About steve

Steve Alcorn is the CEO of Alcorn McBride Inc., a company that designs products used in nearly all of the world’s theme parks. He is the author of many books, including historical fiction, romance, young adult novels, and many non-fiction books including How to Fix Your Novel, Building a Better Mouse and Theme Park Design. During the past decade he has helped more than 30,000 aspiring authors structure their novels through the online learning programs of 2000 colleges and universities worldwide. Learn more at writingacademy.com

Roque Pub

Interior

The Silo

***** (5 stars)

Roque offers a very extensive selection of beers on tap, and a really staggering list of beers in bottles and cans. There are many local offerings, and the list is brilliantly categorized by style, alcohol, bitterness and color. This was the most informative beer list I’ve ever seen, and is ther reason for their fifth star.

Unlike many of the beer-centric places in town, they also have a nice menu of sandwiches and pub food. The Silo was piled high with tender roast beef, and the grilled cheese panini was even better.

Service was fast and friendly, and there are darts and electronic games, plus live entertainment and special events most nights of the week.

Roque Pub
3076 Curry Ford Rd
Orlando, FL 32806
(407) 985-3778
https://www.yelp.com/biz/roque-pub-orlando

Currito

Interior

Cantina bowl

Quesadilla

Frijol torta

*** (3 stars)

If Currito were a Mexican restaurant in my neighborhood I probably wouldn’t be a regular visitor. But on the other hand, I’m not a regular visitor to places like Chipotle or Tijuana Flats, and frankly the food is better at Currito.

The atmosphere isn’t bad–considering the time-worn condition of this terminal at La Guardia, they’ve carved out a cozy niche.

We tried a quesadilla, some chips and salsa, a bowl and a wrap. All of them were just fine. The salsa was better than at half the Mexican restaurants I go to, and the chips were nice and crisp.

The house margarita is excellent, and a decent value and size serving for an airport drink.

Service was polite and reasonably attentive.

Currito
Newark International Airport
Terminal A
Newark, NJ 07114
(973) 547-7938
https://www.yelp.com/biz/currito-newark-3

Times Square Diner

Intererior

Exterior

Turkey Club

Fresh Tuna Salad Club

**** (4 stars)

This narrow space near the theatre district is still decorated the way I imagine it was designed in the 1960s, which is pretty cool. (Well, actually, their air conditioning on a hot day was not particularly effective, if it was working at all, so it wasn’t literally cool, just figuratively.)

The menu is classic diner food, and most portions are enormous. I had a turkey club, and one I located it under a mountain of french fries, I thought it was delicious. Even better was the iced coffee, one of the best I’ve had anywhere.

Unlike some complaints I’ve seen online, I thought the service was excellent, with a plethora of servers constantly refilling our drinks and checking on us, even though they were very busy. I would definitely stop here again for a pre-theatre lunch.

Times Square Diner
807 8th Ave
New York, NY 10019
(212) 315-2400
https://www.yelp.com/biz/times-square-diner-new-york-4

Blue Fin

Interior

Salmon Burger

Chef Boo’s Chirashi Bowl

**** (4 stars)

Restaurants near Times Square don’t need to be particularly good to have a steady stream of customers, so I was pleasantly surprised by Blue Fin.

The narrow first floor space is pleasant and airy, and a broad staircase leads up almost two floors to an expansive and lovely upstairs dining room.

The restaurant offers a combination of cooked food and sushi, and we liked everything we tried. The standout was actually the Bang Bang Edamame, which had been tossed in a wonderful kung pao sauce. Chiriashi was also good, with a nice assortment of fish, although definitely Times Square priced at $33.

Service was friendly and profewssional.

Blue Fin
1567 Broadway
New York, NY 10036
(212) 918-1400
https://www.yelp.com/biz/blue-fin-new-york

Per Se

Exterior

Interior

View

Extensive selection of half bottles

Oysters and Pearls

Yellow fin tuna

Scallop

Parker House roll

Quail

Lamb

Assortment of Desserts

**** (4 stars)

Whenever I go to Per Se I come away comparing it to all the other top-rated restaurants I’ve been too. Although I think the staff is wonderful, and the restaurant is beautiful and beautifully situated, I can’t convince myself that the food lives up to expectations. It’s all beautiful, but there are no home runs.

In its favor, it has perhaps the best selection of half bottles of wine I’ve seen anywhere, so you can put together an amazing tasting to match your meal. But I think you’ll find that the food doesn’t live up to the wines.

On this latest visit, the best course was the quail, and the most forgettable was a completely mundane lamb chop.

The desserts were the best. Usually when a restaurant fills the table with a half dozen small desserts, many of them are misses; but at Per Se each dessert deserved to be there, and provided a lovely variety to end the meal.

If you’re looking for a sophisticated experience with great service and a beautiful view, and if cost is no object, the Per Se is a great choice. If you’re looking for the best food in the city, this is not it.

Per Se
10 Columbus Cir
Fl 4
New York, NY 10019
(212) 823-9335
https://www.yelp.com/biz/per-se-new-york

Le Grill de Joël Robuchon

Exterior

Bar

Nibbles

Gazpacho

Cheese soufflé

Duck

Ice cream and sorbet assortment

***** (5 stars)

l’Atelier is one of my favorite restaurants around the world, so I always try to visit when I’m in a city that has one. However on this Monday night only Le Grill was open, so we decided to try it, and we were glad we did.

Le Grill offers a relaxed environment, a reasonably priced and very interesting menu, and an excellent wine list. Service is as perfect as at all of Joel Robuchon’s restaurants, professional, yet never stuffy. It’s wonderful to have such an excellent meal experience without it having to be a production number.

Le Grill de Joël Robuchon
85 10th Ave
New York, NY 10011
(212) 488-8885
https://www.yelp.com/biz/le-grill-de-jo%C3%ABl-robuchon-new-york-4

Bill’s Bar & Burger

Interior

Exterior

Ranch hand

**** (4 stars)

This place is a complete remodel of the Italian place that was here before. Although I miss that place, this is probably a better space for serving three meals a day for the attached hotel. It’s lighter and more open, and looks more like a diner.

There’s a large selection of various burger styles, but you can get pretty much anything you like on them. The patties are the smashed kind, so they’re all cooked all the way through. I had the Ranch Hand, basically a BBQ bacon cheeseburger, and it was very good.

The accompanying fries weren’t very exciting, but a side order of onion rings was nicely done.

Service was friendly. The kitchen was a bit slow, considering they weren’t busy, but we weren’t in a hurry.

Bill’s Bar & Burger
30 E Hubbard St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 595-0446
https://www.yelp.com/biz/bills-bar-and-burger-chicago

Valor

Cheeseburger

Salmon

Sorry, there’s only one rib left for you. We fell on the rest like hungry wolves.

Trio of ice creams and bombe

Brussels sprouts

Broccoli

Interior

**** (4 stars)

This popular cafe serves good food with a bit of a French influence to some dishes.

We started with four appetizers. The one we absolutely loved was the Sticky Asian Pork Ribs, which were coated in a wonderful soy-infused teriyaki sauce. Popcorn Cauliflower was also very good, especially dipped in the leftover rib sauce! Warm Brussels Sprout Caesar and Roasted Broccoli and Grilled (cold) Shrimp were both just okay.

Everyone also liked their entrees, which included the Steak Frites, Salmon, and a Cheeseburger.

For dessert we had a housemade ice cream trio and a Chocolate Bombe, both of which were also good.

The wine list is a bit obscure, but we found some interesting selections, and prices are reasonable.

Service was attentive and friendly.

Valor
667 Vernon Ave
Glencoe, IL 60022
(847) 786-4324
https://www.yelp.com/biz/valor-glencoe

LongHorn Steakhouse

Interior

Exterior

Outlaw Ribeye

***** (5 stars)

I’m still in shock over my visit to this Longhorn Steakhouse. I’d been to another Longhorn, years ago, and it was fine, but I never actually had steak. This time I was in the mood.

Somehow I’d expected the result to be closer to Sizzler than Capital Grille (which Longhorn owned before selling both to concepts Darden).

But I didn’t expect to have the best steak of my life. Better than Capital Grille. better than Mortons, than Flemings, than Ruth’s Chris. Better than I can cook at home. The Outlaw Ribeye was literally the best cooked, most tender, most flavorful and best seasoned steak I’ve ever had anywhere.

The Caesar salad was also right up there with any steakhouse. The bread was okay, but more like Ruby Tuesday’s now gone breadsticks (not a bad thing) rather than genuine steakhouse sourdough.

Of course the wine list is so short it can’t really be called a list, but the choices are fine.

Service was very professional and attentive, and the environment is, frankly, better decorated and cozier than at those high-end places. At about half the price. I’ll be back.

LongHorn Steakhouse
3118 Daniels Rd
Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 654-0272
https://www.yelp.com/biz/longhorn-steakhouse-winter-garden

OakWood Smokehouse & Grill

Interior

Exterior

Half rack combo

**** (4 stars)

I quite liked this small local chain. The decor is nice, the service was good, and the barbecue was just what I was looking for.

I had the half rack combo with chicken. The ribs were meaty and tender, and had just the right amount of BBQ sauce. To my surprise, the chicken was even better. It was a full breast and wing with a super-smokey flavor. It was unlike chicken I’ve had in any other BBQ spot, because of that emphasis. I dipped it in some sauce from the bottles on the table and he combination was terrific.

The meal comes with two sides, but if you want onion rings or a salad, those count as both, which seems a bit stingy, but the price is low enough that it’s not worth quibbling. The onion rings were good, but would have been better a bit crispier. The accompanying toast was pretty flavorless.

Beer and wine selections are very limited, but the house cabernet, although a small serving, was good.

OakWood Smokehouse & Grill
230 Citrus Tower Blvd
Clermont, FL 34711
(352) 394-0036
https://www.yelp.com/biz/oakwood-smokehouse-and-grill-clermont-2