I go to Orlando / Disney for trade shows, and in the past have been pretty much drowned by chain food, with few to no alternatives.
In preparation for this recent trip, I've been lurking intensely on the FL board, digging research from the local newspaper reviews, and finally, finally succeeded in breaking the dismal chow cycle of past visits.
Chan's (on Colonial Drive)
Picked up the tip for this one at CitySearch. Initial hint was that it was a Dim-Sum place. Second hint was found in a CitySearch posted user review that "it was a real Chinese place, they even set the tables with chopsticks". Sounded like my kind of place. So on my first night in town I set out to get some no hassle take out. Sampled noodles with Hong Kong won ton and broth, steamed chicken and choy sum sauteed with garlic--all in all-just like comfort food at home here in Atlanta. Quality was decent, kitchen perhaps capable of more if not restricted by takeout conditions. On the way to Chan's I passed by Straubs (recommended elsewhere here), but never got to stop in. Chan's had a separate 'black' menu of Cantonese specialties which looked intriguing enough that out of respect I didn't order, as I was bound and determined to eat takeout that night.
In the Renaissance Hotel opposite Seaworld. I've posted on this place before, about eight months ago. The same chef is still there--I checked when I made the reservation. Very pricey, but damn good, one of the few places I will even consider eating 'fusion'. The highlight of the meal was an appetizer special of briefly seared sliced tuna atop seared sea scallops garnished with a small mixed seaweed salad. The rack of veal was no slouch either. Dessert, a passion fruit torte was forgettable. Decent bottle of Parallel 45 Cote du Rhone at $26. As long as this chef remains in place and you have the budget, this should be a don't miss.
Murphy's Chop House
On the last night, tired, ate downstairs at the Airport Marriott, and guess what--had a damn respectable strip steak, an ok mesclun salad and baked potato. Certainly as good as any Ruth's Chris. Don't go out of your way, but good to keep in mind for very decent grub near the airport (hotel has shuttle every 15 minutes). Dinner plate included the Florida-obligatory slice of zucchini, this one glazed with parmesan. A good glass of St. Supery Cabernet at $10. Basil flakes marred otherwise ok sourdough. Oh well.
Driving to Chan's on Semoran Road/436 north from the airport, then west on Colonial Drive, my chow antenna twitched repeatedly--saw several Cuban places that looked promising and a bunch of Chinese places too.
There's a lot to dig out here, but I'll have to rely on the local hounds as I only get to Orlando about twice a year.
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