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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.

With an attractive wait staff, eclectic art and 30-plus wines and champagnes, Dexter's makes you feel cool even if you're not. The unique selection of international beers is popular at this wine bar and café; the concrete floor means it can get noisy as hell.

The new Dexter's in Winter Park no longer sells wine for retail, a practice left behind when the hot spot relocated to west Winter Park. Still, the reinvented landmark offers a more elevated wine experience than before, with a sommelier on staff to advance the "captain's list" of rare vintages, stored in a smart, white-washed Chicago-brick vault.

With the oversized French doors open to the streetscape, the dining area is far more roomy. The butcher-block tables and stools have been replaced by low, cherry-wood tables with Art Deco chairs. And there's no shortage of parking (a problem that plagues Dexter's in Thornton Park). The dinner menu remains constant, and the "cafe menu" adds variety with seasonal items, such as the current hickory-smoked tuna tartare ($9.95). And from the buffed cement bar you can try 30 wines by the glass.

Just what you've been looking for -- a new hangout. The Eola Wine Company opened its vintage-laden doors a few months ago, offering bottles from distinctive vintners like Royal Tokaji from Hungary and Firesteed from Oregon.

As a true and very welcome wine bar, Eola Wine offers its wares by the glass or in 2-ounce sampler "flights." If something grabs your fancy, racks of bottles line the walls. There are also beers from England, Belgium and Germany.

As a true and very welcome wine bar, Eola Wine offers its wares by the glass or in 2-ounce sampler "flights." If something grabs your fancy, racks of bottles line the walls. There are also beers from England, Belgium and Germany.

Eola Wine hops until 2 a.m. most nights, with a menu of grapes and brews that changes every few weeks, along with desserts and what co-owner John Walsh calls, "appetizers for before-dinner or after-dinner." Try the baked Brie with a glass of Riesling.

Eola Wine hops until 2 a.m. most nights, with a menu of grapes and brews that changes every few weeks, along with desserts and what co-owner John Walsh calls, "appetizers for before-dinner or after-dinner." Try the baked Brie with a glass of Riesling.

This is one of the few places to find everything from the very hip Trappist Chimay aged ales to a bottle of Thierry and Guy "Fat Bastard" Shiraz.

Even a James Beard Award semifinalist isn't immune from the vagaries of the economy. Nationally recognized chef Kevin Fonzo, owner of both K Restaurant Wine Bar and Nonna Trattoria ed Enoteca, closed K's doors in late February and consolidated operations in the bungalow that housed Nonna. The newly amalgamated boîte, now called K Restaurant, has Kevin's brother Greg taking charge of a menu largely reflective of K's old bill of fare with influences from Nonna. The roll call of seasonal gems with a focus on local sourcing is what kept the old K thriving for many years, and it'll do the same for K's latest incarnation. As far as the space is concerned, the cosmetic changes are a welcome sight to the ears. The one aspect of Nonna that I didn't care for was the hardwood floor ' while aesthetically pleasing, that floor contributed to a clamorous racket throughout the restaurant. Now, with a thorough carpeting, the dining room makes craned-neck lobe-pinching a thing of the past. Velvet curtains add a touch of subdued elegance while nurturing an environment much more conducive to conversational sustenance.

Case in point: the grilled beef hearts ($9). We couldn't stop talking about how all the disparate elements of the appetizer harmonized ' the robust flavor of the sliced hearts, sweet roasted beets, brined tangerines, earthy greens and a horseradish dressing with pop. The thick tomato slice in the K-Stack salad ($7) came topped with goat cheese and mixed greens splashed with a citrus vinaigrette, but it was the basil leaves that helped balance out all the flavors. Fonzo's locavore predilection shows in these dishes, with the beef hearts coming from DeLeon Springs' Deep Creek Ranch and the tomato sourced from Sanford's Waterkist Farm. The herb and vegetable garden on the restaurant's premises was trampled during the move, we were told, but it should be primed for picking in a few weeks. An inordinate amount of time passed before our entrees arrived ' our server appeared somewhat harried waiting on the handful of tables in our vicinity and, as a result, we didn't quite get the attentive service we expected. Along with the time lag, our water glasses went unfilled ' minor miscues that were temporarily dismissed after one bite of the porcini-rubbed filet mignon ($32). Each silken bite washed in a cabernet sauvignon sauce aroused groans of gratification, as did the square of potato au gratin, slightly seared on top. A side of grilled broccolini ($7) dusted with parmesan and sprinkled with lemon was an ideal green to pair with the steak. The grilled wild Scottish salmon ($21) didn't produce as enthusiastic a response, but it was a decent slab, served with basmati rice and a pickled-tomato relish. Just when we forgot and forgave the wait time to get our mains, an even longer wait ensued just to put in our dessert order. Other servers tended to us through the course of our entrees, but we were all but neglected for a good 10 minutes after our table was cleared. Nevertheless, it was well worth the wait to sample a slice of fresh pecan pie ($6) served with a scoop of Guinness ice cream. Molten chocolate lava cake ($8), a choice insisted on by our server, was also superb. I can see why the table next to us chose to start their meals off with dessert.

As they've done in the past, the Fonzos, for the most part, run their restaurant to the letter. In K's case, that letter happens to be an A.

It’s a sophisticated space with a nifty cork floor and a deep front porch. Their flights are reasonably priced and somewhat of a novelty, since much of the wine is served on tap. Knowledgeable guides will help you explore their locally bottled, sustainable wine. Plus, a portion of the sale of every bottle of Kaley’s Rescue Red Blend supports the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando.

A chance to sit under the stars on a warm December night is worth the tolls and endless construction. The Sanford Wine Company, located in the severely underrated historic district, boasts an international wine list that includes classics from Spain, Italy, France and the western United States, and more obscure vintages from Canada and Eastern Europe. With over 100 wines to choose from, even the staunchest white zinfandel devotee will trade in that sophomoric rosé for a sophisticated riesling.

Sanford Wine Company is as much dive bar as it is wine temple. There are over 40 micro-brewed and specialty beers both on tap and in bottle, sourced from Poland to Portland. Try Florida’s own Honey Amber Rose beer ($3.50), brewed along the Indian River, with hints of rosehips and orange blossom honey.

Unpretentious surroundings and ESPN-beaming flat-panel televisions defy the example of the trendy wine bar and encourage more discussion of onion rings than opera. In fact, the Wine Company forgoes so-chic seared-tuna appetizers in favor of snappy bratwursts (perfect paired with a glass of Elyse 2003 Le Corbeau from California) and meaty burgers (the dark fruit, leather and tobacco of the Italian barolo makes for a classic combo). A variety of cheeses is also available, and the knowledgeable waitstaff can pair camembert with the perfect cabernet.

The wine bar hosts wine and beer tastings, live music, lectures, and block parties throughout the year, making it an epicenter of the North Central Florida social structure. Taking wine from insurmountable pretension to cool modesty is a formidable task, but the Sanford Wine Company accomplishes this without sacrificing dedication to high-quality beverages. This temple to fermentation is as friendly to the diehard Mondavian as it is to the most urbane oenophile.

The Disney community of Celebration, steeped in 1950's atmosphere and designer architecture, isn't a place one would associate with English high tea or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Yet this is the place that two Londoners have decided to open a tearoom filled with Sherlock Holmes memorabilia and the aroma of Earl Grey.

Tony David worked right next to the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London for many years and came to Florida with the aim of bringing a unique experience to Celebration. He and his wife June opened Sherlock's not on tourist-attractive Market

Tony David worked right next to the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London for many years and came to Florida with the aim of bringing a unique experience to Celebration. He and his wife June opened Sherlock's not on tourist-attractive Market

Street, but on Bloom Street. It's a small, intimate shop packed to the ceiling with deerstalker-capped bears, boxes of loose tea, a diverse selection of wines and miniatures of Sherlock, Watson and Moriarty. The room holds only a few tables, but the outdoor courtyard affords a delightful place for a hot cuppa and a serene lake view.

Street, but on Bloom Street. It's a small, intimate shop packed to the ceiling with deerstalker-capped bears, boxes of loose tea, a diverse selection of wines and miniatures of Sherlock, Watson and Moriarty. The room holds only a few tables, but the outdoor courtyard affords a delightful place for a hot cuppa and a serene lake view.

Most Yankees know little about what goes into a proper English tea ("tea" is the entire meal, not just the drink), something David is emphatic about. "Serving loose tea is an art form," he says. "You must heat the pot first, and steep the leaves for only five minutes." And if you're in the company of Brits, never put the milk in first (milky tea is the lifeblood of the English.) The teas at Sherlock's come in four formal varieties, the largest being "Sherlock Holmes' Tea" ($13.50). The three-tiered tray had other customers peering in envy at the buttercream-rich pastries and moist, rich scones (it's "skon," not "skown"), and these are the best in Orlando. An authentic "tea" would have had little finger sandwiches instead of spinach pies and egg rolls, but I guess it's a compromise for Americans. The other offerings are smaller versions, the "Mrs. Hudson's" being the best value of a fresh pot of tea (your choice of variety) with homemade scones, real Devon cream and strawberry jam ($6.95).

Most Yankees know little about what goes into a proper English tea ("tea" is the entire meal, not just the drink), something David is emphatic about. "Serving loose tea is an art form," he says. "You must heat the pot first, and steep the leaves for only five minutes." And if you're in the company of Brits, never put the milk in first (milky tea is the lifeblood of the English.) The teas at Sherlock's come in four formal varieties, the largest being "Sherlock Holmes' Tea" ($13.50). The three-tiered tray had other customers peering in envy at the buttercream-rich pastries and moist, rich scones (it's "skon," not "skown"), and these are the best in Orlando. An authentic "tea" would have had little finger sandwiches instead of spinach pies and egg rolls, but I guess it's a compromise for Americans. The other offerings are smaller versions, the "Mrs. Hudson's" being the best value of a fresh pot of tea (your choice of variety) with homemade scones, real Devon cream and strawberry jam ($6.95).

The hot items are still in the shakeout stage. "Vegetable egg roll delight" ($7.95), three crisp rolls filled with julienned veggies, were tasty, but nothing I'd travel out of my way to eat. Meanwhile the microwave does nothing to enhance the puff-pastry shell of the tiny "brie en croute" ($6.95).

The hot items are still in the shakeout stage. "Vegetable egg roll delight" ($7.95), three crisp rolls filled with julienned veggies, were tasty, but nothing I'd travel out of my way to eat. Meanwhile the microwave does nothing to enhance the puff-pastry shell of the tiny "brie en croute" ($6.95).

There are more than enough other venues for egg rolls; Sherlock's should be your destination for a real tea in the grand English manner.

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