Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
AddressCityWalk
Universal Orlando
CityOrlando
Phone407-903-0044
Price$$
Forrest Gump, in the movie of the same name, quotes his mother as saying that life was like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. The movie, you see, takes place in a time before candy companies started putting maps to their assortments on the inside lid.
Still, Mother Gump was wise in her way. So I can’t help but think that if she were to visit Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., a chain restaurant new to Universal’s CityWalk, her reaction might be: “Sometimes life is like a carton of frozen shrimp, you know exactly what you’re gonna get.”
There’s little to recommend here, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that the menu is dominated by what Bubba called "the fruit of the sea.” It isn’t quite as extensive as detailed in the movie when Bubba, in a memorable sequence, lists every possible way to cook and serve shrimp. “You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp Creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that's about it.”
He d... Read more
Bull & Bear
Address14200 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane
CityOrlando
Phone407-597-5500
Price$$$$
Scott's Review
The Orlando Waldorf Astoria was the first one to be built outside of Manhattan and it was the only one to have an edition of the original's Bull & Bear steakhouse. With the New York hotel and its restaurants currently closed for renovations, Orlando's Bull & Bear is the only one. (Rumors are that when the NYC hotel reopens, B&B will not.) And it offers a singular dining experience, one of the few remaining fine dining restaurants in town. Superb service, excellent food, elegant surroundings.... Read more
Café D’Antonio
Address691 Front St.
CityCelebration
Phone407-566-2233
Price$$$

A smaller version of Greg Gentile’s flagship restaurant, Antonio’s La Fiamma, Café d’Antonio is the consistently good restaurant for residents and visitors in Celebration.

My dining guest and I started the evening with the antipasti assortito for two, which featured an array of delicacies including bruschetta alla Romana, smoked salmon, sliced prosciutto, salami and cheese, and insalata ai frutti di mare.

The bruschetta was also quite good, toasted bread rounds topped with bright red chopped tomatoes seasoned with olive oil, garlic and sweet basil.

Its hard to say which of the entrees was my favorite; I enjoyed them all. But I especially liked the zuppa di pesce, a bountiful bowl of fish, squid, shrimp, scallops and lobster in a light broth served over linguine.

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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.

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Cala Bella
AddressRosen Shingle Creek Resort
9939 Universal Blvd.
CityOrlando
Phone407-996-9939
Price$$$$
Scott's Review

The food here is deliciously good, and the atmosphere is grandiloquent. But the prices are a bit steep, apparently geared toward the expense-accounted business traveler.

Seafood pescatore features a saffron seasoned fish stock tinged with tomato, with an abundance of seafood, including an Australian lobster tail, two impressively plump scallops, shrimp, clams and mussels. Under it all was a nest of fresh pappardelle pasta.

The al dente ribbons were part of my companion’s entrée of pappardelle ai bistecche, which was listed under the menu’s pasta heading, though in truth this was a steak dish. It featured 10 ounces of New York strip from Harris Ranch, cooked to a perfect medium-rare and sliced, the noodles piled on top with a sauce of mushrooms and tomato ragout. Quite nice.

We had started our meal with the mozzarella stuffed Bella meatballs, three bocce ball-sized orbs of moist ground meat braised in Barolo wine. The meatballs were more enjoyable than the calamari fritte, which was a little too damp.

Service was exceptional.

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California Grill
Address4600 N. World Drive
CityLake Buena Vista
Phone407-939-3463
Price$$$$
Scott's Review

After more than a dozen years at the top, literally and figuratively, California Grill is still one the Central Florida’s best restaurants. Much of the concept of California Grill has not changed over the years, and the menu still features, as it has for much of the time, flatbreads and sushi as well as more traditional appetizers. The menu supposedly changes daily, though with three weeks separating my two most recent visits, I noticed most of the changes were in the wording and ranking of ingredients rather than completely different entries.

Service is impeccable and exemplary of the best that Disney can offer. The wine list focuses, as it should, on California and other American cuvees.

The pork tenderloin remains a favorite, but the filet mignon is a contender for best entrée. Sushi from master chef Yoshi is a treat.

Of course the best feature remains the view through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the Seven Seas Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom. And at the appropriate hour the lights dim slightly and the music that accompanies the Magic Kingdom's fireworks display plays in the restaurant. It’s one of the best shows in town.

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Canvas
Address13615 Sachs Ave.
CityOrlando
Phone407-313-7800
Price$$$
Scott's Review
Lakeside dining from the Tavistock Restaurant Group. Most people head to the outdoor deck, but there's a much better dining experience to be had at the food counter overlooking the cooks at the grill.... Read more
Capital Grille
AddressPointe Orlando
9101 International Drive
CityOrlando
Phone407-370-4392
Price$$$$
Scott's Review

One of Darden Restaurants’ most recent acquisitions, and easily their most upscale. The steaks here are very good, and the service is attentive if not downright solicitous. I had the Delmonico, basically a bone-in ribeye, that was had a flavorful, well-seasoned crust and beautiful red center. The higher fat content of the cut made it juicy and tender.
My companion chose the Kansas City sirloin, offered as a special on the night I visited. Also a bone-in cut, the steak had a characteristically coarser texture but was cooked just as perfectly as the other and was every bit as flavorful.

Atmosphere is clubby and posh.

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