Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Orlando Restaurants that Mix Great Food with Live Music

It's one of the more frequent requests I get: "Can you recommend a restaurant with live music?" There's just something about the combined enjoyment of a meal with a performance that appeals to a lot of people. And with the opening of B.B. King's Blues Club last month at Pointe Orlando, Central Florida gained another place where guests can combine a meal with the experience of live music.

It's a difficult recommendation to make. I can give you a list of Orlando restaurants that offer entertainment, but it's harder to suggest places that have good food and good music.
People tend to have an idea of exactly what they want in both categories. They'd like a nice Italian restaurant, for example, with a strolling guitarist or violin player. Or maybe a steakhouse with a pianist.

Usually, if the restaurateur has given it some thought, the music fits the mood of the restaurant. One hardly ever finds a French restaurant with a mariachi band.

Just as the types of food vary, so do the styles of music. So you'll find everything from the dulcet tones of a harp to the acquired tasted of accordions to the raucousness of rock bands.
B.B. King's tends toward the raucous end of the scale. In fact, my best advice to you is to get any conversation out of the way before you get anywhere near the place. Even the regular house band features 11 musicians, including a full horn section.

But B.B.'s isn't the only place to enjoy live music with your meal. Here's a list of some other local restaurants that offer a variety of entertainment styles, something for every taste, musical and culinary.

(Note that not all restaurants offer live entertainment nightly. Be sure to call ahead to ask about that evening's schedule and whether there will be a cover charge.)

House of Blues: Downtown Disney, Lake Buena Vista; 407-934-2583. Live jazz and blues on limited nights in the restaurant, which reverts to a limited bar menu -- appetizers, burgers, chicken fingers and such -- when the band begins to play, usually at 10:30 p.m.

Barney's Steak and Seafood: 1615 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando; 407-896-6864. Featured pianist in main dining room playing standards. Menu is old-style steak and seafood.

Del Frisco's: 729 Lee Road, Orlando; 407-645-4443. Upscale steakhouse with a pianist/vocalist in the restaurant's annex, which is next door to the main restaurant.

Tolla's: 240 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Winter Park; 407-628-0068. Small, neighborhood-style Italian restaurant with weekend entertainment, usually quiet acoustic music with vocals.

Dexter's of Winter Park: 558 W. New England Ave., Winter Park; 407-629-1150. American cuisine with rousing American rock band accompaniment for a young-adult crowd.

Press 101: 7600 Dr. Phillips Blvd., Orlando; 407-351-2101. Sandwiches and other light bites with quiet acoustic guitar that matches the sophisticated atmosphere of this tony Dr. Phillips eatery.

Corkscrew Grill: 864 S. Sun Drive, Lake Mary; 407-804-0105. Eclectic menu that ranges from American to Asian with jazz in the lounge on Friday nights.

Islands Dining Room: Royal Pacific: Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando,6300 Hollywood Way, Orlando; 407-503-3463. Pacific Rim cuisine with a strolling musician playing Hawaiian music to accompany a hula dancer. Grass skirts not provided.

Mama Della's Ristorante: Portofino Bay Hotel, 5601 Universal Blvd., Orlando; 407-503-3463. Family style Italian restaurant with strolling musicians -- guitar, violin, accordion, etc. -- playing Italian songs.

New Day Cafe: 3195 13th St., St. Cloud; 407-891-2100. Regional American cuisine in a casual, almost downscale setting with acoustic music ranging from guitar to flutes.

Cityfish: 617 E. Central Blvd., Orlando; 407-849-9779. Downtown casual seafooder with acoustic alternative rock music on Fridays.

Wildside: 700 E. Washington St., Orlando; 407-872-8665. Thornton Park barbecue restaurant with weekend jazz on the patio.

American Pie Pizza Company: 2912 Edgewater Drive, Orlando; 407-648-8835. Contemporary pizza joint with a rustic urban d�cor and adult-contemporary music on Saturdays.

Old Vines Wine Bar: 709 N. Alafaya Trail, Orlando; 407-737-1646. Casual wine bar with light bites and light music, acoustic guitar and vocalists, on weekends.

Urban Flats: various locations including 7025 County Road 46A, Lake Mary; 407-515-6024. This flatbread specialty restaurant has numerous locations around Central Florida and each has its own live music schedule, so call ahead.

Victoria & Albert's: Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, Walt Disney World; 407-939-3463. Central Florida's poshest -- and most-expensive dining room has a harpist to match the oh-so-elegant ambience.

Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe: 205 E. 1st St., Sanford; 407-321-2204. Casual German dining with strolling accordion player and, at times, yodeling.

Taste Restaurant and Bar: 717 W. Smith St., Orlando; 407-835-0646. California cuisine served tapas style with funk/rock music.

Information courtesy of Orlando Sentinel

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