The evening started with me going to my friends’ house and having them drive to our Magical Dining meal for the evening. We were coming from Altamonte, and I expected it to take a very long time, being a Friday and the beginning of Labor Day weekend. Instead, it was a fast ride, and we arrived earlier than our reservation. Tucked away in the back off I-Drive, just around the corner from 528 and the Orange County Convention Center resides this quaint golf clubhouse dining room, The Grill, which is part of Marriott’s Grande Vista. One of the first thing I noted, other than the soup of the day (cream of mushroom, a personal favorite) and the delicious sounding breakfast that we were already making plans to return for, was the quietness of the location. Again, as it was Labor Day weekend, I expected the restaurant to be full. Instead, it seemed like a hidden gem, and we were treated like we were the only ones there because of that… Or maybe not. That might have been the way they always treat their guests. Either way, I have no complaints because the service was excellent.
My friend’s wife has more allergies than I can count and when we told the hostess when asked about allergies, she said to inform the waitress, and she will take care of it. We were seated near a window facing the golf course, my male friend diagonally across from me, and his wife next to me. The seating was their choice, not mine. Our drink orders were taken, and I, again, had an Arnold Palmer and my friends had tea, one sweet and the other unsweetened. The order arrived backward for their beverages, but the swapped, and we moved on. Because my friend had many allergies, she was not ordering from the Magical Dining menu, but her husband and I were.
I asked about the braised beef short ribs, and if I could not have that, the NY strip. I also ordered the steak and blue flatbread as my starter. My friend, without the allergies, ordered the NY Strip with the crispy calamari as a starter. His wife ordered a salad to start and then the Vista penne (pasta in a slightly spicy, light tomato sauce). For dessert, he ordered the Italian lemon cream cake, while his wife waited until after the meal for her order. I ordered the bananas Foster made with banana bread pudding. She was very interested in that but wanted to know if the banana bread had nuts in it, which is on her list of forbidden foods.
Our appetizers arrived after a few minutes, and the calamari was topped with tomatoes and came with an aioli that was also tomato-based. As much as I wanted to try it, I knew I was better off (see FAQs). The salad was reported to be very good, but my friend only ate a third of it, which for her is normal. My flatbread was soft on the top and crunchy on the bottom. I am not a fan of flatbread that is crunch all over because I tend to rib the inside of my mouth in the process of eating it and I had no issues with this one. It was subtly flavored with blue cheese as opposed to being overwhelming. The meat and onions were complimenting each other, so the onions gave the steak a sweeter than usual taste without having to have a sauce on it. That is not to say the bread was dry, it was the perfect wetness without being soggy. Bread was also severed with our meal at this time, and it was an average French loaf. Partially sliced for us to finish the slicing, the bread came with butter that was room temperature, unlike some recent places I have been where it was rock hard.
Once we moved to the main meal, the salad was placed in the extra seat for later, and our plates were cleared as the main entrees arrived. Apparently, I was able to have the short ribs as that was what I got. It was a pleasant surprise, and I really enjoyed the mushroom gravy. The potatoes, although they had lumps, was the creamiest I have ever had without it being soup. They were great. The ribs, on the other hand, were a bit fatty, but it is to be expected as it was short ribs. My friend’s steak was average. His wife enjoyed the pasta and said she would get it again. She also left most of it to be taken home.
As the leftovers from my friend’s wife’s meal were being bagged, our desserts were presented. It was confirmed that the banana bread did not contain nuts so another order of the Foster, this one to go, was placed. I asked if the cast iron skillet it came on was included. Obviously, it was not. I have recently taken to ordering bananas Foster because of the rum. Nothing I have had in the past compared to this one. I am a rummy but was starting to feel full. I took a few bites, and it was hardy. The bread was robust and more filling than even I could consume, but I took another bite, and the rum drained onto my spoon. It was potent, yet appealing. I had to have more, but alas the next two bites were painful, so I quit after the recommendation of my table-mates. I did feel ill most of the next day, not because of the food itself, but because of the quantity and density. As for the lemon cake, it was reported to be overloaded with lemon. Almost too much, but my friend did enjoy it. He is a bigger fan of eating lemon-flavored food than I am. It looked like it was a piece of cheesecake rather than lemon cake.
Overall, this was a pleasant experience, compared to the loud place I went the night after. The food overall was average but enjoyable. I’m pretty sure I will forget this particular meal next year. I would recommend this place, for although it was average in the food severed, the service was excellent. Our waitress was attentive the whole meal and not only kept us in drinks, but she was engaging in conversation and pleasant to talk to, as was the hostess. I am really keen to try out their weekend breakfast in the future when things have calmed. My friends are in for it as well.