Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café
Address205 E. 1st St.
CitySanford
Phone407-321-2204
Price$$

Voted the second best German restaurant in the U.S. but readers of GermanDeli.com for 2009. (Bavarian Grill of Plano, Texas, was number one; go figure.) I don't know if I'd go that far, but I'm prepared to call it the best German restaurant in Central Florida.

Although the surroundings leave something to be desired, there’s good German food to be had here. Have a schnitzel, or the sausage platter, but beware: it’s a lot of food.

The place is especially festive Thursdays through Sundays when there is entertainment. Oom-pah-pah!

... 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.

 

... Read more
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.

Read more
Kings
Address8255 S. International Drive
CityOrlando
Phone407-363-0200
Price$$
Scott's Review
Kings is smaller than Splitsville, and is spread out over one floor. It occupies a space on International Drive that used to be a Gooding’s grocery store. So now there are alleys instead of aisles. Although there are a couple of private rooms with their own lanes for party groups, most of Kings' 22 lanes are grouped together. You may not notice them at first because there are so many ultra large television screens hanging over them. Hope you’re not easily distracted as you try to roll the ball to his that sweet spot that will knock all 10 pins down. Also like Splitsville -- there’s really no way to do this without comparing; we’re talking about a genre here -- Kings strives to offer its guests more than your average old-style bowling alley food. I can still taste reheated frozen pizzas from my youth eaten with the same fingers that had just been placed in the holes on the balls where so many other fingers had been. And this was the pre-Purell era. But I digress. Kings’ menu is extensive (perhaps too much so). It has sandwiches and wraps, it has burgers, it has pizzas, it has sliders (different from burgers), it has salads and it has steak, chicken and seafood entrees. What... Read more
Mango's Tropical Cafe
Address8126 International Drive
CityOrlando
Phone407-673-4422
Price$$$
Scott's Review
Don't pay much attention to the cafe designation. This is mainly a nightclub with elaborate (and good) entertainment. You basically come here for the show and to have drinks. The food might help alleviate the affects of the latter.... Read more
Ocean Prime
Address7339 W. Sand Lake Road
CityOrlando
Phone407-781-4880
Price$$$$
Scott's Review

An upscale seafood (Ocean) and steak (Prime) supper club (live music) in the vein of The Oceanaire Seafood Room. The main dining room features warm wood walls with huge five-foot portholes that look through to the lounge area. (The dining room has its own bar for more intimate imbibing, a nice touch.) Touches of blue neon and a soft glow from drumlike light fixtures offer romantic notes, and white tablecloths and candles with frosted shades add a touch of elegance.

A “surf n turf” appetizer had lovely sea scallops and boneless short ribs plopped together in a smallish bowl with way too mashed potatoes. Good scallops, good ribs, bad presentation.

Onion soup was distinguished by a near lack of broth under heavy cheese; she-crab soup had a slight astringency and was not nearly as rich as it should have been.

Service was professional and thorough, and once the kitchen makes the right improvements, Ocean Prime will be a good choice.


... Read more
Pat O'Brien's
AddressCityWalk
Universal Orlando
CityOrlando
Phone407-224-3663
Price$$
The facade is a remarkable replication of the famous Pat O'Brien's in New Orleans. Food is better than average, especially the jambalaya. This is more of a place to come for the rollicking piano music and the drinks, especially the renowned hurricane, served in the hurricane glass. Careful about the specialty drinks -- with most you're also purchasing a souvenir glass. Ask about your options if you'd rather just have the liquor without the glassware.... Read more
Raglan Road
Address1640 Buena Vista Drive
Disney Springs
CityLake Buena Vista
Phone407-938-0300
Price$$$
Scott's Review

You’ll find traditional music, familiar ales and even genuine fittings from old bars in Ireland, but the food is an updated version of Irish classics, some a bit highfalutin.

For example, we started our dinner with a seared scallop on a mint and pea puree. Just saying the words mint and pea puree will get you thrown out of most pubs in Dublin. But it was tasty, as was the potato and asparagus soup, lighter and smoother than you'd expect.

The next course was shepherd's pie, but as I said before, things aren't done in a traditional way at Raglan Road, and this was certainly the oddest shepherd's pie I've seen. Here, the ground meat mixed with gravy was dolloped onto a large spoon with a little mashed potatoes piped on top. It was a little more than one should shove into one's mouth all at once, but there wasn't quite enough to reallly get a feel for the flavor.

Whatever you have for dinner be sure to have the bread pudding for dessert. And the house band, which performs nightly, will make you want to get up and dance without moving your arms.

... Read more