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Top five in Orlando for anniversary dinner

  • m

We live locally but with 2 kids (and one on the way) we don't get out as much as we used to so I'm not up to date on what's the latest and greatest. I'm looking for a restaurant for our anniversary dinner that's a "special occassion" place. The only place we're not currently interested in is V&A's, only because I don't want to be pregnant when I go there due to food and alchol limitations (I want to be able to REALLY enjoy it when I spend all that $$$).

We live in the North side of the city but are willing to drive anywhere. We are open to any type of cuisine & all price ranges.

Would you mind sharing YOUR personal favorites for a speical occassion in the Orlando area?

Thanks!!

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  1. I was just in Downtown Disney, and ate at Wolfgang Pucks. It was great. You need reservations. When youre done eating, you can walk around and see all kinds of attractions. Dinner at Wolfgang's, then live music at the House of Blues which is just a few steps away. If you still have energy, another few steps away is Downtown Disneys bar scene.

    I took pictures of each plate they brought out to me at Wolfgang's - it was that beautiful. It tasted even better. The sushi is the best I've had here in Florida so far. You will spend $$$ but it will be worth every bite.

    1. If you like steak, make it Del Frisco's. I'm not from Orlando, but have been to Del Frisco's many times. Right off I-4, I think in the Winter Park area. Have the NY strip and chateau potatoes. You won't be disappointed.

      1. I don't live in Orlando but I travel and dine there frequently enough to be able to recommend some places. Don't be put off by two rec's that are in hotels.

        1. Norman's at the Ritz Carlton. You will get attentive service, interesting and well prepared food in a very romantic atmosphere. Room is gorgeous.

        2. Primo at the JW. Organic ingredients beautifully prepared with some very interesting combos but all based on sound cooking principles. I would call them in advance and talk with the chef (a woman who wanders around in coveralls in the elegant room) about a menu for your anniversary. They will even prepare interesting non alcoholic drinks for you.

        3. Chatham's. Haven't been for a while but friends still dine here and love it.

        I disagree about Puck's. I love the place and eat there but it is too touristy for a truly romantic experience.

        4. Window table at Seasons 52 would be good for a mother to be and the view is lovely over the lake. I do not know if there are more Seasons 52 in Orlando but I am referring to the Sand Lake one.

        Mangia Bene. LMF

        1. Dux in the Peabody hotel.

          1. Enzo's on the Lake in Casselberry/Longwood on 17-92 is deliteful. Great, authentic Italian. Ask for small room seatin or outside to improve the romantic ambience. My wife's favorite special occassion place.

            Mason Jardain in Altamonte Springs has never let me down for special occassions either.

            Antonio's in Maitland on 17-92 is also a nice treat. Very good and very personable.

            1. ooh, I forgot about Enzo's. Lovely place.

              1. Sorry to ask a question in the middle of your post, but hopefully it will help. I was in Orlando in fall 2001 and had dinner at a beautiful, delicious place -- but I can't recall the name or exact location. It was in a "restaurant row" area, the name was the street address (or something similar), and the space was old -- black and white tiled floors, very high ceilings. The menu seemed to have a Middle Eastern influence. I also remember seeing children there, and though it didn't seem like a kid-friendly restaurant, they were totally welcomed. The downside is that it didn't seem very crowded, so it may not still be around five years later. But if it is, and someone can help me remember it, then I'd recommend it. It felt special without being stuffy.

                Enjoy your dinner, wherever you go!

                2 Replies
                1. re: tapas

                  To the poster asking about the mystery Restaurant Row location, I believe you are describing Cedars, a white tablecloth restaurant in the Venezia Plaza on West Sand Lake Road. They serve Middle Eastern cuisine and there's a large wood fired oven in the back of the restaurant where they produce fresh-baked pita bread.
                  7732 W Sand Lake Rd
                  Orlando, FL 32819
                  (407) 351-6000

                  As for Mish -- congratulations on your new baby. I agree i wouldn't do V&A unless conditions were ideal, and your condition leaves out the wine menu entirely.

                  Since V&A is one of my top five and two others in my top five are also out of contention for you, I'll add restaurants 6-8.
                  Maison Jardin offers wonderful service, great food and ambiance. However, they are not open until October. California Grill is losing its chef later this month so I'd take a pass on them for now also.

                  I would suggest;

                  Norman's, which runs second to Victoria & Albert's on the special occasion list. It's a very classy place, but order off the menu. don't let them sell you the prix fixe meal.

                  Del Frisco's is the best steak place in town in my mind, but hardly a romantic setting. If you can stand the boy's club atmosphere and a sometimes frenetic pace, you'll hardly get a better meal.

                  To replace V&A, Maison Jardin and California Grill, I'll first substitute Chez Vincent in Winter Park. Very warm, romantic place with great food and service. The lamb with gorgonzola sauce and the mussel appetizer are incredible.

                  Shari Sushi is also quite comfortable and elegant, with a New York feeling no one in town has duplicated yet. Ask for upstairs seating in the loft.

                  Also, Jiko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge at Disney offerrs really unique food, the personal touch of the chef and a wonderful South African wine list. It's worth the drive.

                  I don't disagree with any of the other suggested postings, with the possible exception of Enzo's, which has a very clubby, in-crowd kind of feel that I find annoying. While Wolfgan's is touristy, the upstairs dining room is not.
                  Anyway, these happen to be my favorites.

                  Bob

                  1. re: Bob Mervine

                    Thanks, Bob -- Cedars is it! I look forward to returning the next time I'm in Orlando.

                2. Thank you for all these wonderful suggestions!

                  I guess I'm not as out of the loop as I had thought--there's only a few on this list that we haven't been to. It's good to know that our old favorites are still on top of their game.

                  Some of our favorites on this list are CA grill, Del Friscos, Maison Jardin, Season's 52, Antonio's and Puck's (although we only go there when we have friends staying at disney--I hate going into Downtown Disney). We recently went to Enzo's for the first time and I have to say, I wasn't overly impressed. Maybe we hit it on a bad night.

                  Of the few we haven't been, the ones we're considering are Norman's, Primo and Jiko. I'm going to call around and see where I can get a reservation. I'll post feedback after our night out.

                  V&A is definitely on my list after I have this baby--I've been dying to go but having 3 babies in 3.5 yrs hasn't left me much oppurtunity. It'll have to be one of those save-my-sanity nights out away from kids. :o)

                  I'd also like to try Shari Sushi and Cedars someday. Those two are new to me.

                  I'm curious to know, Bob, what are the other two restaurants in your top five that you haven't listed here?

                  Thanks again to all of you!!

                  1. Jiko is my favorite Disney restaurant by far and one I would normally recommend but it sounds like this might be a night where lots of children would not add to the atmosphere and Jiko usually has a lot, although it is not as crazy as Boma. I also would wait to go there when you could experience some of their interesting South African wines.

                    Both of the Grand Lakes properties (Ritz and JW) will accomodate you nicely and I noticed they have little bike surreys you can ride between the properties. I prefer Primo as it is very elegant but a little less pretentious than Normans. I am not one for French service (Norman's) when it is intrusive.

                    The entire Grand Lakes property is a lovely area to walk and the rose gardens by the Ritz are very classic and romantic. LMF

                    1. The two, besides V&A, are California Grill and Maison Jardin.

                      Maison Jardin is closed until October, which likely would keep you away.

                      And California grill will be losing Chef John State at the end of the month. I learned Friday that Flying Fish Chef Jens Dahlmann --who worked at Le Cirque -- will be replacing John when he leaves. Check your reservaton date. Perhaps you'll catch John before he departs. I'd give any chef a couple of months in a new kitchen before dropping that kind of money on dinner.

                      Bob

                      1. This is probably too late but we really like the ambiance at Manuel's on the 28th. Only wish they would change their menu once ina while. California Grill is really nice. Melting Pot is another idea that you can force the husband to go b/c it is the anniversary and is something different.

                        1. I highly recommend Manuel's on the 28th for a special anniversary dinner. Get a private table with a window view just as the sun is setting. It is the most romantic spot to dine at in Orlando, hands down. Dress up; coat and tie. Expensive, but well worth it.