Located inside the Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando, Amatista is supposed to represent the tropics, though the decor is a bit more North Polish. The food, though, is recommendable. Ostensibly Caribbean, it is presented in a creative and stylistic way.
6601 Adventure Way
55 W. Church St.
The restaurant recently moved to a better, more visible location. But it left some of its creativity and artisanalism behind. The food is good but safe.
118 Park Ave. S.
The Park Avenue Barnie’s has been trying to find its food foothold for years. The menu is less ambitious than in years past but the output is more realistic.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Lake Buena Vista
Technically, this is a buffet, but it’s like no other buffet you’re likely to encounter. For one thing, the food is all wonderfully prepared. The food, which features a variety of meats, fish and vegetarian items based on African dishes, is adventurous in scope with brilliant flavors. And instead of steam tables most of the food is served on state-of-the-art (if all-you-can-eat technology can be called art) surfaces that allow the foods to be served in pots, pans and other vessels while still keeping them hot.
1315 S. Orange Ave.
Part of the new Delaney, a boutique hotel, Delaney’s Tavern is more than a drinking spot. The food, under the direction of chef Anthony Albino, is innovative and expertly executed. The crab beignets and shrimp, scallops & grits (with purple grits) are favorites.
1750 E. Buena Vista Drive
Lake Buena Vista
There’s more to the name here than just a play on a historical figure. John Montagu, the 11th Earl of Sandwich, is involved in the business, although the project was started by his son Orlando, who is not in line to inherit the title. There’s another Earl involved: Robert Earl, founder of Planet Hollywood. Legend has it, of course, that it was the fourth Earl of Sandwich who came up with the idea of slapping meat between some bread. The usual story is that he was a gambler and didn’t want to put down his cards, but Lord Sandwich, the current one, told me over sherries in the House of Parliament a few years ago, that his ancestor was also a womanizer and it may have been a lady in his other hand. Whatever, the sandwiches here are very good and impressively thick. You may actually need both hands. The 4th Earl would not approve.
1800 W Fairbanks Ave
This is the sort of place I like to come to for breakfast, and when I found myself in Winter Park at an unusually early hour, I stopped in. I ordered the Fairbanks omelet, wtih bacon, ham, sausage, onion, finely diced green peppers, and a few mushrooms folded into an eggy package with melted cheddar on top. It was accompanied by chunky home fries that were nicely crisped but not nearly as greasy as I would have liked them to be.
1448 N. Alafaya Trail
There are other locations of this popular breakfast and lunch spot in the area, but this one is unique in that it has a bar. Not a fully stocked bar, mind you, but a careful selection of appropriate cocktails. The food is good, too, with an emphasis on fresh cooking
5350 International Drive
The portions here are outsized and designed to impress, if not frighten and intimidate. Take, for example, the restaurant’s signature fried chicken and bacon waffle tower, which probably has more calories than the average adult male should eat in a week. (Excuse me, could you please pass the syrup?) Or the house version of eggs Benedict with smoked bacon, basted eggs, red pepper cream on a biscuit, all sitting atop mashed potatoes.
When the food gets this big and ostentatious, one naturally braces oneself for the trade-off in quality. But Hash House delivers there, too. All of the food I tasted — and I do mean tasted; I left a good deal of it on the plate — was quite good, well prepared and evenly seasoned.
9300 Jeff Fuqua Blvd.
Nearly 30 years old, this restaurant on the top floor of the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport has had ups and downs. It’s currently on an up following a remodel and a refocus on the high quality food it started with.