As Orlando continues to expand into a real city to reckon with more and more development expands to the surrounding smaller neighborhoods. No longer is Disney, Universal or Sea World the only game in town. Metro Orlando is changing rapidly. More ground is clearing in far flung areas of Apopka, St. Cloud, Groveland and Avalon Park. Smaller neighborhoods in between have seen a revival. No longer is Thornton Park the only hip cool place to hang out. Look at the ViMi District, Milk District, Downtown Clermont, Downtown Kissimmee and Downtown Winter Garden.
The Chef’s Table sits in an unassuming old storefront along Plant Street in Historic Downtown Winter Garden. But this is no ordinary storefront. This is directly under the Historic Edgewater Hotel. The hotel has been there since 1927. It gives meaning to the phrase, “If only these walls could talk”. The hotel has managed to preserve it’s structure with precise details. The restaurant has enhanced old details to a cherished history that speaks to preservation and acknowledging the past. Everything is not stuck in the past. The ordering system utilizes hand held devices.
The space is embellished in dark stained wood, as used in the 1920s era. Low ornate lights from the period creates a magical cozy feel. Smaller walkways and passage ways from one room to another shows that the space has been used for different functions over the years. Upon entrance the first room is The Tasting Room, which serves casual tapas menu. Walking through the open kitchen to a second room is the Chef’s Table which serves a prixe fixe menu with wine pairing. I can only imagine the memories and good times back there. Not that those great times cannot be had in the front room. Probably more raucous in the front room. There is also outdoor seating along Plant Street.
We sampled a few tapas.
Quinoa Salad – a lively take on health conscious option. Spring mix was crisp and fresh, quinoa was supple and firm, cashews nuts added good crunch, dehydrated fruit and ever so light vinaigrette added a nice sweetness. Very balanced salad.
Smoked Fish Dip – smoke hit the nose right away. Fish was allowed to shine, not dowsed with binder.
Shrimps and Grits – all flavors of New Orleans were present without the heaviness. Rich, creamy, hints of spice that just light up parts of my palate. A truly wonderful rendition of southern classic.
Beef Wellington – a culinary classic, executed with perfection. I meant to take a picture of inside, but….it was gone too fast. Sorry. Flaky exterior that cocooned flavorful soft textured beef cuddled with a perfect demi-glace. Imagine how many times in history this same dish was eaten here. Nostalgic.
The menu structure and execution reflects deep southern and classical pedigree of the chef. Wine list is very impressive. I can’t wait to go back and try wine pairings. There are some restaurants that boast their service level. This restaurant just delivers. From the minute one walks in the door, there is a greeting. When the server shows up, it’s a very amicable and engaging conversation. The dining tone is as you are the only person there. Anyone passes by, makes eye contact, acknowledges and glances at your table then proceed to take care of anything that needs tending to. Manager genuinely touches table and engages in meaningful conversation.
It is no wonder that this restaurant has received so many accolades. They actually do things right. It is very refreshing to see a restaurant of this caliber so far away from major dining destinations in Orlando. This just might be the place for all your holiday dining. It goes to show that our city is expanding and serious people are willing to sustain that growth.