Need recommendations for Orlando...
I will be travelling there from SF for a weekend (first time in Florida). Since the Florida chowhound board has very little traffic, I thought I'd try posting here to seek the advice of savvy traveling new yorkers.
Thanks very much in advance.
Well...being a NYC-based food freak and as the owner of an online Disney Travel Club I hope I can steer you in the right direction...
Your post didn't indicate if you were going to Orlando proper or to Disney World...if the latter is the case I can make a few suggestions...
You'll find without exception that the best Disney property restaurants lie within the luxury hotels rather than in the theme parks. The exceptions to this rule are the ethnic restaurants in the World Showcase section of Epcot Center-yet there are still cullinary minefields to get around here as well! The best restaurants in the World Showcase are Chefs de France, Restaurant Marrakesh and the San Angel Inn . Avoid the food in China and Germany like the plague...and be sure to sample the bakeries in the Norway and France areas-not to be missed.
Within the luxury hotels, The California Grill at the Contemporary Resort is not only one of Disney World's finest dining choices but one of Central Florida's best as well. Also worth noting are Narcoosie's at the Grand Floridian, The Flying Fish Cafe at Disney's Boardwalk and Spoodles, a Mediterranian casual restaurant-also on Disney's Boardwalk.
Beware of families with screaming children, even at the best of these restaurants...try to make yoour reservations after 8 if possible.
Hope this helps!
Now that I know you are going to Disney World proper, I'll also add this: Most Disney World restaurants do not take reservations. They have something called "priority seating" that you can get-this guarantees you the next available table at specified time, but does not give you a hard reservation. This being the high season, priority seating is HIGHLY reccomneded. Here's the # to make arrangements: 407-WDW-DINE (939-3463).
Here's a link to a great, unofficial Disney World site-The WDW Information Group. Here you can find menus to all WDW restaurants: www.wdwig.com/menu/menus.htm
Resort attendance seems to be down this summer, I didn't have too many problems getting seated.
I had dinners at Chefs de France (epcot), House of Blues ('downtown' disney), a seafood place and Bahama Breeze on Int'l Drive.
Chefs de France was alright, though I can get the same decent bistro fare for nearly half the price at several SF bay area 'restos'. They did nail the parisian decor in the interior room, with the tasteful white-bordered sunflower paneling. We got over the theme-parkish setting once the food arrived, which was entirely to parisian standards from the vinaigrette to the profiterolles and expresso. Great wine selection, but the wines by the glass were served too warm.
House of Blues was fairly interesting. I liked the nice touches in the decor, like the use of old, recycled bricks outside and wood floors inside. Decent food, in the mold of excessive american medium-high end chains like the Cheesecake factory or Houston's, which can be somewhat refreshing if you live in SF or Manhattan.
Bahama Breeze also came with the T-shirt and condiment store attached, but it has a very nice al fresco setting, wide enough and green enough to buffer the strip mall surroundings. The food was also quite good, overall.