Clean, modern lines meld with Spanish sensibility �" colorful tiles and a convivial, festive vibe �" at this fountain-bedecked enclave in Winter Park, where deliciousness comes in many flavors, spanning salty meats to sugary churros and a range of succulent in-betweens. Diners here most often go tapas-style, choosing myriad plates from which all can partake, enjoy, discuss. That's not to say for a moment, however, that the large plates �" from steamy, seafood-laden paellas to succulent short ribs to Spanish-influenced pub burgers. Good stuff. Bulla, by the way, is pronounced "boo-ya," which is precisely what you might say when your teeth sink into its delicious, little cod fritters, or you take your first sip of Rioja on its airy, open patio.
This place is amazing. Every aspect of the restaurant is perfect. It is obvious that this restaurant is taken care of and they are constantly changing their wine selections and specials. The fried green tomatoes are a must try and the service is always outstanding. I've been helped by Tatyana multiple times at the bar and she is truly a gem. I would 100% recommend this spot to anyone who enjoys good food in a quiet and extremely welcoming environment.
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 Victoria & Albert’s, however, flips this now out-of-date stereotype on its head, offering the polar opposite of the old-school Disney fast food joint.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...
Alright, the title's a little misleading. Technically only the No. 1 pick – Walt Disney World's famed Five-Diamond venue Victoria & Albert's – actually requires male guests to wear jackets. Some diners balk at restaurant dress codes, but when it comes to fine dining, wearing a special-occasion dress or cufflinks seems to level everything up, making an opulent evening out that much more sumptuous. Not that you'd call the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa's signature venue anything but. With up to 14 prix fixe courses available, dining at Victoria & Albert's is nothing less than a culinary experience, which is why reservations are best made well in advance. But lest you think the Disney realm is the only place in Orlando where dining is magical, be sure to investigate this roster’s other gems. Those looking for a classic steakhouse experience will find no fault at Christner's Prime Steak & Lobster where thick cuts are seared to perfection and the side dishes are as decadent as anything off the dessert menu. Celebrity chef Norman Van Aken's namesake at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes will delight those who enjoy Floribbean fare and if you're looking for something with more of a locals-only feel, check out his newer venture in Mount Dora: 1921. Its charming, walkable location boasts many options for pre-meal cocktails and window shopping to work up your appetite.
One of Orlando’s upscale steak venues, Christner’s breathes sophistication and old-fashioned charm with its dark wood decor and traditional yet intimate atmosphere. Specializing in prime meats and lobster, the menu offers an array of meats: the USDA prime rib-eye is a real treat for carnivores, while the sesame-seared tuna caressed with a soy ginger glaze and wasabi cream adds a touch of excitement to the otherwise simple menu. To ensure the highest quality possible, the steaks are all prime-aged and corn-fed, and the signature lobster tails are imported fresh from Australia and New Zealand. An affordable option for high-end dining, Christner’s is a popular spot among locals.
Chagrined, I become obsessed with acquiring another certification, in another realm of taste. I pay $120 to Ecole Chocolat, an online chocolate school, to enroll in its Mastering Chocolate Flavor certificate program. I enjoy good chocolate, and I was fascinated by the complexity and craftsmanship of chocolatiers on a trip to Brussels a few years earlier. I understand that chocolate can be “single origin” and demonstrate the concept of “terroir” just like wine and coffee — and honey. So I pay my money, unlock the study material, and am immediately overwhelmed with a dump of information: the origins of chocolate, cacao and cacao trees; how flavor works, both physiologically and in chocolate; the elements of chocolate flavor. We are encouraged to buy a textbook, co-written by Ecole Chocolat’s founder, titled “Raising the Bar: The Future of Fine Chocolate.” The course is to be self-directed, with weekly tasting assignments — the first being a general exercise on sweet, sour, salty, bitter, fatty and umami, and the others comparing two or more chocolate bars. Students post to a group forum, with feedback from our Flavor Coach. “My primary question is how to classify ‘what is good,’ ” posts one of my classmates. To which our Flavor Coach replies: “Many folk in the industry have their own opinions about what ‘good’ chocolate is. Here’s mine (for the moment): ‘Good’ is a chocolate with no overpowering faults that is pleasant and sparks your interest. That leaves things pretty wide open, doesn’t it?”
For a long time, it didn’t seem to matter, but over the past few years, when I published or taught, people curiously began to assume I had some sort of certification and seemed surprised when I revealed I did not. As I finished my third drinks book, I started to feel a twinge of impostor syndrome. I was a sommelier of nothing. Perhaps I needed a few certifications to keep pace with the crowd.
Its air-conditioned confines may be miles away from the sultry Southeast Asian climes in which one would enjoy the layered flavors of the Malaysian food stalls for which it is named, but Mamak Asian Street Food's plates – small and large – are an exotic journey without the plane fare. From the familiar (spring rolls, street tacos) to items the less adventurous might deem out-there (fish balls, curry gravies) its menu culls from various Asian nations creating a mix of flavors that beg to be sampled. A central location in Mills 50 makes exploration of the neighborhood a pleasant to-do, pre-dinner or post-lunch.
After that, we move hotter. A yellow one from Scotch bonnet peppers that’s about a six, a delicious Barbados-style pepper sauce made with mustard and having a molasses-like taste, a barbecue-style sauce from San Antonio made with ancho and morita peppers, a spicy peanut butter made from a traditional Haitian recipe, and a floral, fruity habanero sauce from Japan made with Citra hops and a bit of mango. After a half-dozen sauces, my palate becomes pretty fatigued. “If you push yourself past your comfort level, your brain’s not going to care about the taste,” Chaimberg says.