Finishing touches are going on The COOP, John Rivers’ new concept opening in mid-March in Winter Park. Fried chicken is the star of the show, says Rivers, with a menu of “Southern-influenced comfort dishes made from scratch,” like buttermilk biscuits, pot roast and a pimento cheese BLT. Nineteen varieties of Sweetie Pies (such as coconut cream, Georgia peach, shoofly and sweet potato) will be made daily. There are 116 seats inside and on the screened porch, with picnic tables out back. Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday; breakfast hours are under consideration. 601 W. Morse Blvd., Winter Park; (407) 843-2667; asouthernaffair.com • Also ready to open at press time: Txokos Basque
Kitchen at East End Market in Orlando, where Chef Henry Salgado and wife Michele offer authentic Basque cuisine, Spanish wines and craft cocktails. Txokos (show-kos) is the second restaurant for the couple, who also own award-winning Spanish River Grill in New Smyrna Beach. Look for lots of Florida seafood and vegetables from the East End garden on the menu. (Txokos is a Basque word referring to exclusive underground gastronomic societies that emerged in the Basque region of Spain during the Franco regime.) 3201 Corrine Dr., Orlando; (321) 972-8852; txokoskitchen.com • Changes at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop at Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando include a new sushi bar and a robata grill, a traditional Japanese grill that sears foods at 1,000°F. New chef is Ryan Vargas, a native of Hawaii. 6300 Hollywood Way, Orlando; (407) 503-3340; emerilsrestaurants.com/emerils-tchoup-chop • A strong commitment to local ingredients is evident in the dinner menu at Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen. Look for Lake Meadow Naturals chicken, Palmetto Creek Farms pork and local produce on the seasonal menu, which changes monthly. Dinner starts at 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. 118 S. Park Ave., Winter Park; (407) 629-0042; barniescoffeekitchen.com • Pair cranberry pear balsamic with Persian lime olive oil? That’s just one of the many options at Sacred Olive in Winter Garden, where you can taste more than 50 different vinegars and gourmet oils from around the globe. Also space for private dinners and special events. Open Wednesday through Sunday. 125 W. Plant St., Winter Garden; (407) 656-6457; thesacredolive.com
South + York brings farm-to-table to Winter Springs. Southern-trained New York native Chef Edgar Cruz lists regional farms providing goods for the menu on a chalkboard in the small dining room. Dinner Tuesday through Saturday; 158 Tuskawilla Rd., Ste. 1300, Winter Springs; (407) 327-1600; southandyork.com • With just about 30 seats, shabby-chic Scratch in Winter Park showcases the tapas-style creations of young Chef Dustin Haney and Sous Chef Adam York, who worked together in Norfolk, Va., before opening the new bistro. Small plates are all made with seasonal and mostly local ingredients: Florida shrimp, pork belly adobo, pan-roasted duck breast, fries with fresh oregano and aioli. Craft beer, microbrews and wine. Open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to midnight Sunday. 223 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park; (407) 325-5165; scratchtapas.com • Thoughtfully curated baking tools are on the shelves at Whisk & Bowl, the newest shop at East End Market. Proprietor
Karen Manfredi is a graduate of The French Pastry School in Chicago and calls her kitchen tools “generational,” that is, worth passing along to children and grandchildren—like her own grandmother did with her whisk and bowl, which Manfredi still uses weekly to make bread. 3201 Corrine Dr., Orlando; i[email protected] • Newest juice bar is Grounding Roots in College Park, with cold-pressed juices in 16-ounce cups ($10) or 32-ounce jars ($20), using mostly local, organic fruits and vegetables. Also signature smoothie and shake. Closed Sundays. 710 W. Princeton St., Orlando; (407) 256-9009; groundingroots.com • Sheila Norton has opened a second location for B Cupcakes in Winter Park, with more than 20 from-scratch varieties daily, from peanut butter to pink vanilla cream. This location includes a customized milk bar with cow’s milk, soy or almond, naturally flavored with anything from gingerbread to salted caramel—nine flavors in all. 127 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park; (407) 660-2253; bcupcake.com • The Lloyd family has opened Good Neighbors Market in Oviedo, a structure made from wood from two old barns. Inside you’ll find microgreens from My Yard Farm, cheese from Natural Springs Dairy, fresh eggs, baked goods from Olde Hearth Bread Co. and hydroponic produce from Rest Haven Farm. Everything in the barn has traveled no more than 50 miles. Shoppers can walk and tour 15 acres of livestock and veggie gardens. Petting farm adjacent to market. $2 entry fee. Open 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturdays. 1101 Lloyds Ln., Oviedo; goodneighborsmarket.com • Coming soon: a mobile farmers’ market created from a retired Lynx bus to give low-income neighborhoods access to fresh produce. Hebni Nutrition Consultants hopes to get behind the wheel by the end of March, thanks to a $320,000 grant to fund the bus. The bus will accept food stamps and will stop in 16 Orange County neighborhoods. • Local entrepreneurs Rick Ferrone and Chris Henderson recently debuted Bungalow 23 cocktail mixers, with flavors honed from taste testing three flavors—Prickly Pear Margarita, a Pear Ginger Martini and a Blueberry Lemon Drop—in 750-ml. wine-sized bottles with labels that provide tasting notes and indicate the region of each drink’s feature ingredient. Headquartered locally, Bungalow 23 uses hand-selected ingredients from around the world, including blueberries from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, pears from Washington’s Wenatchee Valley, prickly pear cactus fruit from California’s Salinas Valley, agave from Mexico and lavender from France. The mixers can be found at The Meat House in Winter Park; The Ancient Olive in Winter Park, The Villages and St. Augustine; Cork & Olive in Lake Mary; Funky Monkey Wine Company in Downtown Orlando and I-Drive; Cavallari Gourmet in Oviedo and Vines Wine & Spirits in Orlando. Prices for the three flavors range from $12.99 to $14.99.