Hanamizuki
Address8255 International Drive
CityOrlando
Phone407-363-7200
Price$$$
Scott's Review

Hanamizuki's menu features Kyoto style cooking, which tends to be more elegant and formal than many of the dishes served in most American Japanese restaurants. It also focuses more on fresh vegetables and seafood other than sushi, although that is also a part of it and is available at Hanamizuki.

Don't be suprised to find a predominantly Japanese clientele here. No small wonder when the restuarant's Web site is written in Japanese (you can opt in to a translation).

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Hard Rock Café
AddressUniversal’s CityWalk
CityOrlando
Phone407-351-7625
Price$$$
Scott's Review

Orlando is the home of the corporate headquarters for HRC, so you’d expect the restaurant here to be superlative. And it is. It’s a massive structure, and I doubt the music plays any louder at another location. The food is basic, but more than passable.

Texas chili was a good chili, but I would hate to be there when it was served to a real Texan and he or she discovers beans in it. You can find chili in Texas with beans in it, but you'll probably also find the cook strung up out back.

Then there is the Tuscan chicken salad, which could just as easily have been named Tallahassee chicken salad, or Berlin chicken salad, or even world-class chicken salad because there certainly wasn't anything remotely Tuscan about it. OK, there were some slivers of salami and provolone cheese (which mostly comes from northern Italy, by the way) mixed in with mesclun greens, red peppers, mushrooms and asparagus. The greens were topped with cubes of grilled chicken and tossed with a red wine vinaigrette. Despite its geographical misplacement, it was a good salad.

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Hash House a Go Go
Address5350 International Drive
CityOrlando
Phone407-370-4646
Price$$
Scott's Review
The portions here are outsized and designed to impress, if not frighten and intimidate. Take, for example, the restaurant’s signature fried chicken and bacon waffle tower, which probably has more calories than the average adult male should eat in a week. (Excuse me, could you please pass the syrup?) Or the house version of eggs Benedict with smoked bacon, basted eggs, red pepper cream on a biscuit, all sitting atop mashed potatoes. When the food gets this big and ostentatious, one naturally braces oneself for the trade-off in quality. But Hash House delivers there, too. All of the food I tasted -- and I do mean tasted; I left a good deal of it on the plate -- was quite good, well prepared and evenly seasoned. ... Read more
Jack’s Place
Address9700 International Drive
Rosen Plaza Hotel
CityOrlando
Phone407-996-1787
Price$$$
Scott's Review

Chef Michael McMullen has reenergized this upscale dining room with a new menu. Favorites include spicy shrimp and grits, maple horseradish mustard crusted baby rack of lamb, and cedar plank roasted sea bass. Service is among the best in town. The highlight of the dining room is the array of celebrity caricatures that cover the walls. They were done by Jack Rosen, father of hotelier Harris Rosen (hence the name of the restaurant), when he was employed by the Waldorf Astoria in New York.

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Maggiano’s Little Italy
AddressPointe Orlando
9101 International Drive
CityOrlando
Phone407-241-8650
Price$$$

Maggiano’s Little Italy is the sort of place that makes restaurant critics cringe when they hear one is coming to town. One has come to Orlando. First, it’s immense. Then there’s the issue of it being Italian, which in itself is not a cringe producer. But when you’re talking about an Americanized version of Italian food, and then factor in the mass production of a large restaurant, you can just start to picture the plates of spaghetti with sauce from an institutional sized can with meatballs that bear more than a couple of similarities to an eight ball. And it’s loud. And it plays Frank Sinatra virtually nonstop.

But it's actually a lot of fun, and the food is decent.

So don’t let a critic’s jaded bias keep you away. Go with a group and order from the family style menu. Choose the pot roast for one of your choices, and have the tiramisu for dessert.

Maggiano's Little Italy on Urbanspoon

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Mango's Tropical Cafe
Address8126 International Drive
CityOrlando
Phone407-673-4422
Price$$$
Scott's Review
Don't pay much attention to the cafe designation. This is mainly a nightclub with elaborate (and good) entertainment. You basically come here for the show and to have drinks. The food might help alleviate the affects of the latter.... Read more
Nile Ethiopian Cuisine
Address7040 International Drive
(north of Sand Lake Road)
CityOrlando
Phone407-354-0026
Price$$
Scott's Review

Central Florida finally gets another chance to experience the wonderful world of Ethiopian cuisine. Don’t blow it this time! Wash your hands – you’ll be eating with them – and order an array of wat to sample. What? No, wat. It's a sort of stew, and wats are the most common dishes in an Ethiopian restaurant. These might include variations of beef or chicken, but pork is never served. There are a few seafood selections on Nile’s menu, but Ethiopia is a landlocked country and seafood dishes are not common. Vegetarian wat versions feature lentils or split peas. Ethiopian restaurants are wonderful places for vegetarians to dine as meatless meals are a big part of the country’s cultural heritage. If you feel lost, ask one of your gracious hosts to guide you.

Coffee is Ethiopia’s top commodity and the coffee ceremony is a big part of a traditional meal. The coffee service area occupies a space in the front of the dining room. The whole beans are roasted in a small metal saucepan while incense burns nearby. When the beans are roasted the pan is brought to the table and waved about so the guests can enjoy the aroma. Once the beans are ground and brewed, the coffee is poured from ... Read more

Oceanaire Seafood Room
AddressPointe Orlando
9101 International Drive
CityOrlando
Phone407-363-4801
Price$$$$
Scott's Review

The promise of a good seafood restaurant has sailed into Central Florida aboard The Oceanaire. The Oceanaire Seafood Room is meant to take you back in time, with its interior that suggests a 1930s ocean liner.

Sample some of the fresh fish selections after you enjoy the crab cake appetizer. On one visit, my companion had the wahoo, or ono, a mild fish similar to the mackerel. On another visit, there was a monkfish from Georges Bank. It had the characteristic texture that mimics lobster meat but was a thick steak cut with the center cord intact. Not the prettiest presentation, but quite good.

It’s a bit pricey, but quality is worth paying for.

The Oceanaire brand was recently purchased by the Landry's Seafood organization, but so far it seems the quality is being maintained.

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