Spork Orlando

Aug 152017
 

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month returns Aug. 25 – Oct. 1 (!!) with an unprecedented number of restaurants — more than 100 — each offering a three-course, prix fixe dinner menu for just $35 per person. Celebrating its 12th year, the popular dining initiative provides a variety of options for local foodies or visiting gourmands who are looking to try out a local favorite or one of the newest additions to Orlando’s growing culinary scene. PLUS for the first time, six restaurants from Walt Disney World Resort join the program’s growing line-up.

This year’s restaurants, from downtown Orlando to Restaurant Row and beyond, offer a menu and setting for every occasion. A full list of all participating restaurants, menus and OpenTable reservations are available now at OrlandoMagicalDining.com. 

Since it’s nearly impossible to visit every location (if you succeed at this call me, we should be friends) here’s our top recommendations for places to visit!

Rusty Spoon: We visited as part of a preview event and so enjoyed everything from the veggies to dessert. They don’t skimp on portion size (or flavor) and you’ll have the chance to experience some cuisine from a James Beard nominated chef! Go for the seasonal item to start, we had some fabulous grilled peaches, moved on to the massive Crispy Sesame Chicken and finished with some donut holes and chocolate cake. You can’t go wrong here with any of the choices on this menu!

Ravenous Pig: Check out the new space at this Winter Park spot and enjoy some shrimp and grits, local fish and cake! You’re bound to have a fun and tasty time while at the Pig.

DoveCote: A downtown gem, make sure you put this spot on your list if you haven’t been yet or want to visit again! 

Ravello: One of my favorites from last year! You must get the pasta! Don’t miss your chance to dine at the always lovely Four Seasons for such a steal! Start with the House Made Charcuterie and Cheese Board, then order the House Made Bucatini Amatriciana
guanciale, onion, pomodoro sauce and finish with an Affogato with vanilla housemade gelato and café Umbrian espresso. In a word, divine! Ravello is one we’d recommend visiting multiple times, it’s just that fun and fabulous! And for your non Magical Dining visits they have some pretty awesome pizza too. Wash it all down with selections from their Italian wine list.

Dragonfly: While known for sushi, they also have a myriad of other notable menu items. Use Magical Dining to explore all the options and experience dishes from Pork Ramen to Whole Branzino and even Matcha Cake. Find them along Sand Lake!

F&D Kitchen: We’re putting on our list this year as we haven’t been to this Maitland spot yet, but we’ve heard good things. Put some new places on your list this fall, we’ve got our eye on their fried green tomatoes and milk and cookies.

Luma: Another solid Winter Park spot time after time, get your reservation early because this place always fills up in September! 

Eleven: Check out this Reunion Resort restaurant for Baked Salmon, Sirloin with duck fat marble potatoes and rooftop views! Remember our last visit? We loved it! 

Last year, Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining raised a record $195,125 for the Russell Home for Atypical Children enabling the organization to modify and refurbish the girls’ dorm as part of the home’s major renovation project. The dorm will be named after Visit Orlando and Magical Dining Month. Happy dining for a good cause this month! 

Aug 112017
 

Short on vacation days? Yeah, I hear ya. But with so many culinary gems around town (both new and established) it’s easy to take a mini vacay through a dining experience. Between the unspoken “no phones at the dinner table rule” (except to take that Insta photo), a night off from dishes and a glass of wine (or two), a culinary staycation is the perfect mini-break to unwind and recharge. While the dining options around town are endless, here’s where we’ve enjoyed “vacationing” this summer. So while it’s one billion degrees outside, cool off and cool down with an evening away from it all.

PS: Scroll alll the way down to see our latest giveaway! You’ll find the perfect souvenir for upcoming travels.

Urbain 40:

  • Four-time James Beard award nominee and Director of Culinary Operations for Boulevard Restaurants, Chef Tim Keating, is highly passionate about using the freshest seasonal produce, sustainable meats and seafood, most of which are locally sourced. Chef Keating has put his spin on the fare served at Urbain 40 with 23 new dish additions and changes, crafting them into seasonal favorites including the Duck Confit Trofie Di Abruzzo Pasta, Char-Crusted Angus Steak and Rock Shrimp & Cape Bay Scallop Ceviche “Cocktail”. You must try the steak if nothing else, it was magnificent! Keating’s bright menu brings new life this fun Dr. Phillips spot.

urbain 40

Highball & Harvest:

  • I’ve always been a fan of Highball, they were one of the first restaurants we covered when Spork initially launched. Breaking the mold of hotel restaurants, Highball & Harvest combines rustic authenticity with Ritz-Carlton refinement to feature interactive dining and a Southern culinary adventure. Since his arrival, Chef Scott Pizzo has hit the ground running and revamped the menu at Highball & Harvest using ingredients from local purveyors and our on-site farm at Whisper Creek Farm. Order some of his new dishes including ​the H&H Cuban Sandwich, Harvest Salad (which is loaded with incredible veggies) and this savory burger. Spare room for dessert because they’ve come back with some really well done sweets to round out your meal. Complete your staycation with a spa visit and lazy day by the resort’s pool.

highball and harvest

highball and harvest

The Parkview:

  • Sometimes we love visiting an old favorite that’s been updated with a fresh take. With their new chef and creative wine flights you’ll want to put The Parkview back on your list of places to visit. This Park Avenue wine bar is turning out dishes such as Duck Crostini, Truffle Mac and Cheese, local leaf salads and fun takes on seafood. It’s always enjoyable dining at a place where people are passionate about all aspects of the experience. With a focus on small, quality producers their wine list is bursting with wines worth trying. We can’t refuse a wine flight, so if you’re feeling adventurous order The Hanging Garden flight with sips from Lebanon, Greece, Turkey and Israel! Wine geeks and novices alike will enjoy the experience here and we’re already looking forward to our next visit.

parkview

parkview

Marlows:

  • If you’re looking for a solid burger or some killer hummus (no really, it’s awesome) make Marlow’s part of your summer plans. With multiple locations around Orlando, their tavern-fare is always a safe bet with options to make everyone in your group happy.

marlow's tavern

Rocco’s Late Night Fare:

  • Happy hour is great and all, but sometimes it’s challenging to leave work and get to a restaurant before the bargains end. Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar has you covered with “After Midnight”, their new late night happy hour presented by Corona. This wallet-friendly affair takes place nightly from midnight until close at all Florida locations. Enjoy $2 tacos and $5 snacks including guacamole and quesadillas. Wash it down with $3 Coronas and house wine, and $5 specialty drinks, or kick it up a notch with half-off select shots from the Wall of Tequila. After all, it’s midnight somewhere.

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Prato:

  • Prato is now offering a happy hour menu! Experience the items Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. The menu will include their signature pizzas for $10 (order the Widowmaker) and Italian plates ranging from $5 to $9. Drink specials will include cocktails for $7, glasses of European wines for $5, and beers under $6. See you on the Ave.!

prato

Hawkers:

  • It all started with a craving. Four Florida-based college buddies all longed for the unapologetic flavors of true Asian food —dumplings with bounce, spicy curries and crisp pork belly. Their intense curry itch made way for the creation of Hawkers Asian Street Fare, a casual, experience-driven concept, that serves up small-plate Asian street food. At Hawkers, the founders Kaleb Harrell, Allen Lo, Wayne Yung and Kin Ho–all traveled the world to curate a menu of handed-down family recipes and hand-picked popular street foods from all over Asia —Korea, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan to be exact. They also have a new menu launching next Wednesday, but don’t worry their beloved pad thai is still available! PS – when you’re not doing the whole culinary staycation thing you can order Hawkers on UberEats! We do it allllll the time.

hawkers

The Shores Resort & Spa:

  • This Daytona Beach resort boasts a signature restaurant, Azure, which serves artfully inspired dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as 24-hour room service. Azure offers beachfront dining available on an elevated outdoor terrace, giving tableside views of the oceanfront pool and the sparkling Atlantic Ocean. With nearly unobstructed views of the glimmering ocean, you’ll be able to take in the incredible view alongside some creative cuisine. This fun dish, Island Tuna Poke with lemon scented tuna, coconut-rice custard and passion fruit foam is fun and tasty to enjoy beach-side!

the shores

the shores

Cocina 214:

  • This acclaimed contemporary Mexican Kitchen & Bar is a combination of the Spanish word for kitchen, “cocina” and the Dallas area code, “214.” The idea for opening Cocina 214 developed when two of the owners from Texas missed the Tex-Mex and Mexican food they had grown up eating. They wanted the same authentic, fresh and quality food here in Florida. In addition to a new location (in early 2018) they are also rolling out some new menu items. We had a chance to taste some of the fabulous additions including fried avocados, Mexican corn and a brownie served over  a bubbling base of butter! If you haven’t visited this Winter Park (and soon to also be Daytona Beach) spot in awhile make plans to return for some margaritas, guacamole and tacos. PS: see that bubbling butter brownie in action here.

cocina 214

cocina 214

cocina 214

Bulla:

  • The people watching here is always enjoyable, there’s a lively scene at the bar and throughout the restaurant. We’d recommend stopping in for quick glass of Albariño or Tempranillo and grabbing some of their tasty churros for dessert.

bulla

Now for the promised giveaway! As a memento for all of your travels, take home this super creative Orlando print by local artist, Jennifer Beck. This street map features markings of all the roads and major bodies of water all around Orlando . This décor product features thousands of street lines and several bodies of water both big and small. Look all around to find your favorite landmarks around the city as you follow the highways, waterways and even rail or mass transit system lines. I mean, how cool is this map? To enter, simply shoot us the private message “Orlando Print Giveaway!” on Instagram @SporkOrlando. Dying for your own print? You can find one here.

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Azure Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Aug 092017
 

Husband and wife chefs James and Julie Petrakis, who have won wide acclaim for their Central Florida restaurants Cask & Larder and The Ravenous Pig, have expanded their Swine Family Restaurant Group to Disney Springs with a new fast-casual concept, The Polite Pig. Partnering with the James Beard Foundation-nominated chefs is Brian Petrakis, who owns the popular Orlando eatery Greens & Grille. The partnership unites the Petrakis brothers on a restaurant venture for the first time.

Operating with a culinary philosophy similar to its sister Swine Family restaurants, The Polite Pig serves dishes made using sustainable and local ingredients. Some of the signature dishes include House-Smoked Chicken, Brisket, Pork Shoulder and St. Louis Ribs, as well as BBQ Cauliflower on the sides menu. Here’s what we’d recommend trying during your visit!

  • Brisket Sandwich with pimento cheese, lil john’s BBQ, pickled jalapeños and crispy onions. YUM! I could try to explain more, but I’ll let the ingredient lineup speak for itself in this case. We reluctantly ordered the BBQ cauliflower for our side (at the enthusiastic urging of our awesome server) but were thrilled with the accompaniment! Who knew this white, typically bland, veggie could hold so much flavor and fun?

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  • Baby Back Ribs with a signature rub and a side of savory cheese grits with collard greens and bacon black-eyed pea potlicker. We promptly polished off the whole rack and almost inhaled the grits. I’m usually a traditionalist when it comes to my grits, as in don’t add anything but cheese and maybe a dash of hot sauce, but the additions to this side dish totally worked. Even our Mississippi-native server is a fan of these grits, and you know how serious southerners are about their grits! Bottom line, order both of these items during your visit to The Polite Pig.

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  • Desserts are kept simple with two choices, Orange Blossom Honey Cake or Double Layer Chocolate Cake. You’re at Disney so dessert is not optional, just order both and share among your table for a sweet ending.

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  • I don’t do bourbon (or beer), but am always ready for wine. They have three wines on tap which means they are consistently served at the perfect temperature. Since it’s ONE BILLION DEGREES outside order a glass of the French rosé. Plus, ordering wine from a keg is trendy and cool.

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Longtime Swine Family chef Allison Weldon leads The Polite Pig kitchen and serves as the restaurant’s executive chef. Most recently, Weldon was part of the Cask & Larder transition team to the Orlando International Airport. She began her career as a line cook at The Ravenous Pig and in 2013 was named a regional winner in the national “2013 Best Young Chef” competition sponsored by the Confrérié de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.

The Polite Pig will also features beers and cocktails on tap. Cask & Larder Brewery will brew several of their signature beers for The Polite Pig including its Lone Palm Golden Ale, 5 Points IPA, Red Drum Ale and Working Man Porter. On tap cocktails include Gin & Tonic, Vodka Lemonade, Rum & Coke, Tequila & Grapefruit and an Old-Fashioned. Bourbon enthusiasts will also enjoy the “Bourbon Bar” with more than 60 varieties of whiskey including Florida’s largest collection of Pappy Van Winkle whiskeys.

The Polite Pig is located in Disney Springs’ Town Center neighborhood. The 5,000-square-foot venue is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with seating for about 200 guests.

The Polite Pig Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jul 222017
 

We are magical dining obsessed, it’s the best way to try over 100 local restaurants for just $35 per person! Our favorite and one that’s worth visiting multiple times is Ravello at Four Seasons Resort. Their prix-fixe three-course meal (and all Magical Dining meals) benefit Freedom Ride and BASE Children’s Cancer Foundation. One of the tastiest and best options, the Ravello menu includes:

Appetizer (select one)

  • Insalata Mista with trevisana, arugula, lola rossa, moscato vinaigrette
  • Polpettine meatballs with mortadella, prosciutto, pomodoro sauce and mascarpone, grilled pan pugliese
  • Gelato di Parmigiano with radish, artisan lettuce, cucumber, tomato vinaigrette, Parmigiano cheese gelato and taralli crumble
  • House made charcuterie and cheese board

magical dining

Entree (select one)

  • House made bucatini amatriciana with guanciale, onion, pomodoro sauce
  • Chicken puttanesca with polenta, taggiasca olive, capers and pesce spada
  • Swordfish with sale speziato, salmoriglio, roasted potatoes, spinach, pomodorini, taggiasca olives

magical dining

Dessert (select one)

  • Affogato vanilla housemade gelato with Café Umbrian espresso
  • Sicillian cannolis with pistachio and candied orange

Magical Dining runs August 25, 2017 and runs through October 1, 2017. For reservations and the full list of restaurants, click here. 

Don’t want to wait a whole month to enjoy a special Four Seasons experience? Capa will feature an incredible Louis Roederer Champagne Dinner on August 3, at 6 p.m. August 3 also marks the resort’s third anniversary, truly an occasion worth celebrating! The five-course dinner will feature rare pairings, including Cristal and Cristal Rose. Proof that bubbles pair with more than just caviar, here’s the stellar lineup for the evening! 

four seasons orlando

Between all that Magical Dining and champagne sipping, you’ll want to “take the elevator home” after the night out. With adult amenities such as The Oasis adult-only pool, the 18-hole Tranquilo Golf Club (with an awesome brunch at Plancha) and a 18-treatment room Spa, Four Seasons Resort Orlando is an ideal adult destination. So tell us, what’s your favorite way to experience Four Seasons?

Jul 142017
 

PANDORA IS AWESOME. Okay, now that I got that out of the way, let’s explore why. From flying on a banshee to an abundance of boba balls, Disney’s newest venture lives up to its hype – tenfold. The 12-acre Pandora dazzles with its bioluminescent forests, floating mountains and incredible attention to detail.

A shining star of the new land is Flight of Passage, a 3-D expedition that transports travelers on a sweeping, simulated flight over Pandora’s colorful landscape. You will *literally* soar around floating mountains, plunge through ancient caverns and skim across roaring oceans. Disney has set the bar (once again) in the world of attractions with their latest venture. I don’t want to give too much away about what you’ll experience, but it’s worth whatever the wait time is!

After all that flying and plunging, you’ll probably be parched and ravenous. Continue your Pandora experience with Na’vi-style dining at Satu’li Canteen. This fun, fast-casual spot combines creativity and approachable flavors in a menu inspired by the healthful bounty on Pandora, with wholesome grains, fresh vegetables and hearty proteins. An on-stage grill is a prominent feature in the colorful dining room.

pandora

The restaurant offers healthy bowls that are customizable. You can start with a base of quinoa and vegetable salad; red and sweet potato hash; mixed whole-grain and rice or romaine and kale salad. Next is either wood-grilled chicken (straight from the on-display grill), slow-roasted beef, sustainable fish or chili-spiced fried tofu. And the bowl is finished with charred onion chimichurri, black bean vinaigrette or creamy herb dressing.

The menu also offers steamed “pods” – bao buns with either cheeseburger ingredients or vegetable curry served with root vegetable chips and crunchy vegetable slaw.

pandora

We also experienced something coming to the menu soon, Satu’li Feast. A feast for both the eyes and palate, this impressive board was equally tasty and healthy. A fun way to experience a variety of flavors with a group!

pandora

Satu’li Canteen is the first Disney restaurant to offer Mobile Order, a new convenient option to order and pay for meals on-the-go using the My Disney Experience app. The service enables guests to bypass the queue to order when they arrive at the restaurant. Using the app, guests can select menu items, customize their orders and pre-pay for their meals. So skip the line and get back to flying on banshees!

pandora

For dessert, or just a sweet treat, step over to the Pongu Pongu Kiosk. You must try their signature drink, it’s even becoming more popular on Instagram than that Unicorn Frappuccino from Starbucks. The Frozen Nectar is a sweet and tangy frozen limeade with layered flavors of Granny Smith Apple and Desert Pear topped with bursting mango boba balls that ALSO glows with bioluminescent colors. It’s pretty much the best version of a Slurpee you’ll ever taste.

If you need to find me this summer I’ll be flying on a banshee with a Frozen Nectar in hand. See you at Pandora!

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Jul 122017
 

TERRALINA

Terralina Crafted Italian, a new dining experience curated by James Beard Award-winning Chef Tony Mantuano, will open this fall at Disney Springs. The new restaurant, which will replace the space at The Landing previously occupied by Portobello Country Italian Trattoria, is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar makeover inspired by the design and lifestyle of Italy’s Lake District.

Set on the shores of Lake Buena Vista, Terralina Crafted Italian’s sweeping waterfront views and dining will provide guests with a tranquil escape to another part of the world. Just as in an Italian home, the kitchen will serve as the hearth and perfect centerpiece for guests to gather around in the restaurant. Each dining room will include eclectic decor made up of found art and pieces that share the stories of moments worth celebrating. A newly installed veranda bar outside the main entrance will serve as the perfect welcome mat for guests to relax and sip on craft cocktails, muddled with herbs similar to those grown in a garden located right outside the restaurant.

The menu will feature authentic, Italian cuisine cooked in Chef Tony’s signature olive oil, imported directly from Italy. The restaurant’s wood-burning oven will fire up a selection of artisanal, hand-tossed pizzas and fresh vegetable dishes. Fan favorites from Portobello Country Italian Trattoria such as the antipasti platter and signature pasta dishes will remain on the menu alongside new additions like mussels and pork chops.

Construction is expected to be complete this fall. Terralina Crafted Italian will be open for lunch and dinner.

Jul 112017
 

Bringing you a post from one of our contributors, Arlene! You can see more of her work @wanderwithred.

The drive from downtown Orlando to Kissimmee will set you back about half an hour (not including traffic), but once you’re at Duck Donuts you’ll forget all about I-4 and the annoying, never ending construction. The first Duck Donuts location opened in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 2007 followed by Duck, North Carolina. Their newest location opened July 1, and is located inside the Crosslands Shopping Center in Kissimmee.

duck donuts

Vanilla cake donuts are fried and customized to each guest, offering a personalized desert experience. Guests fill out an order form where they can select from ten coating choices, seven toppings, and five drizzle choices. If you’re feeling adventurous go for the Quacky Assortment and try a dozen different choices selected by Duck Donuts. In addition to donuts, caffeine addicts can indulge in brewed coffee as well as cold brew. Duck Donuts serves its own signature coffee blends—Riptide Roast, Light House Blend, and Sunset Pier Decaf with special seasonal flavors changing throughout the year.

duck donuts

duck donuts

Breakfast lovers will enjoy their morning fare, but these are not your ordinary bacon egg and cheese sandwiches. Duck Donuts takes breakfast to the next level by offering a Sausage Egg & Cheese, housed in a Maple Donut sprinkled with bacon. Hello sweet and savory to start the day!

duck donuts

The Donut Sundae is made of  a warm donut, Breyers Ice Cream, whipped cream, caramel and chocolate sauce and sprinkles. The warmth of the freshly made donut was a wonderful compliment for the cool vanilla ice cream and an excellent treat for the hot summer days ahead. Hooray for a fun new donut shop in town!

duck donuts