugrean, and SUBWAY.

SONY DSC

Boasting more than 1,400 indoor and outdoor seats, the Dining Pavilion will exude a contemporary feel, featuring bright floors and impressive millwork, in addition to numerous first-class amenities such as a large seating lounge featuring 85-inch TVs, LED lighting, expansive restrooms and two family rooms, new way-finding signage, enhanced Wi-Fi throughout the mall, and outlets with USB connectivity to charge electronic devices. Guests will find a redesigned exterior entrance at the front of the space, which will better accommodate customer flow into The Florida Mall and the pavilion.

SONY DSC

In addition to new dining options, the Dining Pavilion will also feature five new retailers, including Morana, SportsAction, Inc., Ron Jon Surf Shop, Yankee Candle, GNC and Delores Jewelers.

“The addition of unique restaurant concepts, new retailers and enhanced amenities within the new Dining Pavilion will provide our shoppers with more choices when they visit The Florida Mall,” said Brian Hanson, general manager of The Florida Mall. “We look forward to introducing the sleek, reimagined space to our community and visitors, offering a fresh new customer experience that is well-suited to our market.”

SONY DSC

New-to-Market Concepts

Name: El Meson Sandwiches
Description: Puerto-Rico based El Meson Sandwiches is renowned for its Caribbean-inspired grilled sandwiches on artisan bread and its 100 percent Arabica coffee. Named one of the top restaurant chains in the world by Travel + Leisure, El Meson features unique options like all-day breakfast and healthy vegetarian menu items. The Florida Mall restaurant will be El Meson’s first U.S. location.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 717

Name: CARVERA Argentinian Grill
Description: CARVERA Argentinian Grill will open its first location outside of Puerto Rico in a modern space at The Florida Mall. CARVERA is a neighborhood fast-casual grill restaurant with a diverse menu based on traditional Argentinean comfort food. It will offer the local community the quality and flavor of exquisite meats cooked to perfection on the grill. CARVERA creatively adapts the Argentinean cuisine with a fusion of regional dishes to bring the perfect balance from diverse cultures to any table; thus, offering a compelling alternative to traditional ethnic style venues. CARVERA’s mission is to provide a flavorful hint of the Argentinean spice in Hispanic and US markets by offering customers a typically ethnic array of the best Argentinean made-to-order dishes with fresh ingredients from the highest quality, at reasonably family-affordable prices. Combine a casual friendly ambiance, with a diligent staff, to create a sense of ‘place’ in order to reach the goal of overall value in the lunch/ dining experience.
Opening Date: Summer 2015
Square Footage: 1,778

Name: Carlo’s Bakery
Description: Carlo’s Bakery is known for our delicious pastries, desserts & cakes. Originally opened by Carlo Guastaffero in 1910, Carlo’s is a family owned bakery featured on the TLC hit show Cake Boss. The Florida Mall concept will be its first location in the state of Florida.
Opening Date: Summer 2015
Square Footage: 2,231

Name: la Madeleine
Description: The popular la Madeleine will make its Florida debut with the new Florida Mall location. From the signature fireplace to crave-worthy food, each la Madeleine welcomes guests to relax, visit with friends and family, and enjoy their country French fare.
Opening Date: Fall 2015
Square Footage: 4,517

Name: Bubbleology
Description: Hailing from London, Bubbleology offers bubble tea, a refreshing flavored fruit and milk tea served ice cold or piping hot and filled with chewy natural tapioca balls. The teas are rich with antioxidants and have a base of green tea, black/red tea or white tea. Customers can enhance the flavor with natural fruit flavors and/or milk.
Opening Date: Summer 2015
Square Footage: 120

Name: Morana
Description: The Florida Mall will be the first Florida location, and one of the first US boutiques outside of California for the Brazilian accessories brand. The boutique is known for high-end fashion jewelry and accessories that are synonymous with style and sophistication.
Opening Date: Summer 2015
Square Footage: 768

Name: SportsAction, Inc.
Description: SportsAction, Inc. is an athletic footwear retailer with several stores located in south Florida in the most important and premium malls. SportsAction specializes in providing quality products and great styles in a variety of brand name performance, sports lifestyle and soccer footwear, apparel and accessories. SportsAction is in the process of expanding and continued growth with the opening of this new location in Central Florida, helping to achieve their mission.
Opening Date: Fall 2015
Square Footage: 4,489

Casual Dining
Name: Tobu
Description: This quick service Asian concept sets the bar for the next generation of fast food concepts by offering a variety of distinct and delicious menu items presented in a clean, eye-catching store. The menu includes your choice of fresh chicken, beef, pork, tofu, and sushi rolls served alongside delicious sides such as mixed vegetables, egg rolls, steamed or fried rice, salad and more. Tobu provides an innovative style and unique alternative at malls by serving only the finest ingredients presenting the best possible dining experience.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 1,419

Name: Five Guys Burgers and Fries
Description: Five Guys Burgers and Fries specializes in handmade burgers cooked to perfection on a grill, served with fresh-cut fries cooked in pure peanut oil. The popular fast-casual concept uses the freshest of ground beef to create 250,000 possible burger options with all the toppings you could stuff between fresh-baked buns.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 732

Name: Charley’s Philly Steaks
Description: Charley’s Philly Steaks are made with 100 percent USDA choice steak, 100 percent all-white meat chicken breast and fresh deli meats. Each Philly steak is grilled fresh, right when it’s ordered.
Opening Date: June 2015
Square Footage: 732

Name: Dumpling and Noodle Bar
Description: Dumpling and Noodle Bar brings the noodle bowl concept into the 21st century by combining a modern and appealing restaurant aesthetic, dynamic ordering system and exciting “kitchen to bar” service offerings with diverse Asian fusion inspired by udon and ramen options. Each menu item can be paired with unique and deliciously-blended teas and slushes. The concept has been designed, from top to bottom, to attract customers with a fresh and modern brand and design, and an even-flow trendy and social atmosphere that keeps coming back for more. This is a lunch and dinner experience you won’t want to miss!
Opening Date: June 2015
Square Footage: 400

Name: Chicken Now
Description: Chicken Now is a counter-serve concept known for its chicken fingers served in sandwiches, wraps and salads. Original or grilled, this delicious concept serves only the freshest chicken, cooked to order the way you like it. Chicken Now is dedicated to providing customers with the highest quality service, catering to families and people of all ages.
Opening Date: June 2015
Square Footage: 795

Name: A&W All American Food
Description: A&W All American Food is a fast-food outlet serving namesake root beer and floats that can be paired with a variety of delicious burgers, lightly breaded chicken fingers, hot dogs and French fries. Satisfy your taste buds and grab a soft-serve blended dessert treat to finish off your meal.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 600

Name: Asian Chao
Description: Asian Chao delivers healthy alternatives with zesty and tangy flavors like Orange Chicken, Beef & Broccoli, Vegetable Medley, and other popular dishes. The first Asian Chao opened at The Florida Mall in 1991.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 600

Name: Sbarro
Description: As the pre-eminent, quick service New York pizza place worldwide, Sbarro serves made-from-scratch dough prepared daily, San Marzano style tomato sauce, and hand-shredded 100 percent whole milk mozzarella. The restaurant also prides itself on offering other Italian-American cuisine including spaghetti, lasagna and baked ziti served with Carmela Sbarro’s signature sauce.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 618

Name: Taco Bell
Description: Taco Bell is the nation’s leading Mexican-inspired quick service restaurant chain serving made to order and customizable tacos, burritos, and specialties like the exclusive Doritos® Locos Tacos, gourmet inspired Cantina Power Menu and lower calorie Fresco Menu.
Opening Date: June 2015
Square Footage: 623

Name: Häagen-Dazs
Description: Häagen-Dazs is a counter-service chain offering the purest and finest of ice cream sorbet and frozen yogurt. Originating in New York, Häagen-Dazs went from offering only three flavors – vanilla, chocolate and coffee – to innovating the frozen dessert experience with distinctive flavors such as vanilla swiss almond, butter pecan, and dulce de leche, among others.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 240

Health-Conscious
Name: Spoleto Italian Kitchen
Description: Spoleto Italian Kitchen is an international brand with restaurants located in Brazil, Mexico and Costa Rica. The Florida Mall location is an interactive eatery where diners can create their own pastas, flatbreads, salads and desserts.
Opening Date: June 2015
Square Footage: 2,509

Name: Nature’s Table
Description: Nature’s Table offers great menu choices such as gourmet wraps and paninis, classic sandwiches, salads and delicious protein bowls. It’s a perfect blend of the traditional and the new, the healthy and the indulgent. The restaurant recently introduced a new menu this year featuring many flavorful options.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 718

Name: FRESH – Healthy Café
Description: FRESH – Healthy Café features a wide variety of fresh and healthy foods, including wraps, grilled paninis, salads and soups. Pair these delectable offerings with the concept’s renowned smoothies or fresh squeezed juices for the perfect health experience. FRESH also offers a delicious kids’ menu that all kids will enjoy!
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 224

Name: Jamba Juice
Description: Jamba Juice offers smoothies, fresh-squeezed juices, yogurt and fruit blends, wheat grass shots, slow-cooked, steel-cut oatmeal made with 100% organic oats, and healthy baked goods.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 280

Name: Ugrean
Description: Ugrean strives to provide a healthy and flavorsome dining experience that will surprise both your senses and expectations. All food is sourced from the most responsible local farmers, suppliers and traders to meet and exceed customer’s expectations. Ugrean’s menu includes signature salads, fresh juices, and create-your-own salads with fresh ingredients, in addition to tarts, gelato, macaroons and more for the sweet tooth. The concept will be reintroduced under the new brand name, ugrean, previously known as ‘Fifth Avenue Bistro’.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 607

Name: SUBWAY
Description: SUBWAY sandwiches are made to order right in front of the customer, precisely the way they want – using freshly baked breads, select sauces and a variety of delicious veggies and toppings. Top off your sandwich with a sweet-tooth satisfying dessert.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 797

Retailers
Name: Ron Jon Surf Shop
Description: Ron Jon Surf Shop, the World’s Most Famous® surf shop brings the beach to you! All the great names and assortments in swimwear, casual clothing, surfboards, skateboards and beach accessories you’ve come to expect from Ron Jon can be found at Ron Jon Surf Shop at The Florida Mall.
Opening Date: Fall 2015
Square Footage: 8,343

Name: Delores Jewelers
Description: Delores Jewelers is a family owned and operated high-end jewelry store that has been in business since 1975. The retailer that specializes in one-of-a-kind custom jewelry designs and creation, and also offers fine jewelry pieces from authorized dealers for PANDORA, Alex & Ani, Vanna K, Simon G, Artcarved, Camelot, Benchmark, Mars and more. Delores Jewelers promises to provide excellent customer service and looks forward to assisting customers in finding the best jewelry.
Opening Date: Summer 2015
Square Footage: 1,691

Name: Yankee Candle
Description: The Yankee Candle Company, Inc. is a leading designer, manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer of premium scented candles. Yankee Candle has more than a 40-year history of offering distinctive products and marketing them as affordable luxuries and consumable gifts.
Opening Date: June 1, 2015
Square Footage: 1,422

Name: GNC
Description: GNC sets the standard in the health and nutrition industry by demanding truth in labeling, ingredient safety and product potency, all while remaining on the cutting edge of nutritional science. General Nutrition Centers is the world’s largest company of its kind devoted exclusively to helping its customers improve their quality of life. The new GNC will be the second location for the brand at The Florida Mall.
Opening Date: Summer 2015
Square Footage: 2,080

Photos from a recent trip to The Florida Mall

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

The Old Food Court
The Old Food Court

SONY DSC

0 4443

Bento Asian Kitchen + Sushi has finally opened this week at the UCF / University location.

This is their 7th location in Florida, with other Bentos in Gainesville and Jacksonville.

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

Bento Cafe was founded in Gainesville 13 years ago by University of Florida alumni Jimmy Tung, Johnny Tung and David Yu. This is the third location in Orlando, following the debut of Bento at the Plaza downtown and on Sand Lake Road.

The restaurant features entrees, such as Bento Boxes and noodle and rice bowls, alongside sushi options including sashimi, vegetarian or classical sushi varieties, with most of the dishes in the $7 to $9 range. There is also a full bar at this location.

SONY DSC SONY DSC

Some of my favorite dishes at Bento Cafe include the Chirashi sushi bowl, Spicy Korean chicken, teriyaki chicken, and the Cantonese pork chop. While in college, Bento Cafe was actually one of the first places where I tried many of the various cuisines from Asia for the very first time, at a very college budget friendly price. For that, I am forever grateful to them for opening up the doors to Asian cuisine, not only to me, but to thousands of college students around Florida.

We’ll be updating this post as more information comes in.

SPICY TUNA-SALMON DON 8.75
An assortment of fresh Sashimi on a bed of rice with masago, avocado, slices of cucumber, sesame seeds and wakame
Bento Asian Kitchen and Sushi
12101 University Blvd Ste 408
Orlando, FL 32817
(407) 658-8088

SUSHI HAPPY HOUR
Monday – Friday | 4 pm – 7 pm
Buy 2 rolls, get 1 Free!
SUSHI COMBO BOX
$8.75 from Open to 5 pm

Full bar at the UCF location
Full bar at the UCF location
Line is quite busy on the first day
Line is quite busy on the first day

Bento Café on Urbanspoon

Chef's Spotlight

0 1719
“The world of sweets is for everybody. No matter your taste, you can always find something on the dessert menu that will make you...

Featured Articles

0 37
Move over Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, there is a new Queen in town. Swords clanging, sparks flying, horses galloping - it is all...