|Address||526 Park Ave. S.|
Cafe de France is one of the long mainstays of Park Avenue, lasting through its slump in the '90s and into the avenue's current revival as one of the area's premier dining destinations. Locals love the quintness of its small dining room and the charm of its hostess and owner, Dominique Gutierrez
A renovation a few years ago converted the spot into a sophisticated bistro. The menu is less traditional French, but has some good points. Osso buco (hello? Italian!) was good, but the chef did a better job with the fish of the day. Calamari with fried potatoes was the best starter, and clafoutis a sweet end.... Read more
|Address||691 Front St.|
A smaller version of Greg Gentile’s flagship restaurant, Antonio’s La Fiamma, Café d’Antonio is the consistently good restaurant for residents and visitors in Celebration.
My dining guest and I started the evening with the antipasti assortito for two, which featured an array of delicacies including bruschetta alla Romana, smoked salmon, sliced prosciutto, salami and cheese, and insalata ai frutti di mare.
The bruschetta was also quite good, toasted bread rounds topped with bright red chopped tomatoes seasoned with olive oil, garlic and sweet basil.
Its hard to say which of the entrees was my favorite; I enjoyed them all. But I especially liked the zuppa di pesce, a bountiful bowl of fish, squid, shrimp, scallops and lobster in a light broth served over linguine.
|Address||220 Brevard Ave.|
Cafe Margaux, a French restaurant in Cocoa, is an odd little place with delicious food. It wants to be an elegant restaurant, but it isn't, at least not one along the lines of a Victoria & Albert's or a Venetian Room. Let's just say its chic on a shoestring. But if the decor is a bit florid, the food is decidedly upscale, not really classic French, but with French tones that enhance a creative style. The best of the entrees was the melange of fresh fish, offered each evening as a sampler of the three fish specials. When I visited, the chef had prepared poached salmon, snapper with a potato crust and blackened dolphin. My guest liked the dolphin best because the blackening seasonings were perfectly balanced with the mild taste of the fish, giving just a bit of cayenne spiciness. I liked the crispiness of the shredded potato crust on the snapper. This is the sister restaurant to Ulysses' Steakhouse, also wonderful.... Read more
|Address||8625 International Drive|
Cafe Tu Tu Tango is at its best as a celebration destination. You'll have more fun - and the food just might taste better - if you go with a big group. Order a table full of tapas and share. Be careful: The cost can really add up fast.
The Cajun chicken egg rolls ($6.25) were a favorite, with blackened chicken rolled inside a wonton skin with corn and cheese. Red onions and a touch of cilantro added just the right flavor notes.
The duck and mixed greens salad ($7.25) was one I had enjoyed six years ago, and it was still good on my recent visit. It featured shredded duck meat served on flatbread atop mesclun greens drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
Tu Tu’s setting is a Spanish artist’s garret, Spanish, I suppose, because for the Mediterranean slant of the menu. Every inch of wall space is occupied by paintings, drawings, sculptures and oddities, all of which are for sale. Should you purchase one, another will be slapped up in its place in no time flat because there are artists in residence dappling, scribbling and shaping new works of art right before your very eyes. According to literature distributed by the restaurant, it isn’t uncommon for a guest to sit down and ... Read more
|Address||Rosen Shingle Creek Resort|
9939 Universal Blvd.
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
|Address||4600 N. World Drive|
|City||Lake Buena Vista|
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