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ksnel

Orlando Area Dining

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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.

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Christini's -- top notch in every respect.

From the before dinner martini's, to the wine, the food, after dinner drinks and dessert, and the service -- all around they were great experiences. I would certainly go back without any hesitation.

Check their website.

Eric

thanks a lot....looks interesting

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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.

Web site and menu look very promising...any other suggestions of simpler but great food places??...even salads and sandwiches or seafood?? Much appreciated...thank you... :smile::smile:

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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.

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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.

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I just returned from 5 days in Orlando and before leaving I searched the Florida Forum for restaurant suggestions...so I was prepared for a culinary wasteland.  I don't think there is a chain restaurant that does not exist in Orlando!  That said, we did end up having some good meals.  Here is where we went:

1. Memories of India - tucked into a strip mall on Turkey Lake Road near Sand Lake Rd.  Went here on Valentine's Day and there was a line out the door.  We had wonderful, authentic Indian food, very gracious service and no rushing.  While waiting we spoke a gentleman originally from India, who said he was in Orlando on business.  He had heard of the restaurant and had eaten there every night of his business trip.  We had the chicken makhani and the lamb shakuti.

2. Cedars - Sand Lake Rd.  Again an authentic ethnic restaurant, this time Lebanese.  The food was wonderful and the server helped us select items to round out a nice dining experience.  Delicious hummus, and a unique pita bread. 

3. Before heading to the airport, we stopped at Lee & Rick's Oysters on Old Winter Garden Rd, just off Kirkman.  We had tried to eat there one evening and there was an hour wait.  It is a dive but it has the most fantastic fresh oysters.  It has been there forever and locals call it home.  It is also the best value in town...a dozen fresh oysters for $4.95!  You sit at a counter and the server shucks the oysters for you as you eat.  Besides oysters, they also have steam crab, shrimp, mussels as well as deep fried fish baskets.  If you like seafood, treat yourself to this experience.

While there we also heard of a restaurant, K Restaurant Wine Bar on Edgewater Dr., that is supposed to be good but we didn't have a chance to try it.

Has anyone else any comments to add about ALee and Rick's oysters?? Sounds interesting...we are visiting in January 2008...any other similar suggestion are very welcome...that is, properly cooked and served seafood...(NOT FRIED)..thanks in advance.. :smile::smile:

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Has anyone else any comments to add about ALee and Rick's oysters?? Sounds interesting...we are visiting in January 2008...any other similar suggestion are very welcome...that is, properly cooked and served seafood...(NOT FRIED)..thanks in advance.. :smile:  :smile:

Lee and Rick's is outstanding. Sit at the blue bar. Cheapest bucket I have ever had and staff will shuck them in front of you. No fine dining but outstanding experience. It was about 3 dozen for 14 bucks or so. Highly recommended.


officially left egullet....

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gallery_9007_4859_284918.jpg

thought I would add a photo since a picture is worth....as you can see at Lee's there is a few that have been shucked but many in that bucket to go.


officially left egullet....

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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.

Thanks O-man....this is great. I do have a question as I'll be visiting in November. As a local, if you, or anyone else reading this board who knows Orlando well, had to eat in only one Orlando seafood restaurant the rest of your life, which one would it be?


Edited by berniemiller (log)

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Thanks O-man....this is great.  I do have a question as I'll be visiting in November. As a local, if you, or anyone else reading this board who knows Orlando well, had to eat in only one Orlando seafood restaurant the rest of your life, which one would it be?

I am also interested in the answer to this as I visit Orlando pretty regularly and always looking for something like this.


officially left egullet....

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I just wanted to add, I work for Emerils Tchoup Chop as a Chef in the Royal Pacific Resort, and I will tell you that everything on the menu is wonderful, and cooked FRESH daily with Fresh ingredients. Im not sure about across the street at City Walk, but I doubt that their food is anything less than fresh as well. We make our own deserts daily with the freshest fruits and produce. You will not be let down by our food. We always have two special Entrees, two special Appetizers, one special Salad, and 4 course Tasting Menu. All are made and prepped fresh daily. Its a new menu everyday except for the fixed menu. All of our protein is freshly butchered by us, and the sauces are cooked daily fresh. Our stocks are cooked off once every three-four days. We use authentic asian spices and ingredients.

For Seafood, I would have to say us!! We get our fish daily, and we have strict guidlines for accepting fishes, poultry/game, beef, pork.

I will tell you right now. Our walk in (fridge) is VERY small in industry terms, why? Because of how fresh everything is. Our freezer is litterally no bigger than a house hold closet. It only houses shells, beef bones, fries, chicken tenders used for kids meals, Orange juice concentrate that the bar uses, stuff thats used for family meal. If its more than 3 days old, it gets thrown out. This is no lie. Except for our stocks, and some of our sauces that are full of acid or salt that wont spoil. Our Chef De Cusine is very stringent on rotating our stock, and getting rid of food that isnt fresh. He runs a 9mil/yr restaurant for one of the worlds most famous chefs, and only wants the best quality of food out there.

Recently across the street, the Chef De Cusine as well as the Executive Sous Chef and another Sous chef all quit. Within a few days of each other. I think it was because of how it was being managed by the GM?! Im not too sure about it though. This is why when you look on Emerils website, you will not see a Chef De Cusine listed nor any other chefs...

I welcome all to come and check our lesser known Emerils Tchoup Chop across the street from City Walk, and try our great food. More than likely youll see me on the expo line with my Chef.

Take Care.

Other great places as previously mentioned Primo (owned by Chef Melissa Kelly and joint venture with Marriot), Le Coq Au Vin, Christini's, Moonfish, Citrus Restaurant,A land Remembered.

From a proffesionals stand point, and knowing the chefs of the above places, these are the place I recommend.


Edited by 317indy (log)

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Just got back from my trip to Orlando and here is what I would recommend:

Flying Fish (On Disney's Boardwalk) for Seafood

This place gets pretty full very quick, so I would suggest making reservations well in advance or going in at 5:30pm when they open and grabbing a seat at the Chef's bar like I did.

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The added bonus of the Chef's bar is that you can converse with the Chef and if you connect, you might get a complimentary dish such as

Mussels in Pesto sauce - good, but hard to taste the mussels through the overpowering pesto

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Red Snapper in potato wrap served on a bed of creamed leeks and red wine reduction - This is their most popular dish (a copy of a similar dish from Le Cirque?) and according to my waiter, it ofter sells out. Fish was fresh, well cooked and moist, though I found the potato crisp a bit oily. The leeks and wine reduction were tasty.

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House of Blues (Downtown Disney) for comfort food

Le Coq Au Vin (Near Downtown) for French comfort food

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House of Blues

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A few years ago, I visited the HOB in New Orleans and loved it. I was hoping that the Orlando location had some of that great (Louisiana) BBQ shrimp and same increadible gumbo. Alas, that was not the case, though the Voodoo shrimp is not bad.

Gumbo - Aweful...watery and the shrimp and meat were overcooked. Skip it.

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Voodoo Shrimp - Not as good as I remember the (Louisiana) BBQ shrimp, though this version was not too bad. The cornbread this is served with, which contain rosemary, is a really good accompaniment.

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Cedars Lebanese Cuisine - Tip: you can make a reservation on Opentable.com

If you go there with 3-4 people or more, you can order a sampling which includes 5-6 appetizers (including homemade Hummus and baba ganoush) and a main course which includes shish kebab, lamb and grilled chicken for like $30/person.

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If you have room for dessert, you can enjoy a keneft (sp?) and a nargeela (aka sheesha or hooka)

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I just returned from a two day business trip to Orlando and arrived very late the first night (10PM) and needed a decent late night dinner. I had heard about a downtown Orlando restaurant called Midnight Blue, located at 990 E Washington St. that serves until Midnight (midnight blue - get it? :biggrin: ).

The place was fairly deserted on a Tuesday night but I sat at the bar and affable Jesse (code name, Jane) served me a perfectly prepared dirty KetelOne martini. I ordered two medium-rare Kobe beef sliders with gorgonzola caramelized onion aioli and a side of yucca fries. The sliders were so good I went back last night with a client and two associates and had a full dinner.

The place is very casual, but not necessarily inexpensive, depending whether you go for the tapas style bar fare of the ambitious dinner selections. The main dining area is outside. It was kind of chilly yesterday evening and there was no propane for the outdoor heaters. I ordered the herb encrusted New Zealand Lamb Rack in red wine bordelaise, on the rare side of medium-rare. Unfortunately it was cooked to medium, but other than that, very tasty. The 4 chops are a generous cut, as they should be for $35. Client had the Harris Ranch flat iron steak, which is offered in two sizes. He ordered the smaller portion and was shocked when a tiny (4 oz. before cooking) piece of meat was served. He said it was very good and then agreed to finish off my chops. The owner stopped by the table and agreed the smaller portion of the flat iron steak may be to small to leave on the menu. Others at the table had the Chicken Coq au Vin, which was well received, and the Cuban-style grilled pork loin, which was pronounced OK but “not authentic” buy the first generation Cuban-American diner.

Considering the dearth of original dining venues in Orlando, I would recommend Midnight Blue to any local or traveler looking for fare both imaginative and unique. The atmosphere is friendly and the staff unpretentious. Solo diners will feel comfortable at the bar, and if there late, may, like myself, meet a pair of sociable, drunken “spies” who required code names for everyone in the place (hence Jesse/Jane). My code name? Pubcrawler, of course!

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A happy and healthy holiday season to all.

I will be heading down to Orlando for about 10 days or so and wanted to hear from some of the resident experts on Orlando's Best. I am not staying in, nor am I going to Disney World, but if it's worth going, I'd have no problem going there for dinner.

I've been to, and absolutely and greatly enjoy Christini's -- top notch all around!

I know there is a Shula's and Del Frisco's there -- any preferences? Is there a better steakhouse? Also, what's the best sushi place? Any other must go places? Thank you in advance.

Eric


Edited by ELA (log)

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What kind of food are you looking for? What atmosphere? What budget?

On a recent trips I have enjoyed Flying fish, Shoula's, Tchoup Chop (prefered to Emril's), Victoria & Albert's and Cedar's.

Sushi at Zen at the Omni and another place who's name I can't recall in the Dolphin are pretty good, but pricey ($50/pp for some sushi).

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What kind of food are you looking for? What atmosphere? What budget?

On a recent trips I have enjoyed Flying fish, Shoula's, Tchoup Chop (prefered to Emril's), Victoria & Albert's and Cedar's.

Sushi at Zen at the Omni and another place who's name I can't recall in the Dolphin are pretty good, but pricey ($50/pp for some sushi).

Thanks for the reply. Since I am going to be there about 10 days, I am looking for a different restaurant each night. I'd like a steakhouse or two. I'd like to get an Italian restaurant suggestion for another night, even though I am going to Christini's. I really want to find a top notch sushi place (maybe two, as I think I'll go for steak and sushi more than once -- two serious staples in my diet, LOL). I'd like to find a top seafood place.

I'll check out the places you suggested, and thank you very much again.

Eric

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The sushi place at the Dolphin is pretty good, though its been a while since I was there.

California grill is pretty good and they have some good sushi rolls, though I would not consider them a "traditional" sushi place.

Also forgot to mention Coq Au Vin if you like French food. I have posted a review about that somewhere in the FL forum.


Edited by percyn (log)

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Anything else? Thanks for the heads up.

What else is worth going to in Orlando? There has to be some great local places -- thank you again.

Eric

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Anything else? Thanks for the heads up.

What else is worth going to in Orlando? There has to be some great local places -- thank you again.

Eric

If you like Vietnamese food, there is a great section of town on Colonial Drive with numerous Vietnamese markets and restaurants. My personal fav is "Viet Town". Be sure to ask for the original menu, though - don't let them give you the "short" version. I love their green papaya salad.

Also, there is an Asian supermarket on Colonial Drive (1st Oriental Supermarket) that has really good BBQ duck and chicken (takeout or eat in) and there is a noodle restaurant next door that has been recommended to me, although I haven't had a chance to try it yet.

Tonyy13 is going to have a lot more info on dining in O-town.

I don't know what kind of food you like, or how far you want to travel, but if you want genuine "Florida Cracker" food, I can tell you where to get swamp cabbage, gator tail, fried mullet, grits, collards, okra, etc. about 1 hour drive from Orlando in a particularly nice, historic setting. And you could stop along the way for an airboat ride. If you are looking for fine dining, though, this is definitely not going to fit the bill!

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I'd like to get some opinions on the best steakhouse, best sushi, and perhaps a couple of Italian restaurants -- besides Christini's. I would probably go for steak more than once, and the same with sushi.

What about Norman's (Ritz Carlton)?

Thank you.

Eric

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Roys Hawaiian Fusion on Sand Lake just west of I-4 is pretty good. It is part of the Outback chain. BYOB with no corkage as long as they dont sell the bottle. Call them.

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Eric - About the best Japanese restaurant I've found in Orlando is Ran-Getsu on I Drive. It's a branch of a restaurant in Tokyo. A lot of the fish is flown in from Japan. Isn't cheap - but - when we dined there - we thought it was worth the price. Robyn

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