Café de France is an intimate French restaurant right on Winter Park's main drag, with seats in the small dining room and tables on the avenue. Owners Dominique and German Gutierrez treat their guests as friends, welcoming them warmly and sincerely.
On Christmas Eve, they'll be serving dinner. The menu is still being decided, but you'll have four or five choices each for appetizer and entree. Likely selections will be foie gras; two fish entrees, including possibly (but no promises) Dover sole; game of some sort, maybe buffalo or venison; and lobster tail.
Festive holiday touches -- tinsel and such -- will adorn the walls, and a holiday Pandora mix will play.
This is a photo of the cozy restaurant's interior on an ordinary day.
526 Park Avenue South, Winter Park, 407-647-1869, lecafedefrance.com
Raglan Road is an upbeat spot at Downtown Disney, where hearty, higher-quality Irish fare is served as dancers perform. It's a family spot yet, with three antique bars and loads of beer taps, fitting for adults-only groups too.
On Christmas Day, guests can buy a full turkey dinner for $27.95.
The menu looks terrific: mead (mead!)-glazed turkey, butter-whipped potatoes, sage and sweet onion dressing, brussels sprouts, and a cranberry-plum chutney.
This is the official menu.
These are the dancers. The show is impressive, and you'll see it as you dine.
Here's the restaurant's interior.
Downtown Disney, 1640 N Buena Vista Dr., Lake Buena Vista, 407-938-0300, raglanroad.com
If you're up for a splurge this Christmas, book a table at Bull & Bear. Bull & Bear is a stately steakhouse within the Waldorf Astoria Orlando. It's beef is superb, but, unlike many of its competitors, this meatery has real chefs in the kitchen and they tend to get creative.
For Christmas, Bull & Bear is serving a five-course tasting menu. The centerpiece is chateaubriand, an old-timey classic that is essentially an amazing thick and tender beef filet, here served a Bernaise-like sauce called foyot. Brioche toast and potato pave will share the plate.
Preceding the chateaubriand, you'll receive Jerusalem artichoke bisque, lobster salad Napolean, and a pork rib and loin combo with suc de cuisson, which google tells me is the meat's own juices. Side dishes will be served family style. Dessert will be an heirloom apple clafoutis. Here is the full menu. Honestly, I think it sounds like a value at $105.
Here's the Bull & Bear dining room. It's posh.
Waldorf Astoria Orlando, 14200 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane, Orlando, 407-597-5500,
Happy holidays, and eat heartily, friends.
Now that our air has gone from sultry to seductive, Orlando-area chefs are stepping outdoors and firing up their stoves. Among the best events are four that celebrate the season. I talkied about these events on Fox 35 on October 20. Those of you with Facebook can see the clip here. CLIP
Edible Orlando Field to Feast Dinner
The editors of Edible Orlando happen to also be co-authors with Heather McPherson of the groundbreaking cookbook Field to Feast. They’re teaming up with yet another all-star group – Disney World’s very top chefs – to host the Inaugural Edible Orlando Field to Feast Dinner. The proceeds will benefit the Kids Café program at the Second Harvest Food Bank.
The Sunday supper will have eight courses, each prepared by a different notable chef and paired with a specific wine. The menu starts with Lake Meadow chicken sausage with Zellwood corn succotash and ends with squash beignets served with habañero-corn ice cream with Madeira glaze and cocoa dust, plus chocolate pot de crème with bosc pears and rye bread tuile. Here’s the full menu.
Sunday, October 27
Long & Scott Farms, Zellwood
$175 each / $325 per couple
East End Market’s Fall Harvest Dinner
The East End Market is soon to open, bringing Orlando a compendium of locavore-oriented food vendors in one place, plus a restaurant and a caterer. The new venue will make a splash with its Fall Harvest Dinner, where local chefs will cook foods from the area. Beer, wine, a specialty cocktail and live music will be part of the fun.
Saturday, November 16
East End Market, Orlando
Cows 'n Cabs
Once a year on a big field in Winter Park, under a grand tent, folks dressed casually in Western wear sample foods from several restaurants during the Cows ‘n Cabs fundraiser. It’s a low-key, upbeat and tasty way to spend an evening. Proceeds benefit Community Food & Outreach Center and Elevate Orlando. In addition to foods from restaurants including 4 Rivers Smokehouse, The COOP, Cask & Larder, Christner’s Prime Steak &Lobster, and Cress – which earned the No. 1 spot in the Zagat Orlando City Guide. Guests will also be free to sample 200 wines, spirits and craft beers.
Saturday, October 26
West Meadow, Winter Park
Harvest Celebration with Melissa Kelly
The chefs at Grande Lakes, the massive property that’s home to Orlando’s upscale Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott resorts, has long been keen on homegrown and locally raised food. A few months ago it opened an event venue called Whisper Creek Farm. It’s an actual farm, growing fruits and vegetables. And it’s the setting for grand parties (and intimate ones).
On evening in November, locals are invited to experience this truly distinctive space without being invited to a wedding or corporate to-do there. They’re urged to attend the Harvest Celebration with Melissa Kelly. Kelly is the chef-owner of Primo, a progressive Italian restaurant in the JW Marriott that has had an on-premise garden for several years. The foods will be cooked on site, as you watch, so you’ll always have hot and fresh tastes for your plate.
The JW Marriott's executive chef Chris Brown will be joining me on Fox 35. Tune in to hear the details of this incredible event.
Saturday, November 16
Whisper Creek Farm at Grande Lakes Orlando
Eat well, my friends.
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