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  1. We're staying in Orlando. In fact, I was getting so few responses, until yours, that I decided to email Scott Joseph, the Orlando Sentinel restaturant critic, for advice. Last year he guided us to Cafe Baulaud. He responded quickly, and we emailed back and forth. I was debating between Norman's, The Venetian Room, Doc's, or Luma on Park. It turns out that The Venetian Room is closed for a few weeks during my birthday, and, in the end, we decided on Luma on Park. Any comments on that? Scott Joseph recommended them because he said their new chef is doing a great job there.
  2. Let me be the first to defend the dining scene here in Orlando. I've lived here since 1965, and, believe it or not, there were some excellent restaurants here before Disney arrived in 1971, and I mean fine dining establishments. Of course, just like any large metropolitan area, the restaurant scene changes over time, new owners come in, things change. If you're dining in the Disney area, try Victoria and Alberts. Scott Hunnus, the executive chef, has been there since day one and is considered to be one of the top chefs in Florida. It's expensive, but one of the few pricey restaurants I've ever tried, and I've tried a lot of them all over, that I can say is truly worth the price. I'm a very picky diner, having worked in the fine dining business for 25 years of my life, and it seems to me that a lot people just prefer their own stomping ground because that's what they're used to. I've tried top restaurants in San Fran, Napa, West Palm, Atlanta, and Nashville, but left unimpressed. It is true that most of us who live here don't go into the tourist areas, it's just too, uh, touristy. My wife and I eat out about 7 days a week. We are good cooks, but are just too busy / lazy to cook very often. We can't afford fine dining on a regular basis, so we spend our dining dollars at Sweet Tomatoes, where we eat salads, and Tijuana Flats, where we also just eat the salads. Tonight we ate at Ali Baba, a middle eastern buffet, where we love to eat. As far as fine dining, our favorites are Primo, and Victoria and Alberts. Other noteworthy non chain restaurants are Journeys, Coq au Vin, Dexter's and Cedars. Some chains we like are P.F.Changs, Cheesecake Factory and Brio, all in the Winter Park Village.
  3. I know this reply is too late, but for future readers of this thread, here is my humble opinion. Victoria and Alberts, hands down. To be fair, I haven't eaten at Norman's or Ran Getsu, but have tried the others on the list. I wouldn't really consider Cedars fine dining, although the food is good, and my wife and I got ripped off at Chez Vincent, although in the end they didn't get away with it, so they are on our black list. But in all my years of fine dining here in Orlando (that would be 32 years), Victoria and Albert's was the best dining experience we've ever had, when you consider food quality, ambience, service and price. Price is a big one here, because even though we spent $300 for two, we walked out feeling it was worth every cent. I can't honestly say that about any other restaurant here in Orlando, so far. My second favorite on that list would be Primo, especially if you are into organic food, as we are.
  4. I recommend Portobello Yacht Club on Pleasure Island, on the East Side (next to the big boat.) The cuisine is Northern Italian, and all the food is prepared to order, very fresh. Everything made in-house, the menu is creative, and they have several specials every day including a desert special. Also, the outdoor dining is wonderful.
  5. Every year on my birthday my wife and I like to celebrate by dining at an extraordinary resaurant that we've never tried before. For this year, Aug. 18, we'd like some suggestions, limited to the Orlando metro area. Please EXCLUDE any places we've already experienced on birthday's past, which include: Emeril's, Victoria and Alberts, Primo, Manuel's on the 28th, Wolfgang Puck's, and Portobello Yacht Club. Three times we dined out of town, including last year, when we ate at Cafe Baulaud (West Palm), Bern's Steak House (Tampa), and on my 40th at The Wild Boar (Nashville). Some places where we had past birthday dinners are now closed, such as Maison Jardin, and Arthur's 27. Also, please exclude places we have eaten before on other days, including California Grill, The Capital Grille, Season's 52, Fulton's Crabhouse, Del Frisco's, Kres Chophouse, Linda's La Cantina, Palm Restaurant, Chatham's, Coq Au Vin, Chez Vincent, and Bahama Breeze. Also, I have an allergy to all seafood, so any place that is primarily seafood would be out. Now, if I haven't lost you already, please recommend what you think would be the best experience for my birthday this year, a place that you have personally tried and enjoyed, and felt it was worth the money!
  6. Well, never mind then. I've already switched my reservation from Morton's to Cafe Baulud. After talking to them a couple of days ago, they said yes, that was their entire summer menu, but that they had just changed it two days ago. So they faxed me the new menu, and I like it a lot better than the previous one. I have more choices of things to eat. I also contacted the Orlando Sentinel critic, Scott Joseph, and he thought Cafe Baulud would be a wonderful place for my 51st birthday. So now I am looking foward to it, and nothing you can say will get me to change my mind.
  7. Cinnamon. Yeah, yeah, I know, you're thinking "but cinnamon ice cream already exists, I've had it!" Yeah, me too. In restaurants. But I have NEVER EVER seen it for sale at the grocery store. NEVER!!! I know Blue Bell makes it. But it's not available at any grocery I've ever been to here in Orlando. WHY NOT? Doesn't every one else like it too?
  8. OrlandoMan

    TCA question

    Jim, I've had that experience as well, and was surprised as you were. Maybe it has to do with how long the cork is making contact, or how much of the cork is tainted, and, assuming the wine was lying down, how much of the tainted cork is making contact.
  9. My wife and I will be spending my birthday on August 18th in West Palm, and although there are threads in this forum about restaurants there, most of the recommendations are fairly old. Anyone have any recent updates on their favorite restaurants there? Right now I have reservations at Morton's, which we have never tried before, even though there is one here in Orlando. My other top choice was Cafe Boulud, but having downloaded the summer menu in PDF form last night from their website, it seems pretty limited. I have an allergy to all seafood, so it limits my choices considerably. Another top consideration, thanks to Susan's review, is Cafe L'Europe. I've eleminated L'Escalier as just being too over the top expensive. We will actually be there on the 17th also, and am considering Cabana Nuevo Latino. Any comments?
  10. Hi Susan Yeah, I read last year that they were now allowing the servers to use their own names. But I haven't been there since that happened either. I'm about to post a new request for updates in Palm Beach. I know you raved about L'Europe, but check my new post if you have any updates, por favor. PT
  11. My wife and I ate at V&A's a few years ago, when the servers were still called Victoria and Albert. Although I know the manager has changed since then, the chef is the same, and one of the best in the area. We have dined at many top dollar restaurants, meaning $300 for two, and, in our opinion, V & A 's was one of the few where we left feeling like we had gotten our money's worth. We had the wine pairing, which was incredibly well matched. Our one recollection was how outstanding the soups were. Since it was a while ago, I can't remember or elaborate on the exact dishes that night, but my primary recollection is that is was worth the money, the soups were unbelevable, the service was very professional but not at all pretentious, the atmosphere was very comfortable, and it is possibly the best restauant in Orlando in that price range. The only other high end restaurant in Central Florida that we would agree was an extraordinary experience for the money would be Bern's Steak House in Tampa.
  12. For Percyn to make the comment "This place is a bit touristy (like most places in Orlando) " is way off base. (See review two above this one). If you have never been past the tourist coridor, i.e., Disney, International Drive, and Universal, then you haven't seen 85% of Orlando. Most of it is not "touristy". Most of the people who live here avoid the tourist areas unless they work there.
  13. I'd like to add to the thread about Primo. My wife and I dined there for the first time this past April, for her 50th birthday. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience; all the food was excellent. But what I wanted to add is that about 95% of the food there is organically grown, according to the chef. My wife and I are entertaining the idea of opening an all organic restaurant, and, having mentioned that to our server, the chef (not Mellissa Kelly, by the way), came out at the end of our meal to discuss this with us. She mentioned that it takes a long time for a restaurant to be certified Organic, hence, they don't advertise that they are. But they certainly strive to be, and 95% is just about there.
  14. I think one of the most overlooked restaurants at Disney is Portobello Yacht Club, which is on the east side of Pleasure Island, at Downtown Disney. It's owned by Levy Brothers, and opened in 1989, as one of the first of outside restaurant groups to be invited into Disney World. Before their arrival, the dining scene at Disney was not known for being very good at all. The Levy's changed that with the arrival of PYC, and soon became "the" destination restaurant. Whenever a famous celebrity was in town, the Disney escorts would always bring them to PYC. They maintained this status through the early nineties, and, having been a waiter there, the list of celebrities to come through was too lengthy to completely recall. Bob Hope, Alan Alda, Princess Diana, Peter Gabriel, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, Kiss, Sheryl Crow, Christine Brinkley, Eddie Murphy, Shaquille O'neal, countless well known pro atheletes, Jesse Jackson, Chevy Chase, Jodie Foster. The list goes on. The reason was the food. Northern Italian, but very creative, very fresh, everything made to order. Not long after, Disney began to improve their culinary skills, and opened California Grill, Victoria and Alberts, and the bar was raised. The Levy Brothers then took over the former Empress Lily, and it became Fulton's Crab House. They more recently took over Wolfgang Pucks, on the West side of Pleasure Island. Over the years that I worked there, they went through many changes, notably a physical change of the dining room in the later nineties. The service, in my opinion, slipped over the years, but the food quality did not. What was once all adults and celebrities became families and children. Inside the restaurant can be very noisy, but the outside dining is some one of the nicest in Orlando, located on Lake Buena Vista, and is where I always prefered to sit when dining there. I always felt it was a hidden gem at Disney. Next week, for my 50th birthday, and my daughter's 18th, we'll be dining at Arthur's 27, located at the Wyndham Resort, across the street from Downtown Disney. I haven't eaten there for about 10 years, so I'll report on that in the near future.
  15. Having lived in this area since 1965, I went to the Zellwood Corn Festival, once, maybe 25 years ago, and the one lasting memory I have of the experience is simply how many flies there were. It was hard to enjoy the corn because of the overwhelming abundance of flies....and that was the first and last time I ever went. If I want to eat Zellwood corn, which is undoubtedly very good, I'll just buy it in season at the grocery and eat it at home.
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