I’m not usually a big steakhouse person, but if you ask me, Orlando’s best steakhouse is Christner’s Prime Steak and Lobster (https://christnersprimesteakandlobster.com/ ), located at 729 Lee Rd, Orlando, Florida, 32810. Christner’s is very old-school and classy, with impeccable service and prices to match, but you get what you pay for at a place like this. When I was still just dating my wife, her parents took us all out to Christner’s, and I must admit I had never been to a restaurant like this before. I got sticker-shock from the prices, even though her generous father, a stand-up guy, treated us all. But the steak was the finest I’ve ever had in my life — even better than the steak at the vaunted Bern’s in Tampa — and the sides were all top-notch as well.
Well, we’ve returned to Christner’s a few times in the intervening years, but we’ve canceled just about as many reservations just due to a lot of bad luck — someone always getting sick or injured right around the time of an anniversary, a birthday, or some other event worth celebrating. This year we decided to treat ourselves. Our anniversary and my in-laws’ anniversary are a day apart, so a while back, we finally returned to Christner’s for the first time in quite a few years, and everyone was healthy and safe and somehow stayed healthy and safe. It was a lovely night out with three of the best people in the world, and we ate like kings.
I have made no secret of my love for oysters on this blog, and Christner’s has the absolute best fried oysters I’ve ever had. Seriously, I’ve never had anything this good. They would make a fine, filling meal in and of themselves, even if we didn’t get steaks. This sharable appetizer portion comes with tartar sauce, which is really good, and cocktail sauce, which I didn’t even bother with. But the oysters are so plump and well-seasoned, and the breading is so perfectly crispy, that they didn’t need either.
My mother-in-law ordered lobster bisque, and she was willing to share. I just got a spoonful, but wow, was it good. Lobster bisque is an all-time Top Five soup, even if it’s hard to make it look exciting in a photo. Was this the best bisque? Best believe it’s the baddest bisque, bro!
My father-in-law ordered a Caesar salad. I didn’t ask to try any of it, but those croutons looked pretty fantastic.
The croutons are probably made from the fresh-baked bread that is delivered to your table with soft, spreadable butter as soon as your party sits down. The photo I got of the bread didn’t look nearly as good as it actually is, so I left it out of this review. It is a round loaf you have to cut yourself, but it is so soft and fluffy and warm, and I challenge anyone to try it and not like it.
My in-laws aren’t used to me always playing the food photographer, so I didn’t get a chance to take pictures of everyone’s main courses. I did capture mine, though — Russ’ USDA Prime strip, a twelve-ounce steak seasoned with a nice amount of cracked pepper and cooked to a perfect rare, just like I like it. I regret not taking a photo of the red center, which meat lovers would salivate over. That would have been pure “food porn,” though. This steak is one of the cheaper ones on the menu, and I still get sticker-shock after all these years, even when someone else is generous enough to treat. But of course, at Christner’s, even the cheapest steak is relative. But that’s not all! I usually choose it because it is one of the only steaks that comes with a side item; almost all the rest come a la carte. Russ’ USDA Prime strip is accompanied by the richest, creamiest, most buttery chateau potatoes, which are just very posh mashed potatoes. Best mashed potatoes ever, though!
We also ordered the skillet potatoes and onions for everyone to share. This is one of the best potato dishes I’ve ever eaten in my life. Sliced thin and fried, these aren’t crispy-crunchy like potato chips, but more like thin, disc-shaped steak fries, seasoned with lots of good cracked pepper. As a notorious onion fan, the onions are practically caramelized and so, so perfect. Everyone loves the skillet potatoes and onions, even my onion-averse wife!
And speaking of onions, I finally got to try Christner’s legendary onion rings, which I had only stared at longingly on our previous (rare) visits. I always hesitate to request extra stuff when someone else is being generous enough to treat, but onion rings are kind of my thing. I even have a whole category on this blog called RING THE ALARM! (no air horn sound effects this time, because this is a very upscale restaurant), so here are Christner’s huge, thick, mountainous onion rings, at long last. At least my father-in-law tried some, which made me feel less guilty for asking, and even my wife (yes, the onion-averse wife again!) tried one and really liked it. You can get these rapturous rings in orders of five or nine, and I was glad everyone was okay with getting nine. These were definitely opulent, ostentatious onion rings!
Everyone enjoyed their dinners, but we all ended up with plenty of leftovers to box up and enjoy the next day. By now, we knew enough to save room for one of the most delicious, decadent desserts I’ve ever encountered: mandarin orange cake. My photo doesn’t communicate the size of the slices nearly well enough, but each one is gigantic. The icing is a “tropical pineapple-orange whipped cream icing,” and the cake is always moist and rich, with a subtle citrusy tang. It is served a la mode with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream (quality stuff) and a little ramekin of chilled orange sauce that might be my favorite part, because it tastes like melted orange sherbet with chunks of actual orange in it. I always pour it over the ice cream and eat it first, because I’m usually pretty full at this point.
Fruity desserts are my absolute favorites, especially anything with citrus or tropical fruit. I believe Christner’s mandarin orange cake is an all-time favorite restaurant dessert anywhere, and you can easily get two or three servings out of each stupendous slice of cake.
Well, after not doing anything at all last year due to the pandemic, this year my wife and her parents were (relatively) healthy and fully vaccinated, so it was so nice to celebrate our back-to-back anniversaries with this sumptuous feast at Christner’s. Everything felt normal for a little while, and everyone left very full, satisfied, and happy. I think all the time about how lucky I am to be married to such an amazing woman, and to have amazing in-laws too, who I love and get along with, and vice versa. I know not everyone has that privilege and good fortune. And to be able to enjoy a fancy meal like this at a fancy restaurant like Christner’s speaks to our privilege and good fortune too. We rarely come here — only every few years — but each time we do, we are all reminded of how consistently excellent it is, and how lucky we are.