Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Orlando Area Dining


Recommended Posts

Actually, Steve expressed what I meant about the noshing better than I did. I certainly didn't mean you should skip the restaraunts, only that the booth food is good if your looking for something to eat at EPCOT and haven't made other plans. It is much better than the normal food you can get walking around EPCOT when the festival isn't in session, and some of the booths actually have some things that are a bit different (I seem to remember Spain last year had a purple potato and octupus salad that was pretty good). We're planning on heading down to the festival again this year, work permitting.

Steve, as someone who spends quite a bit of time in Orlando and has relatives there but doesn't actually live there, I've been amused by the kind of love-hate relationship the locals have with Disney. I think locals who are not "too cool" have a sense of what they are able to get, especially when you factor in you can get 20% off with a Disney Dining Club card ($65/year for Florida residents). That makes California Grill only a bit more expensive than what you would pay for a chain off 192. The friends and family we have down there venture afield, but always end up by saying you can't beat the package at the high-end Disney places (particularly with the discount). I'm curious for your take on Victoria and Albert's?

Tony

Tony

Link to post
Share on other sites

yes, Disney represents good value for locals--I find the price to quality ratio very high anyway and with the discount even better. The thing that Disney has more than anything else is committed chefs, managers and FOH personnel who care about what they are doing and care about the guest--every guest. Customer service is really a big deal there and when you are in the industry, and have to suffer through such inexperience and uncaring attitudes to (hopefully) get to some good food, it strikes you how pleasant the dining experiences are there. And I'm not necessarily treated special (as a chef) when I dine out there--many, many times I've eaten in these restaurant unannounced or where I have not "met" the chef beforehand. I've had meals like any regular customer. I am lucky to have had a few chefs cook something special for me--say an off-menu tasting menu--as both the chef at Canada--Brian Piasecki--and at Living Seas--Roland Muller--did last Fall--but that was only after having the regular menu first on a previous visit. And those special menus revealed to me that there is talent just waiting to be utilized there, waiting for the opportunity to stretch. Neither of these guys are in the "top tier" on property but could/should be.

When was the last time you ate at Flying Fish? How has it changed since State left to go to the Ca Grill?

I have felt the love/hate thing as well and it's just too bad--it's also why I try to talk about the experiences I've had there, maybe some will listen. As far as V & A, we've never gotten to eat there--it is the one restaurant on property that guest chefs aren't able to go to as part of our "package"--meaning we can eat at every other restaurant, including Ca Grill, as many times as we like, but not V & A. So my experiences do not include V & A. I can't say if it is special or underwhelming and I have never cooked with one of the chefs either. However, since my last visit in November Disney hired a pretty good pastry chef in Laurent Branlard for the Swan and Dolphin (who came from the Ritz-Buckhead) so that would be worth checking out.

We just got our dates for the upcoming Festival, by the way; Colleen and I are cooking for a reserve wine dinner, featuring the wines of Chalk Hill, and a Party for the Senses October 30 and November 1st.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

Paula,

I would say Emeril's, Coq au Vin, and Manuel's on 28th are all worthwhile visits outside of Disney, probably in that order. Chez Vincent is nice if you are going to be in Winter Park. That being said, I stand by my earlier post that I personally haven't found them any better than California Grill, Victoria and Albert's, Flying Fish, or Artist Point, and so not worth the hassle of driving to them if you are doing Disney anyway. There is something to be said for a total immersion in the Pixie-dust fantasy for a period of time that can get trashed when you spend an hour in traffic on I-4 or I-Drive. If you want to combine it with music, there are clubs on the Boardwalk or at Downtown Disney. I do think D'Antonio's, in Celebration right outside of Disney is worthwhile, especially for the price/value, and downtown Celebration is kind of interesting in a Norman Rockwell kind of way. The only caveat I would make on the Disney list is with V&A. If you have eaten at places like The French Laundry, Daniel, etc. (a level and style it is at least attempting to mimic) it is not that good and you may be disappointed. As I said, I would do the Chef's Table, but I find that interesting. If you haven't eaten at those places, however, and you can afford it and don't mind dressing up, go for it. California Grill, FF, AP, etc. are trying to pull off high-end casual, and are more successful. BTW, I have friends who have said very good things about Shula's Steakhouse (in the Swan or Dolphin near EPCOT), though I have never been. I just got my reservations for Party for the Senses on Nov. 1st, so I'm pretty psyched. Still hoping someone cancels out of one of the Reserve Dinners so we can sneak in while we're there (Oct 29-Nov 12). For anyone planning on going, the Disney rep I spoke with said to start calling in October to snag cancellations. Again, highly recommend the Food and Wine Festival. Hope this helps some, Paula, and have a good time.

Tony

Tony

Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a (feeble) defense to be made of the Food + Wine Festival "booths".

Our WDW trips are with our three kids (6 + under), so eating at a nice sit-down restaurant can't happen every night. Given the choice, then, among over-priced "fast-food" options, the 50-60 sample-size foods + 50-60 sample wines in the booths are often the best bets. And the free wine "seminars" (more often than not marketing speeches by winery reps) are not bad, either, for those (like me) who wish to exercise their comparative wine-tasting muscles at low (no!) cost.

As far as the restaurants go, another vote for California Grill. It's one of the few places on property we'd go to even if it were home (NY) as opposed to in a family vacation spot, and it's phenomenally kid-friendly. Good luck getting a great meal in NYC at a place where it is appropriate to bring three young children. Flying Fish and Jiko are one level below CG, although I'd hoped that the new chef would have made a more radical break than he has-- the menu is getting a bit predictable, and doesn't stand up to multiple trips as well as CG or even Jiko.

Steve Klc-- sorry we'll miss your contributions at this year's festival. We may get babysitting for the Oct 24 Party of the Senses, but will be shuffling the little ones around the booths when you're there.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just back from Orlando where we visited the recently opened

Ritz-Carlton. It is the home to Norman van Akin's eponymous

restaurant. This was our first experience w. his fusion cusine.

My favorites included an amuse of tomato sorbet on icy

celery salad w. celery and basil sauces.....the sauteed

foie gras on brioche french toast...and the Mongolian

veal chop which was a succulent chop marinated in

oriental sauces & served w. Thai fried rice. I thought that

the desserts were weak. Ambiance and service are upscale.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Perge--I think your defense was excellent--with young kids everything is out the window. I think it would be very tough to bring kids that young to a Party of the Senses--given the nature of the format where seating is limited and you have to walk from station to station to get dishes. I think it would be almost certainly impossible to enjoy a reserve wine dinner with very young kids. I understand completely the position you are in and flexibility and spontaneity are your allies.

What I'd like to know is--do you eat often enough at Jiko to recommend that I give it another shot this Fall? I've only been disappointed there so far. Should I reconsider? To refresh--my plan will pretty much be just like last year: dinners at Ca Grill twice, Coral Reef once, Artist Point once; at least one lunch at Canada. For me, Jiko and trying Flyish Fish would be the wild cards and I'd have to bump something.

I'm sorry you won't be able to make either one of the events Colleen and I are doing this year--I just found out for our reserve wine dinner we're cooking with Roland Muller from Coral Reef, which is great. And it looks like Tony will be there so someone will have to tell him the super-secret eGullet handshake by then.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

SanFran

Perhaps by November some others will have tried Norman's

and you will have additional information. The F&W festival

sounds neat.

Norman's room and service presented the background for gracious

dining. However, you would have to like or want to try the Latin fusion

cuisine van Akin offers. I enjoyed the multiple, contrasting

flavors; each dish was bursting with them. But if you don't

like this approach or cumin or black beans, this might not

be the place for you.

We had reserved at the Flying Fish but when we walked in

the door, they were seriously backlogged...it was very

noisey and waiting to be seated was a toddler who was

shrieking at the top of his lungs while his parents ignored

him. He was the tie breaker; we departed. I add this only

to point to the necessity of defining what kind of evening

you're seeking.

We also dined at Vito'sChop House....huge portions,

okay +, but the steak & chops were overwhelmed by

smokiness from their wood burning fire/grill. We don't care

for this taste. I wouldn't revisit that one. Can't recall the

other destination--probably not a good sign.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We relinquished our cherished reservation at California

Grill in view of our son's palate.[someone on the waiting list got

lucky!]. We look forward to dining there next trip.

The 'forgotten' restaurant was Christini's.....I think of it

as traditional, upscale Italian....fine table settings, background

piano music. Bread, veal quatro fromaggio, linguine w.

white clam sauce and a few other items were very good

but this is not a culinary adventure sort of place. Service

was very attentive but so many staff came to the table

asking how this was and that was, that it became intrusive.

Pricey but pleasant.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 9 months later...

My BF and I are in a wedding in two weeks at Disney. After much hemming and hawing, and a few lucky clicks on the internet, we discovered that renting a car for 5 days would actually be cheaper (and better) then taking shuttles and taxis all over. The Rehearsal Dinner is on Thursday and the Wedding on Friday. Since we get in Wednesday night, we have the whole day until dinner on Thursday to explore and see Orlando. Dinner is provided for us that night, but as we are foodies, we'd like to try something interesting for lunch on Thursday (and possibly something quick on Wednesday when we get in, after 9 PM) that ISN'T at Disney. I have nothing against Disney, per se, but, beginning Thursday night we are stuck there until Saturday morning! I need my freedom. Any diamonds in the rough I should know about?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe I should rephrase:

I've got one lunch not at the Mouse's House. Is there any amazing sandwich shops or burrito places or any other casual or semi-casual lunch eateries that will knock me off my feet? I've searched the threads and I see there are amazing dinner places, and I'd love to visit all of them, but time and responsibilities just don't allow.

Suggestions?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I just returned from a trip to Orlando, and my wife and I ate at Moonfish. We were both delighted. Here is the review that I sent to my friend who helped us to find this restaurant:

We weighed our options, and went with MoonFish. Let me just say that I give the restaurant an 8.5/10. We were quite pleased with our selection, the meal was excellent.

For drinks, I had a bottle of Belgian beer--Chimay Red. Quite tasty. *** had a couple of apple martinis. Whatever they did, her drink tasted the closest to a granny smith apple of any apple-tini I've ever had.

We shared an appetizer--soft shell crabs, fried with a peanut dipping sauce. Delicious

For dinner, we both had fish. *** had Chillean Sea Bass in a miso broth. The fish was cooked so tender--almost falling apart, and the broth was a great accompanyment. Not an overbearing sauce, but adding an exquisite accompanying flavor.

I had a fish I'd never tried or heard of before. I believe it was called Lupe de Mare, seved with a lobster gravy. This fish was a bit denser than the sea bass, though still white in color. For a fish, it was very filling, and the gravy was a bit on the thicker side, with chunks of lobster meat--I assume it was gulf lobster meat, far easier to obtain in Florida than Maine lobster. The blend of the gravy, fish and lobster made for an interesting combo that was both sweet and rich.

I give it an 8.5, being that I don't think I can give any restaurant a 10, as perfection in food is not attainable, and I was so blown away by my meal at Nobu in Manhattan that to put this smaller meal on the same plane would not do justice to how good a meal I had at Nobu.

If you're ever in the Orlando area, I suggest you give it a try. I would like to think that this is a restaurant that even ***** could enjoy, as they had a variety of beef and chicken dishes for those not liking seafood. The bill came to about $130--including tip and about $24 in alcohol. Not cheap, but not break the bank expensive either.

Blessed are those who engage in lively conversation with the helplessly mute, for they shall be called, "Dentists." (anonymous)

Life is too short for bad Caesar Salad. (Me)

Why would you poison yourself by eating a non-organic apple? (HL)

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 7 months later...

Looking for a couple of different things here...

1) A "nice" restaurant that would have pretty standard fare (seafood, steaks, maybe mediterranean/italian if it's not too edgy) done well for last evening of a 5-day golf trip with some fairly conservative palates

2) Suggestions of good, solid restaurants where locals eat -- could be ethnic or not -- as long as the quality is good and the quantity is sufficient after 27-36 holes of vicious hacking (er, golf).

They'll have a car, so geography isn't critical as long as it's within Orlando.

TIA for any recs.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

Link to post
Share on other sites
Looking for a couple of different things here...

1) A "nice" restaurant that would have pretty standard fare (seafood, steaks, maybe mediterranean/italian if it's not too edgy) done well for last evening of a 5-day golf trip with some fairly conservative palates

2) Suggestions of good, solid restaurants where locals eat -- could be ethnic or not -- as long as the quality is good and the quantity is sufficient after 27-36 holes of vicious hacking (er, golf). 

They'll have a car, so geography isn't critical as long as it's within Orlando.

TIA for any recs.

I know you say geography isn't important, but there's a big difference between the Disney area and anywhere from International Drive on into downtown continuing to Winter Park and East Orlando. We're more like LA than people think in terms of sprawl and our traffic is getting there too.

Let me know the general location of the hotels and/or courses and I'll hook you up w/ some recommendations

Edited by Bill_H (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

May I piggyback on this topic as my request for help is similar? :smile:

We're looking in particular for good non-chain food, ethnic or regional. I searched this forum & found a fair number of discussions of higher end food, but aside from a yummy-sounding Puerto Rican restaurant, and California Grill, I didn't necessarily see much in the moderate-to-cheap, toddler-friendly type of place.

We'll be at the Swan on Disney property for 3 days, and then the Holiday Inn Sunspree on Rt. 535 near Lake Buena Vista for two days. We have a car. Our toddler is a good eater & good restaurant kid (she's already eaten all kinds of things, from Vietnamese to Ethiopian).

Last year, we got a recommendation for a delicious Cuban restaurant called El Bohio, to which we may decide to return. We also liked Wildfire's, a barbeque place near Lake Eola (as much because it was nice to go to the lake after as the food & as I recall, the name of the restaurant had changed...can't remember what it was). We did not like Tutu Tango - too loud and food was mediocre. We'd particularly like to try restaurants with food that's not done as well in Seattle -- Cuban, Puerto Rican, Southern....

Thanks for your thoughts!

Susan

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is from one of my earliest posts. Moonfish in Orlando was solid!

I just returned from a trip to Orlando, and my wife and I ate at Moonfish. We were both delighted. Here is the review that I sent to my friend who helped us to find this restaurant:

We weighed our options, and went with MoonFish. Let me just say that I give the restaurant an 8.5/10. We were quite pleased with our selection, the meal was excellent.

For drinks, I had a bottle of Belgian beer--Chimay Red. Quite tasty. *** had a couple of apple martinis. Whatever they did, her drink tasted the closest to a granny smith apple of any apple-tini I've ever had.

We shared an appetizer--soft shell crabs, fried with a peanut dipping sauce. Delicious

For dinner, we both had fish. *** had Chillean Sea Bass in a miso broth. The fish was cooked so tender--almost falling apart, and the broth was a great accompanyment. Not an overbearing sauce, but adding an exquisite accompanying flavor.

I had a fish I'd never tried or heard of before. I believe it was called Lupe de Mare, seved with a lobster gravy. This fish was a bit denser than the sea bass, though still white in color. For a fish, it was very filling, and the gravy was a bit on the thicker side, with chunks of lobster meat--I assume it was gulf lobster meat, far easier to obtain in Florida than Maine lobster. The blend of the gravy, fish and lobster made for an interesting combo that was both sweet and rich.

I give it an 8.5, being that I don't think I can give any restaurant a 10, as perfection in food is not attainable, and I was so blown away by my meal at Nobu in Manhattan that to put this smaller meal on the same plane would not do justice to how good a meal I had at Nobu.

If you're ever in the Orlando area, I suggest you give it a try. I would like to think that this is a restaurant that even ***** could enjoy, as they had a variety of beef and chicken dishes for those not liking seafood. The bill came to about $130--including tip and about $24 in alcohol. Not cheap, but not break the bank expensive either.

Blessed are those who engage in lively conversation with the helplessly mute, for they shall be called, "Dentists." (anonymous)

Life is too short for bad Caesar Salad. (Me)

Why would you poison yourself by eating a non-organic apple? (HL)

Link to post
Share on other sites
May I piggyback on this topic as my request for help is similar?  :smile:

We're looking in particular for good non-chain food, ethnic or regional.  I searched this forum & found a fair number of discussions of higher end food, but aside from a yummy-sounding Puerto Rican restaurant, and California Grill, I didn't necessarily see much in the moderate-to-cheap, toddler-friendly type of place.

We'll be at the Swan on Disney property for 3 days, and then the Holiday Inn Sunspree on Rt. 535 near Lake Buena Vista for two days.  We have a car.  Our toddler is a good eater & good restaurant kid (she's already eaten all kinds of things, from Vietnamese to Ethiopian).

Last year, we got a recommendation for a delicious Cuban restaurant called El Bohio, to which we may decide to return.  We also liked Wildfire's, a barbeque place near Lake Eola (as much because it was nice to go to the lake after as the food & as I recall, the name of the restaurant had changed...can't remember what it was).  We did not like Tutu Tango - too loud and food was mediocre.  We'd particularly like to try restaurants with food that's not done as well in Seattle -- Cuban, Puerto Rican, Southern....

Thanks for your thoughts!

Susan

I'm surprised you made it into downtown Orlando - most people never make it past International Drive. Good for you, if you are willing to try it again it greatly expands your dining options. :smile:

Based on your description, I do have a few recommendations (and thanks for the TuTu clarification, some people love that place, for others it's just not their cup of tea).

First, some clarifications: California Grill is NOT moderate to cheap, it is very expensive (entrees $25-$40), but it is kid-friendly and worth the money and view. The downtown BBQ place is now called Wildsides (some kind of trademark issues with the old name) I'm having lunch there today as a matter of fact. Also, I know of no good Puerto Rican restaurants in town, so I'm not sure what you are referring to but if you find it please let ME know :biggrin:

Now recommendations out your way that should meet your requirements (toddler-friendly, moderate-to-cheap, local/non-chain), and I'll pass on telling you about the Asian food as I'm sure it's MUCH better in Seattle:

Disney-area:

* For breakfast or dinner at one of the best buffets you'll come across, try Boma in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. While hectic like most Disney areas, it's got some really interesting African specialties to go with the typical but high-quality buffet fare and they do a cool job with signs explaining what you're eating. Also, reservations get you into the hotel where you can see the animals.

* The sit-down place in the Animal Kingdom Lodge (Jiko) is very good and has a fantastic assortment of South African wines not usually found in the US.

* In Celebration, there's a diner-type place called the Market Street Cafe that's good for lunch and has awesome homemade potato chips smothered in blue cheese and bacon. MMMMMMMM, vacation. Plus, it gives you a chance to see the "Truman Show"-like town.

* For a very quick, cheap lunch, The Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney is a decent counter service sandwich place.

* While I haven't been, I've heard good things about Q'Kenan, a Venezuelan place near the Premium Fashion Outlets.

* Columbia, also in Celebration, is not as good as the original in Tampa, but it is a nice Cuban meal. Get the 1908 salad and the ropa viejo.

* Places to avoid - any restaurant at Disney's Boardwalk, any dining options in Kissimmee, and if you eat in Epcot skip Italy and maybe try Norway, France or Germany (at least they're average and fun).

* If you're in town on a Sunday, the gospel brunch at the House of Blues is fun.

International Drive area:

* While Moonfish (recommended above) is good, it's a little pricey. In the same area is a part of a small mini-chain called Bonefish that is good and toddler friendly, plus more reasonable. It's really one of the best seafood options in town, which is quite sad.

* Everglades has some interesting dishes you won't find elsewhere.

* If you like Lebanese food, we have a doozy here. Try Cedar's, in the Restaurant Row area on Sand Lake Road. My wife was born in Beirut and loves the food there.

* We also have a good churrascaria option here (while a little more expensive) that's part of a chain but doesn't have a chain feel - Texas de Brazil.

* Good Indian food can be had right off I-4 at Sand Lake at Memories of India. There's also a good Vietnamese place right there.

* If you hate noise, I'd avoid our latest "sensation", Seasons 52.

Elsewhere

* If you love oysters and are not afraid of dives (safe dives), then Lee & Ricks is the place to try, they also have fried shrimp for the young-uns.

* Another new option getting good reviews is Lenos y Carbon, a Columbian place on South Orange Blossom Trail.

* For better Lake Eola views, try the Lake Eola Yacht Club.

* Near Wildsides is a wine bar with decent food called Dexter's of Thornton Park.

* The Mexican at Taquitos Jalisco is also pretty good and they have a mariachi band on Thursdays and Saturdays.

Well, that'a almost a guide book, hope it gives you some ideas. I have a question for you though. When I was interviewing at Microsoft about 6 years ago I ate dinner in Bellevue (I think) at a very good restaurant on the top floor of a high-rise. Do you know the name of this place and if it's still open? Any help is appreciated.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Looking for a couple of different things here...

1) A "nice" restaurant that would have pretty standard fare (seafood, steaks, maybe mediterranean/italian if it's not too edgy) done well for last evening of a 5-day golf trip with some fairly conservative palates

2) Suggestions of good, solid restaurants where locals eat -- could be ethnic or not -- as long as the quality is good and the quantity is sufficient after 27-36 holes of vicious hacking (er, golf). 

They'll have a car, so geography isn't critical as long as it's within Orlando.

TIA for any recs.

Had a moment, so I thought I'd drop some recs without knowing he location of the duffers.

1) Sounds like they'd appreciate Charlie's Steakhouse on International Drive, Texas de Brazil on International Drive, Moonfish on Sand Lake Road, or Antonio's on Sand Lake Road. If they're big football guys, most people seem to like Shula's, though I've never been.

2) Well, if I'd been golfing all day, I'd enjoy Sam Snead's, Stonewood Grill, Cedar's, Taquitos Jalisco, Dan Marino's, Cariera's Cucina Italiana, and Bonefish. For a sports bar with good junk food, choose one of the Orlando Ale House locations. Downtown/Winter Park try Harvey's Bistro, Blackfin, or Juliana's Tuscan Kitchen.

But as you'll find in most of Florida, the locals all eat at chains too. Sad situation indeed :wink:

Link to post
Share on other sites

still trying to find the answer to this...TIA for your patience

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

Link to post
Share on other sites
still trying to find the answer to this...TIA for your patience

As someone asked before - where are you staying? Orlando is huge - the traffic is usually awful - and there's no reason to give you the name of a mainstream steakhouse kind of place that's 2 hours round trip from your hotel. E.g., I frequently stay in the Marriott World Center (on shopping trips). It has a golf course - and a decent steak house. Fine if one is staying in the hotel - or nearby - but I certainly wouldn't recommend anyone driving more than 10-15 minutes to get there. Robyn

Edited by robyn (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...