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Fine Dining

     Fine Dining  
Big Fin Seafood
A seafood-lover's nirvana with something to satisfy and delight many tastes.
The menu covers appetizing seafood, steaks, pasta as well as, a sushi and raw bar.
The chefs' signature dishes are far from bland, and complemented by a fabulous selection of drinks.
The pan seared mahi mahi piccata is srumptious.
The chowder is signature and a must try.
Chef Shawn's chowder clam is bubbling with chunks of clams, infused with vegetable and a creamy cheese sauce, very robust.
The easy to dip calamari and fried clams are excellent, battered just right.
The eye-catching desserts are impossible to resist, especially the velvety bread pudding topped with a creamy sauce.
Elegantly modern decor with a classy appeal.
A pleasant atmosphere, and the staff members are very attentive.
Enjoy fine dining and outstanding service at The Big Fin Seafood Kitchen
Location: Restaurant Row
Sand Lake Road
$40
California Grill
"The Mouse can cook, baby!"; this Californian on "top of the world" (or on the 15th floor of Disney's Contemporary Resort, anyway) again is voted Orlando's Most Popular restaurant; "gifted" chef Clifford Pleau continually reinvents his "unique seasonal menus", creating "divine" dishes paired with an "equally eloquent wine list"; add "impeccable" service and "spectacular" views of the park and its fireworks, and the result is truly "great dining" -- "tourists" in "shorts and Mickey Mouse ears" not withstanding.
Location: Disney World
Contemporary Hotel
$41
Christini's
"A treasure among restaurants", this "buttoned-up" Northern Italian "standby" in the Dr. Phillips area of South Orlando produces "feasts" of near-"perfect" execution, complemented by a 450-label wine list; among its many "charms" are "exquisite service", ornate, "beautiful" decor and "strolling musicians" who complete the "romantic" picture; just bear in mind that such "very special" dining doesn't come cheap -- the prices are "high" even by "expense-account" standards.
South Orlando 7600 Dr. Phillips Blvd.
$52
Hemingways
The Hemingway-at-Key-West decor (rods and reels, a stuffed marlin, nautical trinkets) at this "lovely" Lake Buena Vista hotel seafood house makes you feel like you've spent the day fishing with Papa; "a nice place to bring clients" or to celebrate "special occasions", it impresses with dishes like "great coconut shrimp" and "yummy" paella.
Lake Buena Vista 1 Grand Cypress Blvd.
$41
Venetian Room
An upscale, fine-dining restaurant that strives to offer an elegant experience of the highest level.
The menu is under the supervision of chef de cuisine Khalid Benghallem, a former sous chef at Emeril's and the opening chef at Shula's Steakhouse in the Dolphin Hotel. The fare features all the standards you would expect to find in such a place - foie gras, crab cake, lamb rack,veal chop, etc. But the preparations are anything but standard, and some are downright inspired.
Now, we may as well get this bit of business out the way right now: This place isn't cheap. Appetizers range from $14 to $17, and six of the seven entrees are more.than $30
Location: Caribe Royal Hotel 8101 World Center Drive
Vine Grill & Wine Bar
The Vine proudly emphasize their chef inspired menu, posh decor, racks of signature wines, custom made booths, sleek swish bar, live jazz band and pleasant ambience.
From the fresh cut orchards, gleaming chandeliers, crisp white linen, lit candles to the cozy booths and exquisite wine racks, the decor is a mix of grace and ritz.
Restaurant Row
7533 West Sand Lake Road.
$40
Vito's Chop House
"Classy without being stuffy", this upscale International Drive yearling has already become a favorite steaks-and-chops choice for carnivores who rave they're "the best I've had in a long time"; the "high-quality" beef is "cooked exactly as requested" and presented by "attentive servers" who can also recommend "excellent" selections from the ambitious 800-plus bottle wine list.
International Drive 8633 International Dr.
$40
     Better Dining
     Caribbean
Bahama Breeze
Island cuisine at its best.
You know the place, with its bustling outdoor patio with a guitarist strumming tropical tunes and an atmosphere with lots of beautiful people. There is one thing that remains sadly typical: the long wait... and this chain doesn't accept reservations.
Location: 8849 International Drive
$20
     Casual
BB Kings Restaurant & Club
Delicious comfort foods are served in generous portions. The menu items are tantalizing and standouts from the ordinary. The rub-downed ribs are of the highest quality, tender, meaty. The barbeque sauce adds an accent flavor and a luscious finish. The rotisserie split chicken is moist, topped with tasty crispy fried onions; an excellent marriage of two distinct flavors. The soul sampler's Memphis wings are honestly hot, a zesty treat. The fried dill pickle chips are an unexpected pleasure, surprisingly a good delicacy.
Pointe Orlando International Dr.
$20
Pebbles Restaurant
This local chain is something of an Orlando institution. It's where locals go when they want a casual atmosphere with sophisticated food. Pebbles is a perfect place to take guests from out of town, as the atmosphere screams "Florida." Try the Mediterranean salmon, a sauteed filet accompanied by artichoke hearts, Mediterranean salsa, and feta, served alongside roasted pecan couscous; or the Florida citrus chicken, a breaded breast in a lemon-orange sauce also served with the pecan couscous and julienne vegetables. Among salad lovers, the ahi tuna on Mediterranean pasta has made Pebbles famous with its seared medium rare tuna over fresh mixed greens tossed into pasta blended with feta cheese, hearts of palm and artichokes. A true Floridian will order Pebble's perfect Key lime pie for dessert. But who can resist the chocolate bread pudding, served warm with vanilla ice cream and Kahlua white chocolate sauce? Pebble's is located near the Downtown Disney hotel plaza in the CrossRoads of Lake Buena Vista shopping center.
Location: 12551 State Rd. 535
$22
Too Jay's
O-town has a gem of a deli that can beat just about any in New York City.
Toojay's also a Jewish deli, a diner, a bakery and a home-cooking restaurant all rolled up in one.
$15
     French
Le Coq Au Vin
"Quaint, intimate and charming", this South Orlando French bistro is a "perennial favorite that's holding up well" and continues to prove that "fine things come in small packages"; so devoted is chef-owner Louis Perrotte's following that regulars claim to have the "phone number programmed on their cell phones", and why not? -- the "simply excellent" menu "caters to the connoisseur" by "changing seasonally, so each visit is a delicious new experience" (but always "finish with a souffl").
South Orlando 4800 S. Orange Ave.
$34
     Italian
Carrabba's Italian Grill
The casual dining room is a favorite for families, sharing plates of pasta and hearty entrees like the pollo Rosa Maria, a fire-roasted chicken breast stuffed with fontina cheese, prosciutto and topped with mushroom basil butter sauce.
Location: 8355 International Drive.
$20
     Japanese
Kobe Japanese Steakhouse Restaurant
"Entertaining" "teppanyaki chefs put on a show" at this Japanese steakhouse chain that boosters say provides a "consistently fun dining experience"; it's also "a good place for the novice sushi eater", and the daily early-bird special delivers "a lot of food for the money"; be forewarned, however, that service can be "slow and unenthused."
$24
     Mexican
Don Pablo's
It is no coincidence that stepping into Don Pablo's is like entering a village plaza in some border town. But forget the decor and try the enchiladas, as they are convincing enough. Skip the starters and stick with the chips and salsa along with one of the many variations of margaritas. You'll need one if you opt for the salsa macho, an extremely hot version of Don Pablo's house salsa. Try the chicken Tampico, a grilled breast topped with a roasted poblano pepper and Tampico cheese sauce. If you are looking for a light dining option, Mama's Skinny Enchiladas have only 4.5 fat grams per enchilada-three corn tortilla chicken enchiladas with a red ranchero sauce topped with cheese, served with low-fat charra beans and Spanish rice. Looking for a quick meal? The house salad is better than average and the tortilla soup is heavenly.
Location: 8717 International Dr.
$16
     Seafood
Atlantic Cove
For the freshest seafood in Orlando, Atlantic Cove is the place for authentic Thai cuisine, the freshest lobster and juiciest beef.
Atlantic Cove serves both lunch and dinner and if there is a need to entertain, catering services are available for groups for just a couple to several hundred.
11025 International Drive. (Seaworld Area)
$30
Fish Bones
"Make a reservation or you'll have a long wait" at this "hopping" seafood house in the International Drive "tourist zone", popular for its "tasty", "large portions" of "fresh fish done quite well" and "excellent" steaks; the ocean-faring decor (think nautical maps on the tabletops, fishing poles on the walls) is just what you'd expect at this kind of surf 'n' turf.
6707 Sand Lake Rd. (International Dr.)
$30
     Steaks
Charley's Steakhouse
Steaks so tender you can "cut them with a fork" are the province of this steakhouse minichain where "incredible slabs of meat" are "cooked to perfection" over a "hardwood fire" emerging thick,juicy, and exceptionally flavorful you are in beef lovers paradise.
Numerous locations.
$36
Morton's of Chicago
Superlative beef and sides in a discreet locale. Average User Rating: It would be hard to find a more old-school steakhouse than Morton's of Chicago. As you descend into the "romantic" darkness, past the clouds of cigar smoke, you'll find incredible steaks-at equally incredible prices. And don't forget the equally expensive side dishes. If price is no object to a good meal, you've found the place. When was the last time you've had beef so tender and full of flavor that you have to remark after every bite? While the steakhouse is particularly close to the Central Florida theme parks, it is tucked away in the quaint Doctor Phillips Marketplace, a respite of sorts from nearby tourist hangouts. The clientele is one part Orlando executive, two parts Orlando business traveler. They are all here to drink martinis and sink their teeth into the juicy porterhouse, sirloin and Maine lobster. As for side dishes, don't pass up the specialty, potatoes Lyonnaise.
Location: 7600 Dr. Phillips Blvd.
$60
Outback
may be the best family style chain restaurant steakhouse
$20

By Marie Ospina

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Orlando restaurant reviews have been culled from various references including gayot.com & zagat.com.

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