Top spots for special occasion 'splurge' meals

by: Scott Joseph Updated:

Grilled Pork Tenderloin at California Grill.

This is the time of year when people like to go our for a special occasion splurge meal. Well, people like to do that any time of the year, but around the holidays we can justify it more.

What constitutes a special occasion restaurant, of course, is relative. To someone who dines regularly on food obtained through the car window, any full-service restaurant might be a splurge. But for our purposes here, we’ll consider the restaurants that are generally big-ticket events for anyone, regardless of the norm.

These are my top splurge restaurants, the ones that can make any occasion special:

Venetian Room: the fine-dining restaurant at the Caribe Royale is one of a dying breed of posh rooms where the service and food are of the highest calibre.

Victoria & Albert’s: the intimate dining room at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is arguably one of the finest restaurants in the Southeastern United States.

Norman’s: celebrity chef Norman Van Aken’s New World Cuisine is on the menu at this elegant restaurant. Pricey? Did I mention it’s at the Ritz-Carlton?

Cala Bella: Rosen Shingle Creek is the setting for this Italian fine dining restaurant, where the food is deliciously good and the atmosphere is grandiloquent.

California Grill: if you don’t mind being surrounded by tourists who didn’t think it would be necessary to pack decent clothes for a nice meal, this longtime favorite can still be a grand evening out, especially when the fireworks over the Magic Kingdom start up.