Hidden Gems in Downtown Orlando?
I am heading to Orlando tomorrow, and I need some new restaurants to try in the Downtown or Winter Park. I have been to Hue a couple of times, and I stay at the Grand Bohemian so The Boheme is also one of my normal ones, as well as Chef Justin's in Winter Park.
Where else should I go? What are the local secret spots? I don't want to do a steakhouse, however, i am up for anything.
Thanks in advance for your help.
A couple of years ago, we had several good experiences at DOCS, while a good friend was in hospital at the Med Center. (I think that qualifies as Downtown Orlando.) I recall the crab cakea and lobster stew were very good... can't remember what else we ate, but we were all happy with the food and the service. Of course, our experience may have been colored by the fact it was a welcome respite from the confines of the hospital...
i have feedback from my trip. (and i am going to apologize up front for spelling mistakes - they really should have a spell check button)
The first night we had dinner at Citrus, i ordered the Kobe Carpaccio, and it was sliced so thick you had to cut it with a knife and the meat was pink, not red. i was definitely taken back by that. we also had the barbeque chicken flatbread. the flavor was decent; however, the bottom was over crispy, so everything tasted a bit burnt. Bottom line, it wasn't the best start. I ordered the veal chops for dinner medium rare. they came out medium well, and because i was with clients i couldn't send them back. i toughed through a couple of bites and settled for eating all of the mashed potatoes. I will say the portions were a great size, which was nice.
For lunch went to Napasorn. The waitress single handledly ruined the meal she was so dumb. My Nam Sod was good, but served with green leaf lettuce instead of cabbage which i thought was weird. The drunken noodles were fine, had a little too much soy flavor and not much else. it wasn't the best.
Graze was our last stop. We ordered two of the grazing platters. the contents were hit or miss. on the antipasta platter there was a hummus of sorts, that was just soupy, the pita chips they served with the dip where 1/2 crisp and 1/2 chewy.
on the seafood food platter, steamed mussles and clams were served with nothing; no broth, no herbs, nothing; you were left with little over steamed pieces of shriveled meat.
After grazing i had the lobster risotto small plate and my colleague ordered clam chowder and the beet salad. OK, so mine was fine, not great, and was over salted, plus i feel they used brown rice instead of risotto. Whatever, it was fine. What wasn't fine, the clam chowder. They placed 8 clams in the shell in a bowl, and poured a small amount of cream and onions on the bottom. there was not enough broth to use a spoon. maybe i am viewing this wrong, but the dish was literally uneible. you had to pull all of the clams out of the shell, remove the shells, and then stir the meat into the layer of broth (or lack there of). It just didn't make sense to me. I don't even want to talk about the beet salad that looked like they took canned red beets, chopped them up and then rolled goat cheese in them.
Needless to say, i had a disappointing couple of days.
Sticking mainly to downtown - I suggest checking out Citrus which just opened at 815 N. Orange. I've had two excellent experiences there - for lunch and dinner, and found that the lunch portions are adequate and far more better priced than dinner. Also, I dont know what the general consensus of Harveys is, but I've had several solid meals there. The squash ravioli with the beurre noisette being one of my favorites when its offered. The fries with truffle oil and parmesan are not to be missed, either. Harveys is in the Bank of America building at 390 N. Orange
re: Bob Mervine
I know it. It used to be a bank. In fact, the vault is part of its charming decor.
It has a reputation for being what we used to call a meat market -- and I am not talking about prime rib -- and, God bless me, I had no idea they even served food past the cocktail peanuts.
Tell us more about the menu.
Beyond those you mention I could suggest;
DOWNTOWN -- Asian, primarily sushi, at Shari Sushi, a couple of doors down from Hue, or Ichiban, a long-time favorite just up Orange Ave. from the G.B., or Napasorn, Thai/Chinese with some Japanese influence (sushi) on Pine Street, a short pedi-cab ride away.
The boys behind Hue also operate Kres, kind of a chophouse but with a lot of non-steak items,especially seafood, just off Orange on Church. They also have a new entry in our just blooming "uptown" area. Citrus is south of Marks St. on North Orange. Regional Cuisine with Latin influences.
There are also some new places in the Sanctuary condo in Thornton Park; Graze, Fifi's Patissere and Beacon. Stick with Beacon for a light bar menu and drinks.
Midnight Blue in Thornton Park is eclectic and fun -- same owners as Blue Bistro.
WINTER PARK -- Try Luma, cat-corner from Chef Justin's. Inventive American food in a wonderful room. You also might check out the area around Hannibal Square. I suggest Hot Olives, You might also like Beluga in the Winter Park Village. It survived a rough opening patch and has lightened up its menu and trimmed the prices. I think you'll like that.
Hope that helps.