Fine dining and Disney haven’t always gone hand-in-hand; the first restaurant you might associate with Mickey Mouse and co probably has a giant yellow ‘M’ towering above it or a certain Colonel Sanders plastered on a billboard outside. Victoria & Albert’s, however, flips this now out-of-date stereotype on its head, offering the polar opposite of the old-school Disney fast food joint. This is the sort of place where reservations need to be made weeks in advance, you won’t get in without a dinner jacket, and six or more courses from their modern American/French-inspired menu (with wine pairing) will probably set you back the price of a couple of tickets into the park for the day. Orlando is not yet on the Michelin team’s radar, but Victoria & Albert’s has long been recognized as one of Florida’s best restaurants, having been awarded the prestigious AAA Five Diamond award every year since 2000. Read More...
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While Orlando is in the south, it’s not really a Southern city. If you’re looking for some proper Southern food though, you can find it at The Coop in Winter Park. This place specializes in fried chicken, which you should definitely get, but they also serve po’boys, shrimp and grits, and plenty of traditional sides, if a bucket of chicken isn’t what you’re after. They also serve breakfast seven days a week, which includes classics like chicken and waffles and biscuits with gravy. Just make sure to schedule a nap for afterwards if you stop by.
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Mythos Restaurant is an award-winning restaurant built into what appears to be a cave. Located in The Jurassic Park: The Lost Continent® section of Universal’s Islands of Adventure, the interior evokes the prehistoric setting well, although the menu takes a sharp detour from the caveman theme. Greek and pan-Mediterranean dishes are the specialty here, including risotto, mezze platter, and lamb skewers. What we love about this restaurant is that you can have high-level contemporary cuisine with excellent service and all the trimmings without having to leave all the fun of the fair.
Humbled by my failure of the American Cheese Society’s T.A.S.T.E. exam three months earlier, I decide to set my sights lower and start my cheese education at the beginning. I pay $850 to attend a three-day, in-depth Cheese Boot Camp at Murray’s Cheese in New York’s Greenwich Village. The course begins on a Friday evening, with unlimited wine being poured. About two dozen students from all across the country crowd into an upstairs classroom. A number of people work in the cheese business, in sales or production, and some are opening their own cheese shops. There is one Master of Wine, a few chefs and one couple who tell all of us that they just love cheese so much that they’re spending their wedding anniversary at Cheese Boot Camp.
Antonio’s in Maitland is a split-level cafe/shop and restaurant where you’ll go to just buy some bread and cheese, and end up staying for lunch and a glass of wine. Downstairs is a super casual cafe and market where you can eat pasta, pizza, and rotisserie chicken, while also stocking up on things for your own kitchen. For the more formal experience, head upstairs, where you can still eat all of the Italian classics from the first floor, along with a wide range of steaks and seafood.
Hotel dining has certainly changed over the years. Gone are the dimly lit hotel lounges off the lobby with a bar menu of club sandwiches and BLTs. Today's hotels, especially in Orlando, put as much emphasis on the dining as the overnight stay. Orlando guests will find trendy restaurants with innovative menus and award-winning chefs, surprisingly located within Orlando's hotels and resorts. Here are some highlights, whether you're booking a stay or looking for a great meal.
Indeed, what the rise of specialized taste education, the cult of sensory analysis, and the wine-ification of everything means is that taste is becoming more and more codified all the time. There are good tastes and bad tastes; not only that, there’s a growing caste of gatekeepers in every field who are keeping score on what tastes great, middling and flawed. Maybe this is what morality or philosophy looks like in an increasingly post-religious, post-intellectual, materialistic United States. We are a people in need of an authority, a higher voice, some guidance — even if it comes from behind the cheese counter. Maybe, for many affluent Americans, the sommeliers of everything represent something shaman-like. Listen to me. I am your one true sommelier.
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Chef Shuichi Tanida left his post at Epcot’s Mitsukoshi restaurant to open a downtown ramen shop (appropriately dubbed “The Ramen”) in the former Philly Connection space and the soup cognoscenti have caught on. The broths, be it tonkotsu, shoyu or miso are unquestionably legit and there’s even a vegan ramen offered. The soup-averse can give any of the donburi (rice bowls) or bento boxes (with choice of karaage, panko-fried chicken tender, or potato croquette) a go but, really, it’s all about the ramen at The Ramen.