Wishing on a Fork

Orlando's Foodie Thrill Ride

Thursday, July 20, 2017

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If traipsing through Orlando theme parks for a family vacation is your lot this summer, then we are happy to report that dining in what's affectionately called the City Beautiful is not mere child's play. Thanks to a steady roster of bold-faced culinary names, Orlando has crafted a highly respected epicurean niche that includes James Beard-nominated chefs and restaurants, variety to make your head spin, and inventive menus with thrills to match a 500-ft roller coaster.

Luma on Park
290 S Park Ave, Winter Park 407-599-4111

Located in Winter Park, about 20 minutes from downtown Orlando, Luma on Park is a well-deserved respite from the engineered sensory overload of the theme parks.  
Chef Brandon McGlamery has twice been a semi-finalist in the James Beard Awards, and with time spent at the much-revered eateries French Laundry and Chez Panisse, he's developed an expressed devotion to the philosophy of fresh first, which means seasonal ingredients, responsibly farmed meats and sustainable seafood. Views of the open kitchen and intuitive service sweeten the intimacy of the restaurant. The menu changes often but vegetarian turns like Roasted Cauliflower Tart and Artichoke Agnolotti have an unexpected depth.

The Rusty Spoon
55 West Church Street, Orlando 407-401-8811

Start with Butter Me Up, crafted with butter washed bourbon, burnt orange syrup and lemon juice, and you will find some peace after standing in a four-line for a four-minute ride
Speaking of four, Chef Kathleen Blake is four-time James Beard Award Best Chef: South semi-finalist, her most recent nod given this year.
Noteworthy craft beers (Anchor Steam and Peak Orange Pomegranate Wheat piqued our tastes) and a robust wine list support a substantial farm-to-table menu. A pepper-crusted tenderloin of beef for Carpaccio and Haystack, shoestring potatoes tossed with Pecorino and rosemary will provide splendid distraction until the mains, but don't get too lost. Save mental room for the slow-roasted lamb shank with marinated eggplant and “Dirty South” shrimp, catch of the day and little neck clams in a shrimp peanut broth which are both quite accomplished.

The Ravenous Pig
565 W Fairbank, Winter Park 407-628-2333

Gastropubs — drinking establishments with inventive food — only first ignited the scene in the 90s. It's fair then to expect that the current manifestations have evolved into food experiences that are more heft than hype. That you will find at chefs-owners James and Julie Petrakis' Winter Park restaurant The Ravenous Pig. Look for a menu that is an artfully constructed arc of pub food (the Pub Burger is Black Angus beef, caramelised onion buttermilk blue cheese and truffle fries) and complex main dishes like Tuna Foie Gras, a stunning medley of pepper-rubbed tuna with foie torchon shaved on top and dehydrated watermelon rinds, smoked watermelon and lemon aioli potato salad. Coming from the land of Red Stripe Beer, you may feel it a stretch to find a beer that will turn you on, but we can happily suggest any one of the micro beers brewed on-site. For the more stylish you, swing for an elderflower martini.

Urbain 40
80000 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando 407-872-2640

Urbain 40 is a brasserie and lounge serving chef-crafted cuisine inspired by American and continental classics. Four-time James Beard award nominee Chef Tim Keating has crafted a highly imaginative gastronomical menu with many bright sparks of worldly influence and a decided American interpretation. Escargot Bourguignonne features citrus and prosciutto spiked garlic and herb butter  and classic Duck a l'Orange is expertly executed.
From the cocktail menu, try the elegant Elderflower Martini with hints of honey, white grape and lime.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival
Epcot Centre
For a more interactive approach, foodie-curious teens (and you, too) will enjoy the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Although it's scheduled to start August 3, which typically is the week before school starts, it runs through to November 13, which includes the midterm break. Expect a culinary tour of flavours around the World Showcase Lagoon and the chance to meet celebrity chefs who will be conducting hands-on culinary workshops and demonstrations at the Festival Centre, and at Epcot restaurants. This year the festival also features Eat to the Beat, a nightly concert series and among the artists booked are Jamaica's faves Air Supply, Boyz II Men and Kenny G. We also hear that ABC's The Chew will be filmed on location during the festival.

Editor's Note
Caribbean Airlines flies to Orlando on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Book at




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