Sunday, February 7, 2010

Shula's 347 Lake Mary

Don Shula had 347 wins in his coaching career and coached the Miami Dolphins to a perfect season in 1972. His namesake restaurant seeks to capture both of these realities in its name (Shula's 347) and its operating principle. Located in the recently opened Westin Hotel in Lake Mary, the restaurant seeks to create "raving fans" by providing, according to Assistant Coach Arlind Lile, "... consistent service, consistent food, and great ambiance."

I have eaten at the restaurant on four occasions since its opening and it is what I characterize as a "wine-friendly" restaurant. A wine-friendly restaurant has: a quality look to its wine list; a good mix of by-the-glass wines that are not exorbitantly priced; a good selection of wines by the bottle; food that complements the wines on the wine list and vice versa; someone on staff who knows something about wine and can make credible suggestions; a policy that allows you to bring your own wine without having to give your first-born child as a corkage fee; the good sense to allow you to return a bad bottle without having the manager or chef come over and taste the corked bottle at your table.

If you like wine with dinner, or you just like hanging out and sipping a glass of wine with friends, Shula's 347 should be on your list. The chain is known for its steaks but it has a diverse menu with, for example, three daily fish plates. The physical bar is small but a sizable lounge that extends away from the bar contains intimate seating areas as well as a large, wooden communal table. The bar/lounge area is the scene of a very well-attended happy hour which could be "jazzed-up" with the addition of live entertainment.

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