While visiting the Waldorf~Astoria Orlando this weekend, my wife and I had dinner at the Florida version of the famed Bull & Bear Steakhouse. The New York location for many years was the place to be if you were a Wall Street "Master of the Universe." As with its host hotel, however, the original Bull & Bear has become lost in the overwhelming number of renowned Manhattan steakhouses, such as Bobby Van's and Del Frisco's. Given that this was Orlando, I didn't much care that the boys at J.P. Morgan prefer to be seen at Cipriani, and looked forward to a great evening.
|The dining room at Bull & Bear Steakhouse|
My first impression was that the restaurant was decorated exactly as I expected. Why was it exactly as I expected? Because it's the same decor of every steakhouse in existence. Dark cherry and mahogany woods, dim lighting, and the traditional white table cloth. Just once I'd like to walk into a steakhouse and find something contemporary, as opposed to a redwood forest. I mean, where is it written that in order for one to eat giant slabs of beef, you must also posses the ability to find your table by squinting. But I digress...
We tried something that we've never done before, in that we brought our own bottle of wine. A few weeks back I was given the idea while at a local steakhouse with friends. It certainly makes sense to bring your own bottle and pay the corkage fee, as opposed to spending more at the restaurant for a wine of lesser quality. Earlier in the day I picked up a bottle of Soos Creek Champoux at the suggestion of a lady in our local liquor store.
Typically when we are out for an evening of dining, as opposed to just out to eat, my wife and I will both pick an appetizer, and try a bit of each. Well, from the moment I opened the menu one appetizer in particular struck me in such a way, that I knew I couldn't be satisfied unless I had it. Problem was, it was enough for three...The Deluxe Shellfish Platter. We weighed the options, did the math, and determined that while ordering this was extravagant, it was only a few dollars more than what each of us would have chosen individually. Content with this justification to ourselves, we happily placed our order, with one minor tweak which was to swap the raw oysters for additional crab and shrimp.
Now in case you can't tell from the picture, this was a split lobster tail, both lobster claws, a half dozen shrimp which were as big as the lobster, and two servings of lump crab meat and avocado. It was incredible, however next time we know that an evening of this dish alone and a bottle of wine is more than sufficient to walk away satisfied. A word of caution: If while dining you don't like attention being drawn to your table, this is not the dish for you. My wife noticed our waiter parade the dish through the entire restaurant and ending with our table, as opposed to coming directly to us from the kitchen. I'm a salesman, so I certainly can't blame them for doing this, but it was a bit tacky nonetheless.
Having reached Nirvana during our first course, we reluctantly moved on to what should have been the center of our evening: the steaks. Since I had already eaten a meal, I decided to scale back my original choice of the 14 oz fillet in favor of the 8 oz version. My wife did the same, and we both shared orders of Bull & Bear fries and Mac and Cheese with Prosciutto. The steaks were phenomenal and perfectly cooked. A unique touch was that they were served on a bamboo cutting board, as opposed to a normal plate. In addition, your steak knife is engraved with the desired temperature of your steak.
Impossible as it may seem, we managed to find room for dessert. One would think after all this indulgence that at a maximum we would split a dish, but since she insisted on bananas foster, and I the beignets with chocolate sauce, there was to be no compromise, so we each had our own.
The beignets were like little drops of chocolate covered heaven, and my wife said hers was incredible also. Needless to say, we hadn't expected to reach Nirvana twice in one evening.
As with any meal in any restaurant, be it Bull & Bear Orlando or Chili's Too in the Detroit Airport, the service can make or break a meal. The thing about service is our expectation of it rises with the cost of a meal, and without a doubt the Bull & Bear did not disappoint in this regard. Our team of Luis and Tim were fantastic, and helped make our evening one to remember. While their attentiveness seemed to wane later in the evening as the restaurant became busier, this was mostly overlooked by us as it allowed us to digest and make room for our awesome desserts.
The Bull & Bear Steakhouse in Orlando has done their namesake in New York proud. Unlike the original, my hope is that this location keeps its luster for many years to come. It's certainly a welcome addition to the dining options while at Disney, and the Mouse should take some pointers on what really is a true steakhouse.
Enjoy Your Stay