If you are going to be in Orlando, we have some insider information for you. Start with a visit to FishBones.

Tip #1: Get the clam chowder.

As a matter of fact, you’ll probably find everything on the menu worth getting, but take our advice and don’t miss that as your first course. It’s creamy and rich, full of clams, and worth a return trip.

Fishbones is part of a family of restaurants, and we visited the one in Orlando, FL on the recommendation of co-workers who make it a regular pilgrimage. ‘You won’t believe the pork chop,’ they told us, ‘and they have an all-you-can eat jumbo shrimp.’

So, of course our table had to order each of those selections. The shrimp ($24.95) wasn’t the usual buffet style all-you-can-eat; no, it was a beautifully plated dish that just kept magically reappearing. The shrimp were butterflied and indeed jumbo, with a great coating. If you are thinking the usual fried shrimp, dispel that memory—these are truly a different creation. They are Ecuadorian whites, and the menu proclaims they are ‘made fresh when each ticket enters the kitchen.’ We got an extra tip that crushed saltine crackers are used in the recipe; and if so, the chef has put an everyday product to an exalted use.

Tip #2: for a small up charge, they’ll bring you a round of grilled shrimp in addition to the fried—it’s worth trying, although chances are you’ll go back to the fried quite happily.

As for the pork chop, it was also a hit. It was large and luscious, with a nice glaze and almost fork-tender texture.

Besides the chowder, start with a house salad made of lettuce, tomatoes, Spanish olives, Romano and Parmesan cheeses and a ‘secret Spanish vinaigrette dressing.’ Tip #3: if you like it as well as we did, the second bowl is on the house.

Appetizers include such unusual items as Florida gator, escargot, Bahamian smoked fish dip, and ‘Blue Fries,’ which are Texas fries topped with Gorgonzola and tomatoes.

Other great entrée selections we tried included the shrimp stuffed with Blue Crab ($19.95), topped with a remoulade sauce, wrapped in bacon, and baked (pause, while you lick your lips). The menu includes a fish of the day, Grilled T-bone Lamb Chop cooked over oak and orange wood, and Florida Orange Duck with an orange pepper sauce.

Big appetites may consider the seafood sampler, which for $54.95 includes King Crab legs, shrimp and scallop scampi, a 10 oz. lobster, and basically, as our server, Felicia, put it, ‘A lot of seafood.’

Tip #4: An item that is not on the menu but worth trying is the Sesame Encrusted Tuna. You can get it as an appetizer or an entrée. And, if you see any combination of foods you’d rather have, just let your server know and the manager will price it for you.

Once you’ve worked your way through the entrees, stay for dessert. The carrot cake is memory making and enough to serve a whole table of friends. The key lime pie has the texture of a cheesecake, with a slight pucker. Or, get the Great American Chocolate Cake, which insiders call ‘chocolate corruption cake.’

Stuffed? Tip #5: Go back. They’ll make more.

This is part of our Beyond the Plate series. View the complete series at:

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