The Boathouse

Beef carpaccio
Chopped salad
Exterior
Interior

***** (5 stars)

Restaurants in tourist areas don’t need to be all that great, because there is a constant supply of new patrons. But I’m a big fan of Gibson’s restaurants in Chicago, so I decided to give The Boathouse a try, and I’m glad I did.

As you would expect for a restaurant at Disney Springs, the decor and theming are spectacular. But the food is even better. I had the chopped salad with a couple of shrimp added. The salad was huge, very fresh, and the shrimp were perhaps the freshest I’ve had anywhere. I will definitely explore their raw bar when I return.

My wife had a selection of raw oysters, and also commented on how fresh they were.

The place was packed at lunchtime on a Monday, but the servers did a good job of keeping up, and the noise levels were quite reasonable.

The Boathouse is definitely my new favorite restaurant at Disney Springs.

The Boathouse
1620 E Buena Vista Dr
Lake Buena Vista, FL
32830
(407) 939-2628
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-boathouse-lake-buena-vista

Bull and Bear

The Wedge
Beef Short Rib
Carpaccio
Entry
Bar

***** (5 stars)

Orlando lacks variety in the high-end dining scene, with only a few top-notch restaurants that aren’t steakhouses. That makes the competition for best steakhouse even tougher, because there are so many to choose from. It doesn’t get much better than The Bull and Bear.

You won’t find much on this menu that isn’t on every other steakhouse menu in town, but the execution here is superb.

The wedge salad, really more of a stacked dome, is a good starter, with a choice of dressing, and delicious bacon crumbles.

The steaks, of course, are top-notch. But the real standout for me was the short rib, which was easily the best I’ve ever had. Served on one not-so-short rib, the meat was succulent without being overcooked, and the rich, complex reductive sauce was stellar.

The usual sides are here. Particularly good is the creamed corn.

Wine prices are average, and there is an adequate selection, although no vintage depth.

The electronic menu used for both food and wine actually works really well, and the pictures linked to the menu items looked exactly like the dishes we were served.

Our wine group used to meet here regularly, but over time it slipped off my radar, so I hadn’t been here in years. The food is a top-notch as it ever was, although the prices have certainly increased!

Bull and Bear
14200 Bonnet Creek Resort Ln
Orlando, FL
32821
(407) 597-5500
https://www.yelp.com/biz/bull-and-bear-orlando-2

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill

Exterior
Interior
Interior
Interior

*** (3 stars)

The highlight here is the gorgeous decor. From the large bar with its high top table to the comfortable dining room with large booths and an open kitchen, every surface is elegant stone and wood. Even the outside covered dining area is beautifully designed.

Unfortunately the food experience is rather uneven. Both the Ceasar salad and Mixed Green salad were wonderful. My prime rib was perfectly cooked, although there was a tremendous amount of fat, about a third of the serving. Still, it was plenty. But my wife’s “New York strip” looked like a flank steak, but was tough even for that cut. It was perhaps the toughest steak she’s ever been served. Sure, she could have sent it back, but it was obvious on inspection that it wasn’t a good steak, so I think that’s some measure of performance.

Tater tots were an excellent side.

Wine prices are reasonable by the bottle, only a bit more than double retail.

Service was very good. Note that if you’re not in a hurry you should tell them, though, as it tends to be very speedy.

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
1562 N Mills Ave
Orlando, FL
32803
(407) 581-9861
https://www.yelp.com/biz/firebirds-wood-fired-grill-orlando

Flemings Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

*** (3 stars)

With all the steak house chains available to choose from, I must admit that Flemings is not near the top of my list, but friends suggested meeting here. I would rate both the interior and the service as toward the lower end of the steak house spectrum. Service was particularly a problem, with our waiter constantly barging in, but not around when we needed him, and rushing us through the meal to the point that he was placing our desserts on the table before the dinner plates were cleared, and while some guests were still eating their entrees.

My steak was just okay, cooked well past the requested medium-rare and not particularly tender or flavorful.

I will say that some of the wines — especially the upper-end selections — are reasonably priced, especially in comparison to the Flemings near our home in Orlando.

Overall I’d recommend this place for a quick (very quick) business meal, but not a fine dining evening.

Flemings Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
2301 Rosecrans Ave
El Segundo, CA
90245
(310) 643-6911
https://www.yelp.com/biz/flemings-prime-steakhouse-and-wine-bar-el-segundo-2

Outback Steakhouse

Exterior
Interior
Appetizer Sampler
Ahi
Ribs – 1/2 portion
Margaritas

**** (4 stars)

This location seems a little tired, but it’s undergoing a remodel that should improve it. Service was good, and the food was well-prepared and served hot.

The Appetizer sampler offers petals from a bloomin’ onion, cheese and bacon fries, and deep-fried mac and cheese. Stick with the bloomin’ onion petals. The fries in particular don’t really work, as the cheese has a mind of its own, and doesn’t want to have anything to do with them.

The half portion of ribs is a winner. These are the meatiest ribs I’ve ever been served, and the sauce, while sweet, has a nice tang to it.

Drink prices deserve a shout out. The house margarita is a deal at $6, and the sampling of four different margaritas (served on a boomerang!) for $7 is an even better deal.

Outback Steakhouse
8195 Vineland Ave
Orlando, FL
32821
(407) 477-0098
https://www.yelp.com/biz/outback-steakhouse-orlando-3

LongHorn Steakhouse

Exterior
Bar
Interior

**** (4 stars)

The outlaw rib eye is the go to steak here, arguably better than any steak you can get as sister restaurant Capital Grille. Lunch items are a good deal, but not up to the quality of the dinner menu. Excellent decor, bar ambiance, and service.

LongHorn Steakhouse
8398 Vineland Ave
Orlando, FL
32821
(407) 828-8976
https://www.yelp.com/biz/longhorn-steakhouse-orlando-8

Bavarian Inn, Black Hills

Rooms
Reception
Breakfast buffet
Pool

***** (5 stars)

Delightful independently run inn with charming touches. Convenient location and friendly staff.

Nice rooms and a great breakfast included. Pancake making machines! And a coffee machine that makes great decaf espresso. Highly recommended.

Bavarian Inn, Black Hills
855 N Fifth St
Custer, SD
57730
(605) 673-2802
https://www.yelp.com/biz/bavarian-inn-black-hills-custer

Helen’s Pancake & Steak House

Buffalo chicken sandwich
Blt
Exterior entrance to bar
Interior

**** (4 stars)

While pancakes and steak might sound like an odd combo, this is indeed a good place for breakfast or dinner.

The dinner menu contains a few entrees, steaked and Italian dishes, and lots of sandwich and burger options. My buffalo chicken sandwich was one of the most succulent and tender pieces of chicken I’ve had, and was perfectly sauced.

Prices are very reasonable, and the service is friendly and enthusiastic. The restaurant is attached to a lounge, so cocktails are also available.

Helen’s Pancake & Steak House
950 W Highway 20
Chadron, NE
69337
(308) 432-9958
https://www.yelp.com/biz/helens-pancake-and-steak-house-chadron

The Grill on the Alley

Exterior
Interior

**** (4 stars)

This location is far from an alley, like the original in Beverly Hills! The building and it’s interior design is exceptional.

The menu is very similar to the original, although the preparations are slightly different.

My favorite item is actually the creamed spinach that comes with the steaks. It has the perfect balance.

Service is friendly and professional.

The Grill on the Alley
120 Promenade Way
Thousand Oaks, CA
91362
(805) 418-1760
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-grill-on-the-alley-thousand-oaks-5

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