|Address||7760 W. Sand Lake Road|
(at Dr. Phillips Boulevard)
Roy’s was one of the first to take up residence on Restaurant Row. In fact, I hadn’t dubbed Sand Lake Road Restaurant Row yet! This is a chain, albeit an upscale one, founded by Hawaiian chef Roy Yamaguchi (but now owned by OSI, the Outback Steakhouse people). It features Yamaguchi’s signature style of Hawaiian fusion cuisine.
The chef/managing partners are given a certain leeway to make changes to the menu, although some items are kept constant and can be found at any of the 33 Roy’s restaurants. These dishes, “Roy’s classics,” were among the best things I sampled on my recent visits.
One was the surfah combo, which combined a macadamia nut-crusted mahi mahi with a serving of seared golden sea bass. The mahi mahi was the better of the two, a beautiful fillet, thick and moist, served with a rich lobster butter sauce. The seabass, a little hard-crusted, was paired with a truffled herb pistou, which, my server volunteered without being asked, means pesto.
I also liked the chive seared U-10 sea scallops, sufficiently large, as the U-10 designation would suggest, but soft and buttery with a velvety texture. The scallops were well complemented with a Thai chil... Read more
|Address||80 Colonial Center Parkway|
In the days following Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans, Ruth’s Chris accelerated its plan to move the chain’s headquarters to Central Florida. Subsequently, it opened this location – it’s third in the area – as a sort of flagship. There has never been any question about the quality of the food, especially the signature steaks. But beware the servers’ attempts to upsell. They can be persuasive and, on some occasions, deceptive. Other locations include: 610 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park; 407-622-2444; and 7501 W. Sand Lake Road, Orlando; 407-226-3900.... Read more
|Address||7724 W. Sand Lake Road|
I was first heartened that this was going to be a good situation when my lunch companion ordered the chicken vindaloo and the server did not ask if he wanted it mild, medium or hot, as the servers in too many Indian restaurants do. Some dishes supposed to be hot and some should be mild.
That said, the only odd thing about our respective dishes is that the “medium” chana masala was spicier than the “hot” chicken vindaloo, though neither was scorch the earth hot. But both were good. The gravies were thick and the seasonings were layered rather than jumbled. The vindaloo was a classic goan style curry with subtle sweet notes hidden behind the fire. The chana masala, a vegetarian dish with chickpeas as the main ingredient, featured a red-tinged brown curry with onions, ginger and coriander, among myriad other ingredients.... Read more
|Address||7700 Sand Lake Road|
Second location at 463 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs (in front of Altamonte Mall); 407-767-1252. Darden’s latest concept works on a number of levels, thanks to the hard work of manager George Miliotes, executive chef Clifford Pleau and their talented staffs.
The original conceit of the restaurant was that something somewhere was coming into season every week of the year. The kitchen has sort of gotten away from following that too closely, but continues to offer entrees with lots of flavor but fewer calories. Forget about the food being healthfully prepared, you won’t notice a difference when you taste the grilled pork with polenta or the filet mignon. If you start feeling too goody-goody, go crazy and order all the mini desserts. The wine list here – which includes a large number of by-the-glass selections - is especially impressive.
Despite coming from the same company that brought you the Olive Garden and Red Lobster chains, Seasons 52 is more upscale and casually elegant -- there is even a piano player in the bar area many evenings. And just to drive home the point that adults are the target audience, Seasons 52 keeps no highchairs or booster seats on ... Read more
|Address||7533 W. Sand Lake Road|
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