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Food & Drink

Top tables of 2013

Our fave five restaurants that opened last year

Photo: Photos by Rob Bartlett, License: N/A

Photos by Rob Bartlett

blu on the avenue

Photo: , License: N/A

Chuan Lu Garden

4. April 2013
Kabooki Sushi
3122 E. Colonial Drive | 407-328-3839 | kabookisushi.com

With a verve for the creative, an inclination to please and a dedication to the craft of sushi, chef Henry Moso is like our very own Jiro Ono: He consistently dreams up ways to fashion and serve sushi to the scores of zealots flocking to his slick strip-mall joint. The Louis Vuitton rolls, sometimes even adorned with 24-karat gold flakes, may be Orlando’s most indulgent, though patrons searching for a clean sashimi fix need not worry – that’s a slam-dunk guarantee. Desserts are hardly an afterthought – they’re just as creative, and the best you’ll find at any sushi restaurant in town.

5. July 2013
Santiago’s Bodega
802 Virginia Drive | 407-412-6979 | santiagosbodega.com

OK, so the table situation can get a bit tight and the parking totally sucks, but we can’t help but heap kudos on Santiago’s Bodega for transforming the former Logan’s Bistro space into the most inviting and attractive tapas joint in the city. Most of what the kitchen churns out is top-notch, be it short ribs glazed in cherry-hoisin sauce, chunky yellowfin ceviche or garlicky gazpacho. Yes, the dishes are pricey, but they’re of a caliber that significantly lessens the pecuniary sting.

Notable Mention
August 2013
Hamilton’s Kitchen
Alfond Inn, 300 E. New England Ave., Winter Park | 407-998-8089 | thealfondinn.com

Speaking of pricey, the menu at Hamilton’s Kitchen is an eye-opener. What makes this special-occasion spot worth visiting: the stunning hotel grounds and the tightly focused bill of fare. Chef Chris Windus (formerly of Todd English’s bluezoo) has a delicate hand, but there’s room for improvement, both in front and back of house. Still, you have to believe in a place that serves bacon butter.

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