Things looked promising at the beginning of my visit to Burntwood Tavern, the Ohio based mini chain that recently opened in Orlando. My dinner companion and I stopped in to the rustically decorated restaurant, which occupies the former site of the similarly named Stonewood Grill & Tavern in the Dr. Phillips area. We started with an appetizer of Stuffed Jalapeños and were impressed with the quality. Unfortunately, everything that followed did not have the same quality....
|Address||5078 Dr. Phillips Blvd.|
Capital Grille Mall at Millenia
But the menu at Millenia is identical to the one that has been so popular at the Pointe. It’s the atmosphere that is different. It’s still sufficiently upscale and appointed with such fineries as crisp white tablecloths and napkins. But whereas the International Drive restaurant has the decidedly masculine feel of a boardroom or exclusive country club the Millenia location is brighter, more modern and less, well, stuffy. Old money versus nouveau riche.
The food is the same high quality as other CapGrilles, and service is just as forward....
|Address||4200 Conroy Road|
Mall at Millenia
I liked the food I sampled, although both my companion and I found some of the flavors to be a bit muted. Experientially, I found the dinner to be more utilitarian than exotic.
I had the falafel, the chickpea fritter-like concoction. The outside was very dark, though not burnt, from frying. The inside was greenish, presumably from the parsley mixed in. It was served with tahini for dipping, and I liked it all very much.
For my entree I chose the stuffed white cabbage, easily the best thing of the meal -- and I don’t usually say that about stuffed cabbage. The pungent leaves were rolled about a mixture of ground lamb, onions, garlic and seasonings, baked and topped with a tomato sauce.
Our server gamely humored us in our “how do you say in Turkish” queries and was ultimately charming and efficient.
Still, I couldn’t help but think that as Westerners we were there for a different reason than the other guests. We were looking for something exotic and unusual; they were looking for a familiar taste of home....
|Address||565 N. Semoran Blvd.|
This place has scared the hell out of me for nearly 29 years.
That’s how long I’ve been driving past it, usually as I turn left onto South Orange Blossom Trail from Michigan Street heading for the on-ramp to Interstate-4. It’s a route I’ve taken probably thousands of times. And most of those times I’ve been conscious of glancing at the freestanding boxy building with the yellow plastic sign across the top, just over the windows clad with metal bars, with the name China Palace Restaurant and a couple of Chinese characters.
Who goes there? I wondered. What must it look like inside? Do people really eat there? And then I’d turn my attention to the traffic ahead and gird myself for the only thing scarier, a drive on the moving hell that is I-4.
But like I said, I’ve been passing China Palace for almost 29 years, ever since I moved to Central Florida to begin reviewing restaurants. Nearly three decades in a town of fickle diners. A new question began to needle me: How has it lasted so long?
We’re in the midst of the Lunar New Year festival, which began on Saturday. And since this is designated the Year of the Rooster, I decided to stop being so chicken.
So this time I mad...
|Address||2740 S. Orange Blossom trail|
Cork & Fork
Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
Firebirds is a Charlotte, North Carolina, based chain started in 2000 by Dennis L. Thompson, who co-founded Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon. There are 34 locations (over two million dollars in bar inventory!); the Orlando restaurant is the company's first in Florida.
The menu features little creativity yet tries to offer something for everyone. You've got your steaks, chicken dishes, various fish, burgers, meatloaf, five salads, distinguished from four others designated "Firebirds Signature Salads." (The "Soups of the Day" section has eight selections, so figure that one out.) Most everything I tasted was just fine, though nothing rose to a level of wonderful....
|Address||1562 N. Mills Ave.|
Garibaldi Mexican Restaurant
This longtime Mexican favorite among locals recently moved next door to much bigger digs, addling lots of space and a full liquor bar -- real Margaritas! The food is good and the service can be terrific. By the way, this restaurant is not related to the other Garibaldis in the area....
|Address||925 N. Semoran Blvd.|