Locations in Orlando

Clear Filters
7 results

    Amid a bustle of pre- and post-pubescent mallrats, a Greek man is boldly bringing a French delicacy to the masses. Some say they're wussy pancakes; some say ça c'est bon, but either way you flip it, crepes are a street-food staple and Konstantinos Chilias, aka chef Dino, is griddling at the chance to find converts in the Sunshine State. Sure, a food court isn't the most likely place to find a creperie, but when you think about it, it makes sense. Indoor street fare is essentially what food courts serve up, and Dino's brand of delicate made-to-order flappe-jacques are worthy of a traipse into the Orlando Fashion Square Mall fray.

    Leafing through the menu, I was struck at the number of sweet and savory crepes ' nearly 70 are offered. Even by Parisian standards, that's an impressive amount, but what really impresses is that quality doesn't suffer as a result. 'Mall foodâ?� and 'qualityâ?� are often thought of as being mutually exclusive, but the friendly Grecian is doing his part to alter that perception one gourmet crepe at a time.

    Ushering in this new era in food-court dining has taken chef Dino halfway 'round the globe, from humble beginnings hawking crepes on the thoroughfares of Paris in the early 1980s to owning and operating cafés on the Greek isle of Rhodes, in Long Beach, Calif., and, most recently, in Ybor City. Odd he would choose a mall in Orlando as his next conquest, though he admits his ultimate plan is to open a storefront café downtown or in Winter Park.

    Yearning for a light meal on my initial visit, I opted for 'La Creperie Special� ($8.25), a creamy mélange of mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, green peppers and caramelized onions enveloped by a slightly crisp whole-wheat crepe. Every fromage-filled bite satisfied, accompanied with Dino's fresh-squeezed, though lip-pursingly sour, lemonade ($3.75), and I couldn't help but feel sorry for the folks lining up at Sbarro and JJ's Cajun.

    Vegetarians can have a field day here, no doubt, but I have to say I enjoyed the chicken-filled 'La Parisâ?� ($8.25) even more; it balanced perfectly the flavors of feta, spinach and roasted red peppers. On another visit, I sampled the 'turkey a la brieâ?� ($7.50), which proved to be my favorite. Layered with square slivers of turkey, diced tomato and gooey brie, the dish is made magnifique by Dino's secret cream sauce.

    It took me awhile to decide on a sweet crepe, but I eventually settled on the 'Marie Antoinetteâ?� ($7.25) with Nutella, banana, strawberries and Baileys liqueur. The batter, made with fine baker's flour, is properly brushed around a hotplate, resulting in a light, ultra-thin pancake. Watching the cook prepare my indulgence, I noticed the bananas he used were overripe, the peel nearly black. Then walnuts were sprinkled into my crepe, after which I realized they weren't making a Marie Antoinette at all. What I got instead was a decent enough sweet crepe, but the miscue brought to light some of the service deficiencies apparent when Dino isn't present (usually on weekends). The staff, sans Dino, can get a bit out of sorts when serving two or more customers at a time; on this occasion they mixed up my order, forgot the 'Berry Appealingâ?� smoothie ($4) I ordered and forgot to charge me for dessert.

    On another visit, Dino himself prepared the classic crepes suzette (known here as 'Madame Suzette,� $7.75), and though a flambé failed to materialize, the crepe was everything I hoped it would be: a buttered and sugared crepe drizzled with Grand Marnier, splashed with fresh lemon and orange juice, folded into a triangle and drizzled with more Grand Marnier.

    Since the demise of Maison des Crepes in Winter Park, crepeheads haven't had a venue in which to satisfy their cravings. But chef Dino is as determined as King Leonidas to change that, and I wouldn't be surprised to see one of his stand-alone creperies open in town sooner than later.

    But for now, we dine in (mall) hell.

    The building's not much to look at, but there's no missing the brilliant color of La Granja – yellow-orange and lots of it. The only adornment is the name of the South Florida fast-food chain emblazoned in red along with the description: "Pollos y carnes a la brasa," which loosely translates into "chicken and meat on the grill."

    The parking lot is usually buzzing with cars, whether it's lunchtime or dinnertime, and on busy days, the kitchen runs out of some items. So there's obviously been a warm reception to this ethnic spot near the intersection of Semoran Boulevard and Aloma Avenue in Winter Park (where Miami Subs used to be).

    There's a drive-through window, but go inside to see what people are packing away: large plates of spit-roasted chicken, grilled steak and pork accompanied by large helpings of white rice, black or red beans and french fries. The standard "Family meal #1" ($26) includes half a chicken, half a pound each of pork and steak, large rice and beans, large french fries and four sodas. Call it Latin American comfort food (or call it a carbohydrate curse), but the meat is the star of the meal, with its "secret" Peruvian spicing permeated by the flavor of cumin (which is the main ingredient in chili powders). By contrast, the rice and beans are bland, but the fries were thick and tasty.

    The fried bananas ($1.75 small, $2.50 large) are my recommendation for dessert, though the flan ($2) is fine, too. The spare salad ($2/$3.50) is not worth the cost. Other side items are garlic potatoes and fried yuca ($1.75/$3.50). And the meat sandwiches served with fries are a good deal ($4.95). The yellow Inca Cola ($1.15), kind of like a cream soda, is refreshing, even if the Peruvian product is now owned by Coca-Cola. Don't be put off by the potential for carb-loading here – just pick up some of the spicy meat and pair it with a healthy salad at home.

    Everyone talks about the plethora of Vietnamese cuisine in Orlando, the wide variety of Hispanic restaurants or the strong Indian presence. Now add to our multicultural mix the words "vareniki" and "piroshki," foods from Russia.

    The Lacomka Bakery & Deli in Winter Park is serving up potato dumplings and borscht worthy of a stay at the Summer Palace. Born in Georgia in the Ukraine (did you know that in Soviet Georgia they grow peaches and eat grits?), Luboi Vyazhvich is eager to serve up her handmade cakes or wrap up whole smoked herrings so tender that they spread like pate. Pick up a box of Csar Nicholas Royal Tea or take home some meat and cheese blintzes. The meat case holds authentic Russian sausages and homemade eggplant relish, and the taste of a "Russian melt" chicken sandwich will make you dance the "kazatski" all the way back home.

    'I feel like a 5-year-old!â?� says my wife, who, though certainly young, has at least graduated from kindergarten.

    Dwarfed by the epic-sized slices of pizza at Lazy Moon Pizza (12269 University Blvd., 407-658-2396), she was reminded what it's like to be a miniature person, when everything seems outsized. The wide variety of toppings make for endless flavor combinations, but it's the thin, crispy crust that allows one to devour these ridiculously mammoth pieces without exploding. (And, with the honey decanters on the table, it also makes for a cheap dessert.)

    The collegiate crowd that packs the place for said slices is able to wash down the pizza with an impressive selection of imports and microbrews, and the soups and salads on offer put Lazy Moon quite a few notches above the average pies-and-beer joints that dot college campuses. Keep in mind, however, that the median age of the UCF clientele may have some of you feeling the opposite of 'young.â?�

    A true diner serving the classics: chili omelets, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, bottomless cups of coffee. Service is on point and you can't beat the location - the perfect place to get a jump on your weekend errands.

    Teaser: A true diner serving the classics: chili omelets, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, bottomless cups of coffee. Service is on point and you can't beat the location - the perfect place to get a jump on your weekend errands.

    Tea for kids that adults like, too! Bubble tea at Lollicup. The very thought reminds me of simpler days when I worried about such things as having tea parties with my stuffed animals. What is bubble tea? A drink invented in Taiwan in the early 1980s by pushcart tea vendors who competed for sales outside of elementary schools. One clever vendor added fruit flavors to tea and vigorously shook, creating bubbles. How totally kid. Another vendor took the idea a step further, adding tapioca pearls, thus creating the illusion of big bubbles sitting on the bottom of each cup.

    Today, bubble tea is still shaken and the imbiber merrily sips "boba," those characteristic dark tapioca pearls 6mm in diameter, through an uncharacteristically large straw. Orlando has a delicious little bubble-tea hut of its own called Lollicup. Owners Quang Vu and Angela Vu have just opened their third location in Central Florida on the corner of Colonial Drive and Mills Avenue, which is many a tea party in kid talk. The space is small and colorful, just a place to stop in for a moment or two, but not to lounge.

    Tea makers busy themselves mixing and stirring and shrink-wrapping customer selections with a special Lollicup closed-seal-to-go system. No need for a lid, just pop a straw through the shrink-wrap and you're good to go. Neat-O. I couldn't decide on just one, so I tried three: almond coconut milk with boba ($3.50); avocado smoothie with boba (4.50); and a baffling concoction of "four-color pudding chocolate, eggnog, milk and taro" mixed together, poured in a cup, studded with boba and other candied fruit jewels, shrink-wrapped and handed to me by Quang, who promptly said, "Wow. You're really adventurous," which translates into, "Wow. You're really overdoing it."

    Four-color pudding ($4.50) was the mudpie of the tea party, for sure. The other two drinks were nothing short of delicious and fun. The almond coconut milk was subtly tannic, and mellowed into a fragrant, creamy blend. My favorite, and the one I was most skeptical about, turned out to be the avocado smoothie, a sweet shake made with real Haas avocados. I wish they had this around when I was a kid.



Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

© 2019 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation