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It's pretty amazing what's happening on the west side of Winter Park. Avoiding for the moment the social and economic implications of the area's growth, I'll just say that on the dining front, we're getting a lot more choices.

Some choices didn't work. The East India Market, an upscale and rather tony shop, has given way to the latest location for O'Boys Real Smoked Bar-B-Q, and for the most part it's a change for the better. (Although as far as I'm concerned, you just can't have too many places that sell walnut vinegar.)

Some choices didn't work. The East India Market, an upscale and rather tony shop, has given way to the latest location for O'Boys Real Smoked Bar-B-Q, and for the most part it's a change for the better. (Although as far as I'm concerned, you just can't have too many places that sell walnut vinegar.)

O'Boys -- which sort of sounds like another teen band -- has been a longtime fave at its West Colonial location near the O-rena. I mean the TD Waterhouse Centre. It's a step or two up from the level of roadhouse-shack smoker joint (which we all love) and many steps below the themed, expensive, "barbecue is an art form" establishment that dots the tourist landscape. You know the ones: all smoke, no flavor. O'Boys, on the other hand, definitely has flavor. It's a nice, comfortable place, nothing fancy about it, with booths around a small bar and a pleasant outdoor eating area. And it sure smells good.

The menu offers enough variations to satisfy most folk, including Caesar, chef's and green salads liberally topped with chicken or turkey, and a wide range of sandwiches and burgers. But we came here for barbecue, and by gum, we got it.

The menu offers enough variations to satisfy most folk, including Caesar, chef's and green salads liberally topped with chicken or turkey, and a wide range of sandwiches and burgers. But we came here for barbecue, and by gum, we got it.

Specials after 3 p.m. are "all-you-can-eat," and if you're lucky enough to come on a Saturday, you can chose beef, pork, chicken or ribs. Otherwise, I'd suggest the "sampler platter," which includes a huge amount of everything for $10.95. The short ribs are moist, and the sliced beef and pork are quite wonderful, slightly pink on the edges with just the right smoked flavor. I have to say I wasn't all that happy with the chicken. It's not as smothered in sauce as some places insist on doing, but the white meat was rather dry. I don't like to have to work quite that hard to chew. I did like the thin-sliced smoked turkey -- tender, with a nice hickory flavor.

Dinners come with salad or a finely chopped slaw, baked beans and garlic bread, which is nice as long as you eat it when it's hot. Avoid the uninspired french fries; wait until after 5 p.m. and have a baked sweet potato instead. Yum.

The boys of O'Boys pride themselves on their secret-recipe sauces, and three are offered at the table: a vinegar base, a lovely sweet-and-warm mustard and the Red Bottle. Red means "warning" -- this stuff is hot!

The boys of O'Boys pride themselves on their secret-recipe sauces, and three are offered at the table: a vinegar base, a lovely sweet-and-warm mustard and the Red Bottle. Red means "warning" -- this stuff is hot!

O'Boys is a local favorite, and rightfully so. Grab a rack and dig in.

One of the city's better beer bars sits, unexpectedly, on a forgettable strip of Colonial Drive, with 40 beers on tap and more available by the bottle – but the meaty bar bites, inventive burgers especially, are what sets this place apart from the rest. Don’t overlook crisp battered-and-fried items or tater tots with house-made ketchup. Oddly enough, vegan and vegetarian options are plentiful.

Is Orlando ready for another upmarket seafood joint, especially during these splurge-unfriendly times? Cameron Mitchell, Ocean Prime owner and current chairman of the Culinary Institute of America, thinks so, but if you trawl Sand Lake Road, you'll find plenty of fish in this proverbial sea. Noteworthy seafood restaurants on the strip include Bonefish, Roy's and Moonfish, all within a quarter-mile of his gleaming retro 'supper club,â?� and with many area restaurants reeling from recessionary disinterest on the part of diners, you have to wonder if all the grabbing hands are crumbling the pie. But confidence has its place in the business world, and Ocean Prime's undeniable swagger is what sets it apart from its fish-mongering neighbors.

The restaurant aims to channel the appeal of dining's glory days, and there's no doubt OP's the big fish when it comes to style ' aesthetes will marvel at the gossamer drapes, curvilinear design and dreamy nautical décor. If the restaurant were judged on flair alone, it'd receive top marks. If its service, fare, presentation and intangibles were as polished as its interior, it would certainly attain the lofty heights set by Orlando's other seafood supper club, the Oceanaire Seafood Room. As it stands, there's some work to be done. To wit: When asking for our water preference, I'd expect a server not to slur his speech; I'd also expect a server to remember to bring a bread basket (the sourdough-honey wheat bread was lovely when it finally arrived, minutes before we ordered dessert); and when entrees are served, I'd expect the server to clear the table area instead of gesturing with head nods and eye movements for me to do it. If this sounds like nitpicking, it is, but for a restaurant of this caliber, high expectations are justified.

I was disappointed to hear that the Alaskan red king crab legs were removed from the raw bar menu (it's available as an entrée), so I opted for the 'chilled colossal crab meat cocktailâ?� ($16) instead and found that there wasn't anything colossal about the meat, the serving platter or the flavor. Happily, the prime beef carpaccio ($14) was outstanding, and the side of beef short ribs stuffed inside a pipe bone was a nice touch.

Prime steaks range from a 7-ounce petite filet ($31) to a 22-ounce porterhouse ($48), but we were in a particularly piscatorial mood and tried the featured Alaskan halibut ($32). The fleshy fillet, dusted in Mitchell's own seasoning, was properly moist and sat atop a buttery champagne vin blanc sauce, but from essence to presentation, the dish just seemed uninspired. (I had the same fish at J. Alexander's during lunch and it was far superior, and half the price.) Though its edges were crisped, the Florida black grouper ($30) fared much better, and a la carte add-ons of jalapeño au gratin potatoes ($9) and sesame stir-fried snap peas ($8) were thoroughly devoured. Desserts, like the towering baked Alaska ($9) and the chocolate peanut butter torte ($8), are toothsome triumphs big enough for sharing.

Behind the stunning floor-to-ceiling wine repository, live music resounded from the cocktail lounge ('80s detritus on this particular night) and let me just say that nothing beats listening to 'Congaâ?� and 'Girls Just Want to Have Funâ?� while trying to enjoy a refined meal. Still, Ocean Prime has all the makings of a destination dining spot, more than just another posh see-and-be-seen joint littering the strip. Chef Todd Baggett (the Boheme, Manuel's on the 28th, Beluga, Moonfish) has the chops to raise the bar in the kitchen, and if the front of the house makes the necessary tweaks, the restaurant will flourish. For now, Ocean Prime isn't quite ready for prime time.

Most foodies view chains as vessels of formulaic food assemblage serving only to propagate the conventional while inhibiting any semblance of culinary creativity. An elitist posture, to be sure, though not entirely without merit, particularly in our chain-riddled hamlet. But this gussied-up seafood room not only dismisses the notion, it shatters it, and, further, makes you thankful that Orlando is one of 14 cities to have the Minnesota-based chain sail into town.

The primary reason is the undeniable quality and freshness of the product. Their printed menu listed 25 varieties of sea creature, of which 18 had check marks next to them – an indication of the day’s catch. They claim that what sits on your plate today may have been swimming the day before. For a seafood joint, that makes all the difference in the world.

Oceanaire replicates a spacious ocean liner supper club steeped in 1930s nostalgia and replete with art deco flourishes: polished cherrywood paneling inlaid with chrome, sleek sweeping curves, recessed lighting, hardwood floors. You may even find yourself shimmying to the boogie-woogie swing as you pass the well-chilled bivalve bar on the way to your padded high-backed booth. Only rustic touches like the piscine taxidermy spoil the mood. At times, overly attentive waiters can do the same, but for the most part service is accommodating and first-class all the way.

Not wanting to indulge in a full order of Alaskan king crab legs ($56.95), I was allowed to order a half portion ($28.95), which amounted to one enormously spindly extremity encasing beautifully sweet flesh. A dip in melted butter, kept warm over a candle flame, served to enhance the succulence. A better-than-average ceviche pescado ($12.95) comprised diced Ecuadorian mahi mahi and Costa Rican wahoo ono “cooked” in a pineapple-orange-lime juice marinade. Bursts of fresh cilantro mingled with the mild tang of the fish, but the starter lacked the zing of rocoto, or any zippy pepper for that matter.

Any of the available fish can be ordered “simply grilled” or “broiled,” though an option to “dirty” any of day’s catch with Cajun spices is also offered. Opting for a purist approach, we chose to simply grill the 16-ounce Alaskan halibut T-bone ($35.95) in olive oil, lemon and rock salt and ordered it “medium” as per our waiter’s suggestion. The thick, meaty slab was near-perfect in its austerity, the center bone adding a lovely mild and subtly sweet flavor, though my dining partner felt the flesh veered towards the dry side.

I hate de-boning fish, but my waiter was happy to perform a tableside skeletal removal of the whole Mediterranean branzino ($34.95), a European sea bass steamed to liberate its delicate flavors. The brilliantly buttery, shimmering-skinned fish in a zesty lemon-beurre sauce with capers and kalamata olives was melt-in-your-mouth marvelous.

Sides are offered family-style, and in our quest for substance and comfort we opted for the baked blue cheese and macaroni ($7.95), a fine but incongruous dish. Needless to say, portions are huge here, so filling up on home-baked sourdough bread and the relish tray of pickled herring and crudités will encroach on your desire for dessert. Aside from a Dixie cup of ice cream (95¢), desserts are, expectedly, enormous, but none so enormous as the caramel brownie deluxe ($13.95). A gargantuan brownie wedge, flanked by two scoops of ice cream and capped with a dollop of cream, is laid on the table before a waiter slathers it with homemade caramel and fudge poured from two stainless steel sauce boats. Crème brûlée ($7.95), served in a shell-shaped dish, had the proper crackle and rich consistency.

Nowhere beyond the sea are its inhabitants more freshly served than here – nary an old fish sullies this kitchen. The budget-busting prices and I-Drive locale may alienate some diners, but in a town sorely lacking in fine seafood establishments, it’s a pleasure to see a restaurant raise the bar, even if it is a chain.

Shopping near the West Oaks Mall a few weeks ago -- on my 27th trip to the hardware store for a home renovation project -- I spotted an unusual sign: "October Rice," it said, "a Chinese Cuisinery."

Open since last September, the "cuisinery" is nestled in a strip mall between a uniform store and a bar-stool outlet, so you might not expect to find more than garden-variety food. And with only five little tables in a small space, an open kitchen and counter service, October Rice doesn't look like a sit-down restaurant.

But, appointed in lovely shades of light and dark woods, and deep-blue lighting fixtures, the atmosphere seems to convince people coming in for take-out to stay. The counter and tables fill up quickly with people enjoying skillfully crafted renditions of familiar dishes.

The menu is beautiful, printed on creamy paper with elegant type, but the prices are more than reasonable.

The food sticks to the standard Chinese fare that you'd find on most menus but makes credible use of well-chosen and well-prepared ingredients. October Rice makes a savory hot-and-sour soup ($1.75), with strips of chicken and tofu cubes in a broth sharp with vinegar and spices. "Chinese ravioli" ($4.50) are deep fried wontons filled with chicken -- a bit too crisp on this visit but still a pleasant combination of flavors and textures. Chicken teriyaki ($3.75) is oven-roasted and brushed, not drowned, in dark sauce and served with crisply saut?ed vegetables.

The "festival of the sea" special combined plump shrimp, tender and moist stir-fried scallops and a chunk of lobster in a surprisingly light soy/wine sauce that didn't cover up the taste of the seafood ($11.95). The "sweet & sour" chicken ($6.95) hearkens back to days when chefs actually used pineapple and pickles, instead of sugar syrup and vinegar, to create the two contrasting flavors. Bravo for that. The wok-fried tofu ($6.25) is soft bean curd and vegetables seared in garlic and soy sauce, a much-needed alternative choice for the veggies among us.

In another unexpected move, food is served in take-away containers with plastic cutlery -- but they're the sturdiest containers I've seen. (I'm still using them.)

In Asia, rice is traditionally harvested in October, when much-needed rains from the monsoon season have ended and the 100 days of growing are over. Even in the U.S., October rice harvest festivals pop up all over Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. So October Rice alludes to an important time of the year for an important resource. Plus, it's a wonderfully lyrical name.

An interesting statistic: In the United States, the incidence of heart disease is almost four times higher than it is in Colombia. I mention this fact because when I opened the menu of Colombian dishes at Oh! Que Bueno, I swear I could hear my mother yelling, "If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll get sick!"

Housed in a small, nondescript fast-food makeover off fast-traveled South Semoran Boulevard, the family spot was formerly the Sunrise Restaurant, a schizophrenic endeavor that served omelets for breakfast, Chinese food for lunch and Vietnamese at dinner. No such confusion at O!QB ... the bill of fare is so constant it doesn't vary from morning to 10 p.m. close.

Housed in a small, nondescript fast-food makeover off fast-traveled South Semoran Boulevard, the family spot was formerly the Sunrise Restaurant, a schizophrenic endeavor that served omelets for breakfast, Chinese food for lunch and Vietnamese at dinner. No such confusion at O!QB ... the bill of fare is so constant it doesn't vary from morning to 10 p.m. close.

There's not a veggie among the listings of tipicos (traditional dishes), platos (combination plates) and bocaditos (appetizers; literally "little mouths"), unless you count corn, rice and red beans. Don't look for anything green. How do the fit and sound people of Colombia go through the day without their hearts attacking them? Maybe Mom was wrong and taste does count for something.

There's not a veggie among the listings of tipicos (traditional dishes), platos (combination plates) and bocaditos (appetizers; literally "little mouths"), unless you count corn, rice and red beans. Don't look for anything green. How do the fit and sound people of Colombia go through the day without their hearts attacking them? Maybe Mom was wrong and taste does count for something.

Take, as an example, the "bandeja campesina" ($9.95), a "farmers meal" that's half dinner, half breakfast. White rice, savory red beans, a thick link sausage and a large slice of fried pork skin (more like thick bacon than the crunchy snacks) join a typical morning repast of steak, fried eggs and corn cake. There's enough food to last most of the day, and each bit tasted as authentic as the presentation. And I tell a slight lie -- there was green in the form of a creamy slice of avocado.

Take, as an example, the "bandeja campesina" ($9.95), a "farmers meal" that's half dinner, half breakfast. White rice, savory red beans, a thick link sausage and a large slice of fried pork skin (more like thick bacon than the crunchy snacks) join a typical morning repast of steak, fried eggs and corn cake. There's enough food to last most of the day, and each bit tasted as authentic as the presentation. And I tell a slight lie -- there was green in the form of a creamy slice of avocado.

The "mariscos" menu offers fried red snapper (frozen rather than fresh), mojarra, a small tropical fish, and various shrimp dishes. I tried camarones al ajillo ($10.95) and was rewarded with several plump shrimp swimming in a garlic and butter sauce liberally spiced with cilantro and excellent when spooned over the rice. Green plantain fritters -- CD-sized disks of fried cooking bananas -- were surprisingly moist and tasted great dipped in the garlic.

The "mariscos" menu offers fried red snapper (frozen rather than fresh), mojarra, a small tropical fish, and various shrimp dishes. I tried camarones al ajillo ($10.95) and was rewarded with several plump shrimp swimming in a garlic and butter sauce liberally spiced with cilantro and excellent when spooned over the rice. Green plantain fritters -- CD-sized disks of fried cooking bananas -- were surprisingly moist and tasted great dipped in the garlic.

The bites of sweet plantains ($2) were fried almost to caramel without turning to mush, and a sugary delight. I have yet to really acquire a taste for arepas, the flat, grilled corn cakes that are like a thick tortilla and are served with everything from shredded beef to a slice of bland queso blanco, but they're available in all their permutations. A popular treat for carnivores is the morcilla black sausage ($2.50), like German blood sausage or English black pudding with a hot-pepper kick.

The bites of sweet plantains ($2) were fried almost to caramel without turning to mush, and a sugary delight. I have yet to really acquire a taste for arepas, the flat, grilled corn cakes that are like a thick tortilla and are served with everything from shredded beef to a slice of bland queso blanco, but they're available in all their permutations. A popular treat for carnivores is the morcilla black sausage ($2.50), like German blood sausage or English black pudding with a hot-pepper kick.

Service is polite and prompt, and protein fans will shout, "Oh! Que bueno!" for the ethnic cuisine.

Judaic dietary law dictates that in order for a kitchen to be considered kashrut, dairy products and ritually slaughtered meat (beef and chicken) need to be segregated. As a result, you won’t find cheese pizza at a kosher deli with a meat kitchen, or beef brisket at a kosher sandwich joint with a dairy kitchen. Olé Gourmet falls into the latter category, and because of the dearth of meat dishes (fish notwithstanding), it’s become a draw for area vegetarians intrigued by the mix of Mediterranean, Mexican, Italian and, of course, Israeli staples.

The small space is dominated by mustard and coffee-colored walls, not to mention a sizable open kitchen where owner Ed Leibowitz, as friendly and accommodating a chap as you’ll ever meet, along with his wife Bracha and sous-chef Meir Kokin, prepare a slew of items from the multicultural menu, often with mixed results. Fried falafel anchors the Israeli platter ($13.95) and while the crisp, greaseless chickpea croquettes met all textural requirements, the flavor had the distinct flavor and aroma of the sea, likely because they were fried in the same oil as the fish and chips ($8.95). Matbucha, a cooked salad dish brought to the Holy Land by North African immigrants, was the winner of the lot with its fiery mix of tomatoes, roasted peppers, olive oil and garlic. Tearing up a piece of pita bread and scooping up Turkish eggplant salad also proved enjoyable, but the hummus and vinegary red cabbage salad were both a tad ordinary. Baba ganoush, tahini and tabouli (items listed as part of the platter) failed to materialize, but I later learned that the platter includes falafel and your choice of five items. This isn’t evident from reading the menu, and nothing was mentioned, so the house made the selections for me.

Sesame-flecked bureka ($8.50), another Turkish staple, disappointed, but had it been served warm, it could’ve been the fulfilling, flaky, potato-filled pastry I was expecting. The ashen core of the accompanying hard-boiled egg marked it as a victim of overboiling, though garden-fresh Israeli salad – cubed cucumbers and tomatoes splashed with lemon juice and olive oil – made an ideal palate cleanser.

The mild brining and smoky essence of Nova salmon ($11.95) should please fans of the cured fish, though I can’t say I was all too crazy about the oily consistency. The platter also came with a toasted bagel, cream cheese and chopped salad.

Doughy pizza olé ($12.95) is a saucy number made all the more gooey by a liberal crumbling of feta and mozzarella cheese, and further burdened by a healthy dose of olives and onions. Ungluing a pie wedge from the plate was an exercise in patience; shoving it into my mouth required speed, agility and dexterous use of my digits. Ultimately, the slice collapsed under the weight of the toppings, but the flavors were good.

For dessert, the Mount Hermon ($5.95), a moist, chocolatey representation of the Israeli peak, is everything a warm homemade brownie should be, with two dollops of melting vanilla ice cream resembling the snowy summit. Cherry essence overwhelmed the thick slab of chocolate “mudcake” ($4.95).

Olé means “going up” in Hebrew, and it’s a fitting moniker, considering the Leibowitzes’ commitment to elevating the standards of the fare. Paring down their extensive menu and focusing on dishes they do best will help them get to that promised land.

Between the options to eat in or take out, there's the Olive Branch (314 Hannibal Square, 407-629-1029), directly across the street from Hot Olives (463 W. New England Ave., 407-629-1030), a settled-in spot known for the casual nosh or two. And now we have the cutely named offshoot, where those noshes are available to take home. They do things differently in Winter Park.

"They make everything across the street and bring it over," I was told at the counter, a glass case brimming with dense meat loaf, salmon with cous cous and chocolate-chip cheesecakes.

"They make everything across the street and bring it over," I was told at the counter, a glass case brimming with dense meat loaf, salmon with cous cous and chocolate-chip cheesecakes.

Prices might seem high -- $12 for a whole chicken lasagna -- but the paper-thin sheets of pasta covering layers of shredded chicken, mushrooms and mild tomato sauce weighs in at almost three pounds, and you can always tell folks it's your recipe. I promise I won't say a word.

When you think of deep-fried squid, the word "beautiful" doesn't usually come to mind. But what we saw at Olympia Restaurant changed our minds. Sitting before us was a simple platter of what the Greek refer to as kalamari: a delicate, undulating tangle of generously carved squid steaks. They were lightly fried with a lacy batter and presented with lemon wedges, fried onions and peppers.

We could almost taste the Greek elements -- sunshine, earth and sea -- that inspired the food which kept coming out of the kitchen on the night we visited. While this restaurant is elegant in a gently worn way, the setting is decidedly humble on Colonial Drive, east of Goldenrod Road. Like a hardy olive tree that's rooted deep, Olympia Restaurant has been serving authentic Greek cuisine since 1979.

Although it's been nearly 40 years since the Vasiliadis family left Greece for America, they make regular pilgrimages back to the islands for culinary inspiration, from the tiniest fishing villages to the streets of Athens. Then they bring their impressions back to Orlando and work them into the menu, which is made up of old family recipes which have been tweaked through the years.

In addition to the kalamari ($6.95), we also had a feta saganaki appetizer ($5.95), which was a satisfying platter of steamy pita wedges arranged around a pot of warm dipping sauce, made of melted feta cheese, olives, pepperoncinis.

The "Hercules platter" ($13.95) is an easy way to sample the menu, featuring roast lamb and gyro meat. There also were dolmathes, marinated grape leaves wrapped around a stuffing of spiced beef, onions and rice, spanakopita, a delicate spinach pastry wrapped in flaky phyllo dough, and tsatsiki, a mild dipping sauce of yogurt, cucumbers and garlic. There also was a taste of moussaka, which my guest ordered as a full entree ($8.95). That's hearty but mild dish built of layers of sliced and fried potatoes on the bottom, fried eggplant and spicy ground beef in the middle, and a light, creamy béchamel sauce on top.

Our waitress was attentive and thorough, yet she gave us our space. This is a pleasant spot for a leisurely dining respite. And on Friday and Saturday nights, the setting includes traditional belly dancing shows at 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

Take a peek at the "Steaks" heading in Orlando Weekly's 2004 edition of BITE, and you'll see that this town is up to here in steakhouses. From Linda's La Cantina, to Kres (you say steakhouse, they say chophouse, let's call that whole argument off), to Ruth's Chris, to Sam Seltzer's, to Vito's, if you can't find a big platter of beef with a side of garlic mashed potatoes within minutes of where you are right now, you're not really trying.

So why would yet another steakhouse venture into this already crowded field? Good question, and one I can't answer after a recent visit to Omaha SteakHouse.

So why would yet another steakhouse venture into this already crowded field? Good question, and one I can't answer after a recent visit to Omaha SteakHouse.

The first thing to know about the new kid on the block is that, yes, it is the restaurant manifestation of Omaha Steaks, the mail-order and retail meat folks. Getting a cooler full of cuts in the mail has always been kind of cool, and Omaha Steaks has a deserved reputation for their beef. They still claim it's their corn-fed cows that make for such good eating.

The first thing to know about the new kid on the block is that, yes, it is the restaurant manifestation of Omaha Steaks, the mail-order and retail meat folks. Getting a cooler full of cuts in the mail has always been kind of cool, and Omaha Steaks has a deserved reputation for their beef. They still claim it's their corn-fed cows that make for such good eating.

The second thing to know about the new kid on the block is that it is hard to find. There are only seven Omaha SteakHouses in the country so far, so you'd think they'd want a big, splashy location that screams "We're here!" But you'd be wrong. The restaurant is located in the Embassy Suites Orlando North, an outwardly generic (though inwardly posh) hotel set back from the gash of commerce that is Altamonte Drive east of I-4. I drove by it twice before finding it. Even when you find the Embassy Suites, there is precious little signage letting on that you've also found Omaha SteakHouse.

The second thing to know about the new kid on the block is that it is hard to find. There are only seven Omaha SteakHouses in the country so far, so you'd think they'd want a big, splashy location that screams "We're here!" But you'd be wrong. The restaurant is located in the Embassy Suites Orlando North, an outwardly generic (though inwardly posh) hotel set back from the gash of commerce that is Altamonte Drive east of I-4. I drove by it twice before finding it. Even when you find the Embassy Suites, there is precious little signage letting on that you've also found Omaha SteakHouse.

Maybe they were thinking that the beef is so good they can hide and still draw a crowd. But from my experience (and the fact that the place was almost empty), I'm thinking not.

Maybe they were thinking that the beef is so good they can hide and still draw a crowd. But from my experience (and the fact that the place was almost empty), I'm thinking not.

Don't get me wrong: The food was good to excellent, the service was low-key and impeccable, and the atmosphere was refined and relaxing. I could say the same, however, for almost every other steakhouse in Orlando.

Don't get me wrong: The food was good to excellent, the service was low-key and impeccable, and the atmosphere was refined and relaxing. I could say the same, however, for almost every other steakhouse in Orlando.

We started with the crab bisque ($4.95), which proved as smooth, savory and delicious as its burnt-orange hue suggested. That it came in a bowl big enough to serve as a washbasin only added to my enjoyment. Another appetizer, three-cheese quesadillas ($7.25), was generous enough to serve as a kids' meal.

We started with the crab bisque ($4.95), which proved as smooth, savory and delicious as its burnt-orange hue suggested. That it came in a bowl big enough to serve as a washbasin only added to my enjoyment. Another appetizer, three-cheese quesadillas ($7.25), was generous enough to serve as a kids' meal.

For entrees, we ordered up the Roquefort and chive encrusted top sirloin ($18.95), and the 7-ounce "private reserve" filet mignon ($23.95). The former was a touch dry, and I wouldn't exactly say it was "encrusted"; more like the Roquefort was plopped on top. Nonetheless, the cheese added needed moisture to the meat, complementing it beautifully. The filet, on the other hand, was fork tender and flavorful all on its own, a near-perfect cut.

For entrees, we ordered up the Roquefort and chive encrusted top sirloin ($18.95), and the 7-ounce "private reserve" filet mignon ($23.95). The former was a touch dry, and I wouldn't exactly say it was "encrusted"; more like the Roquefort was plopped on top. Nonetheless, the cheese added needed moisture to the meat, complementing it beautifully. The filet, on the other hand, was fork tender and flavorful all on its own, a near-perfect cut.

The sides were not as successful. I'd like to formally lodge a complaint against all steakhouses that charge $20-plus for a piece of meat and skimp on (or do away with) any vegetables on the plate. The steak-on-a-stark-white-plate aesthetic has had its day. At Omaha, your meat comes with a side of mashed potatoes that, in our case, came out cold and crying out for salt.

The sides were not as successful. I'd like to formally lodge a complaint against all steakhouses that charge $20-plus for a piece of meat and skimp on (or do away with) any vegetables on the plate. The steak-on-a-stark-white-plate aesthetic has had its day. At Omaha, your meat comes with a side of mashed potatoes that, in our case, came out cold and crying out for salt.

I only ate half my steak in order to save room for dessert, and frankly I've had none finer that I can recall. Omaha's "big New Yorker cheesecake" ($6.95) was worth the trip itself; fluffy and dense at the same time, the epitome of New York-style cheesecake.

I only ate half my steak in order to save room for dessert, and frankly I've had none finer that I can recall. Omaha's "big New Yorker cheesecake" ($6.95) was worth the trip itself; fluffy and dense at the same time, the epitome of New York-style cheesecake.

Perhaps we are so Atkins crazed that any steakhouse is a guaranteed success these days. But I have to say that I left Omaha SteakHouse thinking they have a struggle ahead of them to make it in this market. Step No. 1: Get yourself a bigger sign.

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