Everything’s coming up Rosen. Harris Rosen plays host at dinner at his own Orlando restaurant
By Peter Covino
If you were wondering what ever happened to Scott Joseph, former Orlando Sentinel food critic and one of the area’s No. 1 foodies, Joseph is alive and well, still writing about food and serving as a restaurant consultant as well.
Joseph was at the Everglades Restaurant at the Rosen Centre last week hosting his own dinner, the Scott Joseph Supper Club at a delicious gathering called “An Evening with Harris Rosen.”
Joseph hosts the events at some of the best restaurants in the Central Florida area.
It may be his supper club, but it was hotelier Rosen’s night, since he did most of the talking.
Rosen has been a major player in the Orlando area hotel scene since opening his first hotel on International Drive in the early 1970s.
In between courses that included items such as tea smoked salmon (with green tea and shitake mushroom broth) and filet of buffalo au poivre with blueberry balsamic sauce and blueberry onion jam, Rosen proved to be a master storyteller.
Take the Everglades Restaurant for example.
Rosen said when he first thought about opening the restaurant at the Rosen Centre on International Drive, he was thinking something Asian. With sumo wrestlers.
Rosen had served in the U.S. Army in Asia and had been captain of the Army Judo team and a visit to Japan and the sumo wrestling culture made a lasting impression.
“I told my wife” about the concept, Rosen said.
The answer was straight and to the point: Forget about it.
And probably, rightly so. A restaurant based on large, sweaty man, is probably a tough sell.
And so, the Florida-influenced Everglades restaurant was born.
The restaurant itself proved to be the source for even more stories by Rosen. The dining area has some signature items: a very large, alligator with open mouth and a green frog for example.
When the restaurant was under construction the alligator was already in place, about 17 years ago, one of Rosen’s young sons tripped over the alligator tail, breaking it.
It could have been repaired seamlessly. Instead the big green gator has a deliberately “fixed” broken green tail to mark the occasion.
And then there is that green frog.
Restaurant employees noticed a few years ago that the frog had disappeared sometime after closing.
It wasn’t hard to track down the missing frog though.
It had been stolen by two drunken hotel guests, who brought the amphibian back to their hotel room. What they didn’t realize, Rosen said, was that the hotel and restaurant, like most places, has surveillance cameras. And in this case, one of the frog’s two large eyes also made a nice hiding place for a camera.
Rosen, also noted for his many humanitarian endeavors (he was named 2011 Central Floridian of the Year by the Orlando Sentinel for his philanthropy and work ethic) owns and operates the largest independent hotel chain in Florida with 6,300 rooms or approximately six percent of the total room inventory in Central Florida. His lodging portfolio includes seven properties in the Orlando area, including three convention hotels within one mile of the Orange County Convention Center – Rosen Plaza, Rosen Centre and Rosen Shingle Creek – and four leisure hotels – Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando, Rosen Inn closest to Universal, Quality Inn International and the Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista.
Also part of the evening was special guest Bryan Del Bondio, president of Markham Vineyards of St. Helena, Ca. Markham wines were paired with the six-course dinner.
The Everglades restaurant is host to many dining events throughout the year, including the themed Vine & Dine Events.
The next Vine & Dine is called “A Different View of the World — The South American Perspective,” with special guest speaker Master Sommelier Andrew McNamara and his selections of five wines from Argentina and Chile paried with Chef Fred Vlachos six course menu inspired by the cuisine of South America.
The dining event is Thursday, July 26 and starts with a 6:30 p.m reception.
Cost of the Vine & Dine event is $75 per person (including complimentary valet parking). Space is limited. Call 407-996-8560 for reservations.
The restaurant also features a three course with wine pairing summer menu for $59.
Go to www.evergladesrestaurant.com for the complete menu, reservations and more information.
Meanwhile, you can go to one of Scott Joseph Super Club gatherings (the next one is scheduled at Roy’s Restaurant in Orlando).
Go to his website www.scottjosephorlando.com for restaurant reviews and other features on area restaurant scene. You can also sign up for his email newsletter.