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 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 092017
 

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando recently debuted a new weekly themed dinner show, Caribbean Carnaval, featuring an all-you-can-eat buffet and high-energy, live entertainment for the entire family. You’ll be immediately greeted by the sights and sounds of a party in paradise. Accompanied by stilt walkers and acrobatic dancers, the evening’s lively hosts take you on a flavorful, musical tour through the Caribbean.

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“The addition of Caribbean Carnaval takes our guest experience to a new level,” says Barb Bowden, complex managing director for Loews Sapphire Falls Resort and Loews Royal Pacific Resort. “Our team set out to create an evening filled with food, fun and celebration. Guests can savor an amazing array of Caribbean-inspired food and drink one minute, then be on their feet doing the limbo next.”

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Experience authentic Caribbean dishes and drinks, including Planter’s Punch, mojo roasted suckling pig, ropa vieja, jerk chicken, grilled snapper, Caribbean rum cake and guava flan. A colorful cast of characters provides exciting live entertainment as they take you on a musical voyage from Florida through the Bahamas with stops in Cuba, Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad.

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Caribbean Carnaval takes place every Wednesday night in the resort’s outdoor pavilion, Cayman Court. Seating begins at 6 pm and the show starts at 7 pm. Tickets are $69 for adults and $35 for children ages 3-9. Children under 3 are complimentary. Price includes gratuity, non-alcoholic beverages, wine, beer and Planter’s Punch. Tax and ticketing fees apply.

For reservations, call 407-503-DINE (3463) or visit caribbeancarnaval.eventbrite.com.

PS: In case you missed our post on Strong Water Tavern at Loews Sapphire Falls, see more on this rum filled spot here!

Aug 152014
 

The last weekend of summer is always mixed with emotions. Kids will miss their freedom, but are excited about seeing their friends. Parents either relieved or sad to see their little ones growing up so fast. Either way, everyone wants to savor this last weekend of fun and freedom. What better way to celebrate than with The Sweet Shop’s newest line of sweets. Say farewell to summer, grab the family and head to 4 Rivers Sweet Shop for these exclusive flavors.

The Sweet Shop Vocabulary

A. Apple Jacks Whoopie Pie

B. Cocoa Pebble Coffee Brownie

C. Peanut Butter Captain Crunch Milk Cookie

D. PB+J Rice Krispie Treat

E. Cinnamon Toast Crunch Bar

F. Fruit Loops Cupcake

Click here for all Sweet Shop locations and visit them online at 4rsmokehouse.com. These sweet treats are available starting tomorrow!

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