You searched for:

Start over

Search for…

Narrow Search

4 results

Some of my greatest meal memories are from the original Dexter's in Winter Park. It was there that I discovered my love of sitting around a table for hours with friends, eating, drinking and conversing. The original Dexter's on Fairbanks Avenue was magnificent for this discovery, an absolutely pleasurable spot where you could linger and listen to music, sip wine and enjoy enlivening food.

Then came Dexter's in Thornton Park, which became my morning-after remedy from long nights at the Go Lounge. I loved getting up and riding my bike over to Washington Street to have brunch. There was no better way to nurse a hangover than with a basket of sweet potato chips and a Dexter's "special" – a honey-cured mesquite-smoked turkey sandwich. When the original Dexter's moved to another location, in west Winter Park, I went a couple of times, mostly on dates before the movies or to grab a quick sandwich and tasty salad.

I guess you could say that Dexter's and I have grown up together. Dexter's kind of supplied the comfort food of my early adult life, introducing me to such favorites as buccatini, jerk spice and smoked cheese. So when I heard Dexter's was growing again and moving north to the suburbs, I wasn't sure what to think. I mean, I'm not ready for the suburbs yet. And would it have the same cool warehouse-space feel? Would the food be just as simple and pleasing?

The new Dexter's in Lake Mary suffers a little from what I like to call Multiple Growth Restaurant Syndrome, the pesky disorder that occurs when a restaurant has been getting it right for so long that they become formulaic. Don't worry, though. Dexter's is up and running and handling this minor affliction quite well. The first sign of MGRS is in the restaurant's sterile location in a spanking-new shopping plaza. To get to the restaurant, I had to navigate I-4 up to the Lake Mary exit, then pass by the marquee of a shopping mall and drive past endless rows of parking spaces. There's not much of a chance that I'll wake up on a breezy morning and hop on my bike for a ride over here. Each of the other Dexter's locations is unique in the way the business molds itself to the surroundings. The new entry offers a more manufactured ambience, but my friends and I still found the experience enjoyable in every way. This Dexter's was still the Dexter's I knew and loved.

A beautiful glass wine-storage closet nestled in nicely by the bar, creating the fun, sophisticated flair Dexter's is so well known for. All of the comfort foods I crave were on the new menu, so I had to start with the basket of delicious "cha-cha" chips mixed with sweet chips ($1.95), which always kicks up my appetite.

From the café menu, my friends ordered my beloved garlic buccatini with fresh pesto ($6.95), a delectable mix of Alfredo sauce, basil, pine nuts and thick, hollow egg noodles. We also tried the "low country crab cakes" ($11.95) and our resident Marylander gave them the thumbs-up – flaky and tender, packed with sweet crab flavor and piqued by plenty of fresh red pepper and onion.

We tried some items from the chef's special menu and found them delicious, as well. The chef here has the familiar Dexter's flair for giving comfort-food ingredients an exciting twist. The "chipotle marinated pork tenderloin" ($17.95) was bursting with heady spices such as cumin and cilantro, complementing the smoky aroma of the chipotle pepper. The "grilled filet with Stilton-bacon-demi glace" ($22.95) was steak and potatoes at its best. The fillet, juicy and served medium rare, was compatibly married to the opulent flavors of bacon and blue cheese. All of the dishes were enhanced by the accompaniment of a reasonably priced bottle of Acacia pinot noir. To finish our dinner off, we virtually scarfed the very satisfying and solid crème brûlée ($4.50) and the decadently chocolate "two mousse brownie" ($4.50).

When I got up from my meal I realized that I had, once again, passed a lively two hours with friends at Dexter's. So even if Dexter's has become a bit formulaic, hey, the formula works.

There are some restaurants in Orlando that should have a revolving door installed. Or an erasable sign, at least. Take this one place in Casselberry, for example. In the past 16 years it has been Melon's, Crickets, Spirits, Heckle 'n Jeckle's, and now, Holly & Dolly's, which leads us to the one continuous factor that has tied them all together.

Actually, there are several continuous factors – mostly being beer, bar food and televisions – but the main one is spelled out over the front, nonrevolving door, and that is Dolly and her twin sister, Holly.

Actually, there are several continuous factors – mostly being beer, bar food and televisions – but the main one is spelled out over the front, nonrevolving door, and that is Dolly and her twin sister, Holly.

You'll see one or the other running around behind the bar or checking on a table (you might see both of them, but it's hard to tell), athletic women with masses of dark hair and a great deal of energy. They started their joint working careers that included four years as mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs, spending wrinkly hours underwater for your tourist pleasure. Apparently tiring of cavorting with the clams, they discovered, Ariel-like, the existence of their legs, and spent 10 years dancing le cancan at Rosie O'Grady's, obviously in rebellion of their fish ancestry.

You'll see one or the other running around behind the bar or checking on a table (you might see both of them, but it's hard to tell), athletic women with masses of dark hair and a great deal of energy. They started their joint working careers that included four years as mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs, spending wrinkly hours underwater for your tourist pleasure. Apparently tiring of cavorting with the clams, they discovered, Ariel-like, the existence of their legs, and spent 10 years dancing le cancan at Rosie O'Grady's, obviously in rebellion of their fish ancestry.

It was a short spin-and-kick to Melon's, and the dual barmaid gig seemed to be the right one for Dolly Heltsley and Holly Hall. When the place and its liquor license went up for sale, H and D took the bait (no pun intended) and Holly & Dolly's was born. Is it a dream come true? "No," Dolly says honestly, "but it's a steady business and we have a built-in clientele."

It was a short spin-and-kick to Melon's, and the dual barmaid gig seemed to be the right one for Dolly Heltsley and Holly Hall. When the place and its liquor license went up for sale, H and D took the bait (no pun intended) and Holly & Dolly's was born. Is it a dream come true? "No," Dolly says honestly, "but it's a steady business and we have a built-in clientele."

The sports bar/restaurant/neighborhood hangout looks typical, the bar being the focal point of the room, stools occupied by truckers and old farmers and students alike. Most of them are nursing beers and staring at the NTN trivia screens, punching half-hearted guesses about Shakespeare and sports into little keyboards. There are tables and booths on both sides, and the atmosphere is definitely more family place than meat market.

The sports bar/restaurant/neighborhood hangout looks typical, the bar being the focal point of the room, stools occupied by truckers and old farmers and students alike. Most of them are nursing beers and staring at the NTN trivia screens, punching half-hearted guesses about Shakespeare and sports into little keyboards. There are tables and booths on both sides, and the atmosphere is definitely more family place than meat market.

I would have expected more seafood on the menu, but the offerings do go beyond bar fare. Grilled grouper or fried tempura shrimp ($8.95 each) come with veggies and rice pilaf, and the kitchen does tuna steak as rare as you want it ($12.95). They also have pasta, sandwiches and a surprisingly long list of steaks available – try to get that at the corner saloon. Of course, bar food is available, but with little twists, like nibbles of gator or chunks of chicken breast served in wings sauce.

I would have expected more seafood on the menu, but the offerings do go beyond bar fare. Grilled grouper or fried tempura shrimp ($8.95 each) come with veggies and rice pilaf, and the kitchen does tuna steak as rare as you want it ($12.95). They also have pasta, sandwiches and a surprisingly long list of steaks available – try to get that at the corner saloon. Of course, bar food is available, but with little twists, like nibbles of gator or chunks of chicken breast served in wings sauce.

DJs on Saturday nights and live bands on Fridays crank up the volume and the crowd, but all in all it's a little "Cheers"-like, with food. "Hi Ed, how are you?" Dolly yells out from the bar, proving my point.

Sitting right on the shores of the sleepy St. Johns River, Wolfy's plays its beachy Key West theme to the hilt, yet the vibe is still comfortable without being overbearing. There are plenty of spots inside to enjoy a shot and the live music, as well as a smattering of outdoor tables to sip on a beer and watch the lazy river slip on by. They've even got breakfast on the weekends (with mimosas) to soothe weekend-morning hangovers.

4 total results

Calendar

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

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


© 2018 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation