Eatin’ in Orlando 3

April 14, 2013 at 8:06 PM Leave a comment

During Jeff’s last visit to Orlando, he took a work associate to K Restaurant; a place both Jeff and Michele heartily enjoyed both times we visited. During conversation with the waiter, Jeff commented that it was hard to find good independent food in the “City of Chain Restaurants.” K and The Ravenous Pig were about all that was available. The waiter agreed, but explained that the owners of Ravenous were opening a new place right down the road called Cask and Larder. On his most recent trip, Jeff gave it a try and the waiter was right. It was a good addition to the Orlando food scene.

Cask and Larder brews their own beer and the menu is almost as inviting as the food options. Jeff tried the IPA which had a bit less “hoppy” taste than normal, making it an interesting choice. He later tried the Black Ale, also a very gentle drink, milder than a stout or porter, but with enough snap to provide enjoyment.

The menu is filled with interesting options and one could easily overdo it or plan two more visits while ordering for the evening. They have a collection of oysters, which is not unique, but they also have a collection of artisan hams, something we’ve never seen before. Jeff really wanted to try the hams, but the waiter suggested it was sized for sharing. Darn! Instead he opted for the Short Rib Tamale, a beautifully prepared tamale stuffed with melt in your mouth meat and sitting in a pool of slightly sweet caramelized onion broth. The tamale slowly absorbed the broth, but not enough to destroy the texture and flavor. It was an excellent first course.

The entrée section consists of locally fished seafood, locally sourced meats and a number of tempting vegetable side dishes. Jeff decides on the Grilled Quail with a whiskey glaze. Quail can be a bit of a pain to de-bone, but he has always found it worth the while. This one was no exception. Excellent all around.

The only negative was with the dessert. The Moon Pie (yes, like those Moon Pies you remember as a kid, but these are made with first-rate chocolate and house made marshmallow!) was accompanied by a Banana Semifreddo that was harder than “semi-frozen” and not very “custardy”. It also looked like it had spent too much time in the freezer. Because the Pies were so good, Jeff wouldn’t discourage ordering it; just check the side dish carefully.

When the 2012 James Beard semi-finalist list was published, another new name with an Orlando address was featured. Jeff decided to try it the next day. The Rusty Spoon is located in the historic downtown section of the city, near the old train station. The place looks like a saloon from the front, but has been nicely stylized inside to appear more pub-like. These were comfortable surroundings.

The menu was divided into a variety of eating options, Rusty Tails, First Plates, Leafy Greens, Handhelds, Pastas, Sustenance and Sweet Finish. On the recommendation of the waitress, Jeff started with the Butter Poached Clams. This was a beautiful pile of tiny, local clams, each tender and flavorful. The ale-based broth was so good the accompany slices of grilled pugliese bread were almost not enough to mop it up, but Jeff valiantly powered through and finished almost every drop. Excellent!

For his entrée, Jeff ordered the Braised Lamb Collar. Pockets of delectable, tender meat are trapped around the collar bone waiting to be picked out. It was very good, as was the lentil based side. The strawberry crisp dessert was built for two and unfortunately, uneventful in addition to being somewhat soggy on the inside. Not the best way to end an otherwise good meal.

Work seems to continually drag Jeff to Orlando. Now, there are four decent places to dine, should he need to go there again.  565 West Fairbanks Avenue Winter Park, FL 32789 321-280-4200  55 West Church Street Orlando, FL 32801 407-401-8811  1710 Edgewater Drive Orlando, FL 32804 407-872-2332  1234 North Orange Avenue Winter Park, FL 32789 407-628-2333

Entry filed under: Eatin' Out of Town. Tags: , , , , , , .

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