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    An unassuming chill cafe where you can drink, sip and catch part of Orlando's local talent. Grab a beer or a glass of our organic wine, listen to live bands, see an indie film, take in some local art or enjoy live comedy and poetry performances. We have something going on every night. Drink, be merry and enjoy!


    Teaser: After the sun sets, Austin's is less about fair trade and fresh roasting and more about moderately expensive microbrews. Squeeze between anarcho-hipsters for live bands, independent film screenings and stand-up comedy. Free Wi-Fi for YouTube riots is a plus; gooch-ish climate, not so much.

    OK, I'm going to come right out and admit it. When I first heard of a 24-hour Mexican takeout restaurant, I shuddered. Having been out of college for many years, the idea of fast-food-grade tacos before sunrise made me just a little bit queasy.

    And then we went to Beto's, near the congested crossroads of State Road 436 and U.S. Highway 17-92, and I now humbly apologize. There's an old joke about Mexican food being nothing but meat, rice and cheese with different names, and I can tell you that the joke doesn't hold true here. Beto's does not churn out your typical drive-through meals.

    And then we went to Beto's, near the congested crossroads of State Road 436 and U.S. Highway 17-92, and I now humbly apologize. There's an old joke about Mexican food being nothing but meat, rice and cheese with different names, and I can tell you that the joke doesn't hold true here. Beto's does not churn out your typical drive-through meals.

    Look at the "Beto's special carne asada fries" ($5.50), thick-cut french fries smothered in guacamole, sour cream and chopped steak -- not ground meat but real pieces of steak. Or "carnitas" tacos, soft corn tortillas stuffed with roasted pork ($2.25).

    Look at the "Beto's special carne asada fries" ($5.50), thick-cut french fries smothered in guacamole, sour cream and chopped steak -- not ground meat but real pieces of steak. Or "carnitas" tacos, soft corn tortillas stuffed with roasted pork ($2.25).

    I don't usually associate Mexican cooking with potatoes, and, in fact, the "Mexican potato" is actually jicama, a crunchy, sweet tuber much like a water chestnut. (The sweet, syrupy Pina drink that's served is made from jicama; also try Horchata, a traditional rice, almond and cinnamon drink.) So I wasn't expecting the Southwestern influences of the "Texano" burrito ($2.95), filled with rich dark-meat chicken, sour cream, cheese and potatoes, a filling and satisfying combination. I guarantee you will not eat it all at one sitting; likewise the "California" burrito ($3.05), grilled steak, pico de gallo and potato, an old-fashioned meat-and-potato meal in your hand.

    I don't usually associate Mexican cooking with potatoes, and, in fact, the "Mexican potato" is actually jicama, a crunchy, sweet tuber much like a water chestnut. (The sweet, syrupy Pina drink that's served is made from jicama; also try Horchata, a traditional rice, almond and cinnamon drink.) So I wasn't expecting the Southwestern influences of the "Texano" burrito ($2.95), filled with rich dark-meat chicken, sour cream, cheese and potatoes, a filling and satisfying combination. I guarantee you will not eat it all at one sitting; likewise the "California" burrito ($3.05), grilled steak, pico de gallo and potato, an old-fashioned meat-and-potato meal in your hand.

    Still on the burrito kick, the fried-fish-and-tarter-sauce one was exceptional, with crispy fried fish and sharp pico de gallo (spiked with lime) for a West Coast-flavored delight ($2.95). The combination platters ($4.25 to $5.95) are enormous servings of extremely well-executed traditional dishes, using shredded beef (machaca) in enchiladas and chorizo with tortillas. I wish there were more seafood offerings than just fish, but perhaps that will come.

    Still on the burrito kick, the fried-fish-and-tarter-sauce one was exceptional, with crispy fried fish and sharp pico de gallo (spiked with lime) for a West Coast-flavored delight ($2.95). The combination platters ($4.25 to $5.95) are enormous servings of extremely well-executed traditional dishes, using shredded beef (machaca) in enchiladas and chorizo with tortillas. I wish there were more seafood offerings than just fish, but perhaps that will come.

    And then there's breakfast. Never contemplated a stuffed taco in the morning? Beto's serves breakfast burritos unlike any other: giant two-fisted tortillas wrapped around ham and eggs, shredded beef and vegetables, or a steak and egg burrito stuffed with grilled meat, fried eggs, cheese and potatoes. Go very early, because you won't be hungry again for quite a while after finishing one of these.

    And then there's breakfast. Never contemplated a stuffed taco in the morning? Beto's serves breakfast burritos unlike any other: giant two-fisted tortillas wrapped around ham and eggs, shredded beef and vegetables, or a steak and egg burrito stuffed with grilled meat, fried eggs, cheese and potatoes. Go very early, because you won't be hungry again for quite a while after finishing one of these.

    Beto's won't be winning any prizes for its decor, but the interior of the nondescript building (which at various times was a roast-chicken stand, a bagel place and a Chinese takeout) is immaculately clean and comfortable enough for a not-so-quick eat-in, any time of the day or night. Be prepared to bring half home.

    The King of Reggae's open-air Kingston home has been resurrected. Live bands wail in the courtyard, while the laid-back bar staff serves up Red Stripe, rum concoctions and jerk sandwiches. It's one of the smaller CityWalk venues and weekends are frequently jammed and jammin'.


    Teaser: The king of reggae's open-air Kingston home has been resurrected for the real Rasta experience (sans ganja, natch). Live bands wail in the courtyard, while the laid-back bar staff serves up Red Stripe, rum concoctions and jerk sandwiches. It's one of the smaller CityWalk venues and weekends are frequently jammed and jammin'.

    Sometimes bad things happen to good restaurateurs. Take Mark Dollard for example: The well-traveled chef responsible for bringing us Absinthe Bistro was booted from his space inside the gorgeous Bumby Arcade thanks to Lou Pearlman's kiddy-fiddling, grown-up-swindling ways, only to return at the behest of slimeball developer Cameron Kuhn ' who stipulated the new restaurant serve pizza instead of fancy French fare. So after taking a pecuniary hit for Absinthe, Dollard licked his financial wounds and, ultimately, swallowed his culinary pride and constructed an open kitchen complete with two different ovens: a brick pizza oven for deep-dish, and a wood-fired oven for hand-tossed pizza (thus the name 'Brick & Fireâ?�).

    But Dollard managed to sneak a few gourmet items and pasta dishes onto the menu, a welcome sight given dining on pizza in the scarlet-lit cellar room seems a bit like watching a T-ball game in Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately, a leaky ceiling precluded any underground dining on this visit, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the baked ziti ($12.25), advertised by my well-meaning waiter as 'mac and cheese for adults.â?� Tubular bridegrooms baked with cream, blanketed with strips of brie and crisped with seasoned bread crumbs made for a stellar start, but I curbed my enthusiasm as there were more dishes on the way. Good ol'-fashioned London broil ($18.75) seemed an unusual, albeit impeccably executed, starter. The wonderfully tender strips of flank steak were served medium-rare, and sliced across the grain; wood-oven roasted potatoes and vegetables accompanied the dish.

    And then came the pizza. There are scores of specialty/gourmet/artisan pies offered (not to mention the option to create your own), but being a sucker for a robust curd, I couldn't resist the goat cheese pizza ($16.75), a 10-inch, hand-tossed pie with a respectable crust and a liberal crumbling of chèvre. The cheese's tart flavor was balanced by the inclusion of sun-dried tomatoes, sautéed spinach, basil and toasted pine nuts. An added bonus: The pizza held up under the weight of all the toppings.

    When the enormous pulled-chicken calzone ($9.75) finally arrived, its lustrous sheen nearly offset the waiter's absentmindedness (he forgot to put in the order), though I couldn't help but wonder why so many waiters forgo pen and paper. Dollard, nonetheless, forgoes the traditional half-moon shape for a circular one, fills it with roasted chicken, julienned portabella mushrooms and gouda, then tops it with plenty of tomato sauce for a little supplementary indulgence.

    The Dessert Lady's decadent cakes beckoned next door, but my crusty disposition wouldn't waver when it came time for a sugary finale, and the flaky shell of the hot apple pie ($5.25) didn't disappoint. Baked and served in a cast-iron skillet, the deep-dish dessert was crowned with a dollop of vanilla-bean ice cream and a caramel drizzle, and was plenty big enough to share. My only complaint was that it was served tongue-scaldingly hot, and after waiting 10 minutes for it to arrive, I just wanted to dig in.

    Still, you've got to hand it to Dollard for suffering through all the setbacks and shenanigans that have plagued the Church Street entertainment complex in recent years. The pace could be quickened and service could use some polishing, but Dollard's display of resolve and perseverance in the kitchen only underscores his never-say-die attitude. With that sort of determination, good things will (eventually) come to those who wait. `EDITOR'S NOTE: Since this review, Brick & Fire has moved to South Orange Avenue.`

    Broadway Café is a quaint bistro and art gallery located in the heart of downtown Kissimmee. Not only a restaurant, the Café also allows you to dine surrounded by art that isn't just restricted to the walls! Every table is a one-of-a-kind painting depicting scenes ranging from the building in the 1920's to beautiful flora and local scenery. We also offers a variety of coffee drinks, homemade desserts and an ice cream bar! The motto of Broadway Café is â??Where the Creation of Good Food is an Art!â?� so if you enjoy the arts, irresistible food made with pride, and a unique dining experience, come visit us in Historic Downtown Kissimmee!
    Captain's Cove is a hidden treasure! We are located at a marina that overlooks the beautiful St. John's River. We are now offering an extensive frozen drink menu and tasty selections from our outside grill.
    The Celt bids you "céad míle fáilte," and it's the closest downtown Orlando gets to a genuine Irish pub experience. Pound a plate of Irish nachos, slide over a few pints of Guinness, and you won't want to be anywhere else for the rest of the evening – probably because your legs will stop working at some point. This traditional Celtic haven feels like home from the moment you walk through the door till you part ways and stumble on home.

    Aesthetically, this 22,000-square-foot tapas factory, one of the anchors of the re-revitalized Church Street Station entertainment complex, is as grand and enticing a restaurant you’ll find in the city. The ambience, rich in fine details and accentuated by a gleaming bar, tile mosaics, sumptuous lighting and a cathedral ceiling, would’ve had me quoting Shakespeare, but my memory (or lack thereof) foiled a display of frivolous pretense. For what it’s worth, the passage I was groping for – Her beauty makes this vault a feasting presence full of light – is a fitting one. This Spanish beauty of a restaurant will ultimately capture your heart, but not before seducing your stomach.

    The advantage in dining at a tapas joint (particularly one offering a whopping selection of 100 small plates from which to choose) is that you’re sure to find something you like. A miss will most surely be countered by a hit, with plenty of in-betweens thrown in for good measure. Ceviche doesn’t reinvent the tapas experience, but what it does, it does relatively well.

    Sampling ceviche, a delicacy originating in the former Spanish colony of Peru, was practically a foregone conclusion, and the ceviche de atun ($11), a martini-glass assemblage of citrus-marinated tuna, red peppers, jalapeños, garlic and onions, made a cool introduction to the meal. Nothing awe-inspiring, but the dish was tangy, refreshing and had just enough kick to jump-start the affair. Our waiter assured us the Iberico ham ($8.50) was top-quality, and while I couldn’t confirm if the jamón was solely acorn-fed, my dining companions both agreed the thinly shaved meat, served on a crunchy baguette and topped with a triangle of aged manchego cheese, was melt-in-your-mouth perfect.

    Another dish that had us cooing was the wonderfully gooey portobello relleno ($8). Wilted spinach, shallots and manchego stuffed the corpulent ’shroom, with contrasting brandy and sherry cream sauces providing a sop-worthy complement. The floral notes and fruity finish of a glass of velvety-smooth Wrongo Dongo Monastrell 2006 ($5.60) proved to be an even better complement to the tapas vegetales.

    But not everything was wine and roses, a pointed example being when our accommodating (though somewhat forgetful) waiter mistakenly served us a plate of aromatic salmon a la gaditana ($9). The fish was remarkably bland, and the accompanying saffron sauce with leeks was equally insipid. Bacalao Bilbaina ($11) looked promising, the plump loin of cod glistening with olive oil and garnished with garlic cloves and fire-roasted peppers, but the flavor gave me an idea as to what a wet, chewy sock might taste like.

    Luckily, I was able to cleanse my palate with oxtail (I don’t get to say that too often). Fall-off-the-bone tender rabo de toro ($11) is slowly braised in a red wine reduction and served atop cushiony potatoes: absolutely delicious, and the hit dish of the evening. Skewers of nicely seasoned chorizo were the hit of the banderillas mixtas ($8.50), which also came lanced with chewy tenderloin and ho-hum chicken, though repeated dips in the garlic aioli elevated each meaty bite.

    Both desserts we sampled were outstanding. The creamy-drunk tres leches meringue cake with fresh berries ($7.50) won over more sweet-tooths than the trilogia de chocolates ($8), a moussey drum of white, dark and milk chocolates. Just about ready for a siesta, I ordered a double espresso, and while the brew did its part to recharge, the taste fell flat and the crema was nonexistent.

    On the way out, I took a gander at the cold tapas bar, a centerpiece fixture that drew my eyes upward to the dangling gams of hams. Each lovely shank vied for the attention of patrons already bedazzled by the vault’s feasting presence.

    Crafted Block and Brew
    Equal parts craft beer joint, sports bar and restaurant, Crafted endeavors to be something for everyone with mixed results. The modern pub-grub fare is highlighted by a decent selection of messy burgers fashioned from a mix of short rib, brisket and chuck. The cottage pie with steak tips is also worth considering, but be wary of overdressed Cajun snapper and insipid barbecue-rubbed grilled wings. There’s a nice selection of craft brews available on tap or by the bottle.

    More than 30 organic loose-leaf teas are offered at this socially conscious teahouse that's become a gathering ground for nonconformists, neo-cons and everyone in between. A predominantly vegan menu of wraps, salads and an outstandingly hearty chili will satisfy even the most ravenous of carnivores. Start with hummus with hemp seeds, and finish with the fluffernutter sandwich - a sweet proposition.


    Teaser: More than 30 organic loose-leaf teas are offered at this socially conscious teahouse that's become a gathering ground for nonconformists, neo-cons and everyone in between. A predominantly vegan menu of wraps, salads and an outstandingly hearty chili will satisfy even the most ravenous of carnivores. Start with hummus with hemp seeds, and finish with the fluffernutter sandwich ' a sweet proposition.

    I've officially found the laziest kitchen downtown: the staff at Due Amici, the South Orange Avenue joint formerly known as Dan's Midnite Pizza. Seriously, 30 minutes to heat up a couple of slices and make a panini? Frustrating, considering the restaurant wasn't packed and the folks behind the counter were text-messaging away.

    I've officially found the laziest kitchen downtown: the staff at Due Amici, the South Orange Avenue joint formerly known as Dan's Midnite Pizza. Seriously, 30 minutes to heat up a couple of slices and make a panini? Frustrating, considering the restaurant wasn't packed and the folks behind the counter were text-messaging away.

    The two slices I had ' a white pizza and a mushroom ' weren't bad. They were large enough to be satisfying for the price ' $4.95 with a soda, a daily special ' and the New York crust was appropriately thin. My companion was less pleased with his 'Sicilianoâ?� panini: too-thick prosciutto surrounded by too-chewy bread. We were both disappointed by the garlic bread-with-cheese appetizer; there was no cheese to be found. I've enjoyed calzones here in the past, and I tried a tasty fried ziti special once ' maybe if they put it on the menu, I'd go back. (Due Amici, 28 S. Orange Ave., 407-425-8881)

    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

    I wasn't thrilled with the prospect of eating an entire meal at a pub. Past experiences with pub grub – here and abroad – led me to believe that "authentic" doesn't necessarily mean "great." But the proprietors of Fiddler's Green prove that a focus on flavor, presentation and service can spell "gourmet" for traditional Irish cuisine.

    The restaurant retains the cozy atmosphere of its predecessors, Mulvaney's and Prince of Wales. It's got the same ornate woodwork, dart boards, Irish-themed knickknacks and entertainment stage. Now, there's a separate dining room that's upscale and intimate in a country-inn sort of way.

    Fiddler's Green offers a full selection of draft ales, lagers and stouts, which you can order by the pint or half-pint. While my guest and I waited, our server brought us a basket of thick, crumbly scones, which nicely offset the beer.

    We split an order of lightly browned potato pancakes with grated cheddar and scallions ($6.50; $5.95) topped with smoked salmon or sour cream and chives. Other appetizers include steamed mussels ($7.50) and smoked fish spread ($5.50). Dieters will be glad to know that the menu also includes your basic salad assortment.

    Along with a variety of sandwiches and burgers ($5.25-$8.95), Fiddler's entrees include standbys like corned beef and cabbage ($9.95); fish and chips, and "bangers and mash" (both $8.95). Among the more gourmet fare: grilled salmon with champagne sauce ($14.95) and roast duck ($15.95).

    I ordered the "Hen in a Pot" ($7.95), a scrumptious variation on chicken pot pie. Instead of pie crust, the "pot" was topped, hat-like, with a flaky pastry. The stew below was piping hot with big chunks of tender chicken and vegetables, seasoned just right.

    My companion stuck with another basic-but-hearty dish, Irish stew ($9.95). Once again, the seasonings – thyme, in this case – made this dish a standout. Presentation of both entrees was excellent, with extras like huge plates, fresh herbs and doilies. Desserts include bread and butter pudding, and blackberry/apple crumble ($3.95-$4.50). We were way too full to sample them.

    Great service and excellent food mean Fiddler's Green is not like most Irish pubs; it's better.

    There's an abundance of painfully obvious jokes to be endured when you invite a bunch of wise-asses to lunch at a hospital cafeteria. But the superspread at Florida Hospital Orlando had them eating their words and more.

    It's no secret on the health-food circuit that vegetarian and generally healthy food can be found here, thanks to the dietary observances of the founding Seventh Day Adventists. But faux-meat dishes, real chocolate brownies and coffee with caffeine (refills encouraged) can also be found in the dizzying spread that starts with a pizza/pasta station.

    It's no secret on the health-food circuit that vegetarian and generally healthy food can be found here, thanks to the dietary observances of the founding Seventh Day Adventists. But faux-meat dishes, real chocolate brownies and coffee with caffeine (refills encouraged) can also be found in the dizzying spread that starts with a pizza/pasta station.

    At the wok station, a steaming medley of green beans, mushrooms, yellow squash and onions ($1.40) tasted as good as it looked. Seasonings are predictably mild, even in the "vegetarian-chicken" chimichanga ($1.40). And the mauve-colored mystery meat(less) in the Reuben made for good conversation.

    Prodigious patties for the post-grad set seems to be graffiti Junktion's function; the crowd is young and the digs run to squatter-chic embillishments. Skip the salad and chili and head straight for the beefed-up burgers, served on homemade buns. a full bar keeps the scene lively and the din uproarious.

    Do demons like burgers? For Graffiti Junktion's sake, I really hope they do. A long line of restaurants ' Thornton Park Café, Luciano's Terrace, La Fontanella da Nino, Rocco's, even Jephanie Foster's Midnight Blue ' have all succumbed to the mean-spirited phantoms cursing this attractive locale. Perhaps an extreme makeover (or extreme makeunder as the case may be) was in order for a proper exorcism; the changes to the once-slick interior are nothing short of dramatic. The style is in marked contrast to Midnight Blue's cool refinement, resembling an abandoned building taken over and decorated by squatters. Doors have been ripped off their hinges, windows removed, graffiti sprayed onto the walls and comfy furnishing swapped out for doodled-on picnic tables. All of it fosters a scene tending toward backward-baseball-cap'wearing post-grads and their girly-girl strumpets, right down to the Jokerman font on the small, simple menu.

    It's a lively scene, but I confess I had a better time observing the random T-shirts on diners than I did downing a spoonful of their Texas-style beef chili ($5). The overly seasoned hash caked my tongue with a pungency reminiscent of chili powder from a grocery-aisle packet. The fact that it was served lukewarm with limp, unmelted cheese didn't help salvage the starter. A wasabi chicken Caesar salad ($8) with spicy Caesar dressing seemed intriguing at first, but you wouldn't have known the Japanese condiment was even present had there been no mention of it on the menu. One consolation: The nicely seasoned chicken strips were warmer than the chili.

    But the meat of Graffiti Junktion's matter lies in their patties. For the most part, the burgers (all tagged with city nicknames) are thoroughly gratifying ' beefed-up rounds with homemade buns to boot. Yeah, they initially forgot the jalapeños in my Austin City Limits ($10) burger, but the well-trained staff was quick to replenish the peppers and offer an apology. Pepperjack and chili underscored its Texas-manwich status, and as far as the fries were concerned, the skin-on, seasoned strips were entirely laudable, though my dining partner, a self-professed French fry authority, thought them a tad soggy and lacking in crisp. The Fog City ($10) turkey burger, layered with tomato, pepperjack, avocado and sprouts on a whole-wheat bun, proffered the gastronomic yin to the Austin City Limits burger's yang. It's a hefty sandwich, no doubt, but it just seems better suited to a beef patty rather than turkey ' an option that is available if you're so inclined. Desserts, on the other hand, aren't an option and likely won't be for a few weeks, but that doesn't seem to bother the regulars, who seem content with the straightforward fare, full bar and sportive conviviality.

    For all its burger-worthiness, Graffiti Junktion does seem to be more about the scene than the food. The din can be uproarious and patrons delightfully vainglorious, so there's nothing else to do but plant your seat at a table, grab some grub and enjoy the show. If you can't join 'em, watch 'em.

    Having indulged in my fair share of cottage pies at Jimmy Mulvaney’s charming, unpretentious Irish boozer Claddagh Cottage, I was more than a little intrigued when word came that the pub owner (along with wife Kathy and food-service veterans Lisa and Rick Boyd) had taken over Scruffy Murphy’s once-future home to open an upscale gastropub fronted by a cordon bleu chef. Given Mulvaney’s deft skills as a bar proprietor, I was less concerned about the “pub” than I was the “gastro,” but as it turned out, the kitchen ultimately held up its end of the deal.

    The “gastro,” it should be noted, is segregated from the “pub” next door and showcases Mulvaney’s skills as master artisan. Not only did he lay down the hardwood floors and take care of the wiring, Mulvaney junky-to-funkied the wooden desks left behind by the previous tenants and transformed them into beautifully crafted (if slightly upright) seating booths done in a rustic 1900s-era style. The quaint interior, with its low ceiling and exposed piping, is reminiscent of Claddagh Cottage, only decidedly classier and, at least on this Saturday evening, significantly quieter. If it weren’t for the catchy riff of “Day Tripper” and other Beatles classics being piped over the sound system, I’d likely be able to make out conversations in the kitchen. As a result, an unrivaled level of personalized service prevailed which, at times, bordered on intrusive, but it was understandable given the dearth of patrons.

    And given chef Cody Patterson’s blue ribbon status, the menu, understandably, leans heavily on French cuisine. I was hoping for Irish soda bread inside the complimentary carb basket, but no such luck. Instead, it was beef and barley soup ($4) that offered a small taste of the Emerald Isle with its generous mélange of carrots, corn, green beans, peas and potatoes. Too bad the beef was lacking, and the few miniature morsels I did manage to sift out were ground, not cubed.

    “Stop light prawns” ($9), so named because the trio of accompanying sauces resemble a stoplight, fared a little better. The fried plump curls were a smidgen greasy, but a dip into the olfactory-retarding wasabi mayo sauce proved to be the ultimate redeemer, while sweet mango chutney and zesty cocktail sauce were just as exceptional.

    The Harp house salad ($4) left me wanting more – more brie, to be exact. The one negligible piece of warm soft cheese is a cruel addition to the mix of tomatoes, field greens, red onions and croutons. After all, no fromage-lover could eat just one small bite of brie; I’d rather they serve a significant slab of cheese with a berry compote, and let the greens be an adjunct to the dish, even if it meant an increase in price.

    The two entrees I sampled were, conversely, flawless. Lamb persillade ($22) featured two racks of two chops each rubbed with honey mustard and rosemary, grilled, then roasted for a crisp finish. Creamy saffron risotto and grilled zucchini were ideal sides, but gnawing the utterly luscious flesh off the bone was what made this dish a truly enjoyable feast. The 10-ounce Angus beef filet ($33) was a tad overdone, but a superbly flavorful and prodigious cut nonetheless.

    Desserts aren’t prepared in-house as yet, but don’t let that prevent you from indulging in the fabulous chocolate bombe ($6). The dome-shaped confection envelops airy dark and white chocolate mousse and rich chocolate ganache. Call me picky, but I didn’t care much for the raspberry drizzle, nor did I care much for the key lime pie ($4) which

    Sometimes it seems like beef lovers might end up with smokers and cell phone users -- out on the sidewalk (the cell phone part is wishful thinking). But there is at least one place where the burger connoisseur can indulge without fear of vegan reprisal.

    Johnny's Fillin' Station (2631 S. Fern Creek Ave., 407-894-6900) has been serving beer, burgers and baseball for over a decade. And those who throw oaths at such things swear by the half-pound bombers that come off Johnny's grill. Everything from patties plain and bacon-laden, to those served on Texas toast or grilled rye bread, to "The Roy," complete with sour cream, jalapeños and cheese, is on the menu.

    Johnny's Fillin' Station (2631 S. Fern Creek Ave., 407-894-6900) has been serving beer, burgers and baseball for over a decade. And those who throw oaths at such things swear by the half-pound bombers that come off Johnny's grill. Everything from patties plain and bacon-laden, to those served on Texas toast or grilled rye bread, to "The Roy," complete with sour cream, jalapeños and cheese, is on the menu.

    The odd few customers not accustomed to beef on a roll can order the Philly-cheesesteak-like "Station chicken," salads or nachos. But eight beers on tap should keep everyone happy.

    Weighty, messy, exotic burgers draw a diverse patronage to this cramped Kirkman Road joint. Hot dogs, beef skewers, arepas and other South American fare are offered, but it's the burgers -- hand-formed patties piled high with lettuce, tomato, white cheese, onion, and a mix of potato chips, pineapple sauce, pink sauce and Garcia's delectable secret garlic sauce -- that rule. Open until 3:30 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 4:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

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