First, this restaurant is gorgeous. What a transformation they’ve done on this space! Some of Orlando’s best interior restaurant design.
I admit that Cantonese is not necessarily my favorite Asian cuisine, but I can certainly appreciate how well it is done here, and there are some real standouts.
The dim sum menu is extensive. Our favorite item, as is usually the case, was the chive dumpling. The pan-seared potsticker appetizer was also good.
A fellow at a table next to us ordered Clay Pot salted chicken and fish, and it looked incredible, reminding me of Korean bibimbop, but I couldn’t find it on the menu. I definitely need to check that out next time.
Service was terrific, with constant refills of our drinks, and friendly and efficient throughout.
We definitely want to return and further explore the menu.
YH Seafood Clubhouse
8081 Turkey Lake Rd
Orlando, FL 32819
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
This reincarnation of the old Hemingway's spot is very good. Because of the Richard Blaise branding, I was expecting more molecular gastronomy, but it's pretty focused on fresh seafood.
We selected the Seafood Smorgasbord as our starter, and it proved to be so extensive that it was really a meal for two, including nearly every appetizer on the menu: Tuna tostada, scallop ceviche, stone crab claws, shrimp cocktail, ham croquettes, shrimp toast, and a dozen oysters! Highlights were the scallops and the tuna and, surprisingly, the croquettes. We weren't fans of the shrimp toast; although perfectly crisped, it was a bit sweet, and lacked any shrimp flavor. At $128 this was fairly priced, and a really complete dinner for two.
After that, all we could manage were a couple more small plates. Ribeye Pichos were two small skewers of flavorful beef, tasty but maybe not worth $23. Jerk coated cauliflower, also available in an entree size portion, was excellent.
The Boulevardier is an amazing cocktail. It's also nice that they have a wine of the day poured from magnum. Ours was Chateau LaGrange.
I've been going to this place for 38 years, since it first opened as Hemingway's, and our server, Michael, has been there just as long! So some things haven't changed. Now if they would just bring back the Key Wester salad as a tribute to the old days, it would be perfect.
Four Flamingos 1 Grand Cypress Blvd Orlando, FL 32836
This is a combination sports bar and seafood place, focusing on mostly fried seafood dishes the way you might get them in Boston, or the way people think you might get them in Boston. There's nothing great about the place except the decor, which is pretty good, and the nice location on Celebration's waterfront. But there's nothing terrible about it either. The best thing we had was the lobster roll, which had a reasonable amount of lobster in it, although it was priced accordingly. The sports bar food was less good. The potato skins and chicken wings were just OK. Spicy tuna dip was a poor choice. It was basically really liquid tuna sandwich filling, and not spicy at all. There is a lovely outside area dedicated to dining with dogs, so if you're a dog watcher, it's a great place to visit lots of canine friends.
Celebration Town Tavern 721 Front St Celebration, FL 34747
It's delightful to visit a traditional steakhouse that isn't part of a chain, and that maintains the aura and service that was a fixture of grand steakhouses before they became ubiquitous franchises.
Everything about Gallagher's is what I'm looking for, from the cozy booths to the subdued lighting, the sparkling central bar, and the professional yet friendly service.
We went after theater, and although the place was hopping, currently curtailed hours meant the kitchen was closing, so we limited our experience to a spectacular chilled seafood platter, some carpaccio, and some wonderfully crisp fries. Everything was terrific.
Prices are reasonable for NYC, and it was appreciated that there was a selection of half bottles of wine so we could each have our favorite.
We'll definitely make this a regular stop during visits to the theater.
Gallaghers Steakhouse 228 W 52nd St New York, NY 10019
Traditional Brazilian food, done well, in a nice place with table service and a full bar.
The emphasis is on meats of all kinds, and the VERY extensive menu does a good job of picturing everything. The prices seem high at first, but even the half portion is more than enough for two people. There is also a lunch menu.
Hard surfaces, so it can get noisy.
Boteco do Manolo 7653 International Dr Orlando, FL 32819
This restaurant just opened in July of 2021, and it's a bit hard to find until they add signage. It's not in the Inn at Abeja, but next to the winery. So when you go up the driveway and park you need to walk to the back and right.
For a restaurant so newly opened, they are doing a lot of things right, and I'm pretty sure this is the most upscale dining experience in Walla Walla. The dining room is under the experienced direction of Tom Uberuaga. Winemakers Dan Wampfler and Amy Alvarez-Wampfler also visited our table.
The tasting menu was created by Elodie Li, a young chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Seattle, and with Michelin experience in France. She also made a point of visiting diners' tables.
Highlights of the tasting menu included a wonderfully complex Amuse Bouche of cherry tomatoes, and a stunning dessert with flavors of blood orange and Earl Grey. Chef Li notes she isn't a pastry chef, but she certainly could be!
We also enjoyed the Tenderloin course, especially the oyster mushrooms in Cabernet jus.
As one would expect of a brand new restaurant, there were a few missteps, but nothing major. The dining room was much too bright, but Tom indicated dimmers were already being installed. It is also a bit noisy, but that may be addressed with some softer floor treatments. Service needs a little polish, and some dishes would have been better served on warm plates, but overall everything was quite good.
A wine pairing of Abeja wines is available and fairly priced, although a broader range of wines might find better matches with the food.
Over all I would say this is a must -stop restaurant for all foodies visiting Walla Walla.
The Kitchen at Abeja 2014 Mill Creek Rd Walla Walla, WA 99362
This place far exceeded my expectations for a counter serve restaurant. I had the mixed ceviche, and it was wholly authentic, and almost as good as the best I've had in Lima, Peru. My companion had the quarter chick, which was a great lunch time deal.
The only downside of this location is that the strip mall needs a parking lot twice as big!