Quick Bites: From Fine Wine To Frankfurters

Merriam-Webster’s definition of a humdinger is “a striking or extraordinary person or thing.” Well, two humdingers have recently opened in Ocala—Cuvée Wine and Bistro on SW 19th Ave Road in the Florida Neurological Center and Darrell’s Dog Gone Good Diner on Silver Springs Boulevard across from the Forty East Publix Shopping Center.

The décor and atmosphere in Ocala’s new Cuvée Wine and Bistro can only be described as old world-meets-contemporary. With its rock walls; gorgeous water fountain; state-of-the-art self-dispensing wine systems; plush, high-back chairs and booths; and spectacular chandelier, Cuvée just may be the most elegant nightspot Ocala has to offer.

Customers will be able to use a card they’ve applied a figure amount to and sample over 100 types of wines from the self-dispensing machines that release 2.5- to 5-ounce servings.

“Guests can sample $300 and $400 bottles of wine for just a few dollars,” says Erin Rosas, director of guest services.

Her husband, Al Rosas, is an award-winning chef, a certified culinarian, and a guest teacher at Le Cordon Bleu. Together he and Erin own Rosas Farm where they raise and grow humane, organic food. The couple has also been featured on the cover of Florida Small Business magazine.

“Chef Rosas will be serving organic, sustainable food [that] will be ingredient-driven,” explains his wife. “That means the food will be prepared according to what is offered locally and what is fresh and available. It’s about great food, first, that happens to be organic—not just organic food.”

A private cold room, set at 60 degrees and lined with bottles of wine, is available as well as a board room with its own wine dispensing system and media equipment. But, after a few glasses of wine, who cares about that slide show presentation?

Call (352) 351-1816 or visit cuveewineandbistro.com for more information and Valentine’s Day reservations.

Darrell’s Dog Gone Good Diner is another humdinger in the fact that Darrell Warden serves up unbelievably delicious, home-style food at unbelievable prices.

“This economy is affecting everyone,” he says, “and everyone should give a little. If I have to start with low prices and make less money to get customers to try my food, that’s what I’ll do.”

And it seems to work as he usually has a line at the door waiting for tables. Warden started out at age 17 as a short order cook in Orlando.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to run my own restaurant,” he says. “It’s a dream I never would let go of.”

My BLT was made with a thick cut of bread that Warden says is baked locally. His burgers are 100-percent Black Angus and weigh half of a pound before cooking. The burgers are always hand-pattied, always fresh, and never frozen. His huge half-pound dogs are all beef and will satisfy any sized appetite. He also bakes a mile-high fresh cake daily.

When asked about the doggy atmo-sphere inside, Warden chuckles.

“People ask me if I have a girlfriend. I tell them I have a golden retriever,” he says. “I don’t think there’s anyone right now more important to me than him.”

Darrell’s is open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch from 6am-3pm. Call (352) 351-5632 for more information.

Nibbles: Looking for another place to dine downtown? Mark’s Prime Steakhouse is now open for lunch, Wednesday through Friday from 11:30am to 2:30pm. The menu includes burgers, sandwiches, salads, and sliders (mini burger-type sandwiches of beef, crab cake, or salmon).

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