1921 by Norman Van Aken
Address142 E. 4th Ave.
CityMount Dora
Phone352-385-1921
Price$$$$
Scott's Review
This highly anticipated restaurant from one of Florida’s most celebrated chefs is, to be a bit trite, a feast for the senses. The restaurant occupies an old house, built circa 1921, across the street from the Modernism Museum in the quaint downtown. In partnership with the museum and Main Street Leasing, which is listed as the “presenter” of the museum, 1921 becomes part of the artistic complex that also includes the museum’s shop (every museum has to have a shop), which shares an adjoining patio with the restaurant.... Read more
Antonio’s La Fiamma
Address611 S. Orlando Ave.
(US Highway 17-92)
CityMaitland
Phone407-645-1035
Price$$$
Scott's Review

When Greg Gentile opened this massive two-story restaurant in a renovated family steakhouse, everyone thought he was crazy and that the place would close in one year. That was about two decades ago. Why did it succeed? Simple: good food, good service and an atmosphere for everyone; fine dining upstairs and a casual deli down.

The best dish I sampled is the anitra con rosmarino all'agrodolce, which I'm sure you know is roast duck. The duck meat, free of bones, was moist and tender. Spit roasting gives it a terrific flavor, but to enhance the taste, there's a wonderful sauce of balsamic vinegar, rosemary and maple syrup (yes, maple syrup). The syrup isn't overpowering and the flavors are just meant for each other.

The downstairs deli is a wonderful place for friends to meet. It's cramped, with tables set up throughout the market area, but it adds to the atmosphere.

... Read more
B.B. King’s Blues Club
Address9101 International Drive
Pointe Orlando
CityOrlando
Phone407-370-4550
Price$$
Scott's Review

You can expect to chow down on Southern comfort foods, signature items from Memphis, the Mississippi delta and the bayous of Louisiana.

Well, OK, not all of it is authentically Southern, such as the nachos, unless you’re talking south of the border. My guest and I had put ourselves in the hands of the chef who sent out this massive mound of chips and cheese and other accouterments, including pulled pork. The chips were surprisingly crispy, and there were plenty of toppings.

However, I preferred the platter of fried dill pickles, smallish but crisp, and the meaty barbecued ribs with a sweetish sauce.

Better still was the bowl of gumbo ya ya, with smoked chicken, andouille sausage, crawfish and peppers in a roux as dark as the bayou.

For my entree I had the chicken fried chicken, a meaty breast with a jacket of buttermilk breading topped with pan gravy and accompanied by macaroni and cheese.

There's also good live entertainment, including the 10-person B.B. King house band. Don't expect to see the blues legend himself too often, however: even when he's performing in town he isn't obligated to stop in.

... Read more
Bice
AddressPortofino Bay
5601 Universal Blvd.
CityOrlando
Phone407-503-1415
Price$$$$
Scott's Review

Dinner at Bice is not an inexpensive night out. But when you consider cost vs. quality, you’ll find that Bice is not overpriced.

Just consider the restaurant’s signature dish, ravioli stuffed with beef short ribs and spinach. The pasta was delicately thin and tender, and the braised meat inside had a rich, fatty mouthfeel that blossomed with the sauce of mushrooms and Marsala wine. Absolute heaven.

Or another from the list of primi piatti, big, fat tortellini filled with spinach and ricotta and dressed with a sauce of butter and sage.

From the secondi my companion had the scalloppine di vitello, flattened medallions of veal sauteed with a darkly rich mushroom sauce and served with a timbale of potatoes similar to a potatoes Anna dish.

I chose a special of the evening that featured sea bass in parchment. Enclosed inside the envelope with zucchini, yellow squash, red and green peppers, and a few salty olives, the fish took on all the vegetable flavors while maintaining a fresh and moist texture. The taste was buttery and absolutely delicious.

Desserts are worth lingering over.

... Read more
Big Fin Seafood Kitchen
Address8046 Via Dellagio Way
Dellagio Town Center
CityOrlando
Phone407-615-8888
Price$$$
Scott's Review
There has been a change in ownership, but the original chef, James Slattery, remains. (He's also one of the new owners.) Quality of the seafood is first rate, the atmosphere fun and casual.... Read more
Bonefish Grill
Address7830 W. Sand Lake Road
CityOrlando
Phone407-355-7707
Price$$$
Bonefish is one of those restaurants that "gets it." It offers a good product at a fair price in a pleasant atmosphere. Nothing fancy, nothing overblown but a consistently good dining experience. New location at 5463 Gateway Village Circle, Orlando,FL 32812
Phone: 407-816-6355.... Read more
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.

... 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.

... Read more
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