Dining/Nightlife

Hi we’re Kyle and Stacey!  We’ve been friends for over 13 years and last fall we won a worldwide search to land the best social media job in the world: experiencing every attraction Orlando, Florida has to offer in 67 Days.  We had the time of our lives going to amusement parks, eating amazing food, shopping and SO much more.  Below you will find a blog we made documenting all of our smile filled adventures.  Enjoy!

For dining experiences to please everyone’s taste buds, Orlando is the place to be! From five star restaurants to family-friendly dinner theatre, in Orlando you won’t have to look far to find a restaurant to suit your fancy.

For those traveling to Orlando during September, be sure to take advantage of Orlando’s Magical Dining Month; where many of Orlando’s best restaurants serve a three course meal for a small fixed price.  It is one of the best deals in town!

Below is just a “taste” of what Orlando dining has to offer, for a complete list of Orlando’s dining options also check out: http://www.orlandoinfo.com/dining/.

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310 Lakeside

BruschettaOn Day 20 we enjoyed classic American cuisine at 310 Lakeside overlooking Lake Eola in Downtown Orlando. It was relaxing to sit outside amongst IMG_1353large colorful umbrellas and white lights which covered everything around us. Our appetizers and entries were enjoyable, the ingredients were fresh and delicious. But honestly 310 Lakeside for me was all about the desserts. Seriously…these desserts were eXtremely good.

I had the fresh berries desserts; which was a hard chocolate shell filled with fresh chocolate whipped creme and berries. Kyle had the chocolate and kahlua pudding (basically a brownie, pudding, health bar bits, and whip cream)…my mouth is watering right now as I write this! IMG_1355

Stop by 310 Lakeside and enjoy the view as you devour your dessert!

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Arabian Nights

This weekend we have our last guests of the trip with us, Stacey’s family. The whole gang is here, so it should be a riot!

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The first thing we did was Arabian Nights dinner theatre. “Medieval Times” has jousting, “Pirates” has… well Pirates, and “Arabian Nights” has horses and lots of them! This is probably the largest venue of the dinner theatres that we have been to. It also had the most “special effects”, from a flaming hoop that someone jumps through while riding on a horse to the finale when the princess is levitated in the sky! However, even with all of the beautiful horses and fun effects, Arabian Nights didn’t top our list IMG_1652for dinner theatre shows. A lot of times the horses were just running in circles for long stretches of time and the food was our least favorite of all of the dinner theatres we have visited. A lot of people say that Arabian Nights is their favorite dinner show in Orlando, so maybe it was just us, but we just weren’t all that riveted. I will say this: if you have little girls and they want to go to a dinner show this would probably be the best for them as there are no men swashbuckling or knights fighting!

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Baldwin Park

Driving into Baldwin Park is a nice shock. The neighborhood is extremely clean, filled with beautiful fountains, and rows of similar houses. Just a decade ago the land where Baldwin Park is today was a Navy Base. When the Navy Base left a developer built the planned neighborhood filled with everything a resident might need: grocery stores, shops and restaurants all within walking distance of one another.

We spent the whole night walking the wonderful streets of Baldwin Park and stopping in shops on our way. Here are three great places to enjoy on your visit to Baldwin Park:

Trish’s Teas

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Tea shops are the place were my friends and I love to spend weekend afternoons. We sip tea, eat cucumber sandwiches, and talk about the latest celebrity gossip. Trish’s Teas reminded me of how wonderful those afternoons are. Even though Kyle isn’t much into celebrity gossip we throughly enjoyed our Summer Breeze tea and great conversation.

Belle Vie Day Spa

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We felt relaxed and welcomed the minute we stepped in. The employees who work there are genuine and care about giving you great service. We enjoyed facials with raspberry masks and a nice massage…a perfect weekend activity. This is a cute place to enjoy the great things in life.

Farris and Foster’s Chocolate Factory

In our group that night was a bachelorette party...congrats to the new Mrs. Thompson!

In our group that night was a bachelorette party...congrats to the new Mrs. Thompson!

This is one of the most fantastic business ideas ever! A chocolate store that has parties were people can come with their friends or their dates to make a whole pound of unique chocolates. We had a blast listening to music as we made an array of chocolates. From chocolate covered Oreos to chocolates filled with M&M’s…my mouth is watering as I write this. And the best part is you get to bring your chocolate creations home and enjoy them…speaking of which…I think I’m going to do that right now :)

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Blue Man Group

This whole weekend there will be two very important guest stars on our blog… Kyle’s parents! They flew in from Michigan today and we have some really fun stuff planned ahead of us.

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We started our weekend at The Palm Restaurant in the Hard Rock Hotel. Even the Palm takes part in Orlando’s Magical Dining Month! That means we got three courses plus a side for just $30! My dadIMG_1157 got the filet mignon for his main course and he said it was a great filet and that it was cooked perfectly. Coming from my dad that’s a huge endorsement. This man knows his beef, so if he says it’s good… it’s good! We also really enjoyed a huge slice of key lime pie for dessert. We left The Palm barely able to move we were so stuffed.

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Luckily we found the willpower to roll ourselves out of the restaurant and walk over to the next event: Blue Man Group! I don’t even know how to describe this show. It’s like a combination of a rock concert, an interactive underground party and the three stooges all rolled into one LOUD raucous night! There were times that the music was so loud that it felt like it was actually coming from inside of me! I loved sittingnext to Stacey, and my parents and hearing my dad laugh at the top of his lungs at one moment, and

then hear my mom gasp with excitement the next. It was one of those shows that I kept looking at my watch, not because I wanted it to end, but because I was praying that it wouldn’t! Go see Blue Man Group. Take your kids, take your friends, take your parents because I guarantee they will love it (mine sure did).

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Bice Ristorante

IMG_1903Imagine sitting on a moonlit terrace overlooking a beautiful Italian seaside town, eating a wonderful meal while listening to live opera singers. Well that was our night tonight at Bice Ristorante at the Portofino Bay Resort! Plate after plate of delicious food kept coming out, along with wonderful wine. This was one of those nights that we had to pinch ourselves to make sure it was all really happening. The service was top notch and the food was to die for. The fresh homemade pasta was incredible and probably the highlight of the meal. Even if you just drop by Bice for a glass of wine it’s worth it for the atmosphere. I would definitely suggest sitting outside as we did, and if you can they really do have live opera singers for all of the courtyard to hear every IMG_1897night at 7:30. It just doesn’t get much better than this. It really doesn’t.

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Black Olive

Today on our journey through downtown we got to stop at two great restaurants within a stones throw of each other (and walking distance to our condo).

before...

before...

The first was The Black Olive for lunch. We LOVED this restaurant. Not one bad thing to say… in fact our mouths are still watering. Our waitress Jessica suggested we try the Lasagna and NY Strip Frittes, and she suggested right! The lasagna comes wrapped almost like sushi with a crusty shell, and the steak was juicy and earthy, smothered with caramelized onions. We’re trying not to eat TOO much while we’re here b/c

after

after

we get to eat so many tasty treats that we’re afraid we’ll be 67 pounds heavier by the time we leave, but we couldn’t help but clear our plates. It may have been raining outside, but we were happy as clams as we devoured every bite!

heaven

heaven

After taking a tour of downtown and meeting the Mayor (being Smile Ambassadors has its perks) we got to wind down at “Wine Down Wednesdays” at Urban Flats. If you’re looking for a deal, this is it! After 5 on Wednesdays for $20 you get unlimited glasses of wine and food! Are you kidding me?! Every Wednesday almost 500 people will walk through the doors to end their busy work day right. They specialize in homemade flat bread, and every slice was like a piece of art… that you get to eat. The food was excellent and the wine was the perfect way to end a great day downtown.

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Blue Martini

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Blue Martini is a chic bar located in the Mall at Millenia. We stopped in tonight following our dinner show to check out the night life. We were happily surprised…this bar was hopping! I couldn’t believe that on a Thursday night people were dressed up and ready to take to the dance floor! The bar itself is very open, which on a beautiful night like tonight was amazing. We could just enjoy one another’s company while looking at the stars. In the end the Blue Martini is a great place to stop by for a drink or just to hang with your friends. And the best part is you don’t have to wait until the weekend to go out because this bar is lively every night of the week.

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Brio

Hmmm let’s see… have a yummy lunch, see a fashion show, do some shopping in a huge mall and then meet a supermodel? Yes, please! Today we did all of that at The Mall at Millenia. We started our day at Brio Tuscan Grille. The food was really fresh (we highly recommend the Bruschetta Quattro appetizer). It comes with four different types of bruschetta and they’re all delicious. We were impressed that a restaurant so large could turn out food that tasted like it was from a real Italian kitchen.

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Next up we watched a fashion show that’s a part of The Mall at Millenia’s own fashion week. It seems the new look for next spring is SKIN tight pants… the tighter the better… I guess we should stop eating all of this delicious food and start working out! After the show we had some time to shop. Of course there’s a wide variety of stores from Anthropologie to Zara, but there were a lot of stores here that you wouldn’t expect. I for one had never seen a Burberry in a mall! The best part about the The Mall at Millenia is the roof… it’s made entirely of glass. The whole experience feels more like you’re walking outside rather than inside.

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After our shopping, we got to meet the supermodel Paulina Poriskova (you may know her as one of the judges on America’s Next Top Model). She was so sweet. We talked about New York and of course our favorite attractions in Orlando!

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Brunch at La Coquina

Day 46 began with brunch right in our hotel at La Coquina. Every Sunday the restaurant turns their kitchen into a gigantic brunch buffet. The spread was enormous and the food was beautifully displayed:

IMG_1209IMG_1217IMG_1226IMG_1227To be honest, the atmosphere at La Coquina wasn’t really our style. It’s a bit stuffy. The food however was very good, and if you’re looking for a high brow brunch you will probably be very satisfied. It just wasn’t our cup of tea.

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Cala Bella Restaurant

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Man oh man, Orlando you are giving my stomach and taste buds a run for their money! We have eaten at so many incredible restaurants in the past week that I hardly know what to do with myself. Tonight’s knock out restaurant was Cala Bella, winner of the AAA Four Diamond Award. It’s located at the Shingle Creek Resort, which is where we are all staying this weekend (more on that in a later blog).

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Maybe it’s the food coma talking but I don’t even know where to start, everything was just so good! The roasted eggplant flan appetizer had a great combination of textures with a fresh smokey taste. My mom ordered the pan seared scallops and loved them, and of course the desserts didn’t disappoint. All of that for $30… I mean come on. Then on to the heavy hitter for the night. My dad and I both ordered a house specialty: the Seafood Pescatore (not on magical dining menu). It comes with Australian Lobster Tail, Littleneck Clams, Mussels, Shrimp and Scallops braised in a spicy saffron tomato sauce… Just WRITING that sentence makes me salivate! We were both in seafood heaven. The tomato sauce had a great kick to it, and the seafood was cooked perfectly. It’s all served on a bed of noodles, so even after you’re done with the seafood all of the juices from everything seep into the pasta and it’s a whole new dish! What a treat to be able to share such an amazing meal with my parents and best friend.

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California Grill

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IMG_1928What’s the best way to end the best 67 days of your life? Walk home from the Magic Kingdom to the Contemporary Resort and take in the most magical place on earth from the perfect view point. The California Grill restaurant lets you do just that from the 15th floor of the Contemporary Hotel. Perched on top of the “world”, we sipped champagne and reflected on our past 67 day adventure. Our waiter was wonderful, and the food was exquisite. We loved the lobster risotto, and the ostrich (yes we ate ostrich) was so tender, moist and flavorful. There’s no better place to see the happiest place on earth than here. The sights, smells and of course tastes pervade your senses and let you sit back, relax and take it all in.

The only way to top that dinner is to walk to your room at the brand new Bay Lake Tower, connected via sky way bridge to the Contemporary. This place feels more like a home than a hotel. It was probably our favorite resort that we have stayed in for all of the 67 days for a few reasons. The style matched our tastes perfectly, it had a kitchen, whirlpool tub and the best (and closest) view of the Magic Kingdom available at any hotel anywhere.

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Capones

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Capone’s Dinner Show was themed from the minute we arrived. Mobster were walking around outside talking to guests and we were given a password to get inside. It was hysterical. When our password was approved a hidden door opened and we were brought into a speak-easy from the 1930′s. Flapper girls were running around taking orders and men in suits with fake guns were yelling at them…we really couldn’t get enough. The food is served buffet style before the actually show begins, so you have time to enjoy the best dinner show food in Orlando (really, the best food atany dinner show we’ve had). And all your drinks are included; whatever you are craving! Following dinner the cast of six danced, acted, and improved their way through two hours of enjoyable mobster humor. We laughed out loud on so many occasions that I’m not even sure what my favorite part of the show was! Overall the show was professionally done, it had good theming, and delicious food!

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Cirque De Soleil’s “La Nouba”

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This is going to be a hard blog to write because Cirque Du Soleil’s “La Nouba” is beyond words. The theatre, located in Downtown Disney was custom designed just for this show. La Nouba is beyond Broadway, beyond a circus, beyond a concert. It is breathtaking, inspiring and thrilling. It’s like watching a dream lived out in front of your eyes. There was always something breathtaking happening on stage. actually normally there are a LOT of things happening all at once. While one person was flipping around the stage, another was riding a bicycle upside-down on a tightrope, while 20 others were in the background dancing… all while the stage was raising up 10 feet in the air. The performers are like super-heros! We didn’t know it was humanly possible to do most of the things that they did. La Nouba blew us away, and transported us to a place beyond imagination.

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Yes it is expensive, but when you are watching it, you know exactly why. We have never seen such amazing sets, coinciding with incredible lights all choreographed perfectly to beautiful music. You will not regret spending money on this show, and you will never ever forget it.

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Cuba Libre

Cuba Libre is a lively Cuban restuarant in Pointe Orlando. When we walked in, it was more like stepping into Havana than Orlando! The restaurant is themed to look like you’re walking through a promenade of the Cuba you see in pictures from the 1940s. Gigantic wooden fans spin above you with real stained glass windows surrounding you. The best part of Cuba Libre is that about once every 45 minutes there is live singing and dancing right next to your tables! That was really fun to watch and made it feel like more of an experience than just dining.

IMG_0683We loved the appetizers. The guava ribs were sweet and succulent, and the papas rellenas could best be described as balls of deep fried latin casserole… YUM! The food is beautifully presented and the service was great. I love me some Cuban food and to be honest our entree and desserts left a bit to be desired, but those guava ribs left a lasting impression.

On weekends after 11pm they clear out the bottom floor and turn it into a Latin dance club with people lining up outside to get in. About 1,000 people will come through the doors on one night, so the place is hopping! Cuba Libre does a great job of transforming itself from a restaurant into a club within just a matter of minutes!

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Emeril’s at Universal’s City Walk

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Oh, Emeril. What did you do to us last night with all that food? We set out after our spa splurge fresh, and preened and starving. We were led to a table right by the window for optimum people watching, and had we not been utterly overwhelmed by our dining experience, we might have seen more of what Orlando’s City Walk-ers were doing.

IMG_0701Our eating adventure started with what I call a BLT salad. It was amazing, so good that I forgot to share. If you go to Emeril’s find a way to have this bacon incorporated into your meal :). It’s dazzling. I was half on my way to believing it wasn’t going to get better then the bacon when the Kobe beef arrived! Fingerling potatoes and mushrooms – Lobster and Trumpet varieties – were drizzled with an in-season rhubarb and cherry reduction. The tartness was ideal, and no one could get over those trumpet mushrooms, nor are we likely to soon.

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To finish our meal we sampled the chocolate cake with dark chocolate sauce, a German chocolate cake, and the show-stopping 25-year-old recipe, Emeril’s famous banana cream pie. With its fresh bananas, and fluffy whipped cream, it had Kyle announcing that Emeril had brought him to perfection in the shape of banana cream pie.

I would tell more of our affairs after, but our stomachs nearly caused us to collapse when we hit the dance floor of Groove, where the dance party doesn’t get going till 10:30, or at O’Brien’s with its flame laden fountains and live music and Dueling Pianos down the hall. We eventually stopped to rest at Rising Star Karaoke, where I was lucky enough to go first. Thank you City Walk, you are exhausting.

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Enzian Theatre

Eden BarComing from New York City I was not planning on experiencing the chill/hipster vibe I’m used to when we moved to Orlando for 67 Days. Orlando I would just like to say I’m sorry, I totally underestimated you. Friday night at the Enzian Theatre we found a place that thrives on great art and is filled with laid back locals (seriously I want everyone there to be my friend).

Before seeing the film Kyle and I hung out at Eden, which is Enzian’s outdoor bar. We ordered oneTry one of Eden's Signature Drinks...they are delicious! of their signature drinks (delicious) and enjoyed good company under the willow trees.

Ok, getting to the most important part of Enzian…indie movies. All their movies are shown using classic film (i.e. no digital) and all of them are indies. Let me just say that I LOVE a good indie movie! And at the Enzian we not only enjoyed a great indie, but we also ate an amazing meal during the film. I’m not talking plan ole’ hamburgers and hotdogs. They serve fresh, almost 100% organic food…Yes this place is as cool as I’m making it sound.

The Enzian really is an escape from the city of theme parks and attractions where you can enjoy a meal and a movie with the locals.

Outside the Enzian Theatre

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Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Our guest blogger for today is our friend Andy Senor:

I remember being a kid and visiting Epcot for the first time. Before I owned a passport, visiting the different lands at Epcot might have been one of my first introductions to foreign cultures. I was bit by the travel bug and have not stopped since. Fortunately, as a cast member of the Broadway musical RENT, I have traveled all over the world and eaten countless, delicious meals. On my recent tour, I have taken up writing a food blog called “La Vie Boh…mmm” that journals my culinary adventures. See, for me, what connects me to another culture or city, is its food.

I had the pleasure of joining Kyle and Stacey on a delicious expedition through the many countries of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. The festival now in it’s 14th year features food and wine from around the world in booths set up in each country. Every “tasting size” dish is paired with a different wine at a very low price. Although none of the foods were new to me, it was very entertaining to run around using a prepaid card that made the tastings run smoothly. It was great to see people trying different kinds of foods from around the world that had a surprising authenticity to them. My favorite of the day was the “Paprika Beef Stew with Bacon Dumpling” from Austria and the “Snapper Escabeche” from Barcelona, Spain. The only drawback to the event was the heat. It made it hard to develop an appetite for some of the dishes. Fortunately, the very refreshing Bacardi Frozen Dragon Berry Colada from Puerto Rico cooled us off and set us in the right spirit to continue our hunt.

On a more extravagant note, Epcot’s “Party For The Senses” later that evening provided a gorgeous showcase of recipes for those foodies with a more refined palate. Hosted by Vanity Fair, this particular event celebrated comfort foods with a twist. For an additional $140.00 you can taste your way through beautiful arrays of food, wine, cheeses and desserts while listening to live music in an elegant, upscale atmosphere. This event truly expanded the way I thought about food and had me reflect upon my own approach to cooking. With their unique take on comfort foods, chefs were available at each station presenting their glorious dishes. One chef from my favorite station of the evening, Steve Chiappetti from Viand, Chicago, even offered to send me the recipe to his Stuffed Baked Spaghetti Bites. Absolutely Delicious! Our favorite wine of the evening was the “Chateau Frank Brut” from Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars. It seemed to compliment anything it was paired with. And it all came to an end with a grand exit as we walked into the Epcot fireworks display! Perfect!

One thing I love about writing a food blog is that people get to experience culinary adventures from around the world without having to go through customs. Similarly, I believe the magic of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival is that it makes the world and its culinary treasures available to anyone. It bridges our world together in such close proximity at a very affordable price, for people of all ages, all in one days journey. Thank you Kyle, Stacey and Orlando for the invitation. My stomach has not stopped smiling!

-Andy Senor Jr.

I cant wait to come back for more Orlando food finds! Until then, I invite you to visit my blog at www.lavbm.com and see what’s cooking!

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Fulton’ Crab House

We started our night out at Fulton’s Crab House in Downtown Disney. Fulton’s is a traditional style crab house situated right on the water… in fact it looks like you’re about to sail away!  The food was great, but one of the most impressive parts of the night was when we overheard a woman at the table next to us tell her server that she was allergic to dairy. Minutes later the CHEF came out and talked to her about what he could prepare for her that she would be happy with. Now that’s service.

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Gay Pride

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Gay Pride was born in the summer of 1969 in NYC following the Stonewall Riots. The LGBTQ community wanted to have a way to celebrate diversity and show their pride in who they are. And that is exactly what Gay Pride in Orlando is like…a celebration of the LGBTQ community.

IMG_1230We were invited by Funky Monkey (a local restaurant) to join their float through the parade route downtown. We had a great time throwing out candy from the float and dancing to ABBA (I mean who wouldn’t like that?). Following the parade we took a walk around Lake Eola were the party continued. Stuart Milk along with many others spoke at Disney’s Amphitheatre, booths sold cool merchandise, and there was a funnel cone place :)

IMG_1276At night we headed to the Parliament House which is the premier Gay resort in Orlando. This place is HUGE! People from all walks of life were there enjoying the multiple bars, pool, club, and outdoor patio. It was fun to see the variety of people and things to do at the P House.

Overall Gay Pride was a really fun and colorful experience!

Burgers...
Burgers…
BINGO...

BINGO...

and Britney!

and Britney!

On day 6 we went to Hamburger Mary’s for Tuesday night Bingo and the Britney Spears concert… here’s our reaction and some helpful tips!

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Hard Rock Live

3865068692_e11a2d1386So you dream of being a rock star: wish you could wear tight jeans, play an electric guitar, and cut your hair into a mo-hawk (wait, maybe that’s just me). I know that dream will not come to fruition for me, but last night I got very close. We started our rock star evening byIMG_0490 being picked up by a limo which is how rock stars roll evidently…which makes me happy. When we arrived at the Hard Rock we hit the ground running with a tour.

Walking through the halls of the Hard Rock in Orlando I felt like I was amongst the rock legends. I mean we saw the original written lyrics to ‘Let it Be’, hand drawings by John Lennon, and sat on the actual sofa where John wrote ALL his songs (come on!).

3865071792_09bdf5009bI think the best part is that Hard Rock is not only a museum of rock, but rock is still alive and well there today. When we arrived I learned that Brett Dennen (one of my favorite musicians) was opening for OAR (another one of my favorites…so I like a lot of music). Anyway Kyle and I were hanging out at Hard Rock when I turned around and there was Brett Dennen just chilling…I flipped out! We ended up getting to meet him and talk for a little while.

The show was fantastic! Their music venue is so intimate that I kind of felt like Brett Dennen and OAR were playing a personal show for me in my basement. Except that there I could get someone else to cook me a great dinner!OAR

Thanks so much to the Hard Rock Cafe Orlando (especially Joey for the detailed tour and Kyle Young for taking care of us)!

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K Restaurant

IMG_0314Ever had one of those meals that by the end you feel like you’ve had more than just a meal, but an entire experience? That’s what we had tonight at K Restaurant Wine Bar in College Park Orlando. We met with Jason Cochran of walletpop (and after show host of ABC’s Shark Tank ), and renowned Orlando food reviewer Scott Joseph. We started our meal talking about food and Orlando and by the second glass of wine we were sharing who played who in their high school musicals.

The great conversation sprang from the great atmosphere and food provided by K Restaurant. Not only was the food to die for (we all gotIMG_0319 the Porcini Dusted Filet Mignon upon recommendation by Scott, and boy was he right) but the atmosphere and service all complemented it to a tee. When you go to K ask for Rocky as a waiter. He was was the perfect combination of fun and professional… and ask him about his costume collection. Tonight was just one of those nights when you leave not only with a wonderful taste in your mouth from the food, but a wonderful memory of what a great restaurant should leave you with: good food, good service and good company.

Cat Cora who is the only women to compete on Iron Chef opened her own restaurant called Kouzinna at Disney’s Boardwalk and we were able to attend the opening! Kouzina is a family style Greek restaurant which serves everything from fisherman’s stew to kid’s meals (I recommend the Pastitisio Greek-Style Lasagna…tastes like a cinnamon meat pot pie)!

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Kres Steakhouse

IMG_2038After cocktail hour at a fundraiser benefiting the downtown arts district, we headed to the Kres Chop House. Situated in charming downtown Orlando with its fresh flora, deep red walls and cozy atmosphere befitting the trendy stylings of a Thai fusion restaurant, the fare is anything but pretentious. We started with the lobster bisque, a creamy segue between the warm slices of sourdough and our entrees. From the filet minogn to the delicately sauteed red snapper, the meal was a sophisticated installment in our otherwise fancy free weekend.

Great Variety

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Lakeridge Winery

Today we visited the largest winery in Florida, Lakeridge Winery. Personally I’ve never been to a winery IMG_2947or a wine tasting…it’s fun! The tour showed us the grape fields and how they create their wines. Following the tour we sampled a collection of their wines (everyone who goes on the tour recieves a free tasting). Most of their wines were sweet and light which I personally really enjoy; just add some chocolate dipped strawberries and I’ll be happy for a while.

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The women who lead our tour gave us a 5 step process for tasting wines. Here they are in order:

1. See: Check out the wine’s coloring and texture

2. Swirl: Put the glass on a table and swirl the wine for the flavors to mixIMG_2974

3. Smell: It will get your tastebuds excited for what’s coming

4. Sip: Take at least two small sips to throughly enjoy the full flavor

5. Savor: Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

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Le Coq Au Vin

Le Coq Au Vin felt like we were invited to dinner at a sweet old French women’s house. Literally the restuarant is in an old house decorated with chickens. It’s true we didn’t know what to expect from the food when we saw all the chicken stain glass windows, but it didn’t take long to find out their food was simple and fantastic.

The best part about going to Le Coq Au Vin (or any other restaurant during Magical Dining month) is that you recieve such a variety of the food they offer, since you automatically have a three course meal. I for one do not usually order three courses..IMG_0868.so I really enjoy the opportunity to have an appetiser, entree, and dessert!

Ok, enough writing…time for some eating! Check out Le Coq Au Vin during September (order the chicken… it’s cooked perfectly and the sauce was literally bubbling it was so hot). For a list of all the restaurants participating in Magical Dining month head to: www.orlandomagicaldining.com

Cheers to delicious food and delicious deals!

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Medieval Times

Come one! Come all! To Medieval Times!

IMG_1374We had heard wonderful tales of the one and only Medieval Times before we embarked on our own journey today. We quickly found out this dinner theatre from the past would not disappoint! From the jousting, to the horse tricks, and lighting we were engaged through-out our time there. We couldn’t help ourselves but cheer (ok…moreIMG_1382 like yelled…we were excited) for our red and yellow knight every time he rode past. He even won over my heart by throwing a flower my way.

The best part about Medieval Times is how interactive it is. Everyone receives a crown to wear, a flag to fly as they cheer for their knight and the actors make it a point to include the crowd in the show.

IMG_1363Is it cheesy? Of course…but in the best way!

Tip #1: Wash your hands before you sit down because you receive no utensils to enjoy the basic yet delicious food

Tip #2: Go a little early and enjoy their Medieval Village

Want a guide for a great night downtown Orlando? Follow these 3 simple steps:

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Step 1: Go to the Orlando Brewing Company for some great beers. This local brewery is one of only 5 certified fully organic brewerys in the nation. All of the beers were very crisp and you can’t get a whole lot more fresh, they’re brewed feet away from your mug. You can actually get a free tour and learn how they make everything from Ales to Lagers. We tried two flights and our favorites that we tried were the European Pilz, Pale Ale and the Octoberfest. We loved that people can volunteer to work there. The pay is good… it’s beer. If you’re looking for a deal, on the 30th of every month you can get a pint of most of their beers for $2!

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Step 2: Grab some food (and maybe another drink) at Finnhenry’s right on Orange Ave downtown. It’s got a chill, down to earth vibe but still gets quite hopping on weekends. Here’s another deal for you, every Sunday you can stop in for a FREE dinner. Yes. Free! (If you go on a Sunday that happens to be the 30th you could get a beer at Orlando Brewing and dinner at Finnhenry’s for a whopping total of $2!)

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Step 3: Step across the street from Finnhenry’s to catch a band at The Social. When we walked in it felt like we stepped into a music venue in Brooklyn. We were surrounded by spiked hair, skinny jeans and vintage shirts from the 80s (and I think some “guyliner” occasionally)! Our band Mae may have been rock, but The Social has something happening every night of the week, from world music to hip hop. Some of our fellow concert goers told us that The Social is the best place to go in downtown to hear a great band, and we believe them!

After following these three steps, you’re gonna want to take 2 Asprin and then call us in the morning.

ps if you’re looking for other fun stuff to do downtown, check out their new website: downtownorlando.com

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Norman’s

After a hard day of shopping we grabbed a wonderful dinner at Norman’s in the Ritz Carlton. Here is a quote from Chef Norman Van Aken:

“If the map of the world were a table cloth

and I could chose a place at that table,

I would sit at the southern tip of Florida

at the nexus of North America and the Caribbean

My plate would touch Cuba, the Florida Keys, the Yucatan

The West Indies, The Bahamas and South America”

That pretty much describes the impeccable food at Norman’s. In this case, we think pictures describe the food better than we ever could, so enjoy!

IMG_0387IMG_0391IMG_0399All of that for $30 folks… at the Ritz… with $5 valet parking, instead of the normal $17. I mean come on.

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Orlando Dine Around

This weekend, Kyle’s college roommate Joe and his wife Amy came down to share in the smiles. To start off the weekend, we took a walking dine around tour of Pointe Orlando and the surrounding area. Pointe Orlando is like an outdoor village full of shops, clubs and restaurants, and with 14 different restaurants to choose from, choosing where to eat wasn’t easy… but someone’s gotta do it.

IMG_1029Our first stop was appetizers at Oceanaire Seafood Room. Stepping into Oceanaire is like stepping into a 1930s ocean liner. We loved the art deco style and attention to detail… even the bathrooms were beautiful. Oceanaire coined the phrase “ultra fresh seafood” and they’re not lying. They fly their fish in fresh every day and that pays off. Our crab cakes were tender and delicious (our favorite crab cakes we’ve had in Orlando).

IMG_1056Walking just 10 ten steps from our yummy appetizers brought us to our next stop on our dining tour: our main course at Capital Grille. As we found our way to our table, we walked past hand painted pictures of some of the most influential people from Central Florida’s past. Once we were seated we learned that Capital Grille’s claim to fame is their in-house dry aged steaks… so of course we ordered those. Wow. They were incredibly juicy, tasty and tender. If you go make sure to get sides to go along with your meal. I promise you won’t be disappointed with the au gratin potatoes and lobster mac and cheese… mmmm.

IMG_1072Once we were able to tear ourselves away from the incredible atmosphere and service of Capital Grille, we found our way to dessert and drinks at BB Kings Blues Club. This is not the type of place you go to for a quiet chat, you go to BB Kings for great live bands and delicious down home cookin’! We each got a different dessert, and I think my favorite was the banana bread pudding.

IMG_1093To finish off the night we left Pointe Orlando and walked down the street to Ice Bar. At Ice Bar, you’re greeted with parkas and gloves at the door as you walk in to a 27 degree room. The seats, huge sculptures and even the glasses here are all made out of ice! I think it’s safe to say we’ve never had a more well chilled glass of vodka! This is definitely a memorable place, and something you’re not going to find many places but in Orlando. tip: don’t wear your sandals here… our feet got very cold!

Pointe Orlando is the perfect place to take a dining tour like we did. There are so many delicious restaurants to choose from, and they’re all in such close proximity to each other that it makes it easy to just wander around, find your favorite kinds of foods and experience them all in one night. (ps this is a great date night in Orlando if you’re looking for ideas!)

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Relax Grill

Farmer's Market Downtown OrlandoAt the end of the week (especially after a fun party weekend) Sundays are a time to give yourself to relax and enjoy. At least I have the tendency of chilling on Sundays to recoup for Mondays…in Orlando this is easily done. Gail Peck Photography

This Sunday Kyle and I met some locals who showed us the Sunday downtown scene. Our first stop was the weekly farmers market on Lake Eola. The variety in the market was amazing! We picked up local art, home-made noodles, and fresh fruit/veggies. We ended up picking a few photography pieces by Gail Peck (soon to be featured in our condo blog). And in the middle of the market…there’s a beer garden! Yes ladies and gentlemen a beer garden covered by trees (it’s a spot to hit-up).Relax Cafe Appetizer

After the market we walked around Lake Eola to the only restaurant right on the lake…Relax Grill. The Grill is a beautiful spot to watch the geese, catch a movie on Thursday nights, or check out the runners (you know we all do it) AND eat a delicious meal. The appetizers and entries were good good good! So good I was too full to order the apple dumplings for dessert. Which means just one thing…I must go back.

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Shula’s Steakhouse

IMG_1179We rounded up our sports themed day at Shula’s Steak House in the Dolphin Hotel near Epcot. Shula’s is themed after the 1972 Miami Dolphin’s perfect season, and named after their coach Don Shula. This is by far our favorite steakhouse that we have been to here in Orlando. The atmosphere was great, service was wonderful (we loved that they bring the cuts of steak to your table and tell you everything about them before you order) and the steaks were the best all of us had ever had.

One fun thing about Shula’s is the 48 oz challenge. Basically if you eat an entire 48 ounce porterhouse and live to tell about it you become a member of the 48 ounce club and get your name on a plaque in the restaurant. My friend Joe took on the challenge. Here are his thoughts:

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When you think of the number 48, what do most people think of? Is it the 48 continental states, 6 multiplied by 8, your old sports number, or anything in between? I once was like the rest of you and thought this way, but now it is clear. Through hours of shoving bite after bite of juicy, perfectly cooked 48 ounces of steak from Shula’s Steakhouse into my mouth only one thing comes to mind. I am now an eating champion and no one can take that or my membership into a very select club (alright there is over 25,000 in it) away from me. For those of you who doubt yourselves in life, just think to yourself and remember…Joe Sternad succeeded and so can you.

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Sak Comedy Theatre

Sak Comedy

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Sleaths Dinner Theatre

On the evening of Day 59 we headed to International Drive to check out Sleuths Mystery IMG_3341Dinner Show. Sleuths has fifteen different dinner shows; we saw the Halloween special (funny costumes were involved).

Before the show starts the small cast mingles among the guests in character helping the crowd get excited for what is to come. The show itself is almost three hours long separated into two halves IMG_3350with your meal served between. The first half of the show set up the scene of crime: women in cat costumes, audience interaction, and clues around every corner of who was the murderer. It was fun!

But, after dinner the show started to go downhill. Unlike the first half of Sleuths which is scripted, the second half is improv. Before the characters get back on stage for the second half, Sleuths reminds us there are children in the audience and all audience comments (they ask for them) should be clean. Yet as the play continues the characters themselves become very inappropriate and make way too many off-color jokes that were not needed for the plot.

In the end Sleuths Mystery Dinner Show had the opportunity to wow and it missed its mark.

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Truffles and Triffles

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Today we spent our morning in College Park, a neat neighborhood just north of downtown. College park is IMG_3048home to funky vintage shops, local boutiques and great restaurants (including one of our favorite restaurants that we’ve visited so far: K Restaurant). The area reminds me a bit a neighborhood you might find in LA. It’s very clean but a little edgy with bright colorful storefronts.

One thing you have to hit up in College Park when you visit is Truffles and Trifles, a gourmet kitchen shop that also offers cooking classes. Now Stacey and I are by no means Iron Chefs… in fact we can barely cook mac and cheese, but even we turned out delicious food (thanks largely in part to our instructors and cooking partners). It was fun to eat food that we created and have it actually taste really good! We also loved meeting all of the other students along with Truffles and Trifles hilarious owner, Marci Arthur.

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University of Central Florida

We took a tour of UCF: The university is so large it's like its own city!

We took a tour of UCF: The university is so large it's like its own city!

The campus has some beautiful nature walks

The campus has some beautiful nature walks

UCF has a lot of restaurants and shops on campus

UCF has a lot of restaurants and shops on campus

UCF is an enormous campus that has it’s own stadium, restaurants, shops, and nature walks that everyone can take advantage of. Even if you are not a student you could spend a whole day at UCF enjoying the nature trailsand having dinner (maybe at the new Japanese Hibachi grill outside the stadium).

On our tour of UCF we met Dean German who is helping to create UCF’s new medical campus which we have been hearing a lot about from Orlando locals. She told us “There’s a medical city growing here that one day is going to solve the health care problems of the world”. And with my arm in a sling (from a skateboard injury) word of a new medical campus is very intriguiing! :)

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After our tour we got to go to the Killers concert at the UCF Arena. First of all the Killers are awesome in concert, so if you get a chance… see them. As geeky as it may sound, the acoustics in the arena were AWESOME. Our friend Andy, who didn’t go on the tour even commented on it. Little did he know that just hours earlier we had heard about the extensive efforts UCF took to make the sound in the arena amazing. It was a blaring rock concert, but it was still comfortable, and accessible in both the sound and the seating.

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Universal’s City Walk

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This post by guest blogger: Amber (the bachelorette)

Oh, Emeril. What did you do to us last night with all that food? We set out after our spa splurge fresh, and preened and starving. We were led to a table right by the window for optimum people watching, and had we not been utterly overwhelmed by our dining experience, we might have seen more of what Orlando’s City Walk-ers were doing.

IMG_0701Our eating adventure started with what I call a BLT salad. It was amazing, so good that I forgot to share. If you go to Emeril’s find a way to have this bacon incorporated into your meal :). It’s dazzling. I was half on my way to believing it wasn’t going to get better then the bacon when the Kobe beef arrived! Fingerling potatoes and mushrooms – Lobster and Trumpet varieties – were drizzled with an in-season rhubarb and cherry reduction. The tartness was ideal, and no one could get over those trumpet mushrooms, nor are we likely to soon.

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To finish our meal we sampled the chocolate cake with dark chocolate sauce, a German chocolate cake, and the show-stopping 25-year-old recipe, Emeril’s famous banana cream pie. With its fresh bananas, and fluffy whipped cream, it had Kyle announcing that Emeril had brought him to perfection in the shape of banana cream pie.

I would tell more of our affairs after, but our stomachs nearly caused us to collapse when we hit the dance floor of Groove, where the dance party doesn’t get going till 10:30, or at O’Brien’s with its flame laden fountains and live music and Dueling Pianos down the hall. We eventually stopped to rest at Rising Star Karaoke, where I was lucky enough to go first. Thank you City Walk, you are exhausting.

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Urban Flatts

Today on our journey through downtown we got to stop at two great restaurants within a stones throw of each other (and walking distance to our condo).

before...

before...

The first was The Black Olive for lunch. We LOVED this restaurant. Not one bad thing to say… in fact our mouths are still watering. Our waitress Jessica suggested we try the Lasagna and NY Strip Frittes, and she suggested right! The lasagna comes wrapped almost like sushi with a crusty shell, and the steak was juicy and earthy, smothered with caramelized onions. We’re trying not to eat TOO much while we’re here b/c

after

after

we get to eat so many tasty treats that we’re afraid we’ll be 67 pounds heavier by the time we leave, but we couldn’t help but clear our plates. It may have been raining outside, but we were happy as clams as we devoured every bite!

heaven

heaven

After taking a tour of downtown and meeting the Mayor (being Smile Ambassadors has its perks) we got to wind down at “Wine Down Wednesdays” at Urban Flats. If you’re looking for a deal, this is it! After 5 on Wednesdays for $20 you get unlimited glasses of wine and food! Are you kidding me?! Every Wednesday almost 500 people will walk through the doors to end their busy work day right. They specialize in homemade flat bread, and every slice was like a piece of art… that you get to eat. The food was excellent and the wine was the perfect way to end a great day downtown.

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Dinner Theatre

Theme Parks

Downtown Orlando Area

International Drive Area

Other

One Response

  1. Hello,

    I enjoyed perusing your website about your fun travels around Orlando. I noticed that you had a lot of quality links out to other sites.

    I write a website on Orlando, Florida. I give my readers ideas on fun, inexpensive things to do while they are here. I also tell them about traffic and weather. Plus, other cool places to visit near Orlando.

    I was wondering if you offer a link exchange program or if I could write an article in exchange for a link to my site. Please let me know what I can do to secure a link from your site. Thank you for your time!

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