When I'm asked where to go for a good meal, other than spout my favorites willy-nilly, I can now recommend a guidebook to hungry restaurant seekers: Orlando Chow by Bob Mervine of the Orlando Business Journal. Mervine, too, faced the where-to-eat dilemma one too many times, so he decided to put together a book of his local favorites.
Not only is Mervine a man who has a passion for good food anything from fine dining restaurants to holes in the wall but he's been living and eating here in town for more than 20 years. He professes to gravitate toward "smoky-grilled, red-wine, American- type meals," but his book is full of diversity, with 93 entries ranging from Korean dives to burger joints to old-school French establishments. So ritzy Victoria & Albert's in the Grand Floridian Resort is casually represented right next to a stand-up review for the unpretentious Viet Garden on East Colonial Drive, and Lee & Rick's seedy but long-standing oyster bar in Winter Garden follows Le Coq au Vin, a veteran kitchen for lovers of unfussy French on South Orange Avenue.
Thank goodness for Mervine's independent journalistic spirit. He says no advertising dollars skewed his sensibilities and that he allowed only his palate to dictate his opinions.
Mervine did let me in on a little secret: He says he lost his favorite Greek restaurant (Athenian Garden Cafe) the week that the book went to print, because it closed down. After that, he started searching for another worthy Greek place, and he reports that Mykonos Mayeron Authentic Greek in Longwood will be included in his second edition. Mervine's book can be found at Urban Think or other local bookstores for $11.95, as well as ordered online at Amazon.com.
Orlando Chow: Restaurants for the Rest of Us
by Bob Mervine
The Intrepid Traveler, 224 pages