Blue Lemon Cafe quells hunger pangs morning, noon, and night with café cuisine of the sweet and savory variety. The menu of crepes, fruit smoothies, ice cream, and hearty sandwiches won the admiration of Metromix in 2010, earning the eatery a Best Café nod. Like John Wayne’s impersonation of Charles de Gaulle, the café blends American classics with a French twist, inviting diners to sip glasses of wine alongside their cheeseburgers, or dive into Francocentric food such as niçoise salad and quiche Lorraine. Between lime-green walls, circular tables and streamlined eggshell-white chairs create a hip, laid-back atmosphere permeated by free WiFi.
The earthiness of freshly ground espresso mingles with the buttery scent of crepes cooking on the griddle all day at 407 Cafe. Chefs fold the lacelike golden circlets of batter around fillings such as roast beef and sharp cheddar cheese or Nutella and strawberries. With a sizzling drumroll, a panini press shuts on sandwiches until mozzarella cheese melts perfectly around grilled chicken, fresh spinach, and sweet yellow raisins. In the kitchen, cooks craft gelato, a delicate process of folding together eggs, milk, sugar, and loads of fruit. Glass vases on the white dining-room tables brim with coffee beans and bright-green stalks of bamboo like the diorama a biologist makes to get a PhD.
Café Rouge sprinkles worldly charm all over its selection of salads, sandwiches, and house-made entrees. Culinary concoctions, such as a warm poached egg and crispy bacon salad ($9) and olive-oil-baked garlic and chili shrimp ($10), prepare flavor savorers for main dishes, including crispy salmon on sautéed asparagus with lemon and tarragon mayonnaise ($17), and shrimp and scallops over honey Sriracha fettuccine ($17). Just like the young substitute French teacher, Café Rouge is upscale and European, but at the same time, laid-back and soothing.
La Crepe en Haut has crafted fine French and Nouvelle cuisine for more than three decades. Customer's senses pique upon entry into La Crepe's elegant dining room, enveloped in warm lighting, lunar-dust-lined walls, and rich green accents, before being greeted by a menu of entrees made from fresh meats and seafood in a variety of traditional French preparations. Vichyssoise, a cold potato and leak soup ($8.50), sets the stage for the main event of blackened fillet with blue cheese and cabernet glaze ($36.95), or canard à l'orange or au poivre rouge, a roasted duckling bathed in orange sauce or peppercorn brandy ($29.95). La Crepe en Haut slakes fermented thirst with an extensive wine list, which doubles as a yearbook for varietals graduating this year.
Loyd Have Mercy has earned praise from Metromix and FloridaToday.com for its original southern cuisine. That's because the family-owned eatery's cooks whip up their dishes from old family recipes. The menu teems with southern favorites, such as barbecue ribs, creamy grits, and chitterlings, plus seafood baskets, oxtails, and smothered chicken. The end result is satiated customers who gain all the benefits of home cooking without such tiresome tasks as prepping and cooking the meal and throwing the dirty dishes out of the window when it's over.
Chefs at The Bistro on Park Avenue concoct a menu of New Orleans–style specialties and gourmet bistro fare, earning the eatery nods for Best Burger, Best Brunch, and Best American Food in Citysearch's 2010 Best of Orlando awards. To kick off meals, taste buds can swim warm-up laps in a bowl of made-to-order oyster stew ($10) or practice juggling pan-fried crab cakes dished with a sweet Asian sauce ($15). New Orleans–inspired entrees such as smoked andouille sausage with red beans and rice ($15) or the chef's specialty shrimp or crawfish étouffée ($25) saturate senses in Cajun spices and child memories of trike joyrides through the French Quarter. Guests can also tuck into bistro fare such as the open-faced burger ($10) while three styles of po boys ($13–$15) wrap tongues in hoagie-rolled Southern comfort.
To craft their tapas and upscale dinner entrees, Galopin Winter Park's chefs visit numerous local farms to select healthy, organic produce and protein. With those natural ingredients, they whip up small plates including skewers of coconut- and lemongrass-braised veal and cremini mushrooms stuffed with eggplant and garlic ragout. For mains, they crust tuna in curry and assemble a duck tasting of pan-seared breast and roasted glazed leg. Meals unfold in a chic dining room aglow in red lighting where the upbeat tunes of live jazz musicians and DJs coax diners onto the dance floor every weekend.