Quick Bites: Choices Galore With The Villages Gourmet Club

Dottie Klein started a Gourmet Club in California years ago and now resides in The Villages.

“I’ve always loved gourmet-type food and actually prefer to eat in than eat out,” she says. “But when I do eat out, I like to have an idea of what my dining experience will be.”

So, she and her husband, Dan, started The Villages Gourmet Restaurant Review Club and Web site. The club consists of about 500 members who meet quarterly, and groups of eight are formed at the meetings. There’s also the Dining-In group that hosts dinners at members’ homes and the Dining-Out group that chooses restaurants to review.

The membership is $2 per person which allows you to post your comments on the Web site as well as to dine with other members.

Normally, I frown on this type of critiquing. There are some people who think they’re a good critic, but one unhappy customer can put a damper on ten potential diners. What I do like is when there are several critiques for one restaurant. If the majority gives the establishment a resounding “yes” or “no,” then I feel the numbers are fairly accurate in either encouraging diners to make reservations or warning them to beware.

The Web address is a long one, but if you’re interested, visit www.home.comcast.net/~thevillagesgourmetclub/page1.html or just visit Google and type in “Villages Gourmet Club.” After visiting this site, you’ll never run out of options on where to eat again. Restaurants that are visited span from The Villages to Mount Dora, Orlando, and Tampa, among other cities.

In other restaurant news, over 150 people experienced a “sneak peek” at Bonefish Grill and enjoyed fresh seafood, refreshing cocktails, spectacular ambiance, and music on Saturday, April 19 as the restaurant hosted its Grand Opening Charity Night to support the Lake-Sumter Unit of the American Cancer Society. The 5,600-square-foot restaurant features a spacious dining room with an open kitchen and a large bar area. Guests who filled the restaurant’s tables and mingled in the bar area raised $5,600 during the event.

Nibbles: Thanks to Ray San Fratello, president of the South Lake Chamber of Commerce, who has some restaurant news. He says the former owners of Thai Lotus in Clermont have reopened as Thai and Friends, (352) 429-0705, in the Palace Hotel’s restaurant in Minneola at the intersection of US Hwy. 27 and SR 19. Fresco Italian Restaurant & Market closed in Clermont on SR 50 but you can still visit the eatery’s other location in Orlando on Turkey Lake Road, (407) 363-5775. Construc-tion on Red Lobster and Olive Garden is well underway in Clermont on US Hwy. 27 at Clermont Landings with a projected opening this fall.

Chipotle, (352) 394-0175, and Pollo Tropical, (407) 654-3590, are the latest in fast/casual dining and are doing well despite the recent salmonella threat with tomatoes. Shannon Pugh of the Tavares Chamber of Commerce says that Tale Chaser Grille, (352) 343-1376, has opened on Lake Eustis. Panda Express is still under construction in front of Target in Mount Dora. Owners Linda and Scott Beni of Butch’s Italian Delights, (352) 742-7030, will be featured on Lake Front TV when host Valerie Hart gives a tour of the restaurant and kitchen.

Feel free to write in and tell us which restaurant you’d like to see come to Lake County or what you may already know or see that is coming. We’ll gladly write about it.

Roseann founded Restaurant Guide USA and still
enjoys writing about new and upcoming eateries.
E-mail roseann@lakeandsumterstyle.com if you see
or know of any new restaurants coming to your area.

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