The Restaurant At Meadowood

Interior
Foyer

**** (4 stars)

It’s a bit difficult to rate a restaurant based upon a special meal, and we dined on the final night of The Restaurant’s Twelve Days of Christmas 2019 event. On the other hand, the final night is when The Restaurant’s own chef, Christopher Kostow, is in charge, so one assumes the food is representative of the normal quality.

Unfortunately, that seemed to be all over the map. There were indeed some of the stunning courses you’d expect from a three-star Michelin, such as the trout roe, the oxheart carrot, and the sunchoke trifle. But there were also some notable misses, including the unappealing quail, tough pork collar, and many others.

The service made up for a lot of that. It included the kind of synchronized moves that Michelin raters seem to fawn over, but also was very gracious and welcoming, and apologetic for the long wait for our table (no doubt the result of it being the third seating of a completely new menu).

The setting is also sublime: a not-overdone graceful simplicity, and a remarkably good illusion of snowflakes falling outside, to complement the festive mood.

What to make of it? Hard to say without a repeat visit, but at $1000 for two (with wine) I’m not in a hurry to do so.

The Restaurant At Meadowood
900 Meadowood Ln
St. Helena, CA
94574
(707) 967-1205
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-restaurant-at-meadowood-st-helena

Winter Garden Restaurant

Bacon skillet
Exterior
Interior

*** (3 stars)

This unprepossessing diner service traditional coffee shop breakfasts and entrees.  Service was friendly and quick. There was nothing particularly special about the potatoes, bacon and eggs, but nothing wrong with them either. The biscuit was served more like a square of corn bread, and was pretty good. Coffee was just OK.

Winter Garden Restaurant
7 S Dillard St
Winter Garden, FL
34787
(407) 656-7052
https://www.yelp.com/biz/winter-garden-restaurant-winter-garden

Linda’s Winter Park Diner

Farmer’s Omelet
Exterior
Exterior
Interior

**** (4 stars)

This is an authentic diner in the time-honored tradition of roadside eateries. While it may not have the nostalgic decor of a movie-set diner, the menu has all the right items, and the staff is friendly and welcoming, which keeps the regulars coming back.

Breakfast offerings are diverse, with a special focus on omelets. I had the farmer’s omelet, which combined veggies and ham, and a very creamy cheese. It was delicious. Hash browns were crispy, as requested, and the coffee was regularly refilled.

A great place for an old-fashioned dining experience.

Linda’s Winter Park Diner
1700 W Fairbanks Ave
Winter Park, FL
32789
(407) 775-2288
https://www.yelp.com/biz/lindas-winter-park-diner-winter-park

Waffle House

All star breakfast

Interior

Exterior

*** (3.5 stars)

You know what? Waffle House has good food.

I know, I know, they’re kind of low-brow, old fashioned, tacky, but that can be fun. And I would put their All-Star breakfast up against Denny’s, Keke’s or First Watch any day.

My over easy eggs were perfectly cooked, the super crispy bacon was full of flavor–as was the waffle–and the hashbrowns were well done as I requested. Coffee was decent and the service was attentive. What more can you ask?

Waffle
6990 W Colonial Dr
Orlando, FL
32818
(407) 293-8048
https://www.yelp.com/biz/waffle-house-orlando

Sharon’s Homestyle Cookin’

Interior

Exterior

Breakfast sandwich

Grilled banana nut muffin

***** (5 stars)

This place could serve as the set for the musical Waitress. It’s and old-fashioned neighborhood diner where everyone knows your name and remembers your order.

The food is well prepared classic diner food that avoids being too heavy or greasy while still achieving that traditional sinful goodness.

If you like your meal served with a dose of friendly cheer this is the place.

Sharon’s Homestyle Cookin’
5667 S Orange Ave
Pine Castle, FL 32809
(407) 856-9565
https://www.yelp.com/biz/sharons-homestyle-cookin-pine-castle

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

Carol’s Place

Breakfast burrito

Exterior

Interior

**** (4 stars)

Carol’s is an old-fashioned diner, the kind you see in television shows from the 60s. The decor, food and service are exactly as you would expect. Many of the customers are regulars who are greeted by name. You can pretty much get anything they’ve got ingredients for. The preparations are straightforward and generous.

Carol’s Place
3421 S Orange Ave
Orlando, FL 32806
(407) 251-8860
https://www.yelp.com/biz/carols-place-orlando

Harold€’s Restaurant

***** (5 stars)

If there is a better omelette on the face of the planet, I have yet to find it. I’ve been going here for thirty years, and even through a change in ownership and expansion into the space next door, the omelettes have remained transcendental.

My favorite is the Special Omelette, which contains bacon, green chilis and sour cream. A mound of hash browns form the base, then come the ingredients, and then a fluffy egg disc the size of a frisbee. Ask for your hash browns well done for the ultimate omelette enjoyment experience.

Harold’s Restaurant
2440 E Thousand Oaks Blvd
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
(805) 230-3147
http://www.yelp.com/biz/harolds-restaurant-thousand-oaks

Village Inn Winter Garden

***** (5 stars)

Wow. Service with a capital S! I’ve been to fine dining restaurants where I haven’t gotten this level of service.

I was always a fan of the Village Inn when they were in Florida in the 90s, and was sad to see them close most locations, so it’s nice to have them back.

This location had only been open a week when I went, and corporate management was still very hands-on, but it was clear that they were looking for extraordinary service personnel, and they found them. Everyone I encountered was extremely into their job.

The interior of the space is light and modern. I particularly liked the “technology bar” where I sat. I had the same thing I used to always have, a breakfast skillet, and it was prepared just the way I wanted.

Coupled with the attentive and friendly service, it was exactly what I’m looking for in a coffee shop breakfast, and I’ll definitely return.

Village Inn Winter Garden
3130 Daniels Rd
Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 654-0736
http://www.yelp.com/biz/village-inn-winter-garden-winter-garden