Shaved Foie Gras

A Winter Salad

Hawaiian Rolls

Guitara pasta



Lemongrass Semifreddo

Chocolate pudding

Chocolate pudding and amaro daiquiri

***** (5 stars)

I was excited to try this latest offering by Boka, and it did not disappoint. The decor is beautiful, and it has a high energy vibe without being deafening. There is a smaller side room that overlooks the kitchen which is a bit quieter.

We tried the eight-course tasting menu, which is a collection of dishes offered on the regular menu, but in smaller sizes. It’s a perfect way to sample many of the menu highlights, and is very reasonably priced compared to other tasting menus around town.

We enjoyed all of the courses, but the stunner was the salad, of all things. It was an intensely complex combination of almost innumerable tastes and textures that came together with a different experience in almost every bite. Sadly, since it’s called the Winter Salad, it probably will be off menu when you read this.

The other highlight of the meal was the accompanying wine pairing. It was priced freakishly low compared to the extensive wines by the glass, and every single wine was a superb match with its course. I always worry about wine pairings, because so often, even in high-end restaurants they seem like really weird finds from a bored sommelier. Not so here! Although the selections are indeed mostly obscure, that was part of the fun discovery process, and every one was a superbly balanced old world gem. And the final selection, an amaro daiquiri, perfectly matched a complex dessert.

Each of the wine selections was presented by the sommelier, Jamel Freeman, who carefully explained the background of the wine and why it had been selected to accompany that course. His encyclopedic knowledge and engaging manner was a real treat.

The rest of the service is provided by a well-orchestrated tag team of servers, runners and bussers. It’s an impressive organization, but I couldn’t help wishing we’d had a bit more interaction with a dedicated waiter who would play host as well as Jamel did with the wine.

Bellemore is definitely another winner, and I look forward to future visits.

564 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 667-0104


Shishito peppers


Buffalo chicken wanton

**** (4 stars)

Chroma combines a nice assortment of small plates with an interesting and varied wine list. The place is divided into several spaces, and it’s quieter in the rooms away from the central bar. There’s also outside dining. You might not think an outside dining area under an airport’s approach is a good idea, but somehow it works, particularly on a nice balmy evening.

It’s one of those places where things come out from the kitchen whenever they’re ready, which can lead to pacing problems, so I suggest going when you’re not in a hurry, and not ordering everything at once.

6967 Lake Nona Blvd
Orlando, FL 32827
(407) 955-4340

The Goblin Market Restaurant


***** (5 stars)

I’ve been going here for over twenty years, and it just keeps getting better.

First off, there isn’t a restaurant in Central Florida with better atmosphere. The place is divided up into a collection of amazingly cute and cozy rooms, each with the feel of a private library.

The food is great, too. I’ve only been at lunchtime, when you can’t go wrong with any of the sandwich choices. I’m not much of a wrap fan, but I love the ones here. And for something less healthful try the grilled cheese. Their fries are good, but the homemade potato chips are even better.

Service is friendly and attentive.

In case you’re wondering about the name Goblin Market, do a Google search for the poem by Christina Rossetti.

The Goblin Market Restaurant
330 Dora Drawdy Way
Mount Dora, FL 32757
(352) 735-0059




Chili Cheese Naan

Yoghurt puffs

**** (4 stars)

Badmaash is REALLY popular, and therein lies the problem for me. We really enjoyed the food, but it was so packed and loud it was hard to enjoy the experience.

I highly recommend the butter chicken, whether as an entree, or in the samosa appetizers, which were the best item we had.

The place has probably the worst offering of wines I’ve ever encountered, and I’m including coffee shops; not sure what’s up there. Beer is a better bet, but also limited.

Service was friendly and attentive.

108 W 2nd St
Ste 104
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 221-7466

Noe Restaurant and Bar

Popcorn chicken

Tuna tartare

**** (4 stars)

The bar here offers a delightful intimate atmosphere, with live piano music in the evenings, and a nice outside dining area with heaters. The menu is arranged from tinest to largest “small plates” with a wide variety of nibbles to something enough for a full dinner.

There is a small assortment of wines by the glass, and a lot of spirits.

Service was friendly and efficient.

Noe Restaurant and Bar
251 S Olive St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 356-4100

Coral Reef


Chargrilled octopus


Bailey’s and Jack Daniel’s Mousse

*** (3 stars)

When it first opened this was one of the best restaurants at Epcot. They offered a true upscale dining experience and a spectacular view of the fish tank at the Seas Pavilion.

The view of the tank is still there, but the upscale dining experience is long gone. The reason, as with most of the other restaurants at Walt Disney World, is the advent of dining packages. Because guests can now get the food as part of their lodging and admissions packet, it has had a leveling effect on all of the restaurants, where everything is somewhat uniform. It’s not that the food is bad, it’s just very similar, and none of it stands out.

This is particularly apparent at the Coral Reef, which despite its theming isn’t really even a seafood restaurant anymore. Chicken and meat dishes outnumber the few fish dishes on the menu.

I had the chargrilled octopus, which was good, and the scampi, which included a skewer of decent shrimp and scallops over a completely flavorless pile of unsauced spaghetti.

Dinner for four, with a bottle of wine and tip, was over $300. Service was friendly and helpful, and the view is great.

Coral Reef
Walt Disney World Resort
Epcot’s Living Seas Pavilion
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32856
(407) 824-4321

STK Orlando


Dining room

Pull apart bread

Small seafood platter

Truffle fries

Mini burgers

Crispy rock shrimp

Carmelito Bar

*** (3 stars)

If you’re looking for a steakhouse experience in Disney Springs, this is it. It’s not going to change your life, but it is fine.

You’ll find all the usual offerings, and not much outside the box.

We started with the seafood tower, which is expensive (well, everything is expensive) but included a generous portion of fresh, giant shrimp, the best thing we had. The most interesting component was the two jars, one of smoked mussels and the other ceviche, although I wasn’t wild about the marinade on either.

Complimentary “pull apart sourdough” is included, but you’ll find that it is more like Parkerhouse rolls with blue cheese butter on top.

We skipped the steak and tried a couple of other appetizers. My companion liked the mini burgers, but I couldn’t really deal with the uncooked center of the patty. Truffle fries were good, and a serving forĀ four to six people. Crispy rock shrimp was essentially the same dish as the bang bang shrimp at Bonefish. It was fine, but I’d actually ordered the crispy rock shrimp salad (repeating the word salad twice to our waiter, who wasn’t very good at listening).

Our waiter was good at talking, though. He was one of those people who have to tell you everything they’re going to do: “I’m going to bring you fresh silverware”, “I’ll go get your bread” and even “I’m moving the candle to make room for your next course.” I wish he’d spent some time on refilling water glasses or pouring more wine, two things that didn’t seem to be on his list.

Speaking of wine, it’s expensive, especially by the glass. You’re looking at $16-$28 per glass. We opted for an $82 bottle of Chardonnay instead. If you can deal with the pricing, the selections are excellent.

The carmelito bar was an excellent dessert, with several layers of different flavors and an excellent caramel sauce.

I’m not sure Orlando needed another steakhouse rather than a truly interesting fine dining restaurant, but that seems to be the trend, and I guess Disney Springs didn’t have one. Now it does.

STK Orlando
1580 E Buena Vista Dr
Orlando, FL 32821
(407) 917-7440

Carol’s Place

Breakfast burrito



**** (4 stars)

Carol’s is an old-fashioned diner, the kind you see in television shows from the 60s. The decor, food and service are exactly as you would expect. Many of the customers are regulars who are greeted by name. You can pretty much get anything they’ve got ingredients for. The preparations are straightforward and generous.

Carol’s Place
3421 S Orange Ave
Orlando, FL 32806
(407) 251-8860

Vida 365 Bistro Juice Bar

Vegan tacos

Cup of chili




Breakfast menu

Lunch menu

***** (5 stars)

This place is much more than a juice bar, with a complete menu of delicious food, some vegetarian, some vegan, but also lots of items that aren’t.

My favorite was the chili, a delicious concoction of ground turkey and beans with many interesting spices and just the right kick to it.

The Vegan tacos were also good, with crisp shells and a flavorful slaw to add some interest to the quinoa filling.

The servers and chefs were all very friendly.

Vida 365 Bistro Juice Bar
16129 State Road 50
Unit 104
Clermont, FL 34711
(352) 474-8432

Matt’s Casbah

Korean Wings


***** (5 stars)

Usually when small restaurants try to be too many things they fail at being any one great thing, but Matt’s is the exception to this rule. It has separate spaces for fine dining, outdoor beach-type dining, sushi bar, dive bar, and a live performance area. The same menu is served throughout, but there is definitely a different feel to it, depending upon where you are seated.

We had lunch in the fine dining area, and really enjoyed our Korean wings appetizer and the sushi we shared. The sashimi sampler is a great deal, providing 4 or 5 pieces of four different fish, and a large Japanese style salad.

We also liked the unusual roll we had, which incorporated a smoked salmon pate that was very different (and far smokier) that a normal sushi smoked salmon.

Service was friendly and efficient, and the music soundtrack was great.

Matt’s Casbah
801 E New Haven
Melbourne, FL 32901
(321) 574-1099