Red Wing Restaurant
Address12500 State Road 33
CityGroveland
Phone352-429-2997
Price$$
Scott's Review

If you’re looking for “old Florida,” you can’t get much older than Red Wing Restaurant. For over 60 years the stone building, which at one time was a private home, has served as a meeting place for Lake County growers, farmers, truckers and others. It’s the sort of place where you might find a boothful of grimy construction workers next to a table with a family with children and not far away a couple on a date.

But you will find some obscure menu items. It isn’t often that you see Buffalo fried frog legs. Even less frequently will you hear me say they were really good. The appetizer featured three haunches, each with plenty of meat, deep-fried and tossed with a hot sauce, a la Buffalo wings, except there was more meat on the legs than you’ll ever find on a chicken wing.

And if fried frog legs don’t appeal to you, or even if they do, you might want to try the fried dill pickles. Why this delicacy is seen so seldom I don’t know. But usually they’re served as dill chips. Here they’re long spears with enough surface area to hold the light batters and even substance to give a good, salty crunch.

Fried green tomatoes had a crisp breading with firm fruit inside.... Read more

Restaurant Marrakesh
AddressEpcot
Walt Disney World
CityLake Buena Vista
Phone407-939-3463
Price$$$
Let's face it: more people go here for the belly dancers than for the food. The food is just OK -- without the entertainment it would be a lot less appealing. The menu features Moroccan and Middle Eastern specialties, such as roast lamb meshoui, couscous with a variety of meats or vegetables, fish tagine, and shish kebab. (For most people, it will be the first time they've ordered a shish kebab that costs nearly 28 bucks.) The Royal Feast, a table d'hote for $42.95 per person, offers a six-course menu with a variety of flavors. If you're really hungry, that's the way to go.... Read more
Tapa Toro
Address8441 International Drive
CityOrlando
Phone407-226-2929
Price$$
Scott's Review
Amid the myriad chains and franchises that are populating the area around the Orlando Eye attraction, an independent restaurant is a welcome find. And that it offers very good food and a fun dining experience makes it all the better. Tapa Toro comes to us from Vassilis and Katerina Coumbaros, who also own Taverna Opa at nearby Pointe Orlando, one of my favorite Tourist World recommendations. Opa, of course, is the Greek restaurant where every evening is a raucous party of napkins tossed in the air to buoyant balalaika music and belly dancing atop the tables. At Tapa Toro the theme is Spanish and the music flamenco, and here the napkins stay in the lap and the clacking heels of the dancers punish only the floor.... Read more
Taverna Opa
AddressPointe Orlando
9101 International Drive
CityOrlando
Phone407-351-8660
Price$$$
Scott's Review

This is not a place for a nice, quiet, romantic dinner, unless you consider a sound level louder than Hard Rock Café and dancing on top of a table with a scantily clad belly dancer to be romantic.However, the noise level heightens only after 7 pm when the entertainment begins.

But it’s not all ambience here. The food is surprisingly good. There are the usual items: domades, moussaka, pastitsio and the like. But you’ll also find more unusual things, such as lamb ribs, Greek country sausages, taramosalata, and a house-made yogurt that is crazy good. Don’t come here if you’re in a bad mood. On second thought, do, it’ll cheer you up, and you’ll have good food besides.

... Read more
Vanbarry's Public House
Address4120 S. Orange Ave.
CityOrlando
Phone407-704-8881
Price
Scott's Review
From the same people who own Finnhenry's in downtown Orlando and Ollie's Public House in College Park, Vanbarry's succeeds because it doesn't overreach. It does not promise to be more restaurant than it can produce, and so expectations aren't elevated. I don't mean to damn it with faint praise because it does do some things quite nicely. The burger, for instance, and the Vanbarry's Bacon Jam Burger in particular. It was a thick and juicy patty served on a kaiser roll (you can have a pretzel roll if you prefer) with a modest leaf of lettuce and a couple of pickles and tomato slice. There were plenty of blue cheese crumbles and the bacon jam, though not as good as actual bacon, gave a nice smoky note. Multiple napkins were necessary in the eating. The burger came with stack of nicely seasoned and meaty fries. The Mac & Cheese Skillet was excellent. The creamy mix included lots of bits of prosciutto for some saltiness. I ate more of it than I really intended to.... Read more
Victoria & Albert’s
AddressDisney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Walt Disney World
CityOrlando
Phone407-939-3862
Price$$$$$
Scott's Review

Quite simply one of the best restaurants in the Southeast, headed by talented chef Scott Hunnel, winner of the 2008 Sante magazine Culinary Professional of the Year award. This is haute cuisine, and dinner here is a delight. The menu changes frequently but is prix fixe with multiple choices. This may be the last restaurant in Florida to require gentlemen to wear jackets. (Also, children under 10 are not permitted in the dining room -- yes, this is a Disney restaurant.)

V&A recently received its 10th AAA five-diamond rating, that guidebook's highest honor. Only 52 of the 60,000 North American restaurants rated by AAA achieves five-diamond status. Only two other Florida restaurants - l'Escalier and the Restaurant at the Four Seasons, both in Palm Beach -- have the top honor.

For a truly special treat try to snag the chef's table. It's a mulitple course feast (I lost count at 15) that can easily last four and a half hours.

A new offering -- a third option -- is the Queen Victoria Room, features tableside service from a menu separate from the dining room but priced the same as the chef's table, $200 per person plus $95 for the optional wine pairings.  A b... Read more

Vines Grille & Wine Bar
Address7533 W. Sand Lake Road
CityOrlando
Phone407-351-1227
Price$$$$
Scott's Review

It would be almost enough to go here to sit at the bar, sip a glass of wine and eat strips of bacon while listening to live jazz. (Instead of salty peanuts they put rashers of crispy bacon on the bar here.)

On my first visit to Vines I dined in the main room. I sampled the onion soup, a hearty bowl of beefy broth topped with stringy cheese. For my entree I had the braised beef short rib, oh-so-tender meat that had long given up the bone, served with polenta infused with blue cheese and Brussels sprouts roasted with bacon. (They love bacon in this joint.)

On another visit, I decided to make a feast of a couple of appetizers while sitting at the bar. I selected the steak tartare and seared day boat scallops. The tartare looked as though it were a burger patty ready for the grill. It was surrounded by the usual accouterments, capers, onions, as well as hot sauce drizzled on the plate and a pile of salt. It was topped with a raw quail egg, cracked open and still in the shell. The bartender/server asked if I had ever had the tartare there before and I allowed as to how I had not. She made the suggestion that I blend everything together, the hot sauce and salt included... Read more

Waterfront
Address4201 S. Orange Ave.
CityOrlando
Phone407-866-0468
Price$$
Scott's Review
Formerly Julie's Waterfront. Julie's gone, but the divey atmosphere lives on, thank goodness. And there's still a great burger and cold beer to go with it. ... Read more