1921 by Norman Van Aken
Address142 E. 4th Ave.
CityMount Dora
Phone352-385-1921
Price$$$$
Scott's Review
This highly anticipated restaurant from one of Florida’s most celebrated chefs is, to be a bit trite, a feast for the senses. The restaurant occupies an old house, built circa 1921, across the street from the Modernism Museum in the quaint downtown. In partnership with the museum and Main Street Leasing, which is listed as the “presenter” of the museum, 1921 becomes part of the artistic complex that also includes the museum’s shop (every museum has to have a shop), which shares an adjoining patio with the restaurant.... Read more
Cala Bella
AddressRosen Shingle Creek Resort
9939 Universal Blvd.
CityOrlando
Phone407-996-9939
Price$$$$
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.

... 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
Chatham’s Place
Address7575 Dr. Phillips Blvd.
CityOrlando
Phone407-345-2992
Price$$$$
Scott's Review

Chatham's Place has gone through some changes, and much more than the fact that there are no members of the Chatham family involved in the restaurant. That's not an issue; Louis Chatham, who served as executive chef, and his mother, Bettye, who ran the dining room in those first years, sold the operation years ago to Chatham's sous chef, Tony Lopez, the maitre d', Maurice Colindres, and a hostess, Carol Conwell. The three of them kept it going as strong as ever, perhaps stronger. It was clear that this was an operation of love for the three of them, and they worked together to make it a continued success.

Many of the dishes that became signatures back in Louis Chatham's days remain on the menu, including the Florida black grouper, which has been one of my favorite Central Florida entrees for many years. It features a fresh fillet, thick and white, lightly sauteed and topped with pecan butter and scallions, dusted with just a soupcon of cayenne pepper. The pecan butter places the dish firmly in the south and the pepper points it towards New Orleans. But with the use of Florida black grouper I think we can just claim this one as one of our native dishes, don't you?

... Read more
Christner's Prime Steak & Lobster
Address729 Lee Road
CityOrlando
Phone407-645-4443
Price$$$$
Scott's Review
As those who have lived in the area longer than five years know, Christner’s was originally known as Del Frisco’s Prime Steak & Lobster. It was not part of the Del Frisco’s Double Eagle chain, though both had the same origin. Long story short, now in operation for more than 25 years and one of the best steakhouses in Orlando.... Read more
Eddie V's
Address7488 Sand Lake Road
CityOrlando
Phone407-355-3011
Price$$$$
Scott's Review
This latest addition to the Darden collection of premium brands is sometimes said to be the seafood equivalent of that company's Capital Grille steakhouses. But that's not exactly right because Eddie V's, which does indeed to excellent seafood, also does a pretty good steak. In fact, Eddie V's serves prime beef while Capital Grille serves USDA choice. The atmosphere is elegant, like an old-timey Manhattan supper club. It's pricy, though, so be prepared to pay dearly for the quality.... Read more
Emeril's Tchoup Chop
Address6300 Hollywood Way
Royal Pacific Resort
CityOrlando
Phone407-503-2467
Price$$$$
Scott's Review
Emeril Lagasse's once-troubled restaurant has finally settled into a comfortable place with a slightly upscale vibe. New chef Ryan Vargas has revamped the menu and placed an emphasis on sushi and specialties from a newly installed robata grill. Standout entrees are the Szechuan pepper duck confit and the Sichimi spice mahi. Get the banana cream cream pie just to marvel and the sheer size of it.... Read more
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar Sand Lake Road
Address8030 Via Dellagio Way
CityOrlando
Phone407-352-5706
Price$$$$
The Restaurant Row Fleming's does a nice job with its steaks, but it has a big following for its happy hour, which includes a terrific burger at a killer price. Wines are a forte here, so spend a little of what you save on the bar snacks for something special from the grape.... Read more
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