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|Fine-Dining Options in Daytona Beach|
|Written by Debi Lander|
|Thursday, 01 July 2010 18:08|
Cuisine ranges from sushi to Italian and more, in venues that include a basketball star's restaurant and the former seasonal home of our 29th president
If the Fourth of July weekend brings you to Daytona, consider dining at some of the city's hidden gems. I undertook the difficult job of investigating the area's fine-dining options... and gained five pounds in the process! But I never expected such extraordinary food. Daytona truly offers a winning array.
Surprise! Surprise! You might recall Sergeant Vince Carter spewing those words in episodes of Gomer Pyle, USMC. But when you step inside basketball player Vince Carter's restaurant, you're likely to feel astonished. The establishment--co-owned by Orlando Magic star Vince Carter and his mother, philanthropist Michelle Carter-Scott--brings together great food and spectacular design. The place has a hip, happening feel. The décor partners wood, stone, and falling water with the soft glow of ambient lighting. My favorite room was the Zone Sports Grill built around a 50-foot media wall, anchored by a 103-inch plasma screen and six more 65-inch plasma screens with booths, tables, and couch seating. Plus, there are 14 more televisions positioned for side-wall viewing of sporting events and a bar almost as long as a basketball court. Oh yes, did I mention the food is championship worthy?
Ronin Sushi + Sake Bar
Without a doubt, Ronin Sushi + Sake Bar served the best sushi I have ever eaten. Paired with a variety of unfiltered sakes, the plates were nothing less than gorgeous works of art. The staff was friendly and the décor runs chic, upscale modern with high top tables in the main room or seating directly at the sushi bar. Ronin features an extensive menu of Asian fusion fare at reasonable prices.
Naturally, The Cellar restaurant is located in a basement, but in this case, the building is also a residence listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Amos H. Kling built the house for his family in 1907--and then his daughter married Warren G. Harding against her father's wishes (I just love that juicy detail). Harding, of course, went on to become our 29th president. The First Couple used the home as a seasonal retreat in winter.
The home now belongs to Chef Sam Moggio and his lovely wife Lina. While the historic connection proves interesting, this restaurant deserves to be famous for its luscious Italian fare. Chef Moggio is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and brings exceptional experience to his preparations. The food makes you want to sing with Italian gusto! Bravo, Chef Moggio.
La Crepe en Haut Restaurant
I visited this hidden second-story restaurant only for dessert--Bananas Foster prepared tableside. Fantastique!! The ambience is posh, warm, and cozy and the service comes with a definite flair. La Crepe is known for French classics made in the traditional manner. While the location is a bit unassuming and the exterior not all that inviting, once you're inside the place is grand and the food très beaucoup.
My five-course dinner at the Hilton Oceanside's Hyde Park restaurant was served al fresco in a secluded, tented space overlooking the ocean. The meal began with grilled Floridian Mahi Mahi over fried green plantains with a yummy sauce. The salad was spectacular: blue crab and strawberries over spring greens with candied pecans and a Key lime-mango vinaigrette. The entree was Yellowtail snapper that melted in my mouth. Delicious. An island-rum-infused lemon sorbet cleared the palate before the dessert of warm guava and mascarpone risotto topped with drizzled sweet cream and toasted coconut. Each course was magnificently arranged and photo-worthy. I hear they have great steaks as well.