Central Florida reader survey awards
The Orlando Sentinel today published the results of its annual Foodie Awards. Here are the winners (I left out the chain-only categories:)
Burger: Fuddrucker's (Altamonte Springs)
Family steakhouse: Outback
High-end steakhouse: Del Frisco's
Non-chain pizza: Anthony's (Casselberry)
Takeout: Black Bean Deli (Winter Park)
Breakfast: First Watch
Sunday brunch: La Coquina (Grand Cypress Resort)
Dessert: Chez Vincent (Winter Park)
Power lunch: Harvey's Bistro
Early bird: Straub's
Outdoor dining: Julie's Waterfront
Mexican: Margarita's Grill
Romantic dinner: Manuel's on the 28th
Secluded spot: Enzo's on the Lake (Longwood)
Wine list: Maison et Jardin (Altamonte Springs)
Best place to spend a lot: Victoria and Albert's (Disney)
Kid's menu: Chef Mickey's (Disney)
Worth a drive: Dixie Crossroads (Titusville)
Worth a wait: Bahama Breeze
Thai: Thai Place (Winter Park)
Vietnamese: Little Saigon
Barbeque: Bubbalou's Bodacious BBQ
Chinese: PF Changs (Winter Park)
Korean: Korea House (Longwood)
Middle Eastern: Ali Baba (Longwood)
Greek: Athenian Garden Cafe
Indian: Clay Oven (Longwood)
African/soul/Caribbean: Bahama Breeze
Cuban: Don Pepe's Cuban Cafe (Altamonte Springs)
Latin American: Latin Quarter (Universal)
Chain: Bahama Breeze
Theme: Bahama Breeze
Non-chain Italian: Enzo's on the Lake
French: Le Coq Au Vin
German/East European: Chef Henry's Cafe (Winter Park)
Non-chain American: California Grill (Disney)
Best overall restaurant: California Grill (Disney)
Is there anyone here who actually considers this legitimate Chinese food? They use spaghetti for lo mein noodles, for goodness sake! Sorry. . .I'm almost as picky about my Chinese as I am about my pizza, and I was highly offended by the "Beverly Hills" Chinese served at PF Cheng's.
The paper's food critic mentioned this also in discussing the survey's results. He constantly whines that his uncivilized readers think Chang's is Chinese, Olive Garden is Italian, Taco Bell is Mexican, and Bahama Breeze is Bahamian.
I could make the same criticism about those readers, since I don't find him much of an authentic food critic either, more of a smarmy priss, but what the heck ...
I've eaten at PF Chang's once. I'm sure it wasn't authentic, but it was OK (I'm not so sure I'd like real, authentic Chinese anyway, but at least I'm not naive enough to think I do when I'm eating pepper steak.) I haven't had any urges to go back, although it certainly has its fans.
Probably a better choice in the Orlando area would be Haifeng, in the Renaissance Hotel by Sea World. I like Winnie's Oriental Garden, don't know how authentic it is but I like it and the people are charming. And, we've got some pretty good Thai places that I'd pick over Chinese most of the time.
I do enjoy roaming around the oriental markets in Orlando's growing "Chinatown" at Colonial Drive and US 17-92. For a country boy like me, they've got some of the weirdest, most gruesome looking foodstuffs I've run across. Usually I'm the only non-Asian in the place, and about the limit of my culinary bravery is to sheepishly buy a bottle of soy sauce and some noodles.