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Orlando Area Dining


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Not being one for hotel spots, I'll make an exception here. In the Hyatt Grand Cypress try Hemingway's. It's actually separate from the hotel - located above the pool area. The fish is outstanding and try the conch fritters for an appetizer.

The place is casual and sports a resemblance to Hemingway's Key West home.

Of course if you don't mind the 75-mile trip, the country's best restaurant is in Tampa - Bern's. It's listed as a steakhouse, but it's much, much more. It also has a less formal place next door called Sidebern's.

I fly down to Tampa (I live in New York City) at least once a year for dinner at Bern's.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I will also be in orlando in a couple of weeks time and would be interested in the best real BBQ place and the best place for steak. Also any local cuisine (is there such a thing in Orlando?).

Could anyone recommend the best car hire firm as well, do they differ that much in price and service? (Yes I have got Fodors guide but if anyone has some opinions on this I would be very interested). Thanks in advance.

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  • 2 months later...

I know this is a bit late but there is a really neat place on I-Drive (International Drive) called Bahama Breeze that's really fun. I remember that I liked the food and atmosphere and the prices were not touristy.

I think they have a few of these places. I know I saw one in the Tampa area on the bay.

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  • 6 months later...

The wife and i are going to Orlando, staying at the Yacht Club at Disney. We work for a company owned by Disney, so we get good discounts for hotel and food.

Definitely going to California Grill one night...but trying to figure out second night - thinking of Artist Point, Bistro De Paris, Chefs de France, Flying Fish, Le Cellier. Any thoughts about these??? Any places you recommend we go instead???

Much appreciated...

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I was at Disneyworld last year so my account is not that recent, but I was non-plussed with most places. I did enjoy The California Grill at the Contemporary, decent fresh food and wine, and we went late and watched the fireworks from our table.

In my opinion Albert & Victoria's and The French Bistro in Epcot were nothing special. We did enjoy some of the fast food Japanese at Epcot though.

Wolfgang Puck's in the marketplace was good, albeit pricey. Someone told me they enjoyed an all you can eat seafood/clambake I think at your place, the Yacht Club (or Beach Club??)

Good luck and have fun!

Edit: I almost forgot, I love the Dole Whip stuff, near Pirates of Caribbean and at The Polynesian Resort!

Edited by TrishCT (log)
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We ate at the Flying Fish when we were there about a year and a half ago. I was impressed with it. Being with the extended family (including 3 young children), we ate at mostly theme-y places (Polynesian -eh; the Smorgesbord in Epcot Norway-which was pretty good), so it was a nice break.

The menu changes depending on what fresh seafood is available, and the deserts were a big hit, if I remember. I'd definitely recommend it.

Challah back!

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I've been fortunate to go to Disneyworld for an event each Fall for the past 3 years. I've been able to eat anywhere on property and have eaten at all of the places, even the theme-y ones, mentioned on this thread. My recommendations anyway, but especially if you will have discount coupons covering all or most of the cost of your meals:

California Grill, California Grill, California Grill.

That's right, I'd do all of your dinners at the Grill, sit at the chef's table right in front of the sushi bar, look into the open kitchen all night, order off the menu, ask the manager to pair wines for you and by the second night just ask the chefs to cook for you and sit back. That's it. Easy, the culinary part of your trip is all set.

OK, say you don't trust me that much and/or my recommendation for you to eat at the same restaurant over and over again is just too strange for you.

Then, in order, after the California Grill, I would recommend either the Coral Reef in the Living Seas pavillion in Epcot (if Roland Muller is still the chef there) or The Flying Fish. The Fish has the newest chef--the old chef of the Flying Fish--John State--moved over to the California Grill. I've had multiple excellent meals at all three of these restaurants over the 3 year period. The wild card in this, for me, is Artist Point. In the three years I've only had one meal there--in November 2002--but it was impressive. New chef, new manager, interesting wines from the Northwest. Time your dinner right--so it's light enough to look outside the windows--and it can be an amazing space to dine.

Of the less-expensive, just below top tier "not trying to be a showcase fine dining restaurant but overachieving anyway"--I'd recommend Le Cellier in the Canada pavillion as long as Brian Piasecki is still chef there.

We stayed at the Yacht Club last Fall, very nice, very easy access to Epcot. Be sure to call the front desk when you arrive and ask them if they can provide you with a small in-room refrigerator--for medicinal reasons. Makes it easier to keep things cold.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Oh, I forgot--my parents ate at that all-you-can-eat clambake or whatever, which Trish mentioned, they liked it. It's probably not the best option for a foodie. It's in the "other" restaurant in the Yacht Club--not the power steak place. I can recommend the Norway pavillion which coolranch suggested--for me it was probably the best mid-priced meal on property after Canada. But I'd definitely recommend Canada and probably recommend Spoodles or Boma for mid-priced or lunch alternatives over Norway.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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I go to Disneyworld every other year or so for no good reason... The trip before last at Epcot, it was soooo hot... and I had brought my parents, who were getting short tempered and testy... We ducked into Le Cellier.... it was a dark, cool, refreshing respite from the oppressive heat... Thanks for reminding me, Steve. :smile:

Edited by TrishCT (log)
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Malawry,

Went there only once, but thought the food at V & A was pedestrian, same with the Bistro in Epcot..... Have had so many better meals at restaurants where I live. It is not that the food was particularly bad, just not memorable, and when you make a hard-to- get reservation, dress formally, and plunk down a lot of money, you expect the meal itself to be special. I didn't think it was worth the time or trouble.

Contrast that to the California Grill, where I found the food and wine interesting and well matched. I would go there again. Disneyworld is a hoot but not an epicurean's delight, and I accept that. Having sampled many of the "finer" restaurants out of curiosity, we don't go out for long drawn out dinners down there as much... so we can spend more evening time on our favorite rides, outdoor parades, Cirque Du Soleil, or sipping cocktails and horsing around poolside. Its all good. :biggrin:

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We went to Disneyworld about 4 years ago and will be returning with the lad this June. We ate at Victoria and Albert's and we found the same thing. for the price, is was pretty ordinary. We are not staying onside but at a two bedroom condo just outside the world. My son's personal fave was Chez Mickey's in the Contemporary? hotel. Of course, you gotta have kids to be able to brave that scene. Lousy food, great character visits :biggrin:

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Marlene,

Over the years I have had the pleasure to stay all over the "world"...and its great staying where you have access to kitchen facilities. Can have all kinds of refreshments on hand and make quick, fast meals.... a real saver. There is that cool supermarket just outside the "world" where they bring your groceries to your car.... Enjoyed that a lot.... Darn... now I want to go again! :sad:

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Marlene,

Over the years I have had the pleasure to stay all over the "world"...and its great staying where you have access to kitchen facilities.  Can have all kinds of refreshments on hand and make quick, fast meals....  a real saver.  There is that cool supermarket just outside the "world"  where they bring your groceries to your car....  Enjoyed that a lot....  Darn...  now I want to go again! :sad:

Yeah. We're staying at the Sheraton Vistana, and they have a grocery store on site as well as restaurants if you don't feel like cooking. I can also give them a list if I want and they'll stock the condo with staples the day we arrive. If it was just hubby and I we'd probably stay in the World, but with kids along, it's better to have a "home away from home".

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I sense an undercurrent building here and I don't want to personalize or read too much into this thread--but Trish, I'll use your comment "Disneyworld is a hoot but not an epicurean's delight" and use it to perhaps move this discussion forward and be a little more specific.

Disneyworld most definitely can be an epicurean delight, full of special food and wine pairings and special dining experiences. Maybe I should have stated how I view the Disney food and beverage program in a national context.

For the price--and especially when you consider the entire customer service experience from food to wine to service--the restaurants I mentioned previously would delight most epicureans or foodies in the way a Gramercy Tavern in NYC pleases foodies. You accept the fact that the restaurant is aiming for a certain experience--accessible yet still interesting--aiming for a level capable of being executed in volume. Add to that interesting, eclectic wines appropriate to the cuisine and really genuine, caring service. That's what Disney does well when it comes to dining at the properties I mentioned. In my opinion, these restaurants would stand on their own in any city in the US--you and I would eat at them and we would return--unless you're the kind of diner that only worships at the altar of the latest Food & Wine magazine Best new chefs or restaurants with very deep reserve lists of French wine.

Disneyworld has not yet opened a restaurant trying to be the Trio, Tru, Clio, Blue Hill or Cafe Atlantico of its area. They're trying to be the Gramercy Tavern of your city. And they've learned their lessons well. They also care and promote from within which builds brand loyalty. Ask yourself-- how many cities across the US have a Gramercy Tavern-like restaurant achieving at the level of the NYC original? Close isn't so bad.

That said, there is alot of crappy, quick, throwaway, dumbed-down foodservice food at Disneyworld. It's virtually impossible to find a halfway decent breakfast or brunch anywhere on property. I've been told there is a decent one somewhere, maybe after my fourth annual visit I'll find it. The vast majority of guests gobble this food up or seek alternatives off-property or cook for themselves.

But, and this is a big but, I close with this view: I feel you can visit Disneyworld and have rewarding, special "epicurean" experiences and that the commitment Disney has shown with some of their food and wine programs isn't as appreciated as it should be.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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  • 3 months later...

Will have 5 nights [conference] at Hilton, Walt Disney world Resort.

Will have car transport but hope not to drive long distances every

night. Read note below re; Jiko. Does anyone have any other

suggestions? Have you tried Chez Vincent? Chez Daniel?

Victoria & Alberts? Wouldn't mind a night that included

music, preferably latin. We're cutting across generations w.

2 young adults in their 20's and the older set. Thanks

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Avoid Tchoup Tchoup. I hate to say that, but it hasn't been that long ago that I had a not so great experience there. Do try the restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Also, I heard that Roy's (as in Yamaguchi) is very good, but I didn't get there myself.

Have fun!

"Never eat more than you can lift" -- Miss Piggy

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My in-laws live in Celebration, right outside of WDW, and my wife and I are Florida residents, though stationed outside the state right now. Bottom line: over the last five or six years we've eaten at most of the places you would want to eat at multiple times. My recommendations would be:

1) California Grill. The best restaraunt on property. Try to work it so you can either see the kitchen or see the fireworks. When we visit it is hard not to simply eat here every time we go out.

2a) Artist Point. Often not that crowded and well done.

2b) Flying Fish. Often very crowded, not quite as good as California Grill, but still very good.

2c) Living Seas, especially if you are near EPCPOT

Miscellaneous thoughts:

Victoria and Alberts is no better than California Grill. It can be fun, however (though you may find the service concept hokey). Kind of depends on whether you want to do something formal, with a very good chance there will be no kids around. We've eaten there twice, and I think if we did it again, it would probably only be if we could do the chef's table.

At the World Showcase, Akershus in Norway and fast food in Japan are safe bets. Also, fish and chips and a beer from the walk up stand in England is safe. Walk into the English garden, listen to the Beatles cover band and relax. Other than that, I would go to Flying Fish or Living Seas, though we ate at Canada once and it was pretty good. We only ate there once, so I can't say if we were lucky. Most of the World Showcase food is ok, nothing special. If you're there during the Food and Wine festival (highly recommended), different story. Just nosh at the booths.

Of the buffets, Akershus is very good and Boma's is excellent. The "clambake" at the Yacht/Beach Club complex is also good, for what it is.

Jiko's is hit or miss. We've had good and bad meals there. I think I'd stick with Boma's (and you'll want to see the Animal Kingdom Lodge anyway).

Citrico's is also hit or miss, though last time we were there it was very good. Problem is you are in the vicinity of California Grill, and Citrico's isn't that good.

Emeril's was good, but not better than California Grill, or even Flying Fish, Citrico's, Artist Point, or the Living Seas if you catch them on a good night, and it can be a pain to get to. Roy's is good, but same issue as Emeril's. Ditto Dux, Coq au Vin, etc.

There is a good Italian restaraunt in Celebration, especially for the price, named D'Antonio's. Much better than any of the Italian places in the vicinity of WDW or on property.

Hope this helps.

Tony

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had a wonderful meal at Emeril's Orlando a few years back. A friend and I decided to pig out and get one of every course (app, soup, salad, entree, dessert) and the only things I had a problem with were: the plethora of olive salad served with the calamari suffered from an overdose of oregano; the filling in the "famous" banana cream pie was a gritty, flour-y mess. Everything else, from the andouille and goat cheese salad to the "study of duck" was fab. And we had a shopping bag full of leftovers to eat during the rest of our stay in Orlando - two meals' worth.

The rest of our trip was spent eating sub-standard food at the various buffets around town. Bleah.

Kathy

Minxeats
http://www.foodloversguidetobaltimore.com/'>Food Lovers' Guide to Baltimore

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There have been previous requests here about Orlando and WDW restaurant recommendations and I have not been back to Orlando since I replied in those previous threads.

However, my assessments, ranging over a period of the last 4 years, essentially echo those of SanFran88 except for one detail--the recommendation that if you are there during the Food & Wine Festival just nosh at the booths. To that I'd say no, no, no. The booth food is a nice diversion if you happen to be walking around but mostly just average quality county fair-type stuff. There are really good food & wine experiences to be had at Disney and really talented food & wine pros there but you 1) have to go to the restaurants or 2) to the wine dinners or Party of the Senses if you are there during the Epcot Food & Wine Festival.

I also highly, highly recommend planning your trip to coincide with that Festival. It's a very special event.

I've sampled the outside booths now each year for four years in a row and I've eaten each year at the best restaurants on property because I've been lucky enough to keep getting invited back as a guest chef during the Epcot Festival. This man's opinion: no booths, yes to restaurants, wine dinners and Festival events.

I agree essentially with SanFran on the general ranking: I'd put California Grill at the top, and even urge a second dinner at Ca Grill next, followed by dinners at the Living Seas Pavilion, Artist Point, Flying Fish and then perhaps Canada. FF changed chefs a year ago, so I'm not in a position to say how the new guy's changes are going over--but my meals there with John State were great--I can say the "new" Ca Grill has improved or at least maintained the previous very high status quo, we ate there 2 times last fall and were guest chefs for a wine dinner there with John and his staff.

I might rate Canada a little higher--I know the chef, it has a better price point--and rate Living Seas much higher, possibly putting it second behind Ca Grill--but then I'd be quibbling with SanFran88. I agree with him about the Norway buffet--we've done it a few times over the years and of the "second tier" kind of touristy destinations in Epcot that is probably your best alternative and fun. When in Epcot, I'd put Canada higher than everything there except Living Seas and would do lunches and dinners at both before anything else. Yes, that includes ahead of France, Italy, Japan, et al.

I was also unimpressed with Jiko and Citricos even after the chef changes. I much preferred Boma (the year we stayed in the great Animal Kingdom Lodge) for what it was trying to do and for its price point.

I never get off-property so I'm afriad I can't help you with any recommendations there, but I always leave Disney wondering if the locals have any idea how good the food is, and how many really commited chefs and sommeliers there are at some of the restaurants on property right under their noses.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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