Hillstone (formerly Houston's)
Address215 S. Orlando Ave.
CityWinter Park
Phone407-740-4005
Price$$$
Scott's Review

For some reason, the parent company has decided to rename the restaurant Hillstone. Go figure. Hillstone/Houston's menu might be described as minimalistic. There are no appetizers to speak of, except for a couple of items under a category labeled this and that, which also includes side items. I did try the Chicago style spinach and artichoke dip, your basic dip served with tortilla chips. Although it is not listed on the menu, an appetizer portion of the barbecued ribs entree is also available. This included a half-slab of tender ribs with a slightly sweet barbecue sauce served on top of a mound of fries.

Most entrees include a salad, and the salads were huge. The basic salad featured a large plate of fresh, crisp greens topped with chopped eggs, grated cheese and big bits of crumbled bacon. The mustard honey house dressing was wonderful.

I also sampled a salad of seared tuna and field greens, which could easily serve as an entree. The sushi-grade tuna was seared on the outside and raw inside. The bite-size cubes were placed alongside a pile of exotic greens, which also included fresh avocado, drizzled with a cilantro-ginger vinaigrette.

The b... Read more

Hollywood Brown Derby
AddressDisney's Hollywood Studios
Walt Disney World
CityOrlando
Phone407-939-3463
Price$$$$
Scott's Review

Fashioned after the original restaurant in Los Angeles, HBD is worthy of a better dressed crowd than the t-shirted masses from the theme park, but there's no getting around that. A must-have here is the Cobb salad, which was an invention of the owner of the original Derby.

I started my lunch with sweet Zellwood corn chowder, which also had bits of applewood smoked bacon. It was a large bowl -- whether it was worth nine bucks is up for debate -- and the kernels of corn still had a nice bit of crunch. I would have liked to have seen some more bacon, and the drizzle of ancho chili oil on the top, which resembled something like an oil slick, didn't add a lot, but overall it was a nice chowder.

The original Brown Derby is where the Cobb salad was invented. It was the creation of former Derby owner Bob Cobb (you’d think he’d go by Robert, wouldn’t you?), who whipped up the salad as a late-night snack for a Hollywood VIP back in the '30s. The story goes that there wasn’t much in the fridge the night the bigwig came in so Cobb just chopped up what he could find. It’s the chopping that defines a Cobb today. Here the Cobb has greens, turkey breast, egg, bacon, tomatoes, bl... Read more

Hook & Reel
Address7480 W. Colonial Drive
CityOrlando
Phone407-801-5223
Price$$
Scott's Review
A fun little seafood place with a Louisiana accent. Signature entree is a sort of seafood boil served in a large, poofed up plastic bag. Bibs and gloves are provided, so get as messy as you'd like... Read more
House of Blues
Address1490 Buena Vista Drive
CityLake Buena Vista
Phone407-934-2583
Price$$$
Scott's Review

Its the House of Blues, a boisterous boite that celebrates the diversity and brotherhood of world culture and promotes racial and spiritual harmony through love, peace, truth, righteousness and non-violence. But despite a mission statement that makes it sound like the lunchroom at the United Nations, this is actually a themed restaurant that serves up rhythm, blues and soul and not so incidentally surprisingly good food, most of it rooted in a New Orleans style.

What's surprising about it is that everything is of good quality, prepared and presented with the sort of gourmet flair you'd expect from a fine dining establishment, not a place that is made to look like a juke joint.

Menu highlights include a smoked double-cut pork chop, etouffe and Cajun meat loaf. For appetizers, the Mississippi catfish bites are pretty tasty.

The bread pudding is a must. The Sunday gospel brunch, which features an all-you-can-eat buffet,  is an inspirational treat.

 

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Hungry Pants
Address3421 S. Orange Avenue
CityOrlando
Phone407-412-6300
Price$$
Scott's Review
Quick-serve restaurant for the "plant curious" – many vegetarian/vegan dishes but with options to add animal protein.... Read more
Iron Cow Cafe
Address2438 E. Robinson St.
CityOrlando
Phone
Price$
Scott's Review
Iron Cow is rather a large place that in early evening hours (it opens most days at 6 p.m.) it looks like a big empty warehouse with a bar and kitchen set up on one side. Indeed, the business' own description calls it "a modern industrial warehouse merging food, beverage and music..." (Nothing comes after the ellipses, so I don't know what we're to infer from them.)... Read more
Jack’s Place
Address9700 International Drive
Rosen Plaza Hotel
CityOrlando
Phone407-996-1787
Price$$$
Scott's Review

Chef Michael McMullen has reenergized this upscale dining room with a new menu. Favorites include spicy shrimp and grits, maple horseradish mustard crusted baby rack of lamb, and cedar plank roasted sea bass. Service is among the best in town. The highlight of the dining room is the array of celebrity caricatures that cover the walls. They were done by Jack Rosen, father of hotelier Harris Rosen (hence the name of the restaurant), when he was employed by the Waldorf Astoria in New York.

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Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville
AddressCityWalk
Universal Orlando
CityOrlando
Phone407-224-2155
Price$$
As you stand in line at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville to get your beeper, which you'll carry with you as you wait even longer for your table, you might be reminded of the lyrics ``Wastin' away again in Margaritaville .''

No, you definitely will be reminded of those lyrics, because if you spend more than 20 minutes in the restaurant you're sure to hear them. Heck, you could spend 20 minutes just trying to get a drink at the bar.

The theme here is the music of Jimmy Buffett and his parrothead paradise. Sorry, I don't know why his fans are called parrotheads. And I probably missed a lot of the insider jokes and other references to his songs that I'm unfamiliar with. The upstairs bar, for example, is probably called the 12-volt bar for some reason.

I have only a Top-40 knowledge of his songs. I enjoy his music, though two straight hours of it can be a bit much. I do know that many of his songs are either themed on food and drink, or contain references to them. So that part lends itself well to a restaurant theme. And the Key Westiness and island atmosphere of his songs add to the decor.

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