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

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

Foie gras amuse bouche

Salmon and caviar

Artichoke carpaccio and foie gras

Interior

Scallop

Lobster

Lobster

Black bass with lemon grass

Wagyu

Quail and foie gras

Sorbet with black currants

Chocolate

***** (5 stars)

l’Atelier is my favorite restaurant in London, Las Vegas, Hong Kong and now New York The consistency of experience is phenomenal, and this new location is the most beautiful yet.

Every course is a knock out, and the service, presentation, lighting and bon vivant spirit of the staff all combine to create an exceptional dining experience.

A special shout out to Sommelier John McKenna, who played the perfect host throughout our meal.

A truly great restaurant in a city of great restaurants.

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
85 10th Ave
New York, NY 10011
(212) 488-8885
https://www.yelp.com/biz/l-atelier-de-jo%C3%ABl-robuchon-new-york-5

Carmine’s Italian Restaurant – Times Square

Interior

Exterior

Cold appetizers

Side of meatballs

Penne Alla Penne Alla Vodka

Tugboat (1/3 of a Titanic)

**** (4 stars)

When someone tells you a restaurant serves large portions, you probably think you know what to expect. You don’t.

Carmine’s is a restaurant you want to go to as a group of eight, and then order two dishes. I’m not kidding. You’ll leave full. Four of us ordered two dishes, and left with an eight-pound bag of food.

We started with the cold appetizer plate. The calamari salad was particularly noteworthy.

The Penne ala Vodka was very good, properly al dente. Truth to be told we also had a side of meatballs. A side is eight meatballs the size of baseballs.

Service was good, and the large, crowded dining room is not as loud as you might expect.

Carmine’s Italian Restaurant – Times Square
200 W 44th St
New York, NY 10036
(212) 221-3800
https://www.yelp.com/biz/carmines-italian-restaurant-times-square-new-york-3

Pret A Manger

Interior

**** (4 stars)

I like the simplicity of Pret if you just want a coffee and croissant. The baristas can certainly whip up something fancy, but sometimes it’s nice to just serve yourself a cup.

The chocolate hazelnut croissant is noteworthy, because it’s filled like pain au chocolate, but is the shape and consistency of a croissant.

Pret A Manger
787 7th Ave
New York, NY 10019
(212) 262-2328
https://www.yelp.com/biz/pret-a-manger-new-york-79

Chroma

Shishito peppers

Exterior

Buffalo chicken wanton

**** (4 stars)

Chroma combines a nice assortment of small plates with an interesting and varied wine list. The place is divided into several spaces, and it’s quieter in the rooms away from the central bar. There’s also outside dining. You might not think an outside dining area under an airport’s approach is a good idea, but somehow it works, particularly on a nice balmy evening.

It’s one of those places where things come out from the kitchen whenever they’re ready, which can lead to pacing problems, so I suggest going when you’re not in a hurry, and not ordering everything at once.

Chroma
6967 Lake Nona Blvd
Orlando, FL 32827
(407) 955-4340
https://www.yelp.com/biz/chroma-orlando

Allen’s Creamery & Coffee House

Interior

Exterior

**** (4 stars)

I’ve driven past this places a thousand times and never thought of stopping. Finally did, and was surprised it was more than just the window facing the street. Inside it’s like an old fashioned ice cream shop.

Carrot cake ice cream was very interesting.

Friendly service.

Allen’s Creamery & Coffee House
523 Main St
Windermere, FL 34786
(407) 876-3558
https://www.yelp.com/biz/allens-creamery-and-coffee-house-windermere

El Patron Restaurante Mexicano

Presidente Margarita

Interior

Exterior

Nachos with no beans or meat

Taco Al pastor

Special dessert

**** (4 stars)

I had avoided this restaurant for many years after a bad experience when they first opened, but I’m glad I decided to try it again. It’s a pretty interesting Mexican restaurant, particularly considering it’s in a tourist area where it doesn’t need to be all that good.

I admit I started with the Presidente Margarita, which at 24 ounces may have favorably colored my experience of the rest of the meal! It was much too sweet, but a plate of lime wedges fixed that.

I started with the nachos, a generous serving to say the least. I don’t like bean and meat on my nachos, so I had them without that, and they were really good–even though I usually want melted cheese, not queso on nachos. There was a generous mound of pickled jalapenos on top, and they were just the right degree of spiciness.

After all those nachos, I just had a single taco al pastor. It was very authentic, with two corn tortillas, bits of pineapple, and just the right level of spice in the marinade.

Even though I was full, I couldn’t pass up a dessert special, bunuelos. This was a stack of three deep-fried flour tortillas coated in sugar and cinnamon and topped with vanilla ice cream. It was really excellent, very freshly made and crisp, with the perfect combination of sweet and salty, crisp and chewy, hot and cold. A dessert home run.

I really enjoyed my lunch, which was not cheap, but was just what I wanted. Everyone else in the place was taking advantage of the lunch buffet, which is a good deal, especially for a tourist area.

Service was attentive and friendly, and the place is nicely decorated. I will definitely return.

El Patron Restaurante Mexicano
12167 S Apopka Vineland Rd
Orlando, FL 32836
(407) 238-5300
https://www.yelp.com/biz/el-patron-restaurante-mexicano-orlando

Sea Dog Brewing Company – Orlando

Beer sampler

Interior

Exterior

Nachos

Pretzy

Happy hour winds

**** (4 stars)

This place has a nice open feel with a large bar in the center and lots of TVs. The menu is basic sports bar food, but well prepared.

The best feature, of course, is the list of beers made on-site. I like porters and stouts, and most microbreweries only make one or two, so I was pleased to see four on the list. A sampler of all four was only $8, and I really enjoyed several of them. There were some pretty wild flavors!

It’s worth noting that there is a nice list of happy hour appetizers, and beers are half price. Since happy hour runs all Sunday afternoon, that’s a great time to go.

Sea Dog Brewing Company – Orlando
8496 Palm Pkwy
Orlando, FL 32836
(321) 329-5306
https://www.yelp.com/biz/sea-dog-brewing-company-orlando-orlando

Avalon Diner

Exterior

Triple Decker club with Cole slaw

**** (4 stars)

Avalon Diner offers classic diner food, but in a modern building that also has a nice outside seating area.

My triple-decker club was very good, with nice crisp lettuce and tomato, and generous mayo. I liked the option of getting ham or beef instead of the classic turkey.

Service was very friendly and attentive.

Avalon Diner
16106 Marsh Rd
Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 614-4233
https://www.yelp.com/biz/avalon-diner-winter-garden

Ok China Restaurant

Interior

Exterior

Boneless spare ribs with beef fried rice

Bourbon chicken with pork fried rice

Pork lo mein with pork fried rice

Curry chicken and onion with shrimp fried rice

***** (5 stars)

I’ve been looking for good Chinese takeout in Orlando for a while, and this place is the first really good one I’ve found.

All four dishes I tried were excellent. Bourbon chicken was probably my favorite, with big, meaty chunk of chicken, and not super sweet, just right. Boneless spareribs were meaty, and not over-sauced. The lo mein in the pork lo mein was a bit overcooked by the time I got home, but it was a long drive, and it was still very hot, so that’s not their fault. Curry chicken and onion was an interesting non-Chinese dish.

The fried rice that came with each was excellent, and the protein–whether beef, pork or shrimp–was plentiful.

Each lunch was huge, so at about $5 each, they’re an amazing deal. There is literally 2 pounds of entree and rice in each meal.

Because my order came to $20 I got two free eggrolls. These were easily the best eggrolls I have ever tasted, including in Hong Kong. They were extremely savory and flavorful, and the wrapper was delicate and crispy without being oily.

It’s just counter service with very little seating, so it’s mainly a takeout place. I don’t think they really started fixing my Internet order until I arrived, but it was pretty quick, and that guaranteed freshness.

Ok China Restaurant
7359 W Colonial Dr
Orlando, FL 32818
(407) 299-8955
https://www.yelp.com/biz/ok-china-restaurant-orlando