Food & Drink » Restaurant Review

Tip Jar

This week's roundup: Lakeridge Winery chocolate festival, Heritage Square Holiday Brew Fest, Festivals of Speed Wine Connoisseurs' Dinner, Cress cookbook and more



If you're not too busy shopping during the weekend of Dec. 8, put the Lakeridge Winery on your post-Thanksgiving/pre-Christmas must-visit list. Their annual wine and chocolate festival Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8-9, is just the type of indulgence that can keep you going through the holiday season. Admission is a $2 donation that goes to benefit the American Heart Association: That's a sweet deal. For more information, go to

If it's indulgence of a higher echelon you seek, consider the Festivals of Speed Wine Connoisseurs' Dinner, at Norman's inside the Ritz-Carlton. Tickets for the Dec. 1 luxury banquet, which takes place the night after the exotic car showcase, cost $180 per person – a mere bagatelle compared to the price tags on the Maseratis, Bentleys, Ferraris and Bugattis being displayed in an aircraft hangar at OIA Nov. 30. Your meal ends with a fine cigar in the hotel's terrace, and all guests take home a swag bag provided by the event's sponsors. If you're in the mood to join the Finer Things Club, visit for more information.

The 6th Annual Holiday Brew Fest in downtown's Heritage Square should fill folks with plenty of beer and cheer Nov. 30. Ticket holders are assured of unlimited samplings of more than 100 beers and plenty of free grub (tacos, donuts, barbecue) to soak up the suds. Tickets are $25 if purchased in advance, $35 at the gate; designated drivers get in for $20. Proceeds help support the Orange County Regional History Center. Questions? Check

I recall an old SCTV skit, a Soviet TV show called "Uposcrabblenyk" in which Uzbeks were constantly censured for their decadence ("They are weak link in the great chain of Socialism"). Judging from the ornately decorated and newly opened Atlas House Uzbek restaurant on
I-Drive, the Soviets may not have been too far off. So what's Uzbek cuisine like? Think Turkish-Indo-Mongolian.

When accolades, honors and praise get showered on a chef, it can only mean one thing – it's cookbook time! Look for Cress Restaurant's Hari Pulapaka to release one in the near future. DeLand's Cress, BTW, was named one of America's top restaurants in the 2013 Zagat guide. Huzzah, Hari!

Historic downtown Sanford just got a little more diverse with the opening of a cozy little Mexican cantina called La Sirena Gorda Cabana (translation: the Fat Mermaid) … SoDo residents have a new breakfast joint to consider – the Peach Valley Café on South Orange Avenue … After a lengthy delay, the area's second BurgerFi is set to open in Lake Mary Thursday, Nov. 29.

Got local restaurant dish? Send your tips to

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.