The Grill On The Alley

Crab shrimp and lobster louie

Tuna sashimi

Caesar salad

Exterior

Interior

*** (3 stars)

If you like old-school places, you’ll probably like The Grill on the Alley. It’s pretty much unchanged since it opened in the 80s, and it was designed to be retro even back then. It’s a bit like more recent retro steakhouse concepts such as the Palm or Mortons, but somehow lacks the upscale feeling of those.

I didn’t find much that was remarkable on our visit. The best thing I had was a shrimp, crab and lobster Louie salad, which was very generous in its seafood portion, as it should have been for almost $50.

The service was–and I’m being charitable here-uneven, to say the least. We seemed to be handed off through a succession of at least four servers, and the people delivering the plates and bussing the table were all in rotation, too, so it wasn’t exactly conducive to feeling like a guest–more like part of an assembly line.

The clientele here is even older than the restaurant — by about forty years, I’d guess, and seems to be devoted, so perhaps they see something in it that I didn’t.

The Grill On The Alley
9560 Dayton Way
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 276-0615
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-grill-on-the-alley-beverly-hills

Quay Restaurant

Dulcey

Strawberry

Duck

Lamb

Smoked pig jowl and razor clam

Uni

Smoked wagyu

Carrots

View

**** (4 stars)

Usually restaurants with great views are on the top of tall buildings, but Quay is in the middle of its view of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. And usually restaurants with great views don’t strive to provide particularly great food. Quay does try hard, though, and sometimes succeeds.

Every course is certainly beautiful, but not everything tastes quite as good as it looks. The tasting menu is the way to go, because its many courses offer the best shot at finding something delicious. Our favorites were the smoked pork jowl, the lamb, and an amazing strawberry snow egg.

The wine list is extensive, and although the markups are pretty high, it’s a brilliantly constructed list, divided up by wine styles, varietals and regions in the most organized fashion I’ve ever encountered. The Champagne section even has two-page spreads that lists winemakers, grape percentages, and other vital statistics. I wish all wine lists were like this.

Quay Restaurant
Overseas Passenger Terminal
Level 4
Sydney, New South Wales 2000
+61 2 9251 5600
https://www.yelp.com/biz/quay-restaurant-sydney-4

Mo-Chica Ceviche Peruvian Grill

Chaufa and 1/4 chicken lunch

Causa (shrimp)

Tuna

Disco sour

Bar

Interior

***** (5 stars)

So far this is the best Peruvian food I’ve found in Orlando.

Of course I had to have a Pisco Sour. It was nicely made, with lots of frothy egg white on top, although it was a bit sweeter than I like.

Our server was nice, but there was definitely a language barrier. However we managed to mostly convey our order, although she didn’t understand the concept of appetizer, even though there is a section of the menu labeled that.

The Causa is extremely good, three small towers of the yellow pepper mash topped with fresh shrimp and a delicious sauce.

The Tiradito de Tuna Mikey was a very interesting preparation of sashimi style tuna slices in an Asian sauce and topped with chunks of sweet potato and avocado. The tuna was very good quality, and the sauce was excellent.

On the back of the menu is a small lunch section, with items for $9. Unlike the rest of the menu, there is no translation, so it requires a bit of research. I tried the Chaufa con 1/4 de Pollo a la Brisa. It was rotisserie chicken over fried rice. It was good, but not as good as the other items we had.

Because the tuna and shrimp were so good, on my next visit I will definitely try one of their many ceviches.

Prices seem a bit high, but not unreasonable for a tourist area. The place had only been open a couple of weeks when we went, but there wasn’t much lunch business. I’m rather surprised they opened here, because this shopping center is getting a bit tired, and I thought they were planning to bulldoze it to make room for a luxury hotel. But as long as it lasts I will be a regular visitor, because this is an excellent Peruvian restaurant.

Mo-Chica Ceviche Peruvian Grill
5700 International Dr
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 723-8416
http://www.yelp.com/biz/mo-chica-ceviche-peruvian-grill-orlando-2

Boca Kitchen Bar Market

Exterior

Interior

**** (4 stars)

I used to think this space was cursed, because of the long succession of unsuccessful restaurants that occupied it. But it turns out it wasn’t the space, it was the restaurants that were the problem. Boca is packed every day, and with good reason.

The food and service are both top notch. We had the day’s lunch special, a blackened amberjack sandwich. The amberjack was a thick piece, perfectly cooked. The accompanying mango slaw was a bit sweet for my taste, but with just a little on the sandwich it was perfect.

Rather than fries we asked for the mixed vegetables which had been sauteed and had a delightful smokey flavor.

Boca is one of the best bets for lunch on Park Avenue.

Boca Kitchen Bar Market
358 North Park Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 636-7022
http://www.yelp.com/biz/boca-kitchen-bar-market-winter-park

Hot N Juicy Crawfish

Crawfish

Crawfish sandwich

1lb crawfish

Menu

Exterior

Interior

*** (3 stars)

This place is well-named, as the food was certainly hot and juicy. Not surprisingly, it’s also a mess. You know you’re in for a participatory meal when your table is equipped with bibs, gloves and a bucket!

We shared a pound of crawfish for $14. It comes in a tied plastic bag, swimming in sauce. That’s a reasonable price, but you need to realize that equates to only a few tablespoons of actual crawfish meat. We had the hot n juicy sauce, which was pretty good, but be cautious of the spiciness level. We ordered medium, and it equated to HOT most places.

We also had the cajun fries, which were crisp, hot and well-seasoned.

Our companions had the crawfish po boy sandwiches, which were a lot easier and neater, as the crawfish meat was deep fried.

Service was friendly and helpful.

Hot N Juicy Crawfish
7572 W Sand Lake Rd
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 370-4655
http://www.yelp.com/biz/hot-n-juicy-crawfish-orlando

The Fat Snook

Wet jerk pork ribeye

Mahimahi special

Blue crab

Seafood charcuterie

Amuse bouche

Menu

Exterior

Bar

Interior

***** (5 stars)

This restaurant is certainly the gem of the space coast. It’s a truly fine dining restaurant in what is a bit of a wasteland.

We started with the seafood charcuterie, which turned out to be our favorite item of the night. ¬†While the octopus terrine wasn’t particularly flavorful, all the other items–salmon rillette, smoked fish pate–and the accompanying salads and relishes were wonderful.

The blue crab was also excellent. The single soft shell crab topped an amazing piece of cornbread.

My wife’s wet jerk pork ribeye was very good, better than the mahi mahi fish special I had.

The space is relatively small, which keeps noise levels reasonable, and it is nicely decorated.

Service was amazing, We were impressed by all the servers’ interactions with their guests; our server, Michelle, was particularly excellent.

The wine list is a bit limited, but there are many excellent choices, and the value is good, particularly for the top end bottles.

The Fat Snook
2464 S Atlantic Ave
Cocoa Beach, FL 32931
(321) 784-1190
http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-fat-snook-cocoa-beach

Taste of Peru

Pescado a la Chorrillana

Ceviche Mixto

Causa de Camarones

Exterior

Interior

***** (5 stars)

This is the best Peruvian restaurant I’ve found in Orlando. In fact, the quality of the ceviche approached our benchmark, which we had in Lima Peru.

The place is small and decorated in dark woods and black fake alligator table tops, but it’s not at all grungy as one review seemed to imply. In fact, it’s quite clean, and even a bit edgy looking. I would vote to lose the really annoying Peruvian travel videos, though, which inexplicably have a soundtrack that sounds like Russian marching band dirges.

We started with the Causa de Camarones, which was a good as any causa I’ve had. It was missing a couple of layers that are usually present, but had a delightfully piquant quality and excellent sauce accompaniment.

Ceviche Mixto was a huge mound of mixed seafood in a mildly spicy creamy lime sauce. The shrimp and fish were good, and the calamari was excellent.

Pescado a la Chorrillana is a large serving of nicely battered and fried fish topped with onions, tomatoes and cilantro, and served with a mild sauce. The flavor of the cilantro came through nicely.

Service was very friendly, and the kitchen is extremely quick, obviously preparing everything from scratch, but at lightning speed. Pricing is reasonable, especially considering the generous portions.

Taste of Peru
9521 S Orange Blossom Trl
Ste 114A
Orlando, FL 32837
(407) 857-2734
http://www.yelp.com/biz/taste-of-peru-orlando-6

Gaviota

Fried rice gaviita

Ceviche

Causas

Exterior

Interior

**** (4 stars)

This is a good Peruvian restaurant in a space that has been many restaurants. As was the case for those others (and even more that were planned here and never opened) the challenge is finding customers. I suspect one reason is that it is nearly impossible to park in the neighborhood. As a result, the staff outnumbered the patrons throughout Saturday lunch, and the two of us were alone for most of it.

The dishes we sampled were all good.

The complementary corn kernels were skinnier, puffier and better than any of the other Peruvian restaurants we’ve been to.

The Causa assortment (they were out of one kind, so we only tried the chicken and octopus) was delicious, the best thing we had.

The ceviche assortment was good, similar to others in town, with three different types of fish, all steeped in lime juice.

The house fried rice was tasty but a bit unusual, more Chinese than Peruvian.

The Pisco Sour we started with was a bit sweet, but we added lots of lime juice and it tasted more authentic.

Service was friendly, but had the tentative feeling of inexperience.

If I was in downtown Orlando and in the mood for Peruvian food I would definitely go back, especially if I didn’t have a car to park.

Gaviota
100 South Eola Dr
Ste 104
Orlando, FL 32801
(407) 428-4682
https://www.yelp.com/biz/gaviota-orlando

Luke’s Kitchen and Bar

Chicken burger

Scallop ceviche

Snapper ceviche

Potato chips with onion chive dip

Interior

Lunch menu

*** (3 stars)

This is a new endeavor from the creators of Luma and Prato. You can see them designing in all the things they’d like to have, such as a larger prep kitchen. Now their challenge will be to get better food out of that kitchen.

We went for lunch and it was just okay. We started with some house made potato chips and onion chive dip. The chips were good, but notethat the predominate dip flavor is actually truffle, even though it’s not listed as an ingredient.

The tuna tartare we ordered was unavailable, so we tried again, with red snapper ceviche. I liked it okay; my companion thought it lacked sufficed acid to “cook” it in the true manner of ceviche.

My companion preferred the scallop ceviche. I liked the scallops, but thought this one needed lime juice instead of passionfruit.

As an entree we shared a chicken burger. This was not a good choice. It is, indeed, a ground chicken patty that has been deep fried. If that sounds like something you’d get at McDonald’s it also tastes like it. The only redeeming feature of this dish was the accompanying house greens salad, which was delicious.

The vibe of the restaurant owes a lot to Hilstone’s. Tables are nicely spaced.

There are a LOT of people working here, which makes it surprising how long it takes to get dishes from the kitchen, particularly considering that they weren’t busy. Our server was friendly and helpful.

Luke’s Kitchen and Bar
640 S Orlando Ave
Orlando, FL 32751
(407) 674-2400
https://www.yelp.com/biz/lukes-kitchen-and-bar-orlando

Oudom Thai & Sushi

Lettuce Wraps

Pad Thai

Dynamite roll

Interior

**** (4 stars)

Oudom is the latest occupant of a space that has been a revolving door for restaurants, and I hope it does better than its predecessors, because it is a much better restaurant.

We started with their Dynamite Roll, which emphasizes sriracha rather than wassabi. It was a well-made roll with a good balance of flavors.

Pad Thai was a bit lackluster, I thought. It lacked the crispness that should have been imparted by lime juice, and I didn’t detect any egg.

The lettuce wraps were our favorite. The mixture incorporated lots of cilantro, ginger and citrus, and was fresh and very flavorful.

The space is largely unchanged from its last incarnation. It’s open and high-ceilinged, and pleasant to be in.

Our server was friendly and efficient, and the pricing is reasonable.

Oudom Thai & Sushi
100 S Eola Dr
Ste 105
Orlando, FL 32801
(407) 849-3739
https://www.yelp.com/biz/oudom-thai-and-sushi-orlando-2