*** (3 stars)

We used to go to this Crispers all the time, but a number of years ago they reduced the potions sizes and we stopped going. I’m glad we tried it again, because it seems like things are back on track. My flatbread was good, and the Thai Chicken salad was excellent. Portion sizes are now generous, and the pricing seems reasonable. I like the “pick two” approach.

The thing that drives me crazy is the inefficient ordering process for a group, which is unchanged after all these years. They make each person place their order while everyone stands around waiting, and then process the credit cards one by one. This means the first item can’t start being prepared until the last item has been paid for, which is incredibly inefficient. And having six or eight people standing around at the register is really annoying. Every other counter service restaurant in town manages to put the same table placard number on each person’s check without this nonsense (see Pei Wei, for example). It’s time someone with some efficiency sense showed Crispers how to do it.

2228 S Kirkman Road
Orlando, FL 32811
(407) 296-4551

Dan’s Family Restaurant

*** (3 stars)

This coffee shop has a particularly welcoming and enthusiastic staff.

They offer the usually array of breakfast and other coffee shop choices, and everything is carefully prepared and served.

The interior is a bit tired, but the friendliness of the place makes up for that.

Dan’s Family Restaurant
7300 E Colonial Dr
Orlando, FL 32807
(407) 917-6318

Panera Bread

**** (4 stars)

Every Panera I’ve been to has essentially identical food, so reviewing it seems superfluous; you either like it or not.

Panera always seems a bit like a bait and switch to me, as they bill themselves as healthy, yet most of what they serve is not particularly good for you. Just look at that bakery display! But you can eat healthy if you try, and assuming their calorie counts are honest they must have the lowest calorie tuna sandwich on the planet. Also, did you know you can get an apple instead of chips?

What sets Paneras apart is the location, and this one is well-sited. It’s easy to get in and out, has lots of parking, and even a drive through. Also, there is a porch, so you can eat outside, yet be in the shade.

Service is friendly, but I sure wish they wouldn’t page you before your food is up, a reliable occurrence. What’s the point of the pager if you’re just going to stand at the counter anyway?

You can also order online and pick your food up in a bag on the shelf; very convenient.

Panera Bread
4200 Conroy Road
Orlando, FL 32839
(407) 248-0811

Panera Bread

*** (3 stars)

It’s hardly necessary to review a restaurant chain that most people have been to, so I’ll restrict my comments to this particular store, and to the new food item introduced on this visit.

Compared to other Panera’s this location is:

-nicer than most interiors
-a bit more difficult to park near
-has a friendlier staff
-has an annoying habit of paging you before your meal is actually ready.

The new item I tried was the Soba Noodle broth bowl with chicken. The broth had a pleasant Asian-inspired flavor, and there was lots of tender and savory chicken. The noodles were a bit odd, grayish with a square cross section, and finer than true soba noodles. Overall the complexity of the dish did not approach that of the Japanese Ramen bowls it imitates.

If you’re looking for a Panera in Orlando, I’d rate this as the best one in the area.

Panera Bread
4700 S Apopka Vineland Rd
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 217-6916

Sapporo Ramen

*** (3 stars)

This small place in the Asian plaza on Colonial offers a nice variety of Ramen dishes, plus an assortment of more elaborate items. You order at a counter in the back, and then your food is brought to your table.

We tried the Shoyu Ramen, which is served with thin sliced pork. The broth was flavorful (and fairly salty) and the noodles had a good consistency.

The takoyaki would be an acquired taste. The deep fried balls had a nice outer consistency, but the gooey inside took some getting used to.

I also saw some tempura delivered to a nearby table, and it looked quite good.

There is an excellent bakery next door to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Sapporo Ramen
5080 W Colonial Dr
Orlando, FL 32808
(407) 203-6777