In this issue of Lake & Sumter Style, I am going to cheat a little. Usually I trek around Lake County, searching for restaurant openings, closings, and any other kind of news pertaining to new management, hours, menus, and so forth. But this time, I’m going to get a little help from a website that just may be a big help when you can’t decide where to eat. I’ve mentioned The Villages Gourmet Club Restaurant Reviews before in past columns, and a quick Google search will yield the site.
The website consists of over 400 restaurants rated by members of The Villages Gourmet In or Out Club—”In” for assembling and dining at a non-restaurant location and enjoying each others recipes and “out” for dining out and then critiquing the restaurants on the website. Members have the option to do either or both.
The restaurants are organized into three categories: in (The Villages), near (within 30 miles of The Villages), and away (within 100 miles of The Villages). The webmaster does an awesome job of keeping abreast of coming, opening, and closing restaurants, thanks to help from the eyes and ears of members.
Each restaurant has a description that includes its address and phone number, directions, pricing, hours, and a sample of items from the menu. Some have a video link, mostly via YouTube, of the company’s advertisement or history. Members give the restaurants star-ratings of 3 to 15 based on quality, service, and overall experience.
At the end of each review, a “yes” or “no” indicates whether the reviewer feels the restaurant is worth a return visit. From what I see, their unbiased opinions are pretty accurate!
In The Villages: As of this writing, the highest rated restaurant on the website in The Villages is Sakura Japanese Restaurant at 265 Colony Boulevard. Another item of interest found on the site is that the Seafood Galley has moved into the building that was once Siam Orchid in the Spanish Plaines Shopping Center. Patrons were sad to see the family, which did a wonderful job running Siam Orchid, leave. However, the Seafood Galley has eight reviews by people who all indicated they would go back for a return visit.
T.G.I. Fridays opened next to the Barnes & Noble in The Villages. Bamboo Bistro is soon to open where The Village SKY used to be. Fiesta Grande Mexican Grill is coming soon to 297 Colony Boulevard, where M.J.’s Bagel Buzz and Juan’s Mexicali were once located. Panera Bread will open where The Veranda used to be in the sales center at Lake Sumter Landing.
Near The Villages: As mentioned in my last column, AL’S Landing is now open on Ruby Street in Tavares, and close by on Main Street, Lucky Dog Gallery Café also recently opened. Guy Harvey’s Island Grill is coming soon to the Market Street at Heathbrook shopping complex in Ocala, and The Speckled Butterbean Restaurant (Southern-style buffet) opened in April in Wildwood.When it comes to venturing out and trying new places, these restaurants and many others can be found on this very helpful website. For details on the Gourmet Club, e-mail Dan and Dottie Klein at email@example.com.