Salt & The Cellar By Akira Back

Where Clouds End Non-alcoholic espresso and citrus drink
Where Clouds End Non-alcoholic espresso and citrus drink
Tuna Tartare
Tuna Tartare
Wagyu Tacos
Wagyu Tacos
Togarashi Fries
Togarashi Fries
Lobster tail
Lobster tail
Chef presents a course
Chef presents a course
Interior
Interior
Tuna Pizza
Tuna Pizza
Salt presentation
Salt presentation
"Cigar"
"Cigar"
Kimchi Brussels sprouts
Kimchi Brussels sprouts
Yuzu
Yuzu
Chocolate
Chocolate
New York Strip
New York Strip
Seafood assortment
Seafood assortment

***** (5 stars)

It's about time that Orlando had another true fine dining restaurant! Amid a sea of steakhouses, Salt & The Cellar stands out as one of the few truly great restaurants in Central Florida.

With just the right touch of Japanese and Asian flair, and a lot of creativity in presentation, Salt & The Cellar surprises with almost every dish. The menu is designed to be shared, which invites one to try almost everything, and our party of three took up the challenge.

We started with an off-menu seafood assortment that surpassed any seafood tower I've encountered, with generous portions of lobster and crab, and the most delightfully flavored little clams.

Then we progressed through an assortment of starters: an impressive tableside preparation of tuna tartare mixed tableside like some elaborate guacamole; wagyu tacos with just the right amount of spicy kick; a delicately plated tuna pizza (this was the only item of the meal we didn't care for, it having been overwhelmed with truffle oil).

Then it was on to a generous portion of delicious New York strip, already sliced for easy eating with chopsticks, and served with our choice of three salts (the smoky and coffee-flavored salts are standouts).

Sides accompanying the steak included kimchi Brussels sprouts (which were delicious, but more about toasted garlic than kimchi, I thought) and Togarashi fries (wonderfully seasoned, although the paper cone they were served in couldn't keep them hot).

Three desserts were on offer, and all three were delightful. The most unique was the "Cigar" which was passion fruit ice cream in a dark chocolate wrapper with coffee-flavored "ashes". Even the cigar band was edible!

One surprising aspect of the restaurant (and the whole hotel, for that matter) is that it offers no alcohol. Of course, you are welcome to bring your own wines, and we were delighted to find that the glassware and wine service were top-notch.

There are also a half dozen "mocktails" on offer. The espresso and citrus "Where Clouds End" was a particular stunner, served in a bell jar full of hickory smoke.

Service was Michelin level. Our main server, Randi, was an enthusiastic delight.

Best of all, I no longer need to be embarrassed when people ask me where to go for fine dining in Orlando. This is the place.

Salt & The Cellar By Akira Back
3001 Sherberth Rd
Kissimmee, FL 34747

https://www.yelp.com/biz/salt-and-the-cellar-by-akira-back-kissimmee

The Mexican Camel

Menu
Menu
Prep
Prep
Interior
Interior
#5 Nacho Tinga Fusion
#5 Nacho Tinga Fusion
Exterior
Exterior

***** (5 stars)

The easiest way to describe The Mexican Camel is as an upscale Chipotle that also incorporates Middle Eastern options to create fusion dishes.

Our party of four had very different items, which illustrate the diversity available here. One person opted for a vegetarian, mostly Mexican bowl. Another had lamb in his. And a third had spicy shrimp on a salad. I, on the other hand, went far afield, and had nacho chips topped with Chicken Tinga.

Everyone really enjoyed their selections, so there were no wrong choices!

One thing that really stood out to me was the friendliness of the two servers working behind the counter. This was definitely not a robotic Chipotle performance, they were really into it. Service was also very fast.

We all thought the bowls were a bit pricey, but I guess that's true of everything these days, and everyone agreed we'll be back soon, so that's what really matters.

The Mexican Camel
5752 International Dr
Orlando, FL 32819

https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-mexican-camel-orlando

Ten 3

Bar
Bar

***** (5 stars)

We came here for the amazing 360 degree views, but the food is really good, too. I just sat at the bar and had the chip trio, but the people around me were raving about the wings, meatloaf, and other dishes.

My Ten 3 Margarita was excellent.

Service at the bar was great.

Ten 3
30 Tramway Rd NE
Albuquerque, NM 87122

https://www.yelp.com/biz/ten-3-albuquerque

The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill – Winter Garden

Interior
Interior
Menu
Menu
Exterior
Exterior

**** (4 stars)

I really like the straightforward approach the food takes at The Great Greek locations. The menu is easy to navigate, and you can get the most popular Greek ites or a Middle Eastern spin with falafel. My go to is the traditional gyro, but the falafel pita is also quite good. If you don’t want the wrapper, there is a platter version, too.

This location is a bit more upscale than the one in Lakeside Village, with a nice covered outdoor eating area. The food also works well to go.

And there is a lot of togo business. Even though I thought I was alone when I ordered after 8pm on a Wednesday, at least ten dinners were picked up before mine was ready. I think next time I will order ahead to avoid the wait.

Service was very friendly.

The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill – Winter Garden
16045 New Independence Pkwy
Winter Garden, FL 34787

https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-great-greek-mediterranean-grill-winter-garden-winter-garden-2

Simply Gyros

Interior

**** (4 stars)

The food here is good. Everything is made to order, and you can select the ingredients for your gyro. They also have kebab platters.

The fries are particularly good, freshly made to order, and with a crisp crust.

The only problem is that it takes a long time for the food to be ready, so it’s not what you could call a quick serve concept. But if you have time to relax while your meal is made, it’s a good choice.

Simply Gyros
7728 West Sandlake Rd
Orlando, FL
32819
(321) 250-2155
https://www.yelp.com/biz/simply-gyros-orlando

Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine – Lake Nona

Interior

**** (4.5 stars)

This Lake Nona branch is the third location for this small chain, after Winter Park and Dr. Philips, and it’s definitely the nicest. (I understand a fourth is coming soon to Winter Garden.)

My favorite item is the appetizer sampler of dips, which includes Humus, Babaganoush, Sautéed Eggplant, Tabbuli, Ezme, Tarama, Haydari, and Zetinyagli Yaprak Dolma. Be sure to get it with Halvas, the large, hollow pita-like bread for dipping.

I also like the Doner Kebap, which is thin slices of gyro lamb over rice.

Don’t be afraid of the Turkish wines. They’re quite good, and a flight gives you the chance to sample two ounces of four different ones and pick your favorite.

The place is large, hard surfaced, and gets busy, so don’t expect a quiet meal. If not for that, I would have given it another star.

Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine – Lake Nona
6900 Tavistock Lakes BlvdSte 100
Orlando, FL
32827
(407) 313-2506
https://www.yelp.com/biz/bosphorous-turkish-cuisine-lake-nona-orlando

Zoës Kitchen

Interior

Salmon kabobs

***** (5 stars)

Zoe’s must have the most healthful cuisine of any quick-serve nationwide chain. I love everything on the menu, but my favorite is the salmon skewers. They’re always perfectly charred and very fresh. Get them with the harissa sauce to kick it up a notch.

My favorite accompaniments are the roasted vegetables, greek salad and the hummus.’

This location of Zoe’s can be a pain to get to because of traffic, but there is plenty of parking, unlike the one on Sand Lake Road, where parking is impossible.

Zoës Kitchen
4724 Millenia Plaza Way
Ste C
Orlando, FL 32839
(407) 351-6050
https://www.yelp.com/biz/zo%C3%ABs-kitchen-orlando-7

O’town Burgers N Wings

Lunch wings combo

Lunch 1/2 pound Angus burger combo

Exterior

Interior

***** (5 stars)

Usually when a place tries to do too many things, they fail to do any one thing well. Fortunately, that’s not the case at O’Town. Not only do they have one of the best burgers in town, they also have terrific wings. Plus the gyros, shawarma, and other offerings look great, too.

We shared the lunch combo burger and the lunch combo wings. The burger was a generous 1/2 pound of Angus beef, perfectly seared with a bit of char on the outside, and with all my favorite toppings: lettuce, tomato, onion slice, pickles, and a mayo-based sauce. I added a bit of mustard and it was heaven.

I also really liked the wings, which were perfectly cooked, not fatty, and served with a delicious teriyaki sauce (many other sauces are also available).

Each special came with fries (thin cut) and a drink, and both were reasonably priced.

Service was friendly. It took a while because the food was cooked to order, but not too long, and when our food was delivered our drinks were refilled.

I’d definitely place this in the top burgers in town, and will definitely return.

O’town Burgers N Wings
6614 Old Winter Garden Rd
Orlando, FL 32835
(407) 286-0515
http://www.yelp.com/biz/o-town-burgers-n-wings-orlando

Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe

Bacon cheeseburger

Flatbread

Interior

**** (4 stars)

This combination wine shop and cafe is where one of the best scenes in Sideways was filmed. They have an excellent selection of retail wines, focused on the surrounding area, at reasonable prices. Wine tastings are also available, and the central wine bar is a good place to have a glass of your favorite.

The cafe has excellent food. The hamburger is particularly good, especially loaded up with bacon, sauteed onions and your choice of cheese.

I’ve been a member of the wine club for many years, which I particularly like because every quarter you receive high-end wines from completely different wineries, so there is much more variety than in most clubs.

Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe
2879 Grand Ave
Los Olivos, CA 93441
(805) 688-7265
https://www.yelp.com/biz/los-olivos-wine-merchant-and-cafe-los-olivos-4

Ema

***** (5 stars)

We couldn’t believe how well run this place was on its opening night. The space is open, attractive, not too noisy, and has a great soundtrack. There’s a bar at the front and the rear.

Food is served tapas style, and is mostly Middle Eastern influenced.

We started with the avocado and sweet pea spread, which had wonderful flavors of cilantro and mint, and came with some nicely warmed pitas. It seemed a small portion for $9.

We loved the lamb kefta kebabs and the crispy potatoes.

The pan roasted romanesco was also excellent.

We were slightly less impressed by the crispy broccoli, which were served with a dashi that didn’t have a lot of added flavor. I personally liked the tuna crudo (which was more like hamachi sashimi), but my companion didn’t; it was very lemony and the crispy lentils added a nice texture, but the avocado and tomato didn’t add much.

For dessert we had the honey pie and the frozen greek yogurt. The former was quite sweet, the later fairly tart, but combined they were heaven.

Service was amazing, not just from our server, but everyone who delivered food, cleared the food, welcomed us at the front desk–all incredibly friendly and organized for a restaurant on its first day.

The wine list is also excellent with most wines available by the glass, and nearly all selections from Mediterranean producers. Usually this means lots of mediocre wines, but the selections here are absolutely stellar, and the waiters have been carefully trained in the nuances of the list.

Although some portions seems a bit small and pricey, when the final bill came we thought it was excellent value for the quality received.

Really an impressive debut, and we’ll be back soon.

?ma
74 W Illinois St
Chicago, IL 60654

http://www.yelp.com/biz/%C4%93ma-chicago-2