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Help...It's going to be my birthday and I don't want to cry!

My husband and I are coming down to Orlando for a week's vacation. Lots planned -- Epcot, the Mets, the Yankees, Kennedy Space Center, golf and on and on. We're psyched. We've rented a condo in Kissimmee and we will have a rental car. We're not at all adverse to driving around. It's interesting...unless the traffic is terrible.

I've done a lot of searching on the board...thanks to all those who post! Le Coq Au Vin for French or may be La Crepe; lots of great choices for BBQ, and the Vietnamese choices look great too. I still haven't settled on any place for Italian tho Enzo's on the Lake has some interest. And sushi at the Hyatt. Still looking for a zing-y fried chicken place.

In general we like local-type places and not chains. I had pretty well set my mind to go to Maison et Jardin for my b'day in the middle of the week but I just read that it's closed now except for special functions. I don't want an extravaganza like V&A or Emerils. There's lots of that here in NYC. I just want a romantic, quiet restaurant with good food where I can have a feel good birthday celebration. Driving is fine. Close by is fine. All suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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  1. seasons 52, Roy's, christini's, chez vincents, manuels on 28th all seem to have reviews where romance and quiet go along with great food and service......

    1. A couple of others are Normans at the Ritz Carlton which might fit the bill as it is away from the hustle and bustle.......expensive though. Venetian room is also good but a little more formal...kind of like "Maison Jar".

      1. How about a trip to Animal Kingdom Lodge's Jiko restaurant. Call ahead and find out what time their animal feedings are. I think that, for a fee or maybe it's free, you can accompany the staff out to feed the animals. The building itself is really incredible, like being in some huge old African lodge. The grounds are wonderful, and the restaurant is exceptional, very intimate. It's a little on the pricey side so you won't have to worry about being there with a gazillion rugrats. They are at the buffet upstairs. You won't find a place like this in New York. Here's a web site, scroll down to read reviews of the restaurant: http://www.allearsnet.com/acc/faq_akl...

        1 Reply
        1. re: Tandoori Girl

          I believe you have to be a guest of the hotel and staying on the concierge floor to sign up for the savanah tour, but you can stand on the observation deck and view the animals for free. I agree with the Jiko or even better they may like Boma.

        2. Jiko's (Don't know Boma) sounds a little too extravaganza to me. That's what I'm really trying to avoid. That and the corporate scene. I checked out the Seasons 52 website and that seems to be a chain and a little corporate too. I've been to Roy's here in NY and didn't like it - although my niece loves it. I felt it was really expensive AND they rushed us through dinner. I'm really looking for quiet, good and low key. So far Chez Vincent's sounds the most interesting. Better - nicer (??) than Le Coq au Vin? Or else Manuel's on 28th. Does my husband need a jacket there?

          1. Chez Vincent is a little more romantic than Le Coq Au Vin, which has attained landmark status here, mostly because oof its longevity and the convivial nature of Chef Perotte -- especially to other chefs.

            I think his food is a smidge better than Chez Vincent, but on any given night either would be a winner.Le Coq Au Vin is closer than Chez Vincet as well.

            This is Florida. Only two place I know of require jackets, V&A and Norman's, and you'll likely see jeans, flip flops, ball caps and all manner of inapproprate attire in nearly any restauaant you visit. Slacks and an nice polo or print short are perfect anywhere you go.

            Jiko is perhaps the least "corporate" Disney restaurant I can think of, and the menu is quite different.


            1 Reply
            1. Spend a night in beautiful St. Augustine at a B&B and have dinner at Opus39. The area is really special and romantic.

              1. LIfoodie, do you know how far it is from Orlando to St. Augustine? I think the poster will probably be in the middle of a divorce after that drive, instead of in the middle of a romantic dinner. Think of it this way -- it's like suggesting to someone from Long Island that they go to Nyack for dinner.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Tandoori Girl

                  They'll be doing enough driving. . .considering the Mets are in Port St. Lucie and the Yankees are in Tampa. . .it's a wonder they'll have time to eat!

                2. I have a feeling this is how they've kept their relationship together all these years :)

                  1. It so nice to be known and understand even among a group of seeming strangers! ;-) ...oh and Long Island to Nyack isn't really so far...and if the restaurant is worth the trip (insert Gallic shrug!)

                    1. KingsKetz:

                      Although you're probably already comfortably esconced in your condo down here, for what it's worth, I second the recommendation for LE COQ AU VIN, and certainly for that restaurant over LA CREPE, given the type of meal you describe as your birthday wish.

                      Based on the hearty praise for LA CREPE all over this board, my wife and I paid it a visit a few days ago for dinner, convinced we were in for a great experience. The first sign things would likely be a little off should have been, in fact, the sign taped to the front door alerting customers that no alcoholic beverages could be served (albeit temporarily) due to a recent change in ownership, and a failure to secure the proper liquor licenses. Alas, those bottles of cabernet gathering dust steps from our table would annoy me the whole meal. Also annoying me the whole meal, though, was the office cubicle-like fluorescent lighting in the whole rear of the postage-stamp size dining room.

                      But to cut to the chase: my wife ordered a savory crepe and I ordered the boeuf Bourgogne, which came with a salad. The "salad" preceded the meal. I include those quotation marks because it consisted of bagged iceberg lettuce -- complete with those oh-so-exquisite red cabbage and carrot shavings -- procured, most likely, from the Publix next door several days (weeks?) before it was dumped on my plate. I've had better side salads at Burger King.

                      The boeuf and its vegetables were good; the accompanying fettucine's ends were uncooked and stuck together (not enough water in the pot, and then perhaps reheated); and the chicken in my wife's crepe looked and tasted like frozen breasts that were later cubed: rubbery and devoid of flavor.

                      The service was friendly, if not half-lost. "Did I go to the right place?" I kept asking myself. I thought I read on another post that the chef had indeed been changed, but I also thought I read the place was even improved now. My mediocre experience is excusable at an entree price range of $8-$12. But when the entree range is up in the high teens and I'm sitting in a strip mall to boot, I take my dinner money elsewhere. I would say that I would return to try their breakfast (the consistency of the actual crepe was pretty good), but based on the creme brulee my wife ordered, I don't know if I would trust them with sweet crepe fillings, either.

                      I have enjoyed LE COQ AU VIN many times over the last few years, and while I would certainly never proclaim it to be the end-all dining experience, I have never been disappointed there; I recommend it for the type of experience you're looking for. It is comfortable, the food is always above average (and at the price, hard to beat), and they've never turned me away when I've walked in in shorts.


                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Noice

                        Thanks for confirming a similar verbal report I got last week.

                        The previous owners have a track record of setting up, doing a good job, then getting bored or whatever and moving on, selling to someone wh can live on the reputation for awhile.

                        I'm not ready to trash Le Crepe yet, but the warning flags are up and I suppose a visit is in order.

                        Even at its best I wouldn't put Le Crepe in the category of Chez Vincet or Le Ciq Au Vin for a romantic dinner.

                        There is also Paris Bistro, even a bit father than Chez Vincent, with comparible food but, alas, none of the ambiance. Here's the daily's review;



                        1. re: Bob Mervine


                          No problem. I always root for the good strip mall places, but I just couldn't this time. It would be nice if they got it together, as the location is pretty nice for us coming from south central Florida.

                          Thanks for all of your thorough input on the boards -- it is very much used and appreciated.


                          1. re: Noice

                            It's a labor of love --I enjoy the give and take and the knowledge I take away.


                      2. Dixie Fried Chicken at Oakridge and Orange Avenue in Orlando is the best fried chicken in town.