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    Take one look at the decor in LaSpada's cafeteria-style eatery, and you'd probably guess they sell cheese steak and hoagies even if you didn't read the full name. Posters of the Rocky films, Phillies memorabilia, New York Yankees hate speech ' the kitschy charm doesn't make a great sandwich, but it helps while you wait for one. 

    The 6-inch steak supreme ($5.75) crams chopped steak, onions, green peppers, mushrooms and white American cheese into a tiny roll, making it a seasoned, cheesy mess that's worth grabbing a fork for. On the cold side, a 6-inch LaSpada's Famous ($5.95) stacks five different meats, including prosciutto and capicola, on provolone cheese and vegetables, creating a sandwich that's tasty but challenging thanks to the super-salty cold cuts. Sides include a couple of homemade salads for 95 cents each: The potato is sadly bland, but you may want to grab a large portion of the creamy macaroni.

    We didn't expect to be greeted with a remote beeper and a 20-minute wait for a table when we arrived at Le Peep on a Saturday morning. But then, it was our first visit, and those who live in the Bay Hill/Dr. Phillips area were way ahead of us. In fact, Le Peep has been packing them in for 12 years at the intersection of Kirkman and Conroy/Windermere roads.

    Le Peep was originally an upscale Aspen breakfast spot, founded by a ski buff who wanted to pay the bills and hit the slopes in the afternoon. As the restaurant has expanded into a national chain, some of the individual charm has given way to formulas and concepts. The menu reads like a series of cutesy one-liners, many of them trademarked, like the "pampered eggs," "berry patch waffles," "Sir Benedict omelettes" and "proud bird" chicken sandwiches.

    Le Peep was originally an upscale Aspen breakfast spot, founded by a ski buff who wanted to pay the bills and hit the slopes in the afternoon. As the restaurant has expanded into a national chain, some of the individual charm has given way to formulas and concepts. The menu reads like a series of cutesy one-liners, many of them trademarked, like the "pampered eggs," "berry patch waffles," "Sir Benedict omelettes" and "proud bird" chicken sandwiches.

    We were won over by the muffins. "Gooey buns" ($1.95) are nothing like they sound. They're actually English muffins transformed into toasted-brown-sugar-and-cinnamon rolls, and served with a dollop of cream cheese and a side of baked apples.

    We were won over by the muffins. "Gooey buns" ($1.95) are nothing like they sound. They're actually English muffins transformed into toasted-brown-sugar-and-cinnamon rolls, and served with a dollop of cream cheese and a side of baked apples.

    The dining area is a step up from a Denny's or a Perkins, with patio seating and umbrellas over some of the tables. Every table was filled, so the waiters were on their toes. But with an ever-present crowd of people waiting in line out front, there was understandably more emphasis on turning tables than encouraging customers to linger.

    The dining area is a step up from a Denny's or a Perkins, with patio seating and umbrellas over some of the tables. Every table was filled, so the waiters were on their toes. But with an ever-present crowd of people waiting in line out front, there was understandably more emphasis on turning tables than encouraging customers to linger.

    With dozens of combinations of omelets, skillet dishes, French toast, Belgian waffles and pancakes, there's something for everyone here. Some of it is original, like the "granola blues" pancakes that have crunch thanks to the blueberry granola ($4.55). But even better are the pancakes textured with sliced bananas and crumbled Southern pecans ($4.15).

    With dozens of combinations of omelets, skillet dishes, French toast, Belgian waffles and pancakes, there's something for everyone here. Some of it is original, like the "granola blues" pancakes that have crunch thanks to the blueberry granola ($4.55). But even better are the pancakes textured with sliced bananas and crumbled Southern pecans ($4.15).

    By comparison, "original French toast" ($4.50) isn't as exciting as the menu's detailed description. The thick slices of Vienna bread, soaked in custard batter and grilled until light and golden, taste like plain old French toast.

    By comparison, "original French toast" ($4.50) isn't as exciting as the menu's detailed description. The thick slices of Vienna bread, soaked in custard batter and grilled until light and golden, taste like plain old French toast.

    Many items are featured with hollandaise sauce, and a little bit of caution might be in order here. A heavy helping of the sauce weighed down an otherwise fine seafood skillet crepe ($6.15), which was filled with crabmeat, broccoli and veggies. On the side, "peasant potatoes" were a lame rendition of diced potatoes that tasted dry and flavorless.

    Many items are featured with hollandaise sauce, and a little bit of caution might be in order here. A heavy helping of the sauce weighed down an otherwise fine seafood skillet crepe ($6.15), which was filled with crabmeat, broccoli and veggies. On the side, "peasant potatoes" were a lame rendition of diced potatoes that tasted dry and flavorless.

    The "light" omelets are quite good, made with whipped egg-whites and light cheddar cheese. We liked "white lightning" ($6.15), a Southwestern version with chicken, green chiles and guacamole.

    The "light" omelets are quite good, made with whipped egg-whites and light cheddar cheese. We liked "white lightning" ($6.15), a Southwestern version with chicken, green chiles and guacamole.

    And if you're a fan of fresh-squeezed orange juice, Le Peep offers one of the best deals in town. A half-liter carafe ($2.95) easily serves two, and then some.

    And if you're a fan of fresh-squeezed orange juice, Le Peep offers one of the best deals in town. A half-liter carafe ($2.95) easily serves two, and then some.

    With its wide variety of breakfast and brunch meals, Le Peep fills a niche in the high-traffic area. But there isn't anything new going on here that would drive hungry brunchers to traveling extremes.

    You know a restaurant must be doing at least one thing right when it lays claim to being the oldest family-owned steakhouse in Orlando. That one thing would be steaks, and you'll definitely find beef on the menu -- if not a lot of other attractions -- at Linda's La Cantina Steakhouse, which dates back to 1947. It's been in the same location for more than half a century at 4721 E. Colonial Drive.

    In the old days it was called Al and Linda's La Cantina. But it's Linda Seng who runs the place after all these years (she prefers not to discuss the particulars behind the name and ownership transition), and her family joins her in running the restaurant.

    In the old days it was called Al and Linda's La Cantina. But it's Linda Seng who runs the place after all these years (she prefers not to discuss the particulars behind the name and ownership transition), and her family joins her in running the restaurant.

    A casual observer would never guess the restaurant's history: It looks virtually new. That's because the old La Cantina burned to the ground three days after Christmas 1994 and rebuilt by the following summer. The spiffy updated digs include a bilevel dining area and a gleaming new bar that is built around a distinctive "water-fire" fountain -- a pool of water that has an undulating flame as its centerpiece. The whole effect is that of a typical, dimly lit family steakhouse, but more upscale.

    A casual observer would never guess the restaurant's history: It looks virtually new. That's because the old La Cantina burned to the ground three days after Christmas 1994 and rebuilt by the following summer. The spiffy updated digs include a bilevel dining area and a gleaming new bar that is built around a distinctive "water-fire" fountain -- a pool of water that has an undulating flame as its centerpiece. The whole effect is that of a typical, dimly lit family steakhouse, but more upscale.

    We weren't expecting a revolutionary dining experience, so we weren't disappointed. We enjoyed expertly prepared steaks, with the exception of one appetizer -- the too-chewy "bourbon bites" ($5.95) tinged with whiskey and brown sugar. The shrimp cocktail ($6.25) featured a half dozen Gulf shrimp that were simply presented on a bed of greens with chilled, tangy marinara sauce. But for an opener, we preferred the toasty, warm baguette that came with the bread basket.

    We weren't expecting a revolutionary dining experience, so we weren't disappointed. We enjoyed expertly prepared steaks, with the exception of one appetizer -- the too-chewy "bourbon bites" ($5.95) tinged with whiskey and brown sugar. The shrimp cocktail ($6.25) featured a half dozen Gulf shrimp that were simply presented on a bed of greens with chilled, tangy marinara sauce. But for an opener, we preferred the toasty, warm baguette that came with the bread basket.

    My guest's huge "surf and turf" dinner ($28.95) was fantastic and flawless. A 14-ounce snapper fillet was blanketed in Cajun spices (chosen by Seng after excursions to New Orleans). There also was an 8-ounce filet mignon that was sizzled outside and deep-red inside with a silky texture throughout. Juicy, succulent and tender, with hints of smokiness, the mammoth T-bone steaks ($23.45) cover the better part of an oversized dinner plate.

    My guest's huge "surf and turf" dinner ($28.95) was fantastic and flawless. A 14-ounce snapper fillet was blanketed in Cajun spices (chosen by Seng after excursions to New Orleans). There also was an 8-ounce filet mignon that was sizzled outside and deep-red inside with a silky texture throughout. Juicy, succulent and tender, with hints of smokiness, the mammoth T-bone steaks ($23.45) cover the better part of an oversized dinner plate.

    Among the side items, skip the spaghetti; it's lackluster next to such a fabulous cut of meat. Dinners like this call for jumbo baked potatoes smothered with all the trimmings and a simple house salad ladled with freshly made Roquefort "blue cheese" dressing.

    Among the side items, skip the spaghetti; it's lackluster next to such a fabulous cut of meat. Dinners like this call for jumbo baked potatoes smothered with all the trimmings and a simple house salad ladled with freshly made Roquefort "blue cheese" dressing.

    Despite the high-end prices, you won't find any waiters putting on airs here. Service is strictly casual. Linda's La Cantina Steakhouse is just the place to thoroughly relax over a fine steak dinner.

    I'll never forget when a fun, pretty girl from out of town joined my high school halfway through junior year. It caused quite a stir with the popular crowd, and the trendiest girls were all in a tizzy, threatened by their sudden change in status. They eventually began to imitate her language and style. The same may happen with newcomer Luma on Park. I imagine other restaurants of her caliber ducking for cover, reorganizing, emulating.

    Terrazzo spreads over a cozy bar and a vivacious dining room, partitioned by a glass-encased stairwell that leads to an impressive wine cellar. Beyond a backdrop of stylish wood, leather, metal and marble sits an open kitchen. Luma is scattered with nooks that allow patrons to be comfortably alone, while still part of the lively room. Polka-dotted rugs and circles of chairs in the bar create miniature, but exceedingly stylish, private spaces. Likewise with long pub tables, spacious booths and rooms created for bigger parties.

    My meals have been flawless. The ambience – gorgeous. But I want to address two issues: One, their hosting system needs help. I arrived with reservations and still waited for over an hour on one visit. My second issue has to do with the bathrooms. When did design trump function in restaurant bathrooms? It's hard to find your way in, and then all the locks on the stalls are broken. Not pleasant.

    But on to the food, which is the reason to visit Luma. Executive chef Todd Immel has put together an inspiring selection of dishes that are creative, comforting and trendy. His passion for food exudes through the ingredients he selects, the way he marries them together, and the way he presents them.

    More than half of the menu is dedicated to quick bites, all enticing, which makes it difficult to choose. Keep in mind that the menu changes seasonally and according to availability, but here's a sampling: On one occasion we had clams "al forno" ($12), littlenecks floating in silky Mediterranean broth with wine, rosemary and pancetta. Chickpeas lent an earthy flavor that contrasted well with the oceany cockles.

    Ravioli ($10) was an austere dish of six pillows stuffed with goat cheese, orange zest and fennel pollen. Eating them was like riding on the top of autumn while looking back to the summer.

    Delicately gamey rabbit terrine ($12) was served cold with the traditional accompaniment of cornichons. In place of prepared mustard was a clever mustard ice cream that dispersed the piquant flavor wider on the palate.

    Luma's fennel salad ($9) puts the pale green fennel bulb to delicious use. Licorice overtones were enhanced by tangy pomegranate and orange slices. The flavor could have stopped there, but to this colorful salad, they added aged pecorino cheese for a hint of nuttiness.

    Could it get any better than this? We weren't sure until the entrees arrived. They were beautifully presented with a gentle touch. Food that manages to be pretty without looking too fussed over is most pleasing, and Luma is gifted in the art of presentation.

    Diver scallops ($21) were plump and had a caramelized crust poised gracefully on tender, pristine flesh. Like a floral centerpiece, purple and red radish salad rested colorfully in the middle of the plate, graced by citrusy sauce. Rich olive tapenade, which at first seemed out of place, proved to enhance the flavor.

    I had chicken "sous vide" ($17), made by vacuum sealing. I am fascinated with this high-tech-preservation-method-cum-gourmet-preparation that every top chef – from Keller to Ducasse – is taking for a spin. The flavorful chicken was tender and well-seasoned but nothing special. The accompaniment of creamy polenta and braised collard greens added much depth.

    The duck ($20) took my breath away. With tender breast meat fanned out, this dish displayed a flavorful crust and pink flesh that yielded to a tender center. Accompanying this was a ring of butternut squash with a mystifyingly airy texture. A hint of lemon lingered on my tongue, leaving me wanting more.

    The sirloin ($24), too, was deftly prepared. This slab of Niman Ranch's best was well-teamed with spicy watercress and creamy Gorgonzola, topped by dollop of port reduction.

    The dessert were awe-inspiring, with a style all their own. The sweet corn pudding ($6) couldn't be more alluring. With macerated blackberries and a touch of fried polenta, the flavors lingered like a remembrance of something innovative yet familiar. Just like Luma itself.

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