September 1, 2014

Florida Life

Test Kitchens

Central Florida's crowds of tourists and large local market provide a tempting cross section for new ventures.

Chris Sherman | 9/29/2011

The Rusty Spoon
55 W. Church St., Orlando


The ground floor of 55 W, the new luxury high-rise downtown, is rustic brick, decorated with black and white photos of farm animals and inelegantly named. Yet farm-fresh, locally grown food in a gastropub is the new urban luxury. Kathleen Blake puts a Florida bounty on the table. Local beans, eggs and tomatoes, lettuce and greens from Lake Meadow and Hammock Hollow. Pigs, grass-fed beef and free-range chickens are?from Florida farms and ranches. The clams and yellowtail snapper come from Florida waters, too. Her kitchen makes its own doughnuts, ricotta cheese and bacon. Have the stuffed eggs or onion rings with stout dip before moving on to swordfish with wilted rapini and olives. A place this local can't be cloned, but I hope it will be emulated.


Frank & Steins
150 S. Magnolia Ave., Orlando


Hot dogs and beer have met at the ballpark, but not like this: A quarter-pound frank all the way and a 32-ounce craft brew for $9.95. Still, the downtown location offers ample sporting life on screen and game tables. Pick a rye bun and a veggie dog or a beer brat, and the choices have just begun. Want it wrapped in pastrami or capicola, topped with Cuban pork or roast beef? Prefer matchstick carrots, black olives, hard-boiled egg? Horseradish mayo? Cheese with that? The beer list? A 300-strong variety of craft brews.


Saffran
1700 W. Sand Lake Road, Orlando


Chicken Burger

All the world comes to Orlando, including Icelanders in love with healthful and spicy foods from the rest of the globe. A young chain that's the rage in Reykjavik has opened its first U.S. spot near International Drive. The menu wanders the world, from tandoori and naan-wiches to kebab burgers, shawarma chicken and barley risotto, robustly spiced with coriander, fennel and African piri-piri. Pizza-like "safflats'' are made with a barley/whole wheat/spelt dough. Iceland's own contribution is yogurt-like skyr with fruit and nuts.


Tags: Dining & Travel, Central

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