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Jun 10, 2008 12:19 PM

In a rut in Orlando

I know all the places that I usually recommend to visitors, but personally I am in a rut. What are some great local secrets that I might be overlooking?

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  1. You might start with that Chef's Table in Winter Garden that Herbert talked about. It's a nice change from the usual. Maybe grilled octopus at Mykonos in Longwood? Mexican at Guanajuato in Ocoee? A quiet dinner at Paris Bistro in Winter Park? Zach Martin is at the Celebration hotel now. Maybe he's doing good things? Or nice fried clams at the Celebration Town Tavern. Roll-your-own summer rolls (they have a different name) at Anh Hong on Mills and 50. Deconstructed eggplant parmesan at Nonna's in College Park. For a real treat, drive to Cocoa Village for steak at Ulysses; it's excellent. Ditto for steak and jazz at Vine's on Restaurant Row.

    4 Replies
    1. re: rudykins

      Are you talking about Cafe de France on Park Ave in WP? That's definitely a place that we all tend to over look. It's pricey but really a great meal.

      Also, don't forget about Chathams out on Sand Lake! Fantastic food and impeccible service.

      1. re: katygirl

        Ha! I think that's the one I thought it was. lol

        I haven't been to Chathams. What do they serve?

        1. re: starbucksbrew

          No, I wasn't referring to Cafe de France. I love the people but last time I went the food was only OK. Paris Bistro is on the eastern reaches of Winter Park; it got new owners a few months ago, but the original still cooks a few days a week. Affordable $45 wine dinners twice a month. (Featured on my show, On the Town, Bright House Digital Channel 300). I also enjoy Shrimpy's, a garlickly cheap seafoody place on Colonial.

          1. re: rudykins

            RE: Paris Bistro, I read about them and checked them out earlier this year.


            I've been to 2 wine dinners, which were both very nice. We met the new owners who have been there for awhile now. The wine dinners were sold out both times and I saw some repeat faces.

            I blogged on one of the wine dinners at:


            Nice food and a welcoming atmosphere, hubby and I are big fans.


    2. Ah! I didn't know about Chef's Table, and we've been meaning to try Mykonos. I love Vines (have only been once), and I haven't been to Paris Bistro in probably six years. The others you mention sound good too (I love fried clams), and I want to try that new Hollywood Bistro in Oviedo that someone mentioned.

      Thanks so much. That's exactly what I was looking for.

      8 Replies
      1. re: starbucksbrew

        Has anyone tried the Hollywood Bistro place yet? I still haven't made it out there.

        1. re: jjhayesd

          I haven't, but the menu is kind of scary: It seems to have every dish known to mankind. Not a good sign.

          1. re: rudykins

            It's funny that you point that out. The mish-mosh is the only reason I haven't checked it out. :)

            1. re: winechic

              It's an old, and reliable, rule in restaurants: If a restaurant has six items on the menu, it does a few things very well. If it has 100, chances are it doesn't do anything particularly well.

              On that note, I returned to The Chef's Table at the Edgewater Hotel this weekend, and it was wonderful again.

              1. re: rudykins

                On that note, I returned to The Chef's Table at the Edgewater Hotel this weekend, and it was wonderful again.

                Are you the restaurant critic that they told me that came in on Friday night?

                I was there on Sunday, another great meal, they are offering a 'lighter' 29.99 menu on Sunday's from 12 to 7. And are now offering an early bird 29.99 three course meal Tuesday - Saturday for diners between 5.00 - 5.30. They are closed Mondays.


                1. re: herbert1

                  Although I'd met Laurie Tarter once before at California Grill, I did not realize she knew I was a restaurant critic--and in fact she did not recognize me the second time either, so maybe another restaurant was in there two Fridays ago. Or maybe I'm just easily duped. Or maybe I have the wrong Friday night. ANyway, I did not know aobut the ligther menu; they did not mention it. Thanks for the heads up.

                  1. re: rudykins

                    I was in on Friday night, not Saturday. Just remembered. Well, they deserve a good review; I guess I got spotted.

                    1. re: rudykins

                      Not sure if it was you that they were talking about, but they were relieved because this critic had been in early on and they were concerned that a review was going to be written based on one early visit. Kevin is from Louisiana and supposedly they are going to start doing a little more adverturesome menu going forward. Looking forward to that!!!! Had a creole chicken preparation this past sunday that was really outstanding. My only real criticism to them so far, is that they need to upgrade some of their stemware.

        2. have you tried circosta's italian in oviedo? my favorite!
          i also really like toucan willie's in oviedo...not the most gourmet food i've had in my life, but the laid back florida atmosphere completely makes up for it!

          1. I know we talk about it a lot here, but have you been to The Ravenous Pig? Yum!

            Nonna's (As recommended by Rona)

            Nonna Trattoria ed Enoteca
            1710 Edgewater Dr.
            Orlando FL 32804

            I've always been a big fan of Taste, also in College Park.


            I like Fifi's Bistro downtown, great wine specials during the week.


            Let us know how your food adventuring goes!


            1 Reply
            1. re: winechic

              Thought I'd quickly follow up on Nonna's as I ate there with a group this weekend. The place was completely packed through dinner, to include the outside deck.

              The wine menu was great, several bottles were ordered for our table of wine-ohs. On recommendation of several people while sitting at the bar, I tried the Tuscan mac & cheese, tomato, olives, sausage, gratinee. OH.MY.GAWD.

              I must preface by saying I have been known to order like Sally from the movie "When Harry Met Sally" and order things on the side, without onions, no quote Billy Crystal, who played Harry, "Sally has a talent of ordering things in such a way, even the chef couldn't have imagined." or something along those lines. To my defense I'm not demanding, but inquiring and I always tip well for the pain of having to write that mess of requests down.Upon getting seated at Nonna's this weekend, the server started out by saying that they could customize any dish to our groups preference, so away we went!

              Tuscan mac & cheese, tomato, olives, sausage, gratinee turned into Tuscan mac & cheese, tomato, olives, mushroom and shrimp gratinee for two of us at the table. The penne pasta was tender, the chunks of tomato were roasted so the robust sweetness cut through the richness of the sauce. Oh the sauce! Rich and flavorful, white Italian cheeses, but not overdone. Toasted panko bread crumbs topped the dish, which was a favorite at the table.

              This is like gourmet mac and cheese, on steriods. It, alone, is worth a trip to Nonna's, which is currently open for dinner Tues, Wed 5:00-9pm and Thurs-Sat 5:00-10pm. (Summer hours, no lunch.)


            2. Toscana in Avalon Park? I haven't been yet but their menu looks pretty limited and not too pricey.
              13001 Founders Square Dr,. Orlando 32828