Olive Garden Italian Restaurant – Temp. CLOSED

Interior
Interior
Exterior
Exterior
Bar
Bar
Salad, breadsticks, Alfredo sauce
Salad, breadsticks, Alfredo sauce

**** (4 stars)

This is one of the very first Olive Gardens because Orlando is Darden's test market for new restaurant concepts. They definitely kept it fresh, with lovely remodeling. The bar is well-separated from the restaurant, and the dining room is open, spacious, and airy, with lots of windows.

The food is Olive Garden standard, so not much more needs to be said.

Service is good. The Darden restaurants have recently gone to table top devices for ordering and paying, no doubt to deal with staffing challenges. I'm not sold on the efficiency, but time will tell.

Olive Garden Italian Restaurant – Temp. CLOSED
12361 State Road 535
Orlando, FL 32836

https://www.yelp.com/biz/olive-garden-italian-restaurant-orlando-24

Olive Garden Italian Restaurant

Interior
Interior
Exterior
Exterior
Bar
Bar
Salad, breadsticks, Alfredo sauce
Salad, breadsticks, Alfredo sauce

**** (4 stars)

This is one of the very first Olive Gardens because Orlando is Darden's test market for new restaurant concepts. They definitely kept it fresh, with lovely remodeling. The bar is well-separated from the restaurant, and the dining room is open, spacious, and airy, with lots of windows.

The food is Olive Garden standard, so not much more needs to be said.

Service is good. The Darden restaurants have recently gone to table top devices for ordering and paying, no doubt to deal with staffing challenges. I'm not sold on the efficiency, but time will tell.

Olive Garden Italian Restaurant
12361 State Road 535
Orlando, FL 32836

https://www.yelp.com/biz/olive-garden-italian-restaurant-orlando-24

A Brasileira Bar & Grill

Exterior
Exterior

**** (4 stars)

This is in the large space that used to be Crafted, a sports bar with a giant central bar and very spacious patio seating.

The space is largely unchanged, but now the menu is Brazilian. There are a few lunch-priced items on the menu, but I really wanted to try the Moquequinha Capixaba de Camarao, even though it was $25. I must say that it was worth it. The metal bowl was served literally boiling hot, and was filled with shrimp–probably close to a pound, I would guess.

My companions also liked their food: a veggie burger, and a sandwich.

Service was pleasant. The kitchen is not terribly speedy, even though there weren't many lunch customers, so don't go in a hurry.

A Brasileira Bar & Grill
2417 S Hiawassee Rd
Orlando, FL 32835

https://www.yelp.com/biz/a-brasileira-bar-and-grill-orlando

Lynchburg Cafe

Interior
Interior
Whiskey burger and fried okra
Whiskey burger and fried okra
Lynchburger with onion rings
Lynchburger with onion rings
Exterior
Exterior

*** (3 stars)

This place serves a pretty good hamburger, with all the fixings I like on it. I would have liked a bun the held up a bit better, but it was tasty. We really liked the fried okra and onion ring sides. The service was fine. We visited after our Jack Daniels Distillery tour, and it was one of the least crowded places to eat.

Lynchburg Cafe
177 Main St
Lynchburg, TN 37352

https://www.yelp.com/biz/lynchburg-cafe-lynchburg

Nick Filet

Exterior
Exterior
Interior
Interior
Surf and turf
Surf and turf
Old bay tater tots
Old bay tater tots

**** (4 stars)

I’m not sure whether Orlando is ready for an $18 sandwich, but if it is, this is the place to get an excellent one. The “Surf and Turf” is a Lobster Roll plus Filet Mignon, and the quality of the ingredients do, indeed, justify the price. The lobster was fresh and flavorful, and the filet mignon was tender and juicy. Add a perfectly butter-grilled and toasted roll, a bit of mayo, and you’ve got a scrumptious sandwich.

In all fairness, there are other selections featuring just filet or lobster, but they’re $12, so you may as well go all-in and get the Surf and Turf.

Sides of fries or Tater Tots are available, either plain, with Old Bay seasoning, or with truffle and cheese. I had the Old Bay Tater Tots, and they were WAY too salty. Note that the “mini” size is actually quite generous, so unless you’re serving a group, don’t get anything larger.

Service was friendly, and fairly quick, even though the place was fairly busy–certainly busier than the former occupants of this space. If you’re concerned about masks, note that none of the customers or staff were wearing any.

Nick Filet
7600 Dr Phillips Blvd
Orlando, FL 32819

https://www.yelp.com/biz/nick-filet-orlando

Nessas Food Co BBQ Restaurant

1/2 rack ribs
Exterior
Interior

***** (5 stars)

Wow! I’ve been to every BBQ place in Orlando (most of them more times than I care to admit!) and this one blows them away.

What amazing ribs! Obviously slowly smoked to perfection over hours, with a slight crust, but incredibly succulent center, with oodles of meat. The half-rack portion is very generous and well-priced. The BBQ sauce, served on the side, is a perfect balance of sweet, tangy and spicy.

Pulled pork is also tender and tasty. The baked beans have a rich sauce and tender chunks of meat, and just a hint of spice. Usually I add BBQ sauces to baked beans, but these didn’t need it.

It’s counter service, and friendly service at that.

There’s just one table inside, and one on the lawn out front, but there’s also parking in the rear. This is a cozy little downtown area of Ocoee, so a pleasant place to eat outside.

Nessas Food Co BBQ Restaurant
14 West McKey St
Ocoee, FL
34761
(321) 370-8172
https://www.yelp.com/biz/nessas-food-co-bbq-restaurant-ocoee

Brother’s Restaurant At the Red Barn

Fried oysters
Tuna tartare
Exterior
Interior

***** (5 stars)

This place offers perfectly grilled steaks and other meat and seafood dishes in a vibrant environment.

in addition to the inside dining area, there is a large outdoor area in back, plus a very lively bar.

The wine list is one of the best in the area, featuring local wines with good pedigrees at reasonable prices.

Service was friendly and professional.

Brother’s Restaurant At the Red Barn
3539 Sagunto St
Santa Ynez, CA
93460
(805) 688-4142
https://www.yelp.com/biz/brothers-restaurant-at-the-red-barn-santa-ynez

Corellis Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria

Interior

**** (4 stars)

This hidden away gem of an Italian restaurant serves excellent food, and has some of the best wine prices you’ll find in Central Florida. The wine offerings are top notch, with a lot of hard to find labels, and an emphasis on top-rated reds. The owner obviously has a passion for it.

During a special event we were seated in the wine shop, and it was actually nicer than the main dining room. Plus, there was an excellent jazz saxophonist.

Highly recommended.

Corellis Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria
1042-1044 E Hwy 50
Clermont, FL
34711
(352) 989-5924
https://www.yelp.com/biz/corellis-italian-restaurant-and-pizzeria-clermont-2

Pret A Manger

Interior

**** (4 stars)

I like the simplicity of Pret if you just want a coffee and croissant. The baristas can certainly whip up something fancy, but sometimes it’s nice to just serve yourself a cup.

The chocolate hazelnut croissant is noteworthy, because it’s filled like pain au chocolate, but is the shape and consistency of a croissant.

Pret A Manger
787 7th Ave
New York, NY 10019
(212) 262-2328
https://www.yelp.com/biz/pret-a-manger-new-york-79

Rasa Asian Street Food

Wings with five spice and Thai chili sauce

Mee Goreng

Papaya salad

Roti canai

Dim sum

Exterior

Interior

**** (4 stars)

Southwest Orlando can use an Asian street food restaurant, as the others are all in the Mills District. Rasa is off to a good start. While there was no absolute home run in the dishes we tried, they were all within striking range of those other places.

The menu offers a nice assortment of noodle, rice and curry dishes. It’s weak on salads, and the one we tried was far too spicy with no warning at all on the menu.

Dim Sum was four pieces of sauteed potstickers. I would have liked a bit more sear on them, but they were delicious.

Mee Goreng was quite good, with lots of shrimp and chicken mixed into a Pad-Thai-like noodle base. It was just a little more like Pad Thai than a true Mee Goreng.

Chicken wings are available simply fried (naked) or breaded, and you can select two sauces from the seven offered. We liked the five spice the best.

Roti Canai was perhaps the most on target of everything we tried. The yellow curry was rich and flavorful, but the roti is greasier than elsewhere.

Tea service needs a bit of work. I’m always a bit put off by Asian restaurants where the green tea is a tea bag, and the pot holds barely one cup.

Service was friendly and well-intentioned; it just felt like it needs a few weeks to settle in, as especially the food runners seemed a bit out of their element.

Prices are reasonable.

In all, this is a promising start, and we will certainly go back.

Rasa Asian Street Food
7730 W Sand Lake Rd
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 930-0402
https://www.yelp.com/biz/rasa-asian-street-food-orlando-3