Feeding Frenzy

Fund-raising galas, worldly festivals, Magical Dining deals—plan to enjoy all of it. Plus, some new faces on the dining scene.


Why yes, it really IS that time of year again, when practically every restaurant in Central Florida gathers up their away team and heads for ginormous food events, or stays nestled in their kitchens and offers special deals to tempt us out of our homes. Plan ahead!

Take, for example, Taste! Central Florida, a worthy cause that gathers 41 eateries and more than a dozen brewers, distilleries, wine purveyors, and beverage vendors to support childhood hunger relief. Old faves such as 4 Rivers Smokehouse and the restaurants of Rosen Hotels & Resorts are joined by newcomers Big Fin Seafood Kitchen, The Glass Knife, Sanford’s upcoming The Old Jailhouse, Pharmacy Orlando and Orlando Food Department.  It’s set for September 8 in the grand ballroom of the Orlando World Center Marriott; tickets are $175 per person.

August 24 begins Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month (through September 30, so a bit more than a month, eh?). Among the 100+ locals offering three-course, prix fixe dinner menus for $35 per person are new restaurants that include Fig's Prime, Mai Hana Pan Asian, Market to Table, Maria & Enzo's, chef Tony Mantuano’s Terralina, Wine Bar George and Zeta Asia. Vegan and vegetarian menus are being touted from Artisan’s Table, Hemingway’s, Bulla Gastrobar and Kabooki Sushi.

Of course, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is fast approaching, returning for a 75-day run around the World Showcase Lagoon (it will be running, not you). August 30 to November 12 brings new items from Africa, Patagonia, Scotland and the Caribbean, along with celebrity chef appearances by Dan Pashman, baker Juliana Evans, Mike Ward and Top Chef stars Sheldon Simeon and my hero, Richard Blais. Plus a presentation from our own John Rivers.


* Even though his offerings will be a part of the above-mentioned Taste!, Chef Bram Fowler’s new digs at The Jailhouse in Sanford are still under construction—a complete refurb of the 1890s former jail and livery.

* Hot concept Pokéworks is set to open an Orlando-area location in Oviedo in September, bringing bowls, burritos and salads to the table.

* Olea Mezze Grill just opened a fourth location in the Colonial Plaza, a fast-casual menu serving bowls and pita stuffed with Mediterranean-inspired items.

* The long-anticipated relocation/reopening of Claddagh Cottage Irish Pub has happened on Curry Ford Road near Bumby Avenue, with trad pub meals such as Scotch egg, steak and ale pie and Irish stew. No fish and chips yet. 

Can’t wait for new recommendations? Drop me a line and I might just share some special faves. Stay in touch at joseph.hayes@orlandomagazine.com and access a comprehensive list of my print and online reviews here!


Categories: Savor Orlando