Mamak Asian Street Food

**** (4 stars)

This bright, trendy space is a great place to enjoy Asian street food. Much like the restaurant that pioneered this cuisine in Orland (Hawkers, which is just around the corner and up the street), Mamak offers a menu of pan-Asian dishes arranged in columns including noodle dishes, rice dishes, tapas and soups.

We started with some edamame (a gift for checking in on Yelp). It was perfectly heated and salted.

Our first main dish was the Mamak Roti Canai, which many Yelpers justifiably raved over. The curry was the perfect spiciness, and the rotis were puffy and flakey.

The Roast Duck was less successful, fatty, somewhat tough, and it had that jagged “carved with a Korean chain saw” aspect.

Nasi Goreng Kari was a good rice dish, but it was completely overshadowed by the spectacular Indian Mee Goreng, one of the greatest noodle dishes I’ve ever tasted. It was like Pad Thai on steroids. Each bite of this dish produced layers of complex flavors: first the protein (shrimp and tofu), then the scallions and bean sprouts, then the wonderful wok-fried noodles in a sweet chili sauce, and finally the crushed peanuts and tart lime. I could eat this dish all day!

An extensive beer list offers something to match any dish on the menu, and the wines by the bottle come in a fair variety, too, better than Hawkers.

Service was friendly and attentive. The room is large, light and airy, but has no acoustic treatment whatsoever, so it can be quite loud. As a result the most pleasant dining might be during the hours between lunch and dinner.

Mamak Asian Street Food
1231 E Colonial Dr
Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 270-4688
http://www.yelp.com/biz/mamak-asian-street-food-orlando-2

LAKEHouse Restaurant

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*** (3 stars)

This restaurant, located in the former Cascades space, has been completely remodeled into a trendy and airy space. Unfortunately the food and service could still use some remodeling.

There’s nothing really wrong with the menu, but the more creative the dishes, the less the flavors seem to click. For example, the idea of making a shrimp cocktail using grilled, chilled shrimp sounds inventive, but turns out to produce a fairly off-putting texture.

The house pizza combined citrus, boursin cheese, asparagus and chicken, but somehow managed to be nearly flavorless. It’s the only time I’ve ever put salt and pepper on a pizza.

The LAKEhouse salad bowl combines interesting ingredients such as figs, spicy pecans, arugula and parmesan cheese, but they don’t really work together.

The best thing I had was the “cauliflower steak”. Like many of the dishes on the menu, the name is not descriptive. It’s simply cauliflower and several other vegetables that have been nicely grilled.

An extensive cocktail list tends toward sweeter drinks. The wine list offers quite a few selections, although the most interesting ones are available only by the bottle.

Service was well-intentioned, but not at the level of a fine dining restaurant; perhaps is is more appropriate for breakfast or lunch, when the space serves as the hotel’s coffee shop.

LAKEHouse Restaurant
1 Grand Cypress Blvd
Orlando, FL 32836
(407) 239-1234
http://www.yelp.com/biz/lakehouse-restaurant-orlando

Servando’s

***** (5 stars)

If you were a fan of Taquitos Jalisco when they had three locations, you will love Servando’s. It’s run by the original owner, and has all the same dishes, prepared just the way you remember. As an added bonus, it’s much cleaner than the remaining Taquitos, and the space is light and airy. Service is friendly, and Servando is there to make sure everything is just right.

Personal favorites include Servando’s Nachos (without any meat or beans is the way I like them), and either tacos or gorditas with their amazing Pastor. The Plato Botanas appetizer is a nice way to sample many things. Margaritas are also quite good.

If you’re looking for REAL Mexican food on the west side of town, this is the place.

Servando’s
14107 W Colonial Dr
Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 654-6866
http://www.yelp.com/biz/servandos-winter-garden-2

Urbain 40 American Brasserie and Lounge

***** (5 stars)

The interior of this restaurant is quite stunning, an amalgam of classic French bistro and modern supper club. There’s really nothing else like it in Orlando.

The menu offers a selection of mostly traditional French bistro food, with a few more modern items such as flatbreads.

We started with French onion soup and a watercress salad. The onion soup was good, but not spectacular, however the salad was excellent, with just the right zing to the vinaigrette, offset by crispy apple slices and some crunchy candied pecans. It was my favorite item of the meal.

We had two “hors d’oeuvres”–which were really appetizers–instead of entrees. In keeping with the theme of misnaming things, the “crepe” was actually a torte comprised of many layers of crepe interleaved with vegetables. It was good, but not a crepe. We also had the mussels. Two preparations were on offer, one pan roasted, the other steamed. We opted for the former, and received a HUGE pan full of mussels. They were perfectly cooked and quite tasty, although the shells were coated in salt, which made eating them without ODing on salt a challenge.

For dessert we tried the trio, and nice sampling. The highlights were the “cheesecake pops” which were also misnamed, as they contained ice cream and were chocolate coated, so essentially ice cream bars on sticks. ┬áThese were excellent, and much better than the accompanying truffles and jelly filled macarons.

Service was very attentive–almost to a fault. The staff is clearly still trying to find their way (there was a lot of fiddling with lighting levels) but is very well-intentioned, and will get there.

A reasonable selection of wines is available by glass or bottle, and there is also an emphasis on 40’s cocktails, really the only way that the 40s theming plays into the experience.

Two excellent private dining rooms are available, and the lounge is even a more pleasant space for dinner than the restaurant proper.

I’m hoping that Urban does well, as Orlando could really benefit from such a beautiful restaurant.

Urbain 40 American Brasserie and Lounge
8000 Via Dellagio Way
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 872-2640
http://www.yelp.com/biz/urbain-40-american-brasserie-and-lounge-orlando