After a wonderful three night New Year’s stay at the Hyatt Grand Cypress by Disneyworld, (shown above) we checked out and moved on to the Hyatt Regency Orlando for an overnight Saturday stay. We have stayed here several times as well, and this hotel is conveniently located at the end of International (I-Drive) by the Pointe Orlando area and convention center.
We were staying here tonight as our good friends Ben and Tom invited us to join them for dinner in celebrating Tom’s retirement. Since Tom had selected Del Frisco’s in the I-Drive area, we decided to stay overnight and simply walk to the restaurant, especially as we knew we would have some fine vino.
Prior to checking out of the Hyatt Grand Cypress, however, DOS and I took a long ‘C course’ walk around the 1,500 acre property. The meticulously landscaped golf course property has three walking/jogging/biking trails: A, B, and C, each of increasing lengths ranging from 1 – 5 miles. This was the first time we had taken the ‘C’ walk and it was amazing to discover just how big the property really is! So big in fact that when we got to the end of the property by the 535 road, instead of taking the C course U-turn, we crossed the street to the sister property Villas of Grand Cypress and took the shuttle back to the hotel! Partly out of fun, but also to see more of that property as well, we chatted with a couple of the staff there, inquiring about the grass covered train tracks we had noticed.
They said there used to be a train between the two properties, but it wasn’t practical as it took some 30 minutes to make a circuit, the repair expenses were high and parts hard to get, and the open-air train was not compatible with the tropical summer Florida storms we get. I could believe that as I bought a convertible when I first moved to Florida some 17 years ago and many times got caught in a sudden storm with the roof down! So for the last few years the two resorts have operated a complimentary van shuttle between the two properties which we took back to the Hyatt Grand Cypress before checking out of this hotel and moving on to the next Hyatt. We did make one final stop up to the 12th floor Concierge Lounge for some snack goodies and a soda.
The drive between the Hyatt Cypress Creek and Orlando Hyatt Regency was less than half an hour, even with the New Year’s traffic. Upon checking into the Orlando Hyatt Regency, we got a nice Metropolitan Suite on the 20th floor which offered spectacular views of the I drive area, as well as Disney in the distance.
While the balcony was not huge like our terrace at the Grand Cypress, it still offered birds-eye views of Orlando. We were so high up that the sightseeing helicopters literally seemed to fly right by us at eye-level as they took off and approached their I-Drive landing point, and it overlooked the oversize resort pool down below as well as the many hotels and attractions along I-Drive.
Ben and Tom met us at the hotel at 5:30pm, and we had drinks in the 26th floor Concierge Lounge before heading over to Del Frisco’s. The lounge is huge and had a nice spread of hors d’oeuvres, and wine and beers for a nominal charge. While Tom and I had a couple brewskis, none of us wanted to fill up (too much!) on the food as we were going to have such a nice dinner.
The Del Frisco’s in Orlando is a new and quite chic restaurant, with an open-air, casually-elegant feel to it. We had reservations at 7:30pm, and were promptly seated in a large and comfortable booth by the window. While the window view wasn’t great (I-Drive), the interior of the restaurant was amazing with its high ceilings, chandeliers, and multiple glassed-in wine cellars on display throughout the restaurant. The noise-level in the restaurant was amazingly good; i.e. you could hear each other talk clearly, and it was not a ‘loud’ restaurant even with the many occupied tables and groups; they definitely did a great job with the acoustics in there.
We had quite a night of fine dining at Del Frisco’s, starting with appetizers of Crab Cakes and Shrimp Cocktail, which DOS and I shared, with Ben and Tom sharing the Dumplings, and Tom having Shrimp as well, as Ben is allergic to shellfish. Our waitress even brought us three different cocktail sauces to try, as well as another one for the crab cakes.
Our service was outstanding, both from our waitress and Sommelier, as well as the other wait staff that assisted us throughout the evening. We had looked at menu online before we came, but the huge wine list was not available online, so we had quite a lot of choices to chose from. Fortunately the Sommelier was very helpful, and he chose for us a beautiful Napa Cabernet we weren’t familiar with, (Palmaz Vineyards) that had a simple label, but the quality was absolutely outstanding! The Sommelier decanted the wine for us and it was an excellent compliment to our meal. We also shared a half bottle of Cakebread Chardonnay with our appetizers, while Ben and Tom had a nice Merlot.
In addition to the regular menu, there were several specials for the evening, one of which DOS and I shared, a 32 ounce Wagyu Longbone Rib Eye. We also shared an Ahi tuna entree, making it a bit of a surf and turf for us, as the lobster would have been a bit too filling with everything else. Ben and Tom each got the Prime rib-eye.
We each split a salad, which was good because like everything at Del Frisco’s was HUGE! As the restaurant is ala carte, we ordered 3 sides which are served family style to go with our entrees: Onion rings, au gratin potatoes, and creamed spinach. The Onion Rings were the largest I’ve ever seen, and really too much for four people, much less two. We each had one onion ring, and there were four left over! The au gratin potatoes was my favorite side though.
While the meal was wonderful, ironically the steak was a bit disappointing in comparison with everything else. While very good, it was not served hot or really even warm, actually cool which was surprising as it was such a high end steakhouse. We ordered medium rare, Tom medium, and Ben well done, so perhaps the three different temperatures caused our steaks to sit for a while. We don’t normally send food back, but the steak did need to be warmed up a bit for all of us, which was then done to our satisfaction. This would be my only recommendation for Del Frisco’s to get the steaks HOT like Ruth Chris’s; these were not, although fortunately better when they were heated up a second time. Still DOS made a meal of it; making sure he cleaned up the bone, while Tom didn’t do bad either! Rhhhuffff Rhhhhhrufff!
For dessert, we split two HUGE cakes: one a Lemon cake, and the other a Butter cake, with delicious vanilla gelato.
Coupled with a decaf coffee, and a 20 year old glass of port for me, it truly capped off a wonderful dinner experience.
‘Twas a wonderful night of dining at Del Frisco’s and we wish Tom the happiest of retirements!