Thanks to those who contributed to the "Orlando Dining Guide" threads--it was great to have all of that info in one place. I picked three of the recommended places, and here's a brief report.
4 Rivers Smokehouse was the highlight. Coming from Seattle, I just don't have good bbq at home. Between 3 of us we ordered a lot of food and loved it all (the banana pudding especially). The whole experience--outside tables with misters, unlimited iced tea, a line that moved fast and efficiently--was great.
K was the next favorite. I actually gave my meal a B but the other 3 in my party were more wowed (they had pork, filet and snapper). I saw the huge size of the starters and entrees before we ordered so I ordered 2 starters rather than a starter and entree. The K tomato stack was big (and too heavy on the goat cheese), and the shrimp and grits was enormous--entree sized, in my book. My 2 starters left me stuffed and everyone else, who had a starter and entree, was nearly comatose. Desserts were nice--I'm not typically a big fan of chocolate desserts, and wouldn't have ordered a "lava cake" left to my own devices, but it was great--not too sweet. My friends' escargot, pork and filet all the same reduction, which was odd. Service was good, and they were accomodating about letting us change a res on a Saturday night. It's a loud room, if that matters to anyone. The tv above the bar is puzzling. But all in all a nice experience.
Ravenous Pig wasn't quite as successful. It wasn't bad by any means, but we expected better. Dishes had too many ingredients and didn't always work. Again, portions were ridiculously huge (I'm not well traveled in the South--maybe this is a southern thing?). I had a starter of ricotta gnudi which filled me up. The summer truffles in it had no taste which, in my experience, is usually the case with this ingredient. My snapper was nicely cooked but there were so many ingredients and they didn't all mesh. The lobster roll had deep fried lobster, which seems like a shame. My friends gave a thumbs down to the fried chicken and shrimp and grits; pickled ramps were missing from the Humboldt Fog salad (and funny thing about that--my Floridian friend didn't know that was a brand of goat cheese, and the words "goat cheese" are not in the description--he just thought it was the name of the salad, so he was surprised at what it turned out to be. I don't know if that's just his mistake or if Humboldt Fog is more known on the West Coast than in Florida). The gruyere biscuits were great, and another friend loved her burger.The fact that you could get a glass or split of anything on the wine list was great. I liked the space. I wish the servers didn't introduce themselves and give a pitch about the restaurant.