The Tasting Room


***** (5 stars)

The Tasting Room is the best small plates restaurant in Central Florida. It’s run by Laurie and Kevin Tarter, who are famous for The Chef’s Table at the Edgewater, one of Central Florida’s top fine dining restaurants, and perpetual winner of most romantic restaurant. In fact, The Tasting Room is right in front of The Chef’s Table, and they share a kitchen which explains the extraordinarily high quality of the food.

Highlights include the duck fat fries, smoked fish dip, and interesting salads.

In addition, there is a terrific bar, with a vast collection of interesting spirits and original cocktails, plus a well-curated wine and beer list.

Live music adds to the great ambiance several nights a week. Plus it’s located in historic Winter Garden, a truly charming town that is a great exemplar of how amazing Central Florida can be just a short drive from the theme parks.

The Tasting Room
99 W Plant StSte 5
Winter Garden, FL
(407) 230-4837

Singh’s Roti Shop & Bar

Chicken roti


**** (4 stars)

Singh’s offers a full range of Rotis and curries in a pleasant environment. It’s counter service, but very efficient and well-staffed. I’m a big fan of goat roti, but the channa and the chicken are also good. If you don’t like bones, there is even a version of the chicken that is boneless.

I suggest getting the roti separate rather than as a wrap. Their roti is HUGE, and it’s almost impossible to eat the grapefruit-sized thing! I think you also get more filling when they are separate.

The place is spotlessly clean, and there’s a nice outside patio and also a full bar.

Singh’s Roti Shop & Bar
5244 Old Winter Garden Rd
Orlando, FL
(407) 253-2900

Ellie Lou’s Brews & BBQ

Pork platter




***** (5 stars)

Orlando is an excellent town for barbecue, with many great choices, and a lot of different styles, from Southern to Midwestern and more. I like the barbecue here better than almost anywhere I travel to, because of that diversity. And I have to say, of all the great Orlando barbecue places I patronize, Ellie Lou’s is the best.

I had the pork platter with two sides. I was expecting sliced pork, so I was pleased when something more like burnt ends appeared: succulent chunks of lean, moist pork, with a nice charred crust on some of the pieces. It was a generous serving, too.

I liked all four BBQ sauces on the table: Kansas City (sweet), Memphis, Hot, and Mustard. The combination of the first three was my favorite. All of them are made in-house, and it shows.

Also made in-house are the sides. The baked beans were loaded with chunks of meat; a squirt of sauce and they were perfect. One of my favorite parts of the whole meal was the potato salad, which was also obviously homemade, with big chunks of potato, a creamy dressing and lots of herbs.

The two slices of garlic bread were also excellent: fresh, crispy and with lots of garlic butter.

Perhaps the thing that most distinguishes Ellie Lou’s is the environment. It’s not crowded and is actually quite pleasant inside. And even though you order at a counter, the staff is very attentive once you’re seated, so it’s like a real restaurant. A real GOOD restaurant.

Ellie Lou’s Brews & BBQ
336 Moore Rd
Ocoee, FL 34761
(407) 347-9515