Whether you’re celebrating an anniversary, birthday, or finally cleaning out your garage, it’s good to have a go-to restaurant where you can eat and drink really well and get a little dressed up. For us, that’s Luma on Park. This place serves a mix of Italian food and things you might not expect, like soft shell crab and steak tartare, and between their basement wine cellar and cocktail bar, there are a lot of drink options. This Winter Park staple also has a $35, three-course prix fixe menu that includes things like kampachi crudo and homemade bolognese for when you don’t want to make a ton of decisions.
Caviar is salt-cured fish eggs from sturgeon traditionally from the Black and Caspian Seas, though due to regulations most Caviar today is farmed. Caviar is strictly from surgeon, whereas other fish eggs may be considered roe. Beluga, Ossetra and Sevruga are the three main varieties of Caviar, and are considered a delicacy throughout the world and due to their rarity, and for their rich creamy flavor and delicate texture. Beluga Caviar may sell up the several thousand of dollar per pound, depending on flavor, size and consistency. Today, some varieties of farm-raised American caviar are considered very high in quality, comparable to Caspian caviar.
Chef Shuichi Tanida left his post at Epcot’s Mitsukoshi restaurant to open a downtown ramen shop (appropriately dubbed “The Ramen”) in the former Philly Connection space and the soup cognoscenti have caught on. The broths, be it tonkotsu, shoyu or miso are unquestionably legit and there’s even a vegan ramen offered. The soup-averse can give any of the donburi (rice bowls) or bento boxes (with choice of karaage, panko-fried chicken tender, or potato croquette) a go but, really, it’s all about the ramen at The Ramen.
With taste education so intertwined with commerce, some public skepticism over such certifications is understandable. This past fall, a cheating scandal rocked the Court of Master Sommeliers, which had to invalidate the tasting portion of its hallowed master sommelier diploma exam. One of the proctors had leaked the exam’s most sacred secrets: the identity of the wines that the master’s candidates were supposed to taste blind.
These programs prepare you to be a taste authority, a sensory expert, an arbiter and evangelist in the field, but you’re likely not producing anything. Even so, they’re in demand. What is it about this epoch that values such mastery over taste? Were we all truly so clueless and naive about these matters once upon a time? Has life become so fraught and complicated that even decisions over our smallest pleasures now require expert intervention?
But customers’ favorite choice when eating here would be the Burgushi. It’s the perfect combination of sushi with a burger. Options for the Burgushi are Doug's Filet Roll, "The Prime Time" Filet & Lobster Roll, and many more. You can also build your very own sushi roll. Not many restaurants give you that option, that's why The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar is one of the best restaurants in Orlando and one of the best burger joints in America.
The name of this Thornton Park/South Eola restaurant makes vague reference to the unusual collection of dishes it offers, not so much the oddball patronage it sometimes draws. Owners Brian Buttner and Jonathan Canonaco, who operate the well-received Stubborn Mule across the street, took over the old NoLa-inspired Muddy Waters space and transformed it into a trendy, see-and-be-seen sort of joint. Smoked duck wings, caramel-lacquered Asian pork spears and vegan pate don’t exactly scream “eclectic” but, hey, what trendoids want, trendoids get.
Humbled by my failure of the American Cheese Society’s T.A.S.T.E. exam three months earlier, I decide to set my sights lower and start my cheese education at the beginning. I pay $850 to attend a three-day, in-depth Cheese Boot Camp at Murray’s Cheese in New York’s Greenwich Village. The course begins on a Friday evening, with unlimited wine being poured. About two dozen students from all across the country crowd into an upstairs classroom. A number of people work in the cheese business, in sales or production, and some are opening their own cheese shops. There is one Master of Wine, a few chefs and one couple who tell all of us that they just love cheese so much that they’re spending their wedding anniversary at Cheese Boot Camp.
When you’re on vacation, or even just hosting someone who is, you always end up eating meals between meals, having a few extra drinks, and accepting that it’s okay to have dessert twice in one day. But after a few days of that, you’re going to need a reset. When that happens, go to Dandelion Communitea Café. The entire menu at this restaurant and tea house is vegan, gluten free, and healthier than anything you’ve eaten in the past week. Get a salad or tempeh bowl, and while eating here won’t counteract the donuts and pie you ate yesterday, you should feel a little better afterward.
We made reservations for 1pm on Sunday and we were seated as soon as our entire party arrived. Fried Green tomatoes and bacon wrapped dates stuffed with gorgonzola to start. Both were very good! I ordered the corn & hash from the special brunch menu which comes with an egg on top. It was a perfect mesh of ingredients. Others in my group ordered the pulled pork sandwich with homemade chips, the gnarly biscuits with gravy, bacon, and fried egg, and fried green tomato stack with a fried egg on top. Everyone enjoyed their food and we were all very satisfied. Service was great and we did not feel rushed to leave being it was a Sunday and brunch hours.
Norman Van Aken is a culinary legend and a proud adopted Floridian, which plays nicely into delicious and often Latin-, Caribbean- and even Key West-infused fare. Sit outside and enjoy spectacular views of lakes, gardens and the Ritz-Carlton's expansive, green golf course or dine in climate-controlled majesty – vaulted ceilings and Italianate windows help bring that outside essence in. Tapas like Key West shrimp ceviche or delicate caviar may prime your palate for creamy cracked conch chowder or rhum and pepper painted Florida black grouper. Norman's is, of course, not a one-dollar-sign venue, but for vacationers and those looking for a sumptuous meal out, few venues are as resplendent as the Ritz-Carlton, and few restaurants could match it as well as Norman's.
There aren’t many good food options around Sand Lake Road, the tourist-y strip near Universal Studios. However, Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar is trying to change that. There’s nothing mind blowing going on here, but the tacos, Texas-style queso, and specialties like chile rellenos and mole poblano are all better than anything else in the area. They also have a great late-night menu for when you get hungry again after sampling from their wall of tequila, which includes more than 400 varieties.
Kadence is located inside a nondescript black building that looks more like a pop-up modern art museum than an actual restaurant. Inside, however, you’ll find some of the best sushi in the city, rather than installations that’ll make you wonder what is and isn’t “art.” Reservations at this nine-seat sushi counter in Audubon Park are hard to come by, but if you can’t wait three months to eat here, they also serve Japanese breakfast on the weekends and chirashi bowls filled with sashimi, vegetables, and sushi rice to go. Make this your first stop the next time you’re in Orlando.
Why go: Take Cheena is for adventurous eaters. Flavors hail from all over Asia but are served in American style. Ever had a Korean beef empanada or an Indian butter chicken burrito? Definitely try the “JapaDog,” featuring Chinese sweet sausage, avocado-wasabi, fumi, cabbage mix and scallion. Just remember that you won’t find any yellow mustard here.
To illustrate how important the olfactory sense is, Marchese earlier asked me to hold my nose and gave me something granular to put on my tongue. At first, it just felt grainy and sweet. Yet once I unplugged my nose, I experienced a rush of cinnamon flavor. As further practice, we sniffed little vials of typical honey aromas, similar to a kit other sensory experts use. I was proud of myself for identifying scents of mint, peach and lily. But others stumped me. Nutmeg? Wrong, hazelnut. Tea? No, hay. Truffle? Sorry, mushroom.