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#1 giant shrimp

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 10:11 AM

impressions can get a bit skewed when you're on the road, especially in orlando, but seasons 52 had really good food when i ate there in january. have yet to check out rock creek restaurant. by the way, how is thyme square doing these days? our last meal there a few years was a shambles, but i assume that somebody would have turned out the lights by now if they had not made substantial improvements.



#2 JLK

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 01:09 PM

I wholeheartedly agree. Not one for health food, salads or calorie counting, I was skeptical, but we had a great meal. Based on the number of appetizers we ordered (lots of flatbread varieties), we took in a lot of calories. But the entree I had, pork tenderloin IIRC, was delicious.

impressions can get a bit skewed when you're on the road, especially in orlando, but seasons 52 had really good food when i ate there in january.


Jennifer


#3 Joe H

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 01:25 PM

This is an excerpt from an article I wrote about Orlando restaurants last Fall for a trade publication in my industry. The purpose of the article is to do an overview of restaurants in the same city that our convention is in. This particular year was Orlando. Because I travel to Orlando regularly I have gone to Seasons 52 many times, each time leaving wishing they would open one here :

"In February of last year one of the newest trends in the future of the restaurant industry in the United States took its first step with the opening of a concept restaurant in Orlando. Darden Restaurants, known for the locally extremely popular Bahama Breeze along with Red Lobster and Olive Garden, took a virtual leap with the “knockout” opening of the two hundred fifty seat Seasons 52 where every “generous” entrée served is no more than 475 calories. This includes grilled jumbo sea scallops with sautéed fresh asparagus and toasted pearl pasta, herb ricotta ravioli with julienne vegetables and garlic broth, sesame glazed salmon chop salad with citrus soy dressing, a six oz. filet mignon with sautéed spinach, grilled wild mushrooms and “big steak” potatoes as well as a large bowl of black mussels steamed in orange ginger broth.

The menu changes every few weeks offering fresh seasonal products (52 weeks of the year, thus the name). Much is grilled over oak and olive oil is used rather than butter. Paper thin flatbread starters feature grilled steak and crimini mushrooms along with artichokes, goat cheese and fresh herbs among others. Desserts include $1.95 individually sized desserts which fill a tall shot glass such as carrot cake with rum sauce and bananas Foster sundae. In fact some diners order literal trays of shot glasses each topped with a different dessert. So much for calories! Seventy wines are also offered by the glass.

This is the hottest restaurant anywhere near Orlando with long lines even on weeknights to match. A second one is under construction but will not open until December. Prices for entrees range from $8 to 20."

#4 kventura

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 01:52 PM

I enjoyed Seasons 52 a few months ago when I was down there. Definitely the type of place that would do well in DC.

Timpano has actually started serving the single-size desserts, but they are nowhere near as good as the ones at Seasons 52.

#5 Sthitch

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 01:56 PM

Since someone morphed this into a dinning in Orlando thread, I will add my 2 cents, and 52 will not be mentioned. I used to be forced to visit Plasticland several times a year, and the only saving grace was a decent meal.
If you find yourself stranded in this souless place, I would recommend sticking with big hunks of beef. Charly's and Vito's offer some very nice beef. The portions are over the top even for a steak house. The cakes that are offered as part of the dessert selections are easily eight layers tall. I once split one at a table for four, and we could not finish it.
But the best steak to be had in that city is at Del Frisco's. This is the original location and not owned by the same group that owns the chain (Del Frisco's is the best chain restaurant I have ever been to). The meat is crusted with salt, and served on a very hot platter. The meat is cooked less than you order it, but this is because it continues to cook on the platter. This is no cheap steak cooked in butter (Ruth's), but aged prime meat that is dream enducing.
Outside of beef, not much stands out in my memory of Orlando, and I am happy to say, I do not have to go back anytime soon.

#6 Joe H

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 02:12 PM

Del Frisco's on Lee road (on the "far side of downtown") was actually opened by a close friend of the owner of the original Del Frisco's in Dallas. I first went to the Dallas original in the mid '80's when it was considered the city's best steak house. For a number of years this was the only other Del Frisco's until the original owner sold out to Lone Star who subsequently opened a number of Del Frisco's around the country. But Orlando, I believe more faithful to the original, is still the best. I agree with Steve, this is the best of all "chain" restaurants. In addition to beef the sides are outstanding: batter dipped inch thick sweet onion rings, superb cream of spinach, a ripe heirloom or beefsteak tomato sliced 1/2 inch thick layered with sweet onion and topped with excellent crumbled roquefort cheese and the house viniagrette, Strawberries Romanoff which are nestled in fluffs of house whipped heavy cream infused with Grand Marnier. I believe that next to Luger's in Brooklyn this may be the best steak house in America-in the unlikeliest of places.

I also agree with Steve about Charley's and Vito's which are owned by the same group.

Seasons 52 by the way was started by the former chef from Disney's California Grill which may give an indication of the standard it is held to. Don't let the Darden association mislead you.

#7 FunnyJohn

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Posted 17 August 2005 - 07:15 AM

I am sitting with a Floridian in my office who lives near Gainesville who says that Butcher's Block has one of the most elegant interiors he has ever seen (at least in a Florida establishment) and the "food is pretty damned good." It's on International and Jamaica in Orlando. Anyone been?

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#8 Joe H

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 04:08 PM

Seasons 52, which pioneered this concept on Sand Lake road in Orlando, was the highest grossing restaurant in its first year in the Darden chain. This includes Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze and a few others yet the food at Seasons 52 is very similar to Disney's California Grill. As it should be. The founding chef is the same at both. This is the list of awards it has won in its first two years: http://www.seasons52...edia/awards.asp Seasons 52 also has a dark, supper club type of ambience sort of like an upscale Bonefish Grill. Additionally it features a 60 seat bar and about 75 or so wines by the glass. After 8 there is a pianist who sits in the middle of the oval bar which transitions into what has now become Orlando's hottest meeting spot for the over 30 crowd.

I've had five dinners so far at this restaurant plus one this coming Sunday. Rock Creek is one of numerous restaurants around the country that are now helping grow what is arguably the hottest trend in the industry. My wife and I will probably try Rock Creek within the next week. It will be interesting to see how it compares to the restaurant which started all this. If it is even close the drive from Reston to Bethesda is shorter than one might think.

Seasons 52 is going national having opened three locations with two more about to open, all in Florida. I wouldn't be surprised if a number of local groups aren't taking a serious look at this before Darden opens here. I know nothing about Rock Creek's ownership but if it is indeed successful, it would seem that more locations would be forthcoming. For Seasons 52 there may now be the issue of maintaining the level of quality which they opened with. All five of my dinners there were with the Disney chef in residence. He's gone now. It will be interesting to see if it has suffered.

Edited by Joe H, 02 September 2005 - 04:20 PM.


#9 entropy

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 07:40 AM

I've been in Orlando for the past few days on business and have had the fortune of coming upon some great restaurants along International Drive and up in the Universal area that bear mentioning.

The first night, after walking by the Mercado Mall (and looking in on some very quiet restaurants), we proceeded a little further south (towards Sea World) and stopped into Vito's Chop House. Dined on a 20oz Tuscan Porter that tasted great with a reasonably priced glass of Malbec...it was no Ray's, but far better than Outback!

For lunch the next day my co-worker and I stumbled upon a Cantonese-style restaurant (can't remember the name...it had something with Hong Kong in it)serving dim sum (no carts, ordered via sheet). It had the typical greatest hits, along with non-dim sum items, one would expect and they were prepared to a high quality! This fine place was located just south of the Lighthouse Seafood Buffet (gaudy looking lighthouse) and about 10 minutes north of Vito's on I-Drive.

Later that evening we "took it up a notch" and decided to dine at Emeril's in U-Studios City Walk. We slipped in with a 5:30 (the other time for this popular choice was 9) reservation for kitchen-side seats and were blown away by the experience. I started with a homemade sausage appetizer (boudin and andouille) while my co-worker had a crabcake served with some frisee on a remoulade, both were more than satisfying. My main dish (co-worker had an Emeril's salad) was a duck breast and leg combination with a cranberry chutney, yellow curry rice, and grilled asparagus. In a word, W-O-W! A perfectly cooked medium rare duck, an amazing combination of flavors and textures, and a brilliant presentation...quite simply the best duck dish I've ever had. The meal ended with a subdued Earl Grey creme brulee. Also had a refreshing bottle of Torrontes (Argentina) throughout the experience. Was worried that a meal at U-Studios would be a tourist trap, but Emeril's was anything but!

I would've been more than happy finding only these three great places on my trip...but there was still one more to be found. Just a few blocks north of Vito's (between there and the Chinese place) on I-Drive is a shopping center with "The Crab House" and one of those "solve the mystery" restaurants. The real gem in this strip mall is a Japanese place called Hanamizuki. I feasted on a Moriawase (chef's choice) Sashimi dinner set. For $30, not only did I get 18 pieces of some of the freshest fish (tuna, salmon, snapper, yellowtail, squid, and octopus) I've ever had...but I also got several appetizers (tempura, chawanmushi, miso, etc.) and a dessert. A deal it was, but the quality was off the charts and I've dined at some of DC's finest (Sushi-Ko, Kaz's, etc.). And if sashimi isn't your thing, they also had a wide selection of traditional Japanese treats ranging from onigiri, nabe, shabu shabu, udon/soba (many kinds), and the "love it or hate it" natto.

Needless to say, I've been thrilled with our culinary finds thus far in this "tourist city". For us foodies, it seems that the general rule for success should be the less gaudy the restaurant looks on the outside, the better your dining experience will be on the inside. I've got one more day here before being shipped off to the hurricane disaster area(s), perhaps another diamond in the rough will be unearthed!

#10 Joe H

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 06:26 PM

I'm not so sure that Emeril's is a "diamond in the rough." It is also very expensive with the majority of entrees in the low to mid 30's. I've had two dinners there, hosting a total of 14 people and will not return. Picking up the check for $1000 for 8 and having to apologize is a once in a lifetime experience. But it happened to me there. My wife and I had dinner three times at the original on Tchoupolitas street (sp?) when Emeril was still there in the mid '90's and we thought this was among the very best restaurants in America. Based on my two dinners in Orlando, there was little in common. In this price range I would go to Norman's but this has also been inconsistent. I went when it first opened and Norman Van Aken himself was in the kitchen. It was awesome!!! A return visit the next year was good, but nowhere in league with the first time. Vito's, owned by the Charley's group, is an excellent mid range steak house that is enormously popular with convention groups. I like it. A lot. Still, the Del Frisco's on the far side of town is far superior.

Enzo's on the Lake is a very good, locally popular Italian restaurant considered by many to be the Orlando area's best. Straub's has very good rock shrimp and is also very popular. The best seafood restaurant overall is Disney's Flying Fish Cafe and their adjacent tapas restaurant is better than you might expect. Disney's best restaurant is their California Grill-NOT Victor and Victoria which is horrendously expensive. Your last meal should be at Seasons 52. Order the garlic chicken flatbread for your appetizer and planked salmon entree and post your thoughts about this on here. Any of a half dozen of the "fat test tubes" for dessert, especially the bananas foster. If you go, before 6:30 you should not have a problem getting a seat at the bar. In the dining room, on a weekday, the wait is one hour plus around this time (weekend two hours plus). About 80 wines by the glass.

Edited by Joe H, 22 September 2005 - 06:32 PM.


#11 JLK

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Posted 23 September 2005 - 12:45 PM

I second that. Yay to Seasons 52. Boo to Emeril's. Very expensive for the quality of food offered, IMO.

Jennifer


#12 B.A.R.

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Posted 19 December 2005 - 01:49 PM

Come January 1, I am packing up the tribe and doing the hajj to Disney World (aka, Vegas for kids). I am petrified that once I leave the compound, it'll be Olive Garden's galore.

Any suggestions?

Edited by B.A.R., 19 December 2005 - 01:49 PM.

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#13 JLK

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Posted 20 December 2005 - 01:10 PM

We stayed at Portofino Bay and as a result, a few of our meals took place in that general vicinity (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure). The expensive Italian place right on the Portofino property isn't going to knock your socks off with inventive cuisine, however what we ate tasted good.

Emeril's restaurants are way over-priced (shocker, right?). We had a not-bad-at-all meal at the Hard Rock Hotel's restaurant, although the service was muy screwy. Sorry, but the name is escaping me.

Try Seasons 52. It's heading in the direction of a chain, however the meal I had there in May was really good. Interesting concept too (although they don't beat you over the head with it). Oh, near Seasons 52, there's a Lebanese place that is supposed to be out of this world (they rave about it on egullet anyway).

Edited by JLK, 20 December 2005 - 01:13 PM.

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#14 laniloa

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 09:02 PM

I spent the last 2 days in the Orlando airport. Literally. There is a Hyatt inside the airport that has meeting rooms. I did not have high hopes for the dining portions of the meeting, but, if you ever find yourself stuck in the Orlando airport around dinner time head over to Delta Gates 60-99 and go to Hemispheres in the Hyatt. I had a very moist brined and roasted pork chop with a light herb cream sauce and some of the best roasted root veggies I've ever had. Must've been the bacon tossed in with them. My boss had a very nice looking steak with mushrooms and haricot verts and a co-worker had a flash fried red snapper that disappeared mighty quickly.

#15 JLK

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Posted 26 January 2006 - 05:27 PM

Hello from the Orlando airport. :huh: I'm very excited to be heading back to DC from this "bigger is better" land that seemingly has a TGIFridays on every corner.

Anyway...I tried to take my calorie-conscious client to Seasons 52. She would have loved it, but we couldn't get a reservation and the bar was wall-to-wall people. The PGA Merchandise Show has made Orlando even more crowded than usual.

As a result, we ended up at neighboring Cedar's (or is it Cedar? Can't recall.). I'd heard a lot about it on egullet and thought it was fine, but not significantly better than, say, Lebanese Taverna. My client, a pickier eater than I ever was, barely ate her chicken soup and timidly tasted one bite of the unfamiliar hummos. :lol: I enjoyed my mixed grill - skewers of lamb chunks, spiced/minted ground lamb and chicken. The meats were really tasty and moist; Cedar lost points for serving the meat with very bland plain white rice. Lebanese Taverna's rice is always a nice bonus for me. Steamed vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and a lone tomato half) came along for the ride and picky client enjoyed them. What can I say, I'm a giver.

I would have liked to try Cedar's baklava, but client was clearly antsy to move on to the next stop. *sigh*

Jennifer


#16 giant shrimp

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Posted 26 January 2006 - 06:45 PM

Anyway...I tried to take my calorie-conscious client to Seasons 52.  She would have loved it, but we couldn't get a reservation and the bar was wall-to-wall people.  The PGA Merchandise Show has made Orlando even more crowded than usual.

As a result, we ended up at neighboring Cedar's (or is it Cedar?  Can't recall.). 

i had a similar experience, except was with five other people and there was an almost two-hour wait for seasons 52. i think four people could have squeezed into the lounge area, however, which has quite a few tables. i just couldn't figure out how to get rid of two of our party, since i couldn't quite remember who was driving.

i found cedars a bit more interesting than you make it sound. the kebbah bil saynieh was presented as three dark triangles, a rather intriguing, unfamiliar combination of beef and wheat. it was stiff but moist, with crunch. baba ghannouj, hommos bi lahmeh and falafel were all exemplary. the flavor and body of the almaza beer were on the reticent, light side and you needed at least two because they were small. this is not a good place, however, for vegetarians. i was with one, and he didn't think they did anything special enough for him. an order of quail brought three, and if my wife had been misfortunate enought to have to accompany me on this trip and they landed on her plate i would have tried to snatch one from her. ditto with the rack of lamb. i heard and saw good things about both, without being able to taste either. the service was excellent and i would definitely check this place out further if it were convenient to do so. considering its location, i can only say fortunately it is not.

it would have been worse had you ventured a few doors further down the strip and snagged a table at roys. the dining rooms are incredibly loud and they insist on reading the menu for you, which you cannot hear. i tried the swordfish of too many ingredients, including gorgonzola, last year, and this year they were out. i wouldn't have gone for it, but they talk it up and i probably wouldn't have been able to be heard to prevent someone at our table from making the same mistake unless they were sitting with their head resting on my shoulder. the chef here typically suggests that his fish be cooked to medium well. the chocolate souffle is too much goo, but people seem to anticipate and love it. i don't pay for the annual pilgrimage to this establishment, and nobobdy forces me to go. i have been to quite a few of them, including maui, and the best one was in atlanta, though that may have changed by now. the hand in the kitchen is surprisingly heavy.

there are worse places to eat than the coffee shop at the peabody. it is diner style, and a nice place to waste time after you have spent an hour or so waiting for them to ceremoniously march in their ducks for the night. ask for a schedule of this event first.

somehow i got lost at the hard rock cafe on the way to the river that would carry me to the multiplex at universal city where i couldn't find anything better to do than watch a popular torture movie that actually didn't give up all hope, a sop to the teenagers who populate the malls and line up at the boxoffice these days. (people are even losing their toes on television, in a south american series, epitafios, which i have been watching to learn spanish, without much success, except that some of my nightmares now have spanish in them.) anyway, against my better judgment i entered the back of the hotel through an employee entrance and breezed through security but soon found i couldn't find my way back. i ended up on the lobby floor and in the changing room at the palm, and just as it looked like i was going to have to go through the kitchen and dining room to make my escape i found someone who was able to lead me to a safer route. i ended up in the kitchen, the name of the hotel's restaurant, which someone up above me has faintly praised. the mushroom risotto there was not bad. the wine was pretty good, and overpriced, by the glass. jerry garcia was being offered as a chard and cabernet; i am unsure if this vineyard is as distinctive as the music. fearing that possibility, i ordered something else. that famous rock star barbara streisand loomed over my table protectively throughout the entire meal, and this is a good place, when you find yourself alone, for dysfunctional family watching.

the next time i return to orlando, i want to do it with family. i hear there is a cafe over near celebration where they do a really nice roasted donald duck. don't order the chocolate mouse, however, unless you want to disillusion the children.

Edited by giant shrimp, 27 January 2006 - 07:43 AM.


#17 Free Wilma

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Posted 26 January 2006 - 08:42 PM

somehow i got lost at the hard rock cafe on the way to the river that would carry me to the multiplex at universal city where i couldn't find anything better to do than watch a popular torture movie that actually didn't give up all hope, a sop to the teenagers who populate the malls and line up at the boxoffice these days. (people are even losing their toes on television, in a south american series, epitaphios, which i have been watching to learn spanish, without much success, except that some of my nightmares now have spanish in them.) anyway, against my better judgment i entered the back of the hotel through an employee entrance and breezed through security but soon found i couldn't find my way back. i ended up on the lobby floor and in the changing room at the palm, and just as it looked like i was going to have to go through the kitchen and dining room to make my escape i found someone who was able to lead me to a safer route. i ended up in the kitchen, the name of the hotel's restaurant, which someone up above me has faintly praised. the mushroom risotto there was not bad. the wine was pretty good, and overpriced, by the glass. jerry garcia was being offered as a chard and cabernet; i am unsure if this vineyard is as distinctive as the music. fearing that possibility, i ordered something else. that famous rock star barbara streisand loomed over my table protectively throughout the entire meal, and this is a good place, when you find yourself alone, for dysfunctional family watching.

Just wonderful. I leave in the morning for Orlando and I'm staying at the Hard Rock. I hope someone isn't watching MY family's dysfunctional behavior. That said, I'm glad to hear Kitchen is an acceptable option....or at least the risotto.

Laura Marshall


#18 giant shrimp

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Posted 27 January 2006 - 07:51 AM

Just wonderful.  I leave in the morning for Orlando and I'm staying at the Hard Rock.  I hope someone isn't watching MY family's dysfunctional behavior.  That said, I'm glad to hear Kitchen is an acceptable option....or at least the risotto.

they pile on the food at kitchen, portions are pretty big. the menu is extensive, with something for everyone, and oversized desserts for the children who at least attempt to eat their vegetables. they even have a "kobe beef" burger. don't go looking for nuances in the cooking, and the tab can get pretty high, which is one of the reasons some of the dads got grouchy at tired kids who just wanted to play. i think it is okay to carry away open bottles of wine, people were doing it.

and i wouldn't worry about the dysfunctional behavior. there is so much of it going on that you and yours will most likely just blend into the crowd.

Edited by giant shrimp, 27 January 2006 - 07:55 AM.


#19 Joe H

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Posted 27 January 2006 - 03:02 PM

Del Frisco's on Lee road is one of the best steak houses in America. It is NOT connected to the Lone Star owned national chain. It was set up by the original owner of Dallas' Del Frisco's (from the '80's) and is owned by friends of his who wanted to create the excellence of the Dallas original in Orlando. It is by far the best steak house in Orlando. Unfortunately everyone in Orlando knows this and they go there. But, because it is on the far side of downtown, you won't find an awful lot of tourists. I 4 to Lee rd. and turn left. You can also have dinner at the bar. And the bar challenges Seasons 52 for popularity. (I was the first one to mention Seasons 52 two years ago on CH.) Seasons 52 sometimes has over two hour waits on Friday and Saturday. Also, if you get there by 6:15 or so you can usually get a bar seat even if there's a large convention in town. By 7:00 it's almost imossible unless it's a weeknight and no conventions. I've been there about 15 times over the past two years and feel pretty comfortable with these time frames.

Across the street from Seasons 52 is a decent alternative, Moonfish. Not great but locally very popular and worth checking out. Vito's is good for the price on International Drive. I also like Flying Fish and Spoodles both on Disney's Boardwalk. Spoodles is very similar to Jaleo and I think as good. Flying Fish is considered by many to be Orlando's best seafood restaurant.

Locals like Enzo's on the Lake for Italian, Maison et Jardin in Altamonte Springs and Norman's in the Ritz Carlton; the former is Orlando's version of L'auberge Chez Francois and the latter, if Norman is there, is awesome. Awesome! If he's not it's good but not great. I am not a fan of Emeril's although Tschoup Chop is better. I do like Chatham's Place which would be my number one alternative to Seasons 52, just a few blocks away. A lot of locals; signature grouper dishes.

#20 crackers

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 11:46 AM

and i wouldn't worry about the dysfunctional behavior. there is so much of it going on that you and yours will most likely just blend into the crowd.

Too true - especially since there is rumored to be a mini-rockweiler convention going on down there at the moment. :lol:
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#21 RaisaB

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 09:34 PM

I am going back to DisneyWorld in a few weeks. Last time we went we ate dinner at the resto at top of the Contemporary (forgot the name), Wolfgang Pucks at Downtown Disney, and the hospital (sad long story). The food wasn't bad per se at the two Disney restos, but in my opinion had too much going on. Has anyone been there lately? Any suggestions? Thanks so much.

#22 Joe H

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 12:52 AM

It's the California Grill at the top of the Contemporary. The chef who opened it many years ago is the same chef who opened Seasons 52. Puck's places have nothing in common with Spago or Chinois in LA other than his name. I can't separate the Disney properties from Orlando so see my comments about a number of them under the Orlando thread. Supplimental to this Victoria and Albert is a remarkably expensive affectation that now pales to a number of other restaurants that have opened elsewhere in Orlando. Jiko is an interesting restaurant in the Animal Kingdom Lodge possibly worth a look. For middle of the road Bahama Breeze across I 4 is better there than elsewhere in the U. S., perhaps much better. There's another on I drive.

Disney would love to have you spend every minute of every day on their property. Don't be afraid to leave it. Last, I reviewed Orlando restaurants for a 50,000 circulation trade paper a year ago.

#23 Principia

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 02:09 AM

Is Christmas 2004 recently enough for you? If so, let me know and I can give you my recommendations...
Maths:

Five people are in a restaurant, and the bill comes to £112.48. If two people had starters but no wine, one person has had wine but no dessert, one person is moaning that they had the vegetarian and that was cheaper, another person had no starter or dessert, but ordered an extra bottle of wine without asking anyone else, calculate the number of different Switch/Visa/Carbon/Delta cards you can hand the waiter before they kill you.

#24 hm212

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 09:17 AM

We stayed at Portofino Bay and as a result, a few of our meals took place in that general vicinity (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure). The expensive Italian place right on the Portofino property isn't going to knock your socks off with inventive cuisine, however what we ate tasted good.

I will be staying at Portofino Bay for a conference in a few weeks. Any ideas to take a client to dinner?

I know there are two corporate planned dinners, one at the Italian place mentioned above, the other at Planet Hollywood.

#25 Biscuit Girl

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 04:51 PM

May have some time to catch a bite for lunch in Orlando before we fly home from vacation next month. Anyone out there know of some good local places to grab a tasty bite?

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#26 Joe H

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 07:10 PM

May have some time to catch a bite for lunch in Orlando before we fly home from vacation next month. Anyone out there know of some good local places to grab a tasty bite?

There is a long thread on here about Orlando area restaurants. The bottom line to everything on that thread is Seasons 52 which is the local outpost of, yes, a chain. Scroll back for the various posts and then give serious consideration to going to Seasons 52. If you sit at the bar and arrive before 6:30 you'll have no problem. For the dining room on a weeknight there is a wait. An hour or so after 7, longer on weekends. Still, Seasons 52, from a seat at the bar is as good as it gets for this. If you're single you'll wish D. C. had a place like this...

For those reading this Seasons 52 is also opening two restaurants in Atlanta this year: Buckhead and Perimeter Mall.

It's coming north! slowly.

Edited by Joe H, 07 August 2006 - 09:53 PM.


#27 Biscuit Girl

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 12:14 PM

May have some time to catch a bite for lunch in Orlando before we fly home from vacation next month. Anyone out there know of some good local places to grab a tasty bite?

I should have clarified that we're flying out in the early evening and would be looking for place for a quick tasty and not too expensive lunch. Seasons 52 sounds wonderful but we'll be leaving too early to try it this time around.

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#28 JLK

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Posted 30 March 2007 - 07:09 PM

Orlando suggestions (NY Times)

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#29 cjsadler

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 09:37 AM

State Line is a must-stop on any road trip between here and NYC. And they have taps in the back where you can fill up a growler!

Others that I really like: Bottleworks in Seattle, Belmont Station in Portland, and obviously, Chevy Chase.

I'll be in Orlando for a wedding in a few weeks. Will try and check out #1: Knightly Spirits, and report back.

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#30 ferment everything

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 11:23 AM

I'll be in Orlando for a wedding a few weeks. Will try and check out #1: Knightly Spirits, and report back.

Please do. The last time I was in Orlando I searched high and low for good beer and all I could find was Cricketer's Arms, which wasn't even that good a pub.
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#31 cjsadler

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Posted 26 August 2008 - 12:34 PM

I'll be in Orlando for a wedding in a few weeks. Will try and check out #1: Knightly Spirits, and report back.

Please do. The last time I was in Orlando I searched high and low for good beer and all I could find was Cricketer's Arms, which wasn't even that good a pub.

I forgot to report back on Knightly Spirits. A very small shop in a strip mall, which from the outside looks like a nondescript liquor store. Beer is in two chaotic aisles in the very back. They mainly concentrate on Belgians, and there were a number I'd never seen before. Was on the way to catch a plane and didn't have the inclination to buy anything. Best beer store in the US? I don't see it.

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#32 porcupine

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 05:05 PM

Anything new on the scene in Orlando? Better yet, anything good to eat between Orlando and Sebring?

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#33 Cornbread

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 06:48 PM

I'm down here right now and here's my short list; The Ravenous Pig, K Restaurant, Luma, Black Bean Deli(lunch only), Bubbalous Bodacious BBQ(has to be on Lee rd), Jax's 5th Ave Deli & Ale House(Lake Mary location has around 70 taps & a couple hundred bottles), in a rush Publix for fried chicken or a sub, for a glass of wine Eola Wine Bar or The Wine Room.
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#34 pkoons

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 01:32 PM

Primo in the JW Marriott at Grande Lakes is my go-to when I'm in town. They were responsible for my favorite soft shell crab dish of 2008, and the wine service has been stellar.

#35 Woodleygrrl

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 04:07 PM

We were in Disney for the 2008 Epcot Food and Wine Festival and the best place that we ate while there was the California Grill at the Contemporary. The sushi was very very good and you can't beat the view. we are planning on going back in May.

Joe H mentioned the Flying Fish way up top. we ate there too and were less than impressed. For the money, the California Grill was much better.
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#36 Malawry

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 07:35 PM

If you're eating on Disney property, here is a rundown of some options.
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#37 porcupine

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 09:45 AM

If you're eating on Disney property, here is a rundown of some options.

Thanks for all the tips, everyone - I'm going to research them later today. But I should have been more specific: I'll probably get dinner in Orlando tomorrow night, but after that I'm looking for good chow within, say, a half hour drive of Sebring, where I'll be the rest of the weekend.

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#38 porcupine

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 02:23 PM

Flight delays made dinner in Orlando impossible, and a wacky schedule made eating at almost any restaurant difficult, but I did get to four places in Sebring: Ribmasters BBQ, Mi Rancho, Thai House, and Sebring Diner.

Maybe it was bad luck or something: I got lunch at Ribmasters not knowing it was the day before the 12 Hours of Barbeque competition* just 'round the corner at the fairgrounds, so maybe that explains the poorly cooked, barely smokey, slightly tough pork ribs. Perhaps they were busy getting ready for the event? But there was nothing masterly about the ribs.

Mi Rancho served about the worst Americanized Mexican/Salvadoran food I've ever had, and that includes a burrito from Chipotle, but at least the plantains were edible, if incredibly boring.

Thai House**, on the other hand, was amazingly good. Or maybe the seven of us were exhausted after a long day and enjoying the camaraderie and desperate for anything flavorful. I'm not sayin' to drop everything and go to Sebring just to eat at Thai House, but this was some of the best Thai food I've eaten. Dishes were slow to come out, but I overheard some talk that makes me think Mama was working hard that night. Tried to go back Friday night, but the tiny place was hoppin'.

Sebring Diner is a perfectly fine place serving perfectly fine diner food. It stands out mostly for the really nice and attentive service we saw for the regulars, a la "now, Mr. Jones, that dish is really salty. Can you have that much salt?" to a man who appeared to be in his eighties. There really are a lot of elderly people in Florida. Most of them seemed to be waiting for a seat at Sebring Diner Sunday afternoon.

-----------
*word was that the competition is not particularly spectator (eater) friendly, so I didn't go

** on US 27N just north of Sebring Parkway

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#39 The Doctor

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 09:20 PM

Wow, 1 year hiatus for this thread.

Is there anything new to report on the Orlando scene? My parents are headed to the area and charged me with finding them places to eat. Anything but super-high end would be good. They've even talked about a drive to the east coast, to Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach -- and are frustratingly having a difficult time locating a reputable seafood place so close to the ocean.

Thanks for reading!

#40 DanielK

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 09:50 PM

Not to continue the theme already all over this thread, but I had a business dinner at Seasons 52 this fall and it was a great meal, including some excellent local seafood.

#41 DonRocks

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 10:04 PM

Not to continue the theme already all over this thread, but I had a business dinner at Seasons 52 this fall and it was a great meal, including some excellent local seafood.

Continue away - FWIW, my experience at all things culinary in Orlando is bad, bad, bad (I've never been to Seasons 52).

(Did I mention that a couple years ago, Matt and I hit ALL FOUR Disney theme parks in one day? Yep, I took Advil that night, indeed.)

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#42 The Doctor

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 12:47 PM

Continue away - FWIW, my experience at all things culinary in Orlando is bad, bad, bad (I've never been to Seasons 52).

(Did I mention that a couple years ago, Matt and I hit ALL FOUR Disney theme parks in one day? Yep, I took Advil that night, indeed.)

Well the update on Seasons 52 is at least pleasant to hear. I've also received intelligence that there's a Five Guys in the vicinity. (Another chain, yes, but when you're going to be in the same place for over a week, a reliable lunch spot is nice to fall back on.) Thanks for the input.

#43 cjsadler

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 02:17 PM

Agree on Seasons 52. Had a nice dinner there awhile back.

I've mentally bookmarked The Ravenous Pig in nearby Winter Park for the next time I'm down there. Have heard some good things about it.

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#44 Saycheese

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 02:38 PM

About a week ago, my husband just went to The Ravenous Pig, based primarily on an earlier posting on Don.Rockwell.com, and had a very enjoyable meal. I've never heard him say one good thing about dining in the Orlando area, until now.

#45 yuca

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 03:51 PM

I have lived in Orlando for 40+ years and although it is not a culinary mecca by any stretch of the imagination, there are a few independents that should, if nothing else, give you an alternative or two to all that factory food so ubiquitous, especially in the tourist areas. The Pig was mentioned above and the food there is definitely good. The service wasn't so great the last two times I was there, but I prefer to sit at the bar anyway. Here are some other suggestions:

Le Coq au Vin This is a French place located in south Orlando that's been around for about 30 years. Very good food and wine.

Chez Vincent Another nice French place located in Winter Park, just north of the Orlando city limits (close to the Ravenous Pig) This place has been around well over 10 years.

Bosphorous A Turkish restaurant with good food - a little pricey, but good. It's maybe 3 or 4 years old, not exactly sure.

Enzo's Upscale Italian, beautiful setting on a lake, great food. Been around for probably 20+ years.

K Restaurant & Wine Bar This place has good food, probably similar to New Heights although I think New Heights is better. I think it was better before the economy went south, but I would not hesitate to recommend it. Sit at the wine bar and order apps.

Logan's Bistro A nice little bistro not too far from downtown Orlando.

Shin Jung Korean Sorry for the Yelp link, but these guys don't have a website. The address, etc. should be there. This is a small Korean restaurant with good food. You can also walk along Colonial Drive in this area and within a few blocks find a dozen of so independent Vietnamese restaurants - some are probably even good :angry:.

Black Bean Deli OK, this is my favorite goto Cuban place. It is not much more than a food cart permanently attached to the ground. There are only a few seats inside and they only serve lunch - primarily take-out. But the food is great, very authentic Cuban food made by Cubans. They don't have a website, but hey, give em credit for setting up a myspace page.

As far as seafood goes, I hesitate to recommend anything. Straub's used to be pretty good way back when, but I'm not so sure now. You would think being in Central Florida, good seafood would be easy to come by. A lot of the places mentioned above usually have a seafood dish or two on the menu that are far better than I've been able to get at a dedicated seafood restaurant. There's a great place on the intracoastal waterway north of St. Augustine called Caps, but that's a good 2 hrs away. There are a couple of seafood places at the Port of Canaveral that aren't too bad and the fish is usually fresh since they're located right at the docks ... plus it's interesting watching the activity at the port.

If anyone's interested in some redneck dives, let me know!

#46 MMM

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 09:48 PM

We flew in and out of Orlando a week ago while staying on the coast. On the way back to the airport we drove through Kissimmee and had a delicious lunch at Jerusalem Restaurant there. It's a little family-run place, a little dark, but the food is fresh and very good. If you're in that area, do give it a try.

#47 winger1930

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 01:17 PM

Just stopped through Orlando this past week while being trapped in Tampa due to the weather up here. Went to Mama Nems' for dinner after a day at SeaWorld (feed the dolphins - it's worth it!). Mama Nems' is exactly the type of food that you want to eat after going to upscale restaurants and just crave a home cooked meal. Not the best food EVER, not revolutionary, but just solid soul food.

For dinner, we did their main with three sides deal. The wife had fried chicken with red beans and rice, fried green tomatoes, and cheesy grits. The fried chicken was two thighs and a leg, well fried and seasoned - perfectly crispy on the outside, with not too much batter. The sides were good - fried green tomatoes were a little bland but the red beans and rice were rich and tasty. I had the smothered pork chops with fried okra, mac and cheese and collard greens. I was eying the oxtail (and should have gotten it!), and the pork chops were good, but not great. The pork chop was fried, then "smothered" in brown gravy. Nothing special, but the okra was great. Not slimy at all, and nice a crispy. Mac and cheese was standard and the collards were nice and smoky. Got a slice of red velvet cake to go, which had walnuts in it, so I didn't taste it. We walked out of there for around $30.

The location of this place is NOT really tourist friendly. It is relatively close to Universal, but you really need to hop in a rental car to get there. When I was in Orlando for business a couple years ago and took a cab to this place, we got stranded there trying to get home. No cabs in the area, and if it wasn't for the cops (who were also eating there) who literally pulled over a cab just so we could get in it, we would have been stuck there waiting 40 minutes for a cab to arrive. They seem to do a very healthy take-out business and very much seem to be a locals only type of joint.

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#48 astrid

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Posted 17 March 2010 - 08:58 PM

I've been lurking in DR for a couple months, but a fantastic meal at the Ravenous Pig prompted me to post. I was in Orlando recently and tried both Seasons 52 and the Ravenous Pig. Seasons 52 was okay. TPR was on a completely different level, comparable to any meal I had in DC.

I liked the flatbreads at Seasons 52 (they were almost as good as what I recently had at Willow) and liked the shotglass dessert options. The appetizers were a bit disappointing, decent but I'd say just a step above Bone Fish Grill. The entrees were serious disappointments. My dinner companion ordered crab stuffed shrimp and they tasted like cheap crabcakes. I ordered a duck and romaine lettuce salad, the first dozen bites were good but then the overly sweet dressing (seasoned with Splenda to keep under the 475 calorie?) became really cloying. The service was good. The atmosphere was very nice, with comfy seating and somewhat Balinese decor.

The food at Ravenous Pig was much better. What amazed me was the quantity and quality of the food we got for our money. All the dishes were intriguing to read about, looked great, were generously portioned, and tasted delicious. They were really consistent. All hits, not misses (except for the "interesting" bacon flavored old fashion that I ordered, but that was my fault).

Standouts for me were the Guyere biscuits (as fluffy and buttery as any southern biscuit, with veins of Guyere), the truffled fries (a beer glass full of shoestring fries smelling like heaven), the shrimp & grits, and the grilled octopus. We ordered so much appetizers that we didn't have any room for entrees or desserts, but they looked very good as well. The service was attentive and friendly, even though the restaurant was jammed pack.

I would highly recommend reservations for both places. Otherwise you might be looking at hour+ wait to be seated.

#49 Joe H

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Posted 18 March 2010 - 10:42 AM

I've been lurking in DR for a couple months, but a fantastic meal at the Ravenous Pig prompted me to post. I was in Orlando recently and tried both Seasons 52 and the Ravenous Pig. Seasons 52 was okay. TPR was on a completely different level, comparable to any meal I had in DC.

I liked the flatbreads at Seasons 52 (they were almost as good as what I recently had at Willow) and liked the shotglass dessert options. The appetizers were a bit disappointing, decent but I'd say just a step above Bone Fish Grill. The entrees were serious disappointments. My dinner companion ordered crab stuffed shrimp and they tasted like cheap crabcakes. I ordered a duck and romaine lettuce salad, the first dozen bites were good but then the overly sweet dressing (seasoned with Splenda to keep under the 475 calorie?) became really cloying. The service was good. The atmosphere was very nice, with comfy seating and somewhat Balinese decor.

The food at Ravenous Pig was much better. What amazed me was the quantity and quality of the food we got for our money. All the dishes were intriguing to read about, looked great, were generously portioned, and tasted delicious. They were really consistent. All hits, not misses (except for the "interesting" bacon flavored old fashion that I ordered, but that was my fault).

Standouts for me were the Guyere biscuits (as fluffy and buttery as any southern biscuit, with veins of Guyere), the truffled fries (a beer glass full of shoestring fries smelling like heaven), the shrimp & grits, and the grilled octopus. We ordered so much appetizers that we didn't have any room for entrees or desserts, but they looked very good as well. The service was attentive and friendly, even though the restaurant was jammed pack.

I would highly recommend reservations for both places. Otherwise you might be looking at hour+ wait to be seated.

There are now two Seasons 52 in Orlando and both are inconsistent. I've been back to the original perhaps 9 or 10 times since my last post above in '06. I continue to love the flatbreads (especially chicken and garlic; a shrimp one was good, too) and cedar planked salmon. I actually refuse to believe that many of the dishes are under 475 calories-especially the flatbreads. A bit better than Bonefish is probably a good analogy for most dishes. Still, I really like the layout and the ambience. Overall, it's not as good as, say Rock Creek here but it just works for me. Travelling to Orlando a couple of times a year for business and dining alone it is just perfect. I must also note that having been in five or six Seasons 52's and having heard 15 or 20 piano players I find something of a correlation to how much I enjoy the restaurant and how good/bad the piano player is. Most Seasons 52 also get an older crowd at the bar, I think-usually 30-45+.

I still wish there was one here.

I'll try the Ravenous Pig on a visit this spring.

#50 jiveturk21

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Posted 18 March 2010 - 11:10 AM

I liked the flatbreads at Seasons 52 (they were almost as good as what I recently had at Willow) and liked the shotglass dessert options.

100% agree with this assessment, these were clearly the two best things about Seasons 52 when I stopped by for lunch last Friday. I wish that more and more places would have dessert options like this as opposed to an $8+ dessert that is enough to feed four people. I am generally a glutton, but there is something to be said for having options that don't cost a lot or push my stomach to its limits.

Actually, let me correct myself, the absolute best thing about my trip there last week was the bartender, Sarai, who turned my three hour liquid lunch into a great time.





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