Locations in Winter Park Area

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    Eden Bar at the Enzian
    It’s a place that can make a couple looking for craft cocktails just as happy as a crowd who just want to split a few pitchers of beer. The splashing fountain and tropical landscaping make it picturesque (when the weather’s nice), the menu is a good balance of satisfying bar snacks and more upscale fare, and the best movies in town are screening inside, just steps away. Unbeatable.

    A garden of leafy delights awaits at Eden’s, a clean, spacious green house on North Orange sandwiched between Winnie’s Oriental Garden and the Ravenous Pig. The focus here is on the body (healthy food), spirit (a place for quiet reflection and artistic expression) and mind (free Wi-Fi), though their wraps and salads really take center stage. The blues and greens of the interior reflect the colors of the sky, plants and water, but are also reminiscent of an Aegean café, which may have induced me to order the Athena ($4.80). The mélange of greens, kalamata olives, tomatoes, cukes, peppers, snow peas and feta can be stuffed in a wrap or enjoyed as a traditional bowl of salad. I opted for the former (in a tomato-basil wrap) and had some lemon-pepper chicken thrown in for an additional $2. The flavors were rightfully tangy, if a tad salty. I really liked the Daisy ($4.80), a refreshingly sweet and delightfully nutty salad that I enjoyed sans wrap. Mandarin oranges and strawberries provided the pop, almonds and sunflower seeds the crunch and raspberry vinaigrette the invigorating splash.

    There are 11 different salads from which to choose, and if none tickles your fancy, create your own from Eden’s 37 available “tossings” and 12 dressings. Counter service can slow considerably during the lunch rush, but that’ll give you a chance to peruse the original artwork and sayings on the walls. Oh, and if you’re looking for a little quiet reflection, the consistent chatter and piped-in music could foil any meditative urges. It should be noted that the items above, though ordered “small,” were enormous portions, but really – eating too much salad is like taking too many naps; how bad for you could it possibly be?

    When restaurants specializing in tapas, or small-plate appetizers, sprout across a city, it's an indicator of culinary maturation and refinement. Diners must be willing to accept smaller portions, while shifting their approach by exhibiting a readiness to share. And though Orlando is only slowly succumbing to the trend, there may be a time in the not-too-distant future when tapas bars will be as popular as sushi bars are today.

    Thankfully, we're at a stage where the tasting plates offered up here, and at places like Olé Olé and Costa del Sol, are of the sort enjoyed by bar-hoppers all over the Iberian Peninsula, and not the sort of bastardized, overly trendy, fusion frou-frou found in larger cities in this country.

    El Bodegon serves time-honored, and strongly flavored, tapas fare ' cured serrano ham, chorizo and honeycomb tripe, to name a few ' and garlic is expectedly ubiquitous in many of chef Francisco Figueiras' dishes. The gambas al ajillo ($9), plump curls of subtly sweet shrimp in a shallow bowl of bubbling sherry wine sauce, is absolutely sublime. Flecks of cilantro, chili pepper and diced bulbs of the stinking rose give the dish its aromatic and full-flavored essence, and if it weren't for fear of filling up too early, and seeming too greedy, I would've downed every single one of those succulent shellfish â?¦ so much for sharing.

    Empanadas de bacalao ($6), a pair of perfectly crisp pastries stuffed with seasoned cod, halved, then artfully plated along with an olive salad, was another can't-get-enough-of-this dish. By the time the tortilla Española ($6) ' arguably the most popular tapas item in Spain ' arrived, a couple of bites were all I could muster. The thick wedges of caramelized onion-and-potato omelet cried for a splash of hot sauce, which disappointingly came in the form of a miniature bottle of Tabasco. A basic salsa picante would've been a better accompaniment to the somewhat insipid omelet.

    A few swigs of sangria ($14.50 for a half-pitcher) provided the necessary respite before the main courses arrived. Yes, those in search of a more substantial meal can get their fill from a host of seafood, meat and poultry entrees. Traditional paella Valenciana ($21) made me feel like it was Sunday in Seville, not a Friday in Orlando. And though the green peas were a tad shriveled, the saffron-flavored rice (glistening with olive oil) gave the dish a superb moistness, and every paprika-spiked mouthful of succulent chicken, shellfish and red pepper was intensely exotic.

    Two tenderloin slabs sitting atop pineapple circles characterized the medallones de solomillo primavera ($28). The steaks were cooked medium-well instead of the requested medium, but the flavor medley of the dish ' the sweetness of pineapple, the rich and creamy cognac demiglace, fresh-roasted vegetables and Spanish rice ' more than compensated.

    The atmosphere is boisterous and festive, though when things quiet down toward closing time, you're better able to appreciate the trompe l'oeil on the arched columns, the brick walls and Spanish tile. Servers are amiable, eager to please and never hurried, so you won't feel pressured to race through your dishes, though when one asks about dessert, you may want to feign indecisiveness. A horribly salty flavor infused the peras al vino ($8), almond-specked pear halves cooked in Spanish wine and cinnamon. The crema catalana ($6) had a restrained citrus zest in the custard, but the top layer could've been caramelized a bit more. Your best bet is to head next door to Rocco's Italian Grille and order their tiramisu.

    But like its Latin neighbor, El Bodegon is destined to become a popular gathering ground for foodies, and an anchor on the Winter Park dining scene.

    Ceviche is the specialty of this tiny Peruvian cocina, but be sure to start with excellent mussels on the half-shell, dressed with a tangy salsa jacked with aji limo peppers. Grilled beef heart and traditional lomo saltado are worthy turf selections, if you're not into surf. Souffl-like bavarois de guinnes are, appropriately, ethereal.


    Teaser: Ceviche is the specialty of this tiny Peruvian cocina, but be sure to start with excellent mussels on the half-shell, dressed with a tangy salsa jacked with aji limo peppers. Grilled beef heart and traditional lomo saltado are worthy turf selections, if you're not into surf. Soufflé-like bavarois de guinones are, appropriately, ethereal. Open daily.
    Enzian Theater

    Food and film: It's an odd combination, but it works, even if there are a few interruptions while watching the movie. Order staples like buttered popcorn, soft pretzels or chocolate-chip cookies, or get fancy with creative salads, sandwiches and pizzas. The al fresco Eden bar is a good place to grab a cocktail before the show.

    It’s no secret that Americans are a meat-eating bunch, and that the only time vegetables make it on the plate is when they’re in the form of french fries or iceberg lettuce. Recent studies have shown Americans forgoing vegetables in increasing numbers, with just a small percentage meeting the recommended daily value, but why? One plausible reason could be the manner in which vegetables are commonly prepared at home and at many restaurants – mushy, soggy, overcooked and bland. If more meat-eaters were exposed to properly prepared carrots, broccoli, peas and spinach, perhaps they wouldn’t react so negatively at the prospect of dining at a vegetarian or (gasp!) a vegan restaurant.

    Ethos Vegan Kitchen takes a valiant stab at showing condescending carnivores what herbivores already know – that meatless fare can be creative, satisfying and not just a side item to steak. That said, for those of you going vegan for the first time, more often it’s not the meat you’ll miss, but rather the items you’ve grown accustomed to at other restaurants: butter on bread, milk in coffee, cheese on pasta and whipped cream on dessert. However, even for a non-vegan and self-professed fromage-head like myself, the plate of macaroni & cheese ($4.95) proved gratifyingly gooey despite the use of cheese made from rice milk and soy cream mixed with, presumably, eggless pasta. Vegetable soup ($3.95), a hearty blend of potato chunks, carrots, broccoli, yellow squash and celery, met the minimum flavor requirement, but the broth could’ve been invigorated some with the addition of Scotch bonnet peppers, fire-roasted vegetables or a liberal sifting of paprika or cayenne.

    Similarly, sheep’s pie ($9.95) could’ve used a seasoned kick, but any pub in the U.K. would be hard-pressed to outmatch the casserole’s generous heaping of fluffy mashed potatoes. Even the pungent vegetable brown sauce enveloping a sauté of peas, onions, carrots and broccoli had beefy notes to it. I would’ve preferred the two ample slices of pecan-crusted eggplant ($12.95) to be cooked just a little more, but the slight caramelization of the pecans really gave the dish a pleasant bittersweetness. A thick mound of mashed potatoes and gravy was simply outstanding, while sautéed broccoli never tasted better. Though accompanying slices of bread were lovely, this was one place where I missed butter. A suggestion: Garlicky, herbaceous dipping oil would make a worthy substitute.

     

    Desserts whisked away any thoughts of butter and eggs, and the lack of such essential baking ingredients wasn’t to the detriment of the comforting warm apple galette ($2.25) with a wonderfully flaky crust and cinnamon-spiced sweet apples. The dense slab of chocolate cake ($1.50) wasn’t as moist as I’d hoped, but it wasn’t dry either. Double chocolate chip cookies ($1.25) were a pinch better than regular chocolate chip cookies, though, admittedly, I dunked them at home in a glass of milk (I know, I’m bad).

    The restaurant is situated on some prime property at the foot of Antique Row and truly exudes a chillax vibe, not surprising considering the same space once housed the Lava Lounge. Sleepy-eyed vegetarians opt for the candlelit tables in the cozy outdoor courtyard, with its Big Easy feel and bucolic view of giant oaks

    East Winter Park is home to a growing number of Polish transplants who shop for staples at Europol Polish Deli – the former home of Warzawa. Neither the plain storefront (buried in the plaza at the juncture of Aloma Avenue and S.R. 436) nor the spare interior (a shotgun space anchored by a butcher's case) indicates the wealth of stock inside. Here's what you need to know.

    Sausage: The main event. Ask for Polish sausage and be prepared for the follow-up question, "What kind?" Old-fashioned? Smoked? Beef? Pork? Made in Chicago, they're sold by the stick and are all lean and delicious. Pierogi: Homemade varieties are packed by the dozen and sold frozen. There's no going wrong with cheese & potato or onion & potato. Beer: A separate refrigerator case stores a selection of potent brews from Poland and Russia. Other: Fresh rye bread, Polish butter, currant juice and baked confections.

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