Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Eating in Downtown Orlando keeps getting better and better: DoveCote has opened

DoveCote, the much anticipated new venture from Central Florida culinary visionaries Clayton Miller, Gene Zimmerman and James and Julie Petrakis, is now open on the ground floor of the Bank of America Center at 390 N. Orange Ave. The opening marks the completion of a yearlong renovation project, which transformed an iconic venue into a modern brasserie offering a casual, sophisticated dining experience in Downtown Orlando.

“DoveCote introduces an innovative take on the classic brassiere to Orlando, where guests can enjoy a quick bite, power lunch, after-work drink or a fine dining experience,” said Clayton Miller, DoveCote’s chef/co-owner. “We’re offering an elevated approach to all-day dining as well as culinary offerings found nowhere else in Central Florida.”

While developing DoveCote’s lunch and dinner menus, Miller, a past winner of a “Best New Chef” award from Food & Wine Magazine, drew inspiration from classic French cuisine to refine his take on dishes such as Cote De Boeuf, Steak Frites and Bouillabaisse. DoveCote also features a raw bar serving a curated assortment of oysters, shrimp, mussels, clams and other seasonal seafood selections.

Zimmerman, a wine industry veteran and owner of acclaimed Orlando cocktail bar The Courtesy, created DoveCote’s beverage program.

“We’ve compiled one of the most talented and knowledgeable bar teams in Orlando to oversee a cocktail menu that offers modern twists on drinks like the Sazerac and Vieux Carre,” said Zimmerman, who co-owns DoveCote along with Miller. “An equal emphasis was placed on our wine and coffee menus. The wine list leans toward boutique, family-owned vineyards that will be presented by a knowledgeable staff, seven of which are certified sommeliers, while expert baristas oversees the coffee operation.”

Cask & Larder head brewer Larry Foor collaborated with Zimmerman on DoveCote’s craft beer program. The rotating selection falls heavily into French and Belgian-style varieties, including the DoveCote Farmhouse Saison.

In addition to daily lunch and dinner service, DoveCote offers a coffee and pastry breakfast Monday to Friday beginning at 7 a.m. until supplies last. A craft coffee menu and barista service is available all day.

The redesign of the 5,000-square-foot venue was led by Drew White, whose firm, Lot 1433, also designed The Courtesy. DoveCote’s dining room can accommodate 184 guests, with street-side terrace seating for 36 guests as well as additional tables in the center’s lobby. The space is also available for private parties, special events and corporate meetings.

In addition to the redesign efforts from Lot 1433, local artist Brigan Gresh enhanced DoveCote’s European-style aesthetic with an original wall mural.

It was while sitting outside talking over ideas for the restaurant that the partners came up with the name DoveCote, which is derived from the medieval term for a structure that provides shelter for game birds.

“Some of the building’s architectural features, like the parapets, reminded me of ancient dovecotes seen in Europe,” said Zimmerman. “We started tossing the name around and it grew on us.”

Beyond its reference to a place of shelter, the name has further significance, Zimmerman said, since it offers a nod to the French term côte, which in the viniculture world means a hillside where grapes are grown.

DoveCote is open Monday to Friday 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Saturday 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and closed Sunday.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Polite Pig to open in Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort next year

Well, I'm pleasantly pleased to help announce that the Polite Pig, from Ravenous Pig, Swine & Sons and Cask & Larder owners James and Julie Petrakis will open at Disney Springs early next year. That's quite the stye they've assembled here in the Orlando area. 

I'm looking forward to the opening and a fast casual take on the Ravenous Pig menu. It's sure to be a hit because the restaurant is really the first thing you see when coming down the escalators from the lime parking garage. And I love the logo. So cute.

Here are more details from a press release:

Husband and wife chefs James and Julie Petrakis, who have won wide acclaim for their Winter Park, Florida restaurants Cask & Larder and The Ravenous Pig, will expand their Swine Family Restaurant Group to Disney Springs with a new concept, The Polite Pig. Partnering with the James Beard Foundation-nominated chefs will be Brian Petrakis, who owns and operates popular Orlando eatery Greens & Grille. The partnership unites the Petrakis brothers on a restaurant venture for the first time.

Scheduled to open in spring 2017, The Polite Pig will feature a variety of wood-fired smoked and grilled items. The restaurant will also introduce an innovative beverage program that serves all drinks on tap, including Cask & Larder beer, wine, and cocktails.

“As a locally-based restaurant group, it’s great to bring our new concept to Disney Springs where we’ll have the opportunity to showcase genuine Florida cuisine for guests from around the world,” James Petrakis said. “With so many talented chefs opening new restaurants at Disney Springs, we’re really excited to be part of a group helping Orlando distinguish itself as a world-class culinary destination.”

The Polite Pig will be located in the Town Center neighborhood. The 5,000-square-foot venue will be open daily, with seating for about 200 guests. Construction will be led by Gomez Construction, and HHCP Architects will oversee the restaurant’s overall design. Anna Schmidt Interior Design will handle interior design and Lure Design will spearhead branding efforts. All four firms are based in Florida.

Since opening in 2007 as one of the first Florida restaurants devoted to seasonal and local food, The Ravenous Pig has won numerous regional and national awards, including multiple James Beard Foundation “Best Chef” nominations for the Petrakises. It has also served as a career launching pad for chefs who have moved onto leading roles at other restaurants. Likewise for Cask & Larder, which was named one of Esquire magazine’s Best New Restaurants in 2014 and continues to garner acclaim not only for its Southern-inspired food, but for its brewery, under the direction of brewmaster Larry Foor, Jr. Swine & Sons, located just a few steps west of Cask & Larder, opened in 2015 under the direction of chef/partners Rhys and Alexia Gawlak. It serves breakfast, eat-in or takeout sandwiches and snacks, along with house-made charcuterie.

The Petrakises are also partners/consultants in a pair of much-anticipated restaurants that will open in the near future – DoveCote, in downtown Orlando, and a Cask & Larder location at Orlando International Airport.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Orlando's own Joey Fatone to open "Fat One's" hot dog kiosk at the Florida Mall

Here's one for the hot dog and boy band lover: Joey Fatone of 'NSYNC is opening a hot dog kiosk called "Fat One's" at the Florida Mall next month. If that person actually exists, then here are the details from a press release...
Simon, a global leader in retail real estate, is thrilled to announce that FAT ONE’S will soon join the dynamic tenant mix at The Florida Mall in August. This marks the hotdog brand’s first “Home of the Fat One” in the U.S.

Created by global pop icon and Orlando resident Joey Fatone, the hotdog kiosk will offer premium 100% angus beef dogs that you can enjoy pressed in a variety of styles from the Reuben to the Gone Hollywood to the Boybander, which includes 5 mini hotdogs, just like Fatone’s former boyband *NSYNC. For a fun snack or quick dinner, each hotdog will satisfy all of your food cravings.

“After years of working on television food shows, I’m excited to open this new venture which is a combination of who I am, where I’m from and where I’ve been,” said Joey Fatone, Founder of Fat One’s. “Launching Fat One’s at The Florida Mall, where I roamed as a middle school kid, felt like a perfect fit for our first location.”

The new kiosk will be located near the Dining Pavilion between Five Guys and La Madeleine Country French Café.

“We are thrilled that this unique concept has chosen The Florida Mall as their first location in the U.S.,” said Brian Hanson, general manager. “We continually look for opportunities to enhance our visitors’ experiences with a diverse mix of restaurants and retailers, and we are proud to offer another delicious dining option.”

For more information about the concept, please visit You can also follow FAT ONE’s on Facebook: @fatonedogs, Twitter: @fatonedogs, or Instagram: @fatonedogs.


A global pop icon, actor, host, Broadway star and so much more, Joey Fatone has done it all! After hosting popular cooking shows including the Food Network’s “Rewrapped,” and The Live Well Network’s “My Family Recipe Rocks,” Fatone has made his mark as a foodie. Now, he’s bringing his own culinary vision to life with FAT ONE’S Hot Dogs and Italian Ice.

About The Florida Mall

Located minutes from the Orlando International Airport, Walt Disney World Resort and popular area attractions, The Florida Mall is Central Florida’s largest shopping center. Spanning 1.7 million square feet and welcoming more than 20 million visitors annually, this dynamic shopping destination offers an experiential environment featuring more than 250 retail, dining and entertainment options enjoyed by domestic and international guests, local residents and families alike. Prominent department and anchor stores Macy’s, Dillard’s, JCPenney and Dick’s Sporting Goods complement best of brand retailers like A/X Armani Exchange, Apple, Banana Republic, Coach, H&M, MAC Cosmetics, Michael Kors, Mayors Jewelers featuring Rolex, Victoria’s Secret and ZARA.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Maddey's Craft & Cru promises to bring a taste of the Big Apple to Orlando

Maddey's Craft & Cru is scheduled to open in Downtown Orlando on June 30th. I know I'm excited to try. Here are a few details from a press release:

Maddey's Craft & Cru poses a singularity in this city's dining scene. It's where past, present, and future collide resulting in a restaurant quite unlike any other in Orlando. Chef Jason Schofield fuses his penchant for comfort classics with postmodern techniques and a cosmopolitan sensibility to bring such unique dishes as short ribs with glazed onion, lengua lardoons, and truffled purple yam mousse, and Waygu Beef NY Strip, sous vided then dipped in liquid Nitrogen, then deep fried in beef shortening. Only to be topped with sal de flur, bone marrow butter, and finished with shoestring fries that have been fried in duck fat to the fore of this city's burgeoning food scene. Bon vivants and gastronomes will undoubtedly be wowed by his ability to stick to traditional ingredients and nostalgic flavors while creatively injecting contemporary flair and worldly twists in his from-scratch executions. A bite of his artisanal pizzas here will prove convincing. With a carefully curated beverage program heavy on craft beers and vintage cocktails, Maddey
s affirms to Orlandoans that throwback comfort food and drink isnt a stale relic of the past, but very much part of the culinary history we make today. Original cocktails including but most certainly not limited to- Smoke on the Water (Ron Zacapa Rum, Snap Ginger Liquor, Fernet Branca, black walnut bitters, smoked hickory garnish), The Red Light (Bol Genever, Cocchi Torrino, espresso infused Campari), Golden days (Ochco Blanco tequila, Giffard Creme de banana, Giffard Apricot, lemon juice, coconut milk), these are only the beginning.

Maddeys brings the taste of the Burroughs to the City Beautiful making their home on Church Street, in downtown Orlando. Travel through the Burroughs with a special monthly changing menu that represents the rich cultural diversity that makes the NYC food scene what it is. There is also an unchanging Maddeys Craft & Cru menu. Maddeys Craft & Cru doesnt cut any corners when it comes to quality and authenticity of flavors. All flour is milled on sight for pizzas, pastas, breads and desserts. All mozzarella, ricotta, and ricotta solatta is made in house from raw milk, no pulling curds. Maddeys is keeping the modern flare with their pizza oven that can cook a pizza in a mere 180 seconds. We can hear your stomachs growling already.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Visiting Universal Orlando and other Central Florida theme parks? You must check out UO Fan Guide

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Visiting Universal Orlando? Check out UO Fan Guide for tips, tricks and advice when visiting the parks. And check out their interview with yours truly for the best places to eat when visiting Orlando.

UO Fan guide has created an extensive library of vacation planning information to help you plan the BEST Orlando vacation you've ever had. Some of the resources include:

Profiles, image galleries, and unbiased reviews of rides, shows, play areas, restaurants, shops, and other theme park attractions.

Comprehensive guides (Fan Guides) for Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios Florida, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, on-site hotels, off-site hotels, transportation, money-saving discounts, and more.

A regularly updated blog with theme park news (especially Universal Orlando news), travel and touring tips, expert interviews, and more.

If you're visiting Orlando or live in Central Florida, make sure to check out UO Fan Guide!