We enjoyed the sunshine and warmth this last week in Orlando. It was an excellent change from the dismal NYC weather we had been having and apparently it was a great week to miss being in the Big Apple. Frigid temps prevailed but not in Orlando.
We filled our time with golf - bad golf, but is there bad golf if there is golf? - seeing the Yankees in Tampa with a pit stop at Busch Gardens, a quick trip to Port St. Lucie to see the Mets (they both lost sad to say)- a visit to the Kennedy Space Center, and the requisite visit to Epcot. And there it was our week was gone.
It was also filled with eating. The eating ranged from excellent (homemade breakfasts at our condo) to dismal - a $5.99 breakfast buffet at a nearby Houlihans which was the most awful meal I've had in a long long time. It was gross to look at and gross to eat. The best meal was at Enzo's on the Lake where the food seemed honest and real and the waitstaff welcoming. We enjoyed the antipasto for 2 - great white beans and shrimp in particular; a fish soup that was the special of the day (apparently it is usually a main course - it was flavorful and very filling so I really didn't have room for the papardelle with arugula and mushrooms. Sadly I had to leave a lot of it. We ordered a Nebbiolo from the lower end of the wine choices ($40) - it was ok tho very tannic and needed a lot of breathing time. It wasn't cheap but it was all in all quite delicious and in a very unexpected neighborhood - very commercial looking - and suddenly in this small enclave was a restaurant on a lake. Go know!
Earlier in the week we got to Chez Vincent's for my birthday. Despite 2 phone calls - one on Sunday and one that Thursday - it seemed our reservation was not put down. I guess the allure of the party of 24 that was there that night made us quite forgettable. They made it up to us a bit for the 35 minute wait by serving us glasses of a quite delicious champagne. It was not quite enough but it did make the right effort. I didn't recognize the restaurant at all from its website pics. Apparently it was recently re-done. And the neighborhood was quite surprising - trendy and well-heeled it seemed with lots of Mercedes to show it off. Dinner was not cheap! The escargots were grand but the house salad even with the added chevre did not do a lot. The duck main course was cooked well but didn't seem to have a lot of flavor. My husband's fish dish - an assorted tasting of all of the dishes the restaurant offers - seemed just a mish mash. The staff treated us well and it was a 'real' place but I don't think we would go back.
We enjoyed our visit to Season's 52. It was a handsome looking space (the one on Sand Lake Road) and the waiter was attentive. In the end tho it just had a really corporate chain feel to me - albeit upscale. I just like my restaurants to be a bit more personal. No complaints at all about the food. In fact, everything was quite delicious and the wine lovely. In particular, the special Greek Salad was wonderful. I would pass on the mini desserts tho. Too precious for me.
We did get to Del Frisco's. I don't know if it would have made a difference to be in the other room but the crowd at the central bar in the backroom coupled with the convention group of 8 guys at the next table proved to be too much for me. We enjoyed red wine, salads, and soup before sharing a porterhouse. It was nicely prepared but alas wasn't aged beef I had come to expect and not nearly as flavorful as I would have liked. Also, the busboy who served it didn't have a clue as to how to slice it for my husband and me and so butchered it a second time. The potato and onion side order was delish but the creamed spinach with the over-the-top layer of cheese was just not edible. Sometimes simpler IS better. I did love the humongous black jelly beans on the way out. Better than any dessert.
Hmmmm where else...we WERE gone a week. Oh yes, a client was in town at the same time we were and insisted we eat near her Universal resort so off we went to Bice. It was civilized in tone and all but the food didn't measure up to the hype. I had a salad and a 1/2 order to spinach gnocchi with sage and butter (rather than the complex sauce they wanted to serve) and I shared some osso buco with my friend. It was all right but at the price ($100 per person) it just was not at all good enough! And it didn't help that they had only one bottle of the really good white we ordered from the menu and the other one they suggested as a substitute but markedly inferior.
One late night we got to Ming's. We wanted to eat light so we had the seafood soup and an appetizer portion of pork and a dish of eggplant and string beans. Everything was good but I just didn't get too excited there.
Surprising we had another good meal at the Diner down the road from Tradition Field in Tampa before the Yankee game. Someone there made a mean chicken soup. That was definitely the best thing I had. The fried chicken was ok and the pineapple upside down cake was just too sweet but that chicken soup was really yum.
We didn't get to nearly all of the restaurants I had on my list -- no bbq, not to Cedars, no Vietnamese food or Ethiopian. I guess we'll have to visit again!
So now I am home and still full and returning to 'normal' eating. Thanks to all for the posts and all of the suggestions. It was much appreciated. I hope that I can return the favor when anyone here wants to come up to NYC!