Secret No More

Things are cooking at Pharmacy. Plus check out some of the fantastic Cinco de Mayo celebrations around town.




 

This week I revisited Pharmacy, the hidden, password-required speakeasy in the Dellagio Town Center. It still sits behind what looks like a burnished elevator door—but feel free to push the button: things have changed.

Pharmacy may be the only speakeasy that now takes reservations and has a marketing campaign, passwords no longer necessary. What is necessary is a healthy appetite,  because the menu items crafted by Chef Loren Falsone and cocktails from mixologist Dominick Tardugno are of generous proportions. I enjoyed seeing the affable Falsone in her element, delighting a restaurant that was packed with diners even on a Wednesday night. She has been named a Top Ten best new chef by Food & Wine Magazine for her Empire restaurant in Providence, RI, and was an instructor at the late lamented Le Cordon Bleu. Her skills show in “prescriptions” (it is The Pharmacy, after all) such as the half-pound of Cape Canaveral rock shrimp in an intense butter garlic sauce ($27), and the three-cheese fondue ($16), served with hunks of sourdough bread made from a starter that’s been in Falsone’s family for 100 years.

The towering beaker of French fries is astoundingly popular (even considering the $18 cost of these hand-cut spuds); I saw the table next to us order two. Other faves include braised pork shoulder ropa vieja ($21) and the Wagyu burger made with beef from Cowart Ranch in Bunnell ($19).

Falsone’s menu for Mother’s Day brunch includes house smoked Bourbon bacon, buttermilk fried chicken, house-cured Ora king salmon, crab & lobster eggs benedict, Kentucky boneless beef short rib, and other Southern specialties. No shots required … unless they’re from the bar. It’s a delightful location and you should be part of the “secret.’’

AROUND TOWN

* Orlando magazine’s 2018 Dining Awards issue is online and probably on shelves right now. See if your favorite restaurants won acclaim and honors.

* The folks at Hunger Street Tacos know how to party. My pick for Best Newcomer in the 2018 Dining Awards, HST is holding a Cinco de Mayo Block Party this Saturday, May 5,  from 5 p.m. to midnight. The event will also serve as the launch of a Cooking With Friends series along with chefs Bruno Fonseca (formerly of Millenia106) and Albert DeSue (ex-Yuki Hana), now both full-time at HST. The menu includes special dishes like duck wings in mole; a green pipian mole, tuna, uni and salmon roe tostada; along with tacos, tacos, tacos.

Other Celebraciones de Cinco include a fiesta brunch at Reyes Mezcaleria; a CdM and seventh anniversary party at Cocina 214 with samplings and giveaways; Redlight Redlight offering craft brews from Cervecera Hércules and street tacos via Swine & Sons; Cinco and El Derby de Kentucky celebrated (all day!) at the Hammered Lamb; a Sanford street party and “Lucky in Kentucky” cider launch at  Wop's Hops Brewing; Cinco specials and live jazz by Katrina Mena at Canvas RestaurantReel Fish Coastal Kitchen offering $2 fish tacos and tequila oyster shooters; and too many more to list! Enjoy!    

* Longtime favorite of Orlando magazine readers (and 2003 Dining Hall of Fame inductee when they were called Del Frisco’s), Christner's Prime Steak & Lobster celebrates its 25th year with an anniversary celebration dinner on Thursday, June 14. All of the dining proceeds (excludes alcohol sales) will be donated to Aspire Health Partners, a behavioral health non-profit.

Revisited an old favorite or discovered a new one? Let me know where. Stay in touch at joseph.hayes@orlandomagazine.com and access a comprehensive list of my print and online reviews here!

 

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Savor Orlando

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About This Blog

For the past 20 years, I've made my living as a features, food and travel writer, playwright and jazz producer. I collect odd facts about Central Florida's food scene, such as College Park once being a pineapple plantation; or where to sample local mead (hint: it's in DeLand). I'd rather eat small tastes than a big meal, and my go-to food is noodles.

Find out more at jrhayes.net

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