Cool breezes caress the faces of diners seated at the brick-walled outdoor patio at Marbella Restaurant, recalling the Mediterranean climate of the Spanish seaside resort for which the eatery is named. Indoors, tuxedoed waiters deliver fresh seafood such as twin lobster tails, grilled scallops, and jumbo shrimp to tables lit by flickering candlelight. Spanish wines, from sparkling cavas to rich, red riojas, pour into glasses from a full bar.
First-time visitors to Chowder House Cafe often fixate on the dining room?s walls?or lack thereof, as every square inch has been painted over with electric flowers, guitar players, crowned kings, and other artistic testaments to the caf??s funky and unconventional outlook. This same outlook makes its way onto the menu, which features the namesake clam chowder alongside salads, sandwiches, and dinner entrees similarly inspired by the sea. Aside from the Sunday brunch?s traditional omelets and buttermilk pancakes drenched in fresh Ohio maple syrup, a crab cake benedict celebrates the weekend atop a toasted ciabatta roll. Regardless of the time of day, a considerate BYOB policy accommodates the sailors who often stumble into the caf? with unlabeled bottles of clam juice.
Rum Runners Cove serves up burgers, seafood, sandwiches, salads, and other American classics in its dining room, with views of Presque Isle Bay, thatched umbrellas, and a 40-foot atrium that give the feel of the tropics. Appetizers such as 24-ounce pretzels with three sauces prepare diners for entrees that range from grilled mahi-mahi and Maryland crab cakes to bourbon-glazed chicken and half-pound Texas steak-house burgers with banana peppers and steak sauce.
On the shady patio or inside the low-key, date-friendly dining room, visitors to Noosa Bistro can kick off their experience with one of more than 75 martinis from the vast, boozy list. Open for both lunch and dinner, the menus span an eclectic selection of European–influenced American dishes, ranging from pan-seared scallops to petite fillets, cooked to order and served with a petite fork on a petite plate. Like the martini list, the wine menu spans an impressive length and includes such interesting bottles as a 40-year-old port.
At Austin's Wood Fire Grill, hand-carved hunks of filet mignon and swordfish sizzle over wood-fueled flames, soaking up a smoky aroma. The restaurant’s refusal to use gas or the pages of paperback romance novels reflects a commitment to traditional, down-home cooking. This commitment also surfaces in their made-from-scratch breads, pan gravy sauce, and cognac cream sauce.
In 1975, when The Melting Pot originally opened just outside Orlando, diners had just three options: swiss-cheese fondue, beef fondue, or chocolate fondue. The restaurant first expanded four years later, when an enterprising waiter by the name of Mark Johnston opened up a new outpost in Tallahassee. Today, The Melting Pot—now owned by Mark and his brothers Mike and Bob—reigns as a premier fondue, wine, and drink restaurant, stretching across North America with more than 140 restaurants linked by underground tunnels. The restaurant's menu has also expanded, and patrons can now expect six varieties of hot dipping cheese paired with salads, meats, and molten chocolate.
On any given night, groups of dip-loving foodies gather around tables to nosh on fondue appetizers before cooking their steaks and seafood in a choice of healthy broth or oil. Birthday revelers and romance seekers cap decadent evenings sharing the chocolate desserts that have defined The Melting Pot for decades.