Be Our Guest
AddressMagic Kingdom Drive
CityOrlando
Phone407939-3463
Price$$$$
Scott's Review
Thankfully, the song from "Beauty and the Beast" for which the restaurant Be Our Guest is named doesn’t play over the sound system as often as I had feared. “Beauty and the Beast,” you may be aware, is set in France, so therefore the new restaurant has a French flavor, though it doesn’t adhere hard and fast to Francocentric fare. The menu, under the direction of chef Michael Deardorff, might be described more as French influenced. And the food I tasted was very good. My tablemates and I started with a charcuterie platter of cured meats, sausages, cheeses, pates and a surprise or two. What appeared to be ripe olives under the dark lighting turned out to be plump, sweet cherries (and delicious ones at that). We also tried the mussels Provencal, which featured delicious liquor of white wine, butter and garlic but unfortunately small and tough mussel meats. There was also a wonderful salad of fresh -- and locally sourced -- green beans and tomatoes. Three out of the five entrees that I sampled were winners. I loved the pan-seared salmon, a beautiful reddish pink in the center, with a tender-firm texture, served on a creamy leek fondue. Note that during lunch hours the rest... Read more
Café De France
Address526 Park Ave. S.
CityWinter Park
Phone407-647-1869
Price$$$

Cafe de France is one of the long mainstays of Park Avenue, lasting through its slump in the '90s and into the avenue's current revival as one of the area's premier dining destinations. Locals love the quintness of its small dining room and the charm of its hostess and owner, Dominique Gutierrez

A renovation a few years ago converted the spot into a sophisticated bistro. The menu is less traditional French, but has some good points. Osso buco (hello? Italian!) was good, but the chef did a better job with the fish of the day. Calamari with fried potatoes was the best starter, and clafoutis a sweet end.

... Read more
Cafe Margaux
Address220 Brevard Ave.
CityCocoa
Phone321-639-8343
Price$$$

Cafe Margaux, a French restaurant in Cocoa, is an odd little place with delicious food. It wants to be an elegant restaurant, but it isn't, at least not one along the lines of a Victoria & Albert's or a Venetian Room. Let's just say its chic on a shoestring. But if the decor is a bit florid, the food is decidedly upscale, not really classic French, but with French tones that enhance a creative style. The best of the entrees was the melange of fresh fish, offered each evening as a sampler of the three fish specials. When I visited, the chef had prepared poached salmon, snapper with a potato crust and blackened dolphin. My guest liked the dolphin best because the blackening seasonings were perfectly balanced with the mild taste of the fish, giving just a bit of cayenne spiciness. I liked the crispiness of the shredded potato crust on the snapper. This is the sister restaurant to Ulysses' Steakhouse, also wonderful.

... Read more
Chez Vincent
Address533 W. New England Ave.
CityWinter Park
Phone407-599-2929
Price$$$
Scott's Review

Chez Vincent continues to serve classic French dishes in pleasant, if slightly worn, surroundings. Chef/owner Vincent Gagliano is a master with soup, and the coquille St. Jacques is one of the better seafood entrees. Steak au poivre is a good choice for a meat dish.

Chez Vincent’s waiters are mature and professional. I mention the maturity because it’s a welcome change from the working-my-way-through-college servers who seem to dominate the Winter Park restaurant scene. The waiters here allow the guests to dictate the pace of the meal.

If Chez Vincent has survived over the years it’s because there is an appreciation among Central Florida diners for a quiet place to enjoy a good, classically prepared meal.

If that’s true, there’s hope for aspiring restaurateurs out there, and, not incidentally, for all of us who will support them.

... Read more
DoveCote
Address390 N. Orange Avenue
CityOrlando
Phone407-930-1700
Price$$$
Scott's Review
Much has already been said about the impressive pedigrees of the partners in the venture. They include executive chef Clay Miller, whose resume includes stints at the estimable French Laundry and who was the opening executive chef and pastry chef at Norman’s at the Ritz Carlton; and Gene Zimmerman, owner of the downtown craft cocktail lounge The Courtesy, who oversees the front of the house operations for DoveCote, including its beverage program. The two of them are the co-owners, but Ravenous Pig’s James and Julie Petrakis are involved as advisers and investors. But one of the most impressive things about the new restaurant is the space itself. It has undergone a transformation that is, well, transformative. Occupying a corner of the imposing Bank of America building, the restaurant space has held many tenants over the years, all of which kept the same basic decor dominated by the cold, gray sandstone walls. That look and feel is fine for the bank across the lobby but hardly made for a comfortable dining atmosphere. The attached review has been updated.... Read more
La Crepe En Haut
Address142 E. Granada Blvd.
CityOrmond Beach
Phone386-673-1999
Price$$$$

The special occasion place on the coast can still be special. Prices are as haut as the name, but Dover sole and veal medallions with lobster are worth the cost. Have a cold buttered rum for dessert and let someone else drive home.

... Read more
Le Coq Au Vin
Address4800 S. Orange Ave.
CityOrlando
Phone407-851-6980
Price$$$
Scott's Review

Consistently one of the area’s finest restaurants, regardless of cuisine. New owners Sandy and Reimund Pitz are continuing the traditions of this venerable restaurant to serve some of the area's best food, regardless of cuisine type. The namesake dish is one of the best, but the menu changes with the seasons. In winter, the cassoulet is a treat.

I really like that Coq Au Vin offers half portions of most of its entrees. It's a smart thing both nutritionally and, in the current financial climate, economically. And the half portions here are ample enough to satisfy. There was plenty of lamb, duck, garlic sausage and pork in the dish, which was sprinkled with duck cracklings and bread crumbs.

Service was attentive without being fawning, and we were allowed to proceed at our own pace.

Le Coq Au Vin on Urbanspoon

... Read more
Les Chefs De France
AddressFrance Pavilion, Epcot
Walt Disney World
CityLake Buena Vista
Phone407-939-3463
Price$$$$

Most of the visitors to the signature restaurant in Epcot's France pavilion (Bistro de Paris, a smaller eatery, is upstairs) are oblivious to the fact that one of its owners is not only one of the most famous chefs in the world but is arguably its first celebrity chef.

Ironically, his name is not on the restaurant, Les Chefs de France. Even more ironic is that Paul Bocuse became famous because, in 1965, he was the first chef to put his name on his restaurant outside Lyons.

Before that, chefs were no more than hired kitchen help. Restaurants were owned by the maitre ‘d or the hotels where they were located.

So it could be said there would be no celebrity chefs, no show kitchens, no such thing as “Top Chef” and no one would give a flip what Gordon Ramsay had to say if Paul Bocuse hadn’t done what he did 44 years ago.

On a recent visit my guest and I started with two classics: cassoulette d’escargots de Bourgogne au beurre persille (translation: snails) and assiette campagnarde, an assortment of pates and charcuteries. The half-dozen snails were baked in a small casserole, each in its own impression, with garlic butter and parsely. They were firm but... Read more

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