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What's the best fine dining restaurant in Orlando?

elrushbo Feb 9, 2007 09:22 PM

Looking for the best fine dining restaurant in Orlando to take my folks to in May. I prefer Contemporary American, but if something else is really special and considered THE best, I'd like to hear about it as well. Thanks for your help!

  1. t
    theflytyr Feb 11, 2007 08:28 AM

    Victoria & Albert's @ The Grand Floridian

    Normans @ The Ritz Carlton

    Venetian Room

    2 Replies
    1. re: theflytyr
      Bob Mervine Feb 11, 2007 11:21 AM

      Could not have said it better myself.

      However, if they are listed in priority order, Venetian Room, for me, ranks ahead of Norman's. Unless Norman happens to be in town and cooking, of course.

      Venetian Room's service is just a bit more in tune with Orlando diners and those who are sometimes intimidated by an overbearing service staff with an attitude.

      Oh, and Del Frisco's -- even though I suppose it is technically not fine dining - would be fourth.


      1. re: Bob Mervine
        theflytyr Feb 11, 2007 04:39 PM

        No disagreement from me.

    2. HeatherFL Feb 13, 2007 01:38 PM

      Christini's Ristorante

      1 Reply
      1. re: HeatherFL
        theflytyr Feb 14, 2007 03:00 PM

        Sorry, but I must disagree with this one on a simple but irritating point. Granted they do have a wonderful Wine List and wonderful food and seem to treat their customers right (especially if you are a regular), but any restaurant that can't satisfy a simple request for Iced Tea for the non-drinkers in a party lose points. The sign of a fine dining establishment to me is one that will take a request and meet that customers need, especially here in the south where Iced Tea and dinner go hand in hand. I know it may sound absurd but to those who choose not to drink or can not for various health or other reasons, to not make an attempt to meet the need of the customer and act indifferent is in-excusable to me. By the way this has happened on 3 different occasions over 2 years.

      2. HeatherFL Feb 15, 2007 02:38 AM

        I wrote Christini's because from what I have heard fine dining in Orlando is limited. I do not live there, but have found the food at Christini's to be quite good on a consistent basis. I rather enjoyed the atmosphere too.

        As an iced-tea lover, I will tell you that I love the stuff. However, Iced-tea = fine dining? Iced tea is actually considered quite a faux pas in some European countries/cities (yes, I know they drink it in Europe, but hot tea is the norm.) I am going to disagree with you. I would not expect a true European restaurant that considers itself to be fine dining to serve iced-tea. If they did, great. But I wouldn't expect it. I have European friends who will playfully scoff when I drink tea with ice.

        I will say if they didn't apologize at least and acted indifferent as you've indicated, then that was inappropriate on their part, however, iced tea and fine dining almost seems like a paradox. Chili's? Sure! Fine Italian restaurant? Well...

        If I prefer not to drink, I'll happily go with water. In the meantime, I am eating there this weekend. I will have to see if they serve hot tea, as I can't recall. But if I wanted my iced-tea that badly I'd order the hot tea, ask for a tumbler of ice and do it myself. Not that you should have to, but hey whatever works.

        1. drjimdolan Feb 15, 2007 11:45 AM

          Heather, I know it may not seem like it, but Orlando IS in the South, even if it is below the SweetTea line (roughly I-4). Every restaurant should be able to serve you a glass of iced tea. I've eaten at Christinis often and although it's good, it ain't knock your socks offf good. I've generally been there as the guest of some sale rep with an expense account and I would bet that business/entertainment is 50% of their business. Sometimes that shows in the service. In fact, it's my main beef with Orlando in that the restaurants and wait staff don't depend on "regulars" to any extent.
          Don't leave off your list the oldest of the classics in Orlando, "Maisson Jardin" in Winter Park. They do have the service right. Beyond that, anything away from I-Drive and Disney is a good start.

          1. p
            pvgirl Feb 15, 2007 01:53 PM

            If by any chance your idea of fine dining includes Japanese - you might take a look at Ran-Getsu on International Drive. It is a branch of a restaurant in Tokyo. Has some touristy things (like flaming non-Japanese dishes and Japanese drummers in the courtyard - the drummers who work at Epcot during the day). But we found the food quite good - and - for the most part - authentic Japanese. It is also a very nice looking restaurant.

            For contemporary American - you can take a look at the California Grill (at the Disney Contemporary Hotel). Robyn

            1. Bob Mervine Feb 15, 2007 03:28 PM

              FYI, Maison & Jardin stopped service to the public last fall,. They now only do private functions such as weddigs, etc. Sad to see the old standards go -- they are missed.

              Ran-Getsu isn't bad, especially since their menu ranges beyond sushi and teppan, but far and away the best Japanese dining here is at Hanamizuki Japanese Restaurant, 8255 International Drive, Suite 136, Orlando, FL 32819, (407)363-7200.
              <http://www.hanamizuki.us/> The website is both Japanese and English, but if you click around it a bit you will find the menus, etc.

              The restaurant was built nearly 15 years ago to attract hordes of Japanese travelers vacationing in Orlando and, locally, the infrastructure of mostly travel-related businesses that serviced that market -- all of which have mostly vanished.
              Fortunately, Hanamizuki has prospered and not changed materially -- except for prices -- since then. It is expensive.

              Try lunch, if you can, for your first visit to get a feel for what can be an almost overwhelming dining experience -- like eating on another planet -- if one isn't familiar with Japanese dining customs. If you can take along someone who is fluent or can read Japanese, it doesn't hurt.
              Ask about sake, if you like, they supposedly have the best non-private sake cellar in town.
              At dinner try the grilled claims or buta kakuni, pork with hot mustard appetizers, any of the sushi that appeals and, if you have never tried it, the shabu-shabu as an entree.


              1. HeatherFL Feb 15, 2007 05:38 PM

                Well, I guess iced tea doesn't equate to fine dining to me. And while I don't think Christini's is the finest restaurant around, like I said the food has been good for me. Thanks for the recommendation on the Maisson Jardin. Maybe I can get in there as a guest sometime.


                1 Reply
                1. re: HeatherFL
                  theflytyr Feb 15, 2007 06:22 PM

                  Granted I understand that globally Iced Tea does not equate to fine dining, and I never implied that it did. My main issue with Christini's, which is a fine dining establishment in your eyes, was their not making an effort to meet the needs of a customers request. I understand it is their prerogative if they want to offer it, but my beef was with the attitude, which you acknowledge was inappropriate. True, Most european restaurants do not offer Iced Tea as a beverage choice, although I think you will find it more and more becoming an option at least in the larger cities of Paris, London, even Rome. In these cities I believe you will find it at some very fine establishments, nevertheless you will find it without reservation at the finest establishments in Charleston, Atlanta, Dallas, New Orleans and even Birmingham, AL, at least those I have visited, which I acknowledge is not everyone of them, but some of their best. This includes their finest Italian, French and even German restaurants not only their southern inspired or low country food. My point is they are in the south and understand that this is a beverage of choice for many who live here(when in Rome do as the Romans), and I personally believe that Christini's should at least offer it, but since they don't they are not quite upper echelon in my opinion. I guess we can agree to disagree Heather which is what makes each an individual! Bon Apetite

                2. HeatherFL Feb 16, 2007 04:51 AM


                  You wrote: "My main issue with Christini's, which is a fine dining establishment in your eyes..."

                  Let me rephrase...Because my knowledge of fine dining in Orlando is limited, it's the finest I have found. I am sure there is better out there, but there you have it.

                  I think it's up to a business owner to offer what he or she pleases. In the other southern states, I'd expect there to be Iced-Tea. Yes, Florida is in the south, but I would not venture to say it's like being in New Orleans (Commander's Palace comes to mind) or Atlanta. If I go into an Italian Restaurant, I don't expect them to serve apple pie just because they are in the U.S..

                  Yes, we will agree to disagree. I just don't see how iced-tea equates to fine dining, but I appreciate your opinion. :-)

                  And a Bon Appétit to you too!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: HeatherFL
                    theflytyr Feb 16, 2007 04:00 PM


                    I appreciate and respect your opinion!

                    May your buttered toast always land facing up!


                  2. l
                    Linda VH Feb 16, 2007 05:00 AM

                    At Christini's scrutinize your bill very very carefully. My DH and a large group of golf buddies ate there and were charged for a bottle of wine they didn't order. This was over $100 and luckily one of the fellows (the non drinker lol) noticed. This happened to other friends of ours as well so it is not an isolated incident.

                    1. HeatherFL Feb 17, 2007 06:52 PM

                      LOL, thanks theflytyr!

                      1. j
                        jilsauer Feb 18, 2007 08:15 AM

                        How is the restaurant in the J.W.Marriott called Primo's?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: jilsauer
                          Bob Mervine Feb 18, 2007 11:19 AM

                          I am a big fan. The Chef, Melissa Kelly, has a national reputation and has her original in Rockport, Maine and a third in Tucson.

                          The place is fresh Italian with a sort of organic, healthy sensibility. Melissa is usually here once a month, but her sous chef, Kathleen Blake , is equally capable.
                          The place gets rapped from time to time because the hotel does such a heavy convention business that you get a lot of customers with attitude and no taste. That situation, in my opinion, also tends to attract servers who take advantage and either cut some corners or feed the attitude back.

                          I personally reccommend it highly, but not as highly as the OPs original request for the best fine dining in Orlando.


                          1. re: Bob Mervine
                            mish Feb 24, 2007 04:55 PM

                            My husband and I went to Primo a few months ago and I had the best lobster ravioli I've ever had in my life. It was so good that I wanted to lick my bowl clean. I agree with Bob that it's not the BEST fine dining in Orlando, but it's a beautiful restaurant with high quality food. We went for our anniversary and were very happy.

                        2. b
                          Bengaliwife Feb 26, 2007 06:17 AM

                          If you want something different go to Cedar's Restaurant.They offfer fabulous Lebanese food. I cannot remember the name of the strip mall it is in but it is on sandlake road after you cross over international highway. They have wonderful pita bread cooked in a brick oven over flame. The kebabs are wonderful too. It is a lovely resaurant staffed by lovely people. If you want to smoke from a hookah, they affer that as well. The seating is indoor and outdoor. If you want a great evening all around and different from the norm, go here.

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