American in Central

Clear Filters
Loading...
13 results

    Prodigious patties for the post-grad set seems to be graffiti Junktion's function; the crowd is young and the digs run to squatter-chic embillishments. Skip the salad and chili and head straight for the beefed-up burgers, served on homemade buns. a full bar keeps the scene lively and the din uproarious.

    Weighing more on the healthy than the vegetarian side, Green Day is nevertheless quite veggie-friendly. Patrons can opt to global-warm chicken, turkey, tuna or veg wraps on a grill, or make them green by leaving out the sauce and cheese. A side of broccoli crunch, flecked with sunflower seeds and subtly sweetened with raisins, nearly upstages the wraps.

    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.

    The Smiling Bison
    On certain nights, there's live music, and nothing's better at the Bison than being adventurous and trying new beers on draft while soaking in the sounds on Jazz Tuesdays. They retained the marvelous bar many of us perched around when Redlight Redlight occupied the space, which means the Bison bar top similarly serves as communal grounds for random small talk with other barflies.

    From the specialty styles of South Carolina and Alabama to Kansas City and beyond, you can have barbecue every which way in this town. With the arrival of Smokey Bones BBQ across from Fashion Square, there's another option: Rocky Mountain-style.

    The restaurant's origins go back to the late '60s, when the founder built a smoker out of an old section of the Rocky Mountain pipeline. As legend has it, the makeshift cooker produced the best barbecue anyone had ever tasted.

    The restaurant's origins go back to the late '60s, when the founder built a smoker out of an old section of the Rocky Mountain pipeline. As legend has it, the makeshift cooker produced the best barbecue anyone had ever tasted.

    But we found that the menu is less inspired by the Rockies than is the atmosphere: Smokey's looks like a cross between a sports bar and a mountain lodge, with rugged wood furniture and stacked slate walls. Televisions are positioned around the bar, always tuned into a game. In general, the barbecue is the same as what you could find at Sonny's or Fat Boy's. But in some cases, it's better. One thing is certain, this is a great place to get a lot of food for not much money. Barbecue sandwiches start at $4.59, and that includes a mess of fries.

    But we found that the menu is less inspired by the Rockies than is the atmosphere: Smokey's looks like a cross between a sports bar and a mountain lodge, with rugged wood furniture and stacked slate walls. Televisions are positioned around the bar, always tuned into a game. In general, the barbecue is the same as what you could find at Sonny's or Fat Boy's. But in some cases, it's better. One thing is certain, this is a great place to get a lot of food for not much money. Barbecue sandwiches start at $4.59, and that includes a mess of fries.

    The trick is careful selection. Some items range from generic ("crunchy chicken fingers") to scary ("BBQ chicken pizza toast"). Our cup of beef and bean chili ($1.99) was a good choice. Loaded with tender cubes of beef, it had a rich, aromatic, spicy broth that wasn't the least bit greasy. Try spooning it over a plate full of spicy cheese fries ($2.99) that are already smothered with melted cheddar cheese dotted with pieces of jalapeño peppers.

    The trick is careful selection. Some items range from generic ("crunchy chicken fingers") to scary ("BBQ chicken pizza toast"). Our cup of beef and bean chili ($1.99) was a good choice. Loaded with tender cubes of beef, it had a rich, aromatic, spicy broth that wasn't the least bit greasy. Try spooning it over a plate full of spicy cheese fries ($2.99) that are already smothered with melted cheddar cheese dotted with pieces of jalapeño peppers.

    Even in the higher price ranges, there are good deals. The "50/50" combo ($13.99) made our mouths water: A half rack of baby back ribs were smoked until the meat could barely hang onto the bone. They were teamed up with a slab of meaty spare ribs which were delicately charred on the outside.

    Even in the higher price ranges, there are good deals. The "50/50" combo ($13.99) made our mouths water: A half rack of baby back ribs were smoked until the meat could barely hang onto the bone. They were teamed up with a slab of meaty spare ribs which were delicately charred on the outside.

    Another good choice would be the combo platter which comes with lean cuts of sliced pork and beef that are plenty tender, and a link of flavorful smoked sausage ($9.99).

    Another good choice would be the combo platter which comes with lean cuts of sliced pork and beef that are plenty tender, and a link of flavorful smoked sausage ($9.99).

    The only thing that disappointed us was the garlic toast. It was dry and withered, having spent too much time under the broiler. Everything else was up to par, including a creamy slaw and beans that were so thick we ate them with a fork.

    The only thing that disappointed us was the garlic toast. It was dry and withered, having spent too much time under the broiler. Everything else was up to par, including a creamy slaw and beans that were so thick we ate them with a fork.

    The fresh-baked apple cobbler a la mode was an impressive hunk of dessert, so hot and bubbly we had to let it sit for a few minutes. But it tasted like something reclaimed from a deep freeze ($2.79).

    The fresh-baked apple cobbler a la mode was an impressive hunk of dessert, so hot and bubbly we had to let it sit for a few minutes. But it tasted like something reclaimed from a deep freeze ($2.79).

    Smokey's appeared to be overstaffed, which was a good thing. Open for only a couple of weeks, Smokey Bones is up to a 90-minute wait for tables on Saturday nights. But with plenty of friendly, efficient staff to look after us, we were in and out in less than an hour.

    I’ll admit, I wasn’t exactly salivating at the thought of dining at a restaurant catering to that oft-forgotten demographic of aging golfers and their silver-coiffed spouses. The Tap Room at Dubsdread, after all, is on the grounds of Orlando’s oldest public golf course; more than a few of its patrons are as well-worn as the ancient golf shoes encased in the display behind the hostess stand. The whole joint is made out of wood, including the ceiling, and the rustic touches and Shaker-style furnishings play up the historic angle. But the restaurant exudes a relaxed swagger – casual, yet unrelenting in its quest for perfection.

    In comparison to 19th holes at other public golf courses in Central Florida, the Tap Room is on a whole different playing field. Offering a mix of bar-and-grill bites and gourmet fare, the kitchen unquestionably takes pride in its efforts, plating simple, impeccably prepared dishes. To wit: creamy chicken vegetable soup ($4.95), a chowder-like potage with corn and potatoes that made it a struggle to pass up a second bowl. The soup was a special of the night, but should they offer it on your visit, do yourself a favor and order two.

    I was looking forward to sampling the jumbo lump crab cake, but they had evidently run out of crab, so I opted for the tenderloin steak flatbread ($11.95) instead. Cubes of medium-rare beef weighed down a long rectangular sleeve of crisp flatbread flavored with caramelized onions, wild mushrooms and a layer of mozzarella. Not a bad choice at all. I missed the berry compote more than I thought I would while enjoying baked brie ($12.95), though slices of pineapple, cantaloupe, melon and red apple, along with a small cluster of seedless red grapes, offered a properly fruity complement. The buttery-soft baguette was worth half the price of the dish alone.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the simply grilled onaga ($24.95), a ruby-red snapper from Hawaii noted for its soft, slightly fatty flesh. The generous puck of liquefying lime-dill butter atop the ample fillet proved to be the sole fault of this special, but it’s a nitpicky charge. Fluffy yellow rice and perfectly grilled asparagus accompanied the dish. If you’re a meat-and-potatoes man, the pot roast ($15.75) won’t disappoint. The slow-roasted slab of beef is enveloped by a wonderfully thick moat of peppery gravy, with potatoes, carrots and celery added to the comforting mix.

    Desserts are all made in-house and supply toothsome coups de grace. Shaved rinds add a touch of class to simply divine key lime pie ($4.95), while even the most ardent of chocoholics will be hard-pressed not to feel buzzed from the thick, rich chocolate cake ($5.95).

    Service could use a bit of polishing: I can see how the bucolic view lends to a leisurely pace, but letting 10 minutes pass before taking a drink order is just plain shoddy. That, coupled with a front of house I found to be somewhat harried, can dampen the mood and may keep the Tap Room from being a destination for the city’s fooderati. Yeah, the short game may be a little off, but the kitchen, thankfully, has its act together. That’s more than enough to keep the Tap Room in the game.

Calendar

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

© 2019 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation