American Social

Exterior
Bar
Interior

*** (3 stars)

This is a nice remodel of the Bar Louie space, and it’s sure more popular! The vibe is excellent, and the servers are really good. Food is just okay, and at tourist area prices.

We went for brunch, but the menu had many non-breakfast items, which was nice. The Nashville hot chicken was good, with a nice crispy crust (that could have been spicier). It was served as sliders on biscuits, but couldn’t possibly have been eaten that way.

Buffalo chicken wings were large, but otherwise not noteworthy.

The Crispy Potatoes in sourcream onion dip were a disaster, with many ladlefuls too much of the white glop burying the otherwise nicely roasted potatoes.

There’s an extensive cocktail list, and some interesting beers on tap, too.

American Social
7335 W Sand Lake RdSte 101
Orlando, FL
32819
(407) 454-9992
https://www.yelp.com/biz/american-social-orlando

Ford’s Garage- Orlando

Exterior
Pickles
Interior

**** (4 stars)

This nicely themed restaurant is near the Lake Buena Vista outlet stores. It offers both indoor and outdoor seating. The menu emphasizes burgers, with some other sports bar type food.

I tried the house specialty burger, and it was excellent. The included potato wedges are just okay, so I upgraded to onion rings. The rings were better, but not as good as the fried pickle appetizer, which is battered rather than breaded.

There’s a nice selection of beers including a lot of dark beers, which are my favorites.

Ford’s Garage- Orlando
8201 Vineland AveSte 1801
Orlando, FL
32821
(407) 602-3673
https://www.yelp.com/biz/fords-garage-orlando-orlando

The Edison

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
Grilled Edison Wings
Interior
Interior
Interior
Exterior

*** (3 stars)

This is a spectacularly set decorated multi-level space where The Adventurer’s Club used to be. Old machinery forms the decor, and old movies play on flat panels and projectors. At night there are even aerial acrobatics, but it’s much more relaxing during the day.

This is the sort of place that almost demands you have a cocktail–preferably a classic cocktail–to match the decor. And the drinks are good, although pricey.

Unfortunately the food doesn’t live up to the surroundings. The menu is pretty much basic sports bar, but not particularly well prepared. Chicken wings were particularly flaccid, with a soggy, loose skin that was quite unappealing. The buffalo chicken sandwich was better, although the accompanying fries were also limp.

Service was friendly and attentive.

The Edison
1570 East Buena Vista Dr
Lake Buena Vista, FL
32830
(407) 560-9288
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-edison-lake-buena-vista-4

Aku Aku Tiki Bar

Exterior
Interior
Interior
Eric at the bar

 

***** (5 stars)

This is Orlando’s best real tiki bar, with an excellent selection of rums, and a nice variety of traditional and modern tiki drinks. The Sunday bartender, Eric, is particularly passionate about all things tiki, and can give you an amazing guided tour of the science of making a great tiki cocktail.

The intimate size and eclectic historic tiki decor make this a very cool place for tiki aficionados to hang out and experience the real thing.

Aku Aku Tiki Bar
431 E Central Blvd
Orlando, FL
32801
(407) 839-0080
https://www.yelp.com/biz/aku-aku-tiki-bar-orlando

The Tasting Room

Interior

***** (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
34787
(407) 230-4837
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-tasting-room-winter-garden-3

Susuru

Susuru chashu gohan

Chicken breast yakitori, brussel sprouts yasai, short rib kushiyaki

Okonomiyaki

Exterior

Interior

Interior

***** (5 stars)

What a great place! This is an authentic Japanese Izakaya, just like you’d find in Tokyo. There’s no other place in Central Florida like this.

Choose yakitori skewers from a full menu, or have a delicious okonomiyaki. The mini rice bowls are also delicious.

There’s a fairly extensive sake and sochu list as well.

Service is friendly and prices are very reasonable.

Susuru
8548 Palm Pkwy
Orlando, FL
32836
(407) 778-4813
https://www.yelp.com/biz/susuru-orlando-2

Eiffel Tower

Frozen soufflé

Ocean seafood salad

Cream of onion soup

Torchon

View

Interior

**** (4 stars)

I was expecting this place to be very touristy, so I’m shocked to come away feeling it is one of my favorite restaurants in Vegas. In fact, I enjoyed it more that Jules Verne in the real Eiffel Tower!

The room is beautiful, and the view of the Strip and the Bellagio fountain can’t be beat. The atmosphere is sophisticated without being stuck up.

The lunch menu offers a nice assortment of French-inspired cuisine focusing on the lighter side. I loved the torchon appetizer and my Ocean Seafood Salad (btw, what other kind of seafood is there?)

The frozen souffle was an interesting dessert. Try ordering a glass of Amaro and pouring into the ice cream at the bottom–delicious!

The wine list is decent, and the prices normal for the Strip.

This is one of the few Vegas restaurants I think is worth a return visit, because it is about more than just the novelty of the experience.

Eiffel Tower
3655 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV
89109
(702) 948-6937
https://www.yelp.com/biz/eiffel-tower-las-vegas

The Stubborn Mule

Tuscan flat bread special

Tuna bowl

pastrami sandwich

Exterior

**** (4 stars)

This was an odd meal, parts of it fine, others pretty much off the rails. It’s hard to judge how much of the experience was colored by a fairly dreadful server, but there were some issues in the kitchen, too.

First the good:

There is a nice outdoor seating area.

The menu is interesting.

The day’s special Tuscan flatbread was delicious, with a perfectly crisped naan crust and a lovely combination of toppings.

The rosemary fries were very good.

Now the not so good:

I would have been better disposed toward the experience if not for the server. We started with the wrong wine, and ended with the wrong entree.

I ordered the smashed salmon sandwich, but I got a pressed pastrami. I like pastrami okay, but this was fairly fatty, and there was an unappealing bitter spread.

Our server offered to correct the mistake, but at this point we were two hours into lunch, and it seemed futile. And that was also two hours without a water refill, so we were getting parched.

The tuna bowl had good tuna and avocado, but I suspect that consumption of the dressing (thankfully served on the side) would have made us sick, as it was pretty clearly spoiled.

I suppose if you’re looking for a burger that might be a good choice. Maybe you’ll have better luck than we did.

The Stubborn Mule
100 S Eola Dr
Orlando, FL
32801
+1-407-730-3400
https://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/the-stubborn-mule-orlando-2

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

The Little Door

Door

Exterior

Mussels

Sesame Seared Day Boat Scallops, Preserved Lemon Sauce

Chermoula Marinated Grilled Octopus, Preserved Lemon Sauce

Spicy Ahi Tuna Tartare and Shaved Fennel Salad

Patio at night

***** (5 stars)

The extraordinarily romantic ambiance of The Little Door makes it almost a magical dining experience. Divided into many intimate spaces, it feels like you’re dining in a patio, or a forest, or a cottage, depending upon where you sit.

Tuna tartare was a nice starter, but the grilled octopus was even better, extremely tender and flavorful.

The mussels appetizer which my companion had as an entree was huge; she could only eat half!

My grilled scallops were perfectly cooked and accompanied by carrots seasoned with interesting Morrocan spices.

The extensive wine list is extremely reasonably priced.

Service was professional, attentive, and friendly.

The Little Door
8164 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 951-1210
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-little-door-los-angeles