Tip Jar: local food news

This week: HUE closes, Vespr Craft Coffee opens, and look forward to Scotland at this year’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival

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The Yard House, part of Darden’s upscale restaurant cadre that also includes the Capital Grille, Seasons 52 and Eddie V’s, is the latest tenant slated to move into I-Drive Live, currently under construction in the former Mercado Marketplace. Under the shadow of the 450-foot Orlando Eye, and mere feet away from the spooky Madame Tussaud’s wax figure of Lou Pearlman, guests will guzzle 140 different brews on tap and feast on “American fusion fare.” The restaurant is scheduled to open in the spring of 2014.

Rev up your Vauxhalls, folks! Scotland will make an appearance at this year’s Epcot Food & Wine Festival (Sept. 27-Nov. 11) with assorted beers, meads and scotches flowing for the masses. As far as victuals, the chefs are still tweaking the recipes, but it’s hard to imagine haggis, or some variation thereof (haggis meatballs?), not being a part of the offerings.

Azhar Baig, likeable proprietor of Longwood’s Apna Café, has changed the name of the restaurant to Sizzling Grill. In addition to the Indo-Pak specialties he served before, Baig will offer American classics (burgers, patty melts), Italian staples (lasagna, chicken cacciatore) and steaks.

Vespr Craft Coffee and Allures, an eco-, design- and social-conscious coffee bar, has opened in Waterford Lakes. The siphon vacuum pots we spied means they take coffee seriously here, and that’s always a good thing. Patrons can also enjoy artisan pastries along with a properly poured cup of specialty coffee.

Italio will give away complimentary entrees to all veterans, active duty, reservists and guard service members on Memorial Day (ID proof required) … Marlow’s Tavern will open its second Central Florida locale in Winter Park (on South Orlando Avenue just north of Orange) in late June … Prickly Pear has closed its doors to the public and will become a catering and event space … Also in Thornton Park, HUE will close its doors after nearly 12 years in business. The longstanding trendy hang will be re-concepted by the Urban Life Management Group, which owns the space and plans to work out “the next great concept to bring to Thornton Park.”

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