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Christners dining room

I try to get to Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster about once a year to, you know, just make sure it’s still one of the best places in town for high quality steaks. It is.

On my most recent visit I was also able to introduce Christner’s to some friends who are new to town. I was able to tell them about the history – now celebrating its 29th year – and about its staying power – there are few independently owned steakhouses of this caliber still in operation, not just here but nationally – most, including Del Frisco’s, which was the original name of Christner’s, are owned by large chains.

But Christner’s is still owned and operated by actual Christner’s, including including Carol, original operator Russ’s widow, her son David and his wife, Alice, and, most recently, her daughter Diana Johnston.

And there seems to always be a Christner on hand, as well as many staff members who have been with the restaurant for years. They all make sure the consistency remains the same, which is to say excellent.

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 Bacan wine dinner

If you haven’t yet had the chance to experience the very good (and Michelin recommended) cuisine at Bacán – and impressive art gallery and sculpture garden of the Lake Nona Wave Hotel – here’s your chance. The restaurant is hosting a five-course wine dinner with pairings by Chilean winemaker Ventisquero. The dinner is Aug. 2 and features a welcome reception at 5:30 p.m.. Tickets are $200 plus tax and gratuity. Reservations made by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or calling 407-675-2000. (The menu is at the end of this article.)

The Community Paper’s Nick Georgoudiou reports that College Park restaurant PR’s Taco Palalce, which is not, and I can’t stress this enough, a real palace, is under new ownership and initiating changes. I’m not sure what they all are but a quick look at the website reveals that they now have clean restrooms. This is announced with an exclamation point, so it must be big news. Can’t wait to experience that (!).

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Magical Logo 22

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining, the popular annual restaurant promotion, returns this year, running from Aug. 26 through Oct. 3. During that time, participating restaurants will feature special three-course menus for a set price of $40.

Yep, even the cost of Magical Dining has gone up from last year’s $37; that’s an eight percent, so it’s roughly following inflation.

As in years past, Visit Orlando will donate one dollar from each Magical Dinner to a local charity (no inflational increase for them). This years beneficiary is The Able Trust, an organization helping to expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities. In addition, Visit Orlando will donate $2,000 to one local nonprofit in each of Orange County’s six commission districts that also supports workforce development.

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Plantees ext

Do you find it odd that a restaurant that bills itself as “100% Plant Based” would have artificial turf out front?

Maybe I should have taken that as an omen and fled from Plantees, a new fast fooder with a limited menu of meat-free items in the Mills 50 District.

Now before the die-hard vegans get poised to tap out a poison-pixel letter let me assure you this is not an anti-vegan review. In fact, I would love to introduce more plant-based foods into my diet. Obviously, someone in my profession can’t entirely eliminate animal products from his diet and still present a wide variety of restaurants for your consideration.

But on my nights off, those evenings when I don’t have to go to a restaurant, I’ve been striving to be more meatless (meatlesser?).

I was hoping to find the food at Plantees to be so good that it could offer a vegetarian option if I didn’t feel like cooking. I did not.

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Tartini Bruschetta

When I recently revisited Tartini Pizza & Spaghetteria, I was impressed with the improvements new owners Oleksandr Nechyporenko and Alvaro Ramirez, who is also the chef, had made. And I loved Ramirez’s creative take on Italian cuisine. His Chef’s Bruschetta is a perfect example.

Ramirez has taken something that is usually no more than chopped tomatoes and basil with olive oil on toast and taken it to new levels. For starters, forget the tomatoes and basil. Instead, he uses creamy herbed goat cheese, arugula and fresh peaches. He tops it with balsamic pearls that look like oversized caviar. The spherification process is included in the online version of the recipe for those who like to dabble in kitchen chemistry. But, Ramirez says, you can also just drizzle some balsamic vinegar for a workaround.

Click here to go to the recipe.