The Capital Grille

***** (5 stars)

Of all the chain steakhouses, I think Capital Grille is my favorite. Their steaks aren’t as good as some that offer prime meat (including sister chain Eddie V’s) but their sides, such as the lobster mac and cheese are the best.

Capital Grille is also the best choice for lunch, because of their attractive multi-course deals. The Kona rub Wagu burger is a favorite new addition, and the lobster roll is always good.

This location isn’t quite as nicely decorated as the one on International Drive, but it is smaller, more intimate, and doesn’t get packed on convention days.

Service is always friendly and professional. It seems like most of the professional servers in town have, one time or another, worked at Capital Grille.

The Capital Grille
4200 Conroy Road
Orlando, FL 32839
(407) 351-2210

Kelly’s Mexican Latin American Restaurant

*** (3 stars)

This Ma and Pa Latin American restaurant offers Guatemalan and Mexican food such as Jocon and Fried Tacos.

Everything is prepared to order, so service can take a while.

We really like the complementary guacamole we were served, with fresh homemade chips straight from the frier.

Service was friendly and the place is bright and clean.

Kelly’s Mexican Latin American Restaurant
6642 Old Winter Garden Rd
Orlando, FL 32835
(407) 435-2560



***** (5 stars)

Years ago we liked to go to Tabla for the amazing food and spectacular desserts. Despite what was at the time a very decrepit building, the food was the draw. But then they changed lunch to a buffet and we stopped going.

I’m pleased to report that full lunch service is back, and the food is better than ever. In addition, the formerly dingy space has now been completely remodeled, and is one of Orlando’s most stylish restaurants.

The three course lunch must be one of the best deals in town. It begins with soup or salad, then your choice of many Indian and a few Thai dishes incorporating the protein of your choice, served on a very attractive platter along with rice, naan bread, and either a samosa or spring roll. Finally there is a choice of desserts.

Our favorites were the Chicken Tikka Masala and the Saag Paneer. The banana roll was a nice way to finish up. It’s a lot of food for a very reasonable price.

Service was friendly and fairly quick, so this will definitely go onto our regular lunch circuit. I’d also like to visit for dinner and further explore the menu. Tabla is back and better than ever!

5827 Caravan Ct
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 248-9400

Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour

***** (5 stars)

Beer, Beer, Beer! That’s what this place is all about. An ever-changing list of draft beers, plus a ton of bottles.

I took a group of ten here, and the helpful folks behind the counter were able to guide each of us to something we really liked. In my case I found two that were probably my top two beers ever.

The atmosphere was chill, and the music good, and it wasn’t crazy busy on a Thursday night.

There’s no food, but a food truck in front (on our night it was terrific Peruvian fare) fills that bill, and they even brought it inside to our tables.

Lots of fun, and I’m not even really beer guy.

Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour
2810 Corrine Dr
Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 893-9832

Next: Terroir




***** (5 stars)

Terroir is a very ambitious menu, and the most expensive so far, because of the wine quality.

In this case the wines were chosen first, and the food designed to match. I didn’t find a lot of great matches during this meal, but I did enjoy the wines, which were much higher end than usual. Standouts were the Krug Champagne Grand Cuvee (served twice, in two different glasses) and the Sauternes and Madeira, but they were really all good.

Another interesting bit of wine service was the chenin blanc tasting, with three different appellations served side by side.

Our favorite food course, surprisingly, was the snail roe with smoldering eucalyptus leaves—not a course for the timid, but absolutely delicious.

17 courses, 16 wines.

As always a convivial staff enthusiastically shared information and their love of what they’re doing. A great dining experience.

953 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 226-0858

Habaneros Metro West


**** (4 stars)

Metrowest really needs a sit down Mexican restaurant since the sorely missed Taquitos Jalisco closed several years ago. Habaneros fills the bill adequately, but it will need to overcome the same liabilities that put the last three tenants of this space out of business: namely, location, location, location. The building is invisible from the street, there is almost no signage space, and the parking lot is across the street and behind a fence. (Why the developer put the parking lot on the lake, where it has the best view of the entire development is beyond me.)

Anyhow, the food at Habanero is freshly prepared, looks appealing, and tastes good. The salsa is a bit bland, but the chips are very good.

I had a dinner combo that included an enchilada, relleno and taco. The taco shell was particularly good, a crisp house-made tortilla completely unlike the fast food kind you find most places.

Service was quick and friendly, and the interior of the place (unchanged from previous tenants) is still gorgeous. I wish this small, family-owned chain luck in this terrible but lovely location. Habaneros is definitely worth a visit if you can find it.

Habaneros Metro West
6996 Piazza Grande Ave
Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32835
(407) 757-2541

Naru Sushi Bar

*** (3 stars)

“Hi, I’m your sever today. May I bring you a beverage?”

“Green tea, please.”

“I’m sorry, we don’t have green tea. Only Lipton iced tea.”

Uh oh. A Japanese restaurant without green tea. Seriously?

That’s not the only thing in somewhat short supply at Naru. A quick look at the sushi and sashimi list will reveal that almost everything is based upon tuna or salmon. Because that’s basically what they have.

And someone sure likes cream cheese–nearly every roll includes it. In fact one entire section of rolls has not a single offering without cream cheese.

Despite all of this, we had some fairly good food during our visit. The best item was the salmon carpaccio, which included, citrus, oil and scallions.

The sushi rolls were unimpressive, but the hand roll, although pricey at $8, was good, and I liked the way you can easily add optional ingredients such as salmon skin for a very reasonable price.

Still, lunch for two came to $100 without alcohol, and with no real home runs.

The decor of the place is great, the sound track is upbeat and trendy, and the service is friendly.

But I can’t help wondering about a Japanese restaurant with no green tea.

Naru Sushi Bar
8441 International Dr
Ste 290
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 801-0005

Romano’s Macaroni Grill

*** (3 stars)

Poor Romano’s. It just can’t seem to get any respect. I’m not sure why, because the decor–especially at this location–is really nice, evoking an old Italian country house. And the service is always friendly.

The food isn’t bad either. I particularly like the bruscetta appetizer, where you apply your own diced tomato and garlic topping to the crusty bread. The pizza service is nice too, with a hand shaped oval pizza served with a personal pizza cutter and a bowl of spicy sauce, so you can finish it off any way you like.

There are also some great lunch deals, including a three course lunch for ten bucks, or a seven dollar lunch served in seven minutes. If you haven’t tried Romano’s lately–at least for lunch–it might be worth a second look.

Romano’s Macaroni Grill
3143 Daniels Rd
Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 654-0351

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse

**** (4 stars)

I was here with a group for a special menu.

We began by sampling the escargot, crab cake and thick cut bacon au poivre. The crab cake was the best, with very little filler. Escargot was tender; it was hard to tell what the normal presentation would be like, as we had it on a crouton. The bacon was a fairly tough an fatty hunk of pork belly that didn’t appeal to me at all.

Lobster and shrimp dumpling was very nicely sautéed, and the heirloom tomatoes served with burrito cheese were excellent.

The filet mignon we had was very tender, but it lacked the sort of char that would make an otherwise fairly bland cut interesting. At least they hadn’t tried to cover it up with sauce to disguise its flavor. The accompanying lobster tail was fairly durable and didn’t have much flavor, and my wife’s was even tougher. So I don’t think I’d order a surf and turf, and would be inclined to order a more flavorful steak such as a strip or porterhouse.

The brussels sprout side dish incorporated bacon, which tasted nice, but because the sprouts had been separated into individual leaves it was fairly dry compared to, say, the succulent ones at Eddie V’s.

The lobster mac and cheese used fontina cheese which resulted in a somewhat pasty consistency without a lot of crust, but the lobster was good, however the dish was nowhere near as good as the lobster mac at Capital Grille.

The Wild mushrooms were quite good, with a nice variety of mushrooms, succulent and tasty.

Both the chocolate souffle cake and the buttercake were excellent, with my vote going to the buttercake.

A variety of good wines were paired with the meal, and the Del Frisco Cabernet Sauvignon, made by Robert Foley, was a particularly nice choice, a fairly light bodied cab with good fruit.

Service was superb, very attentive and professional.

We were in a private room, which was great, because the main restaurant, which was packed, was absolutely deafening, and there’s no way we could have carried on a conversation there with our tablemates.

On the whole, I’d say it’s a good conventioneer steakhouse, but I think locals can find better choices.

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse
9150 International Dr
Orlando, FL 32819

Philly’s Best Cheesesteaks

**** (4 stars)

This place surprised me in a number of ways. I’m not a huge cheesesteak fan, but I went with a group, and was pleasantly surprised to see a fair variety on the menu. I ended up ordering a cheesesteak that included bacon, and quite liked the flavor. A half sandwich came as a lunch special with fries and a drink for a very reasonable price.

I also liked the outside seating area, which is spacious and well-sheltered from the elements.

But the biggest surprise was the friendly enthusiasm of the staff, who delivered the sandwiches, refilled drinks and made us feel appreciated. I’ll definitely return to sample some of their other offerings.

Philly’s Best Cheesesteaks
2295 S Hiawassee Rd
Orlando, FL 32835
(407) 488-3960