Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer heat getting you down? Plan for great Fall eats instead!

Orlando is a wonderful place. It's one of my favorites and, if you're reading this blog, it's probably one of yours as well. But let's face it -- Florida summers can be excruciating and make you want to just hide inside, where the air conditioning is. So while you're sitting in front of the computer enjoying the artificial coolness, why not look forward to the milder temps of Autumn, and the amazing food that awaits you? 

That's right -- it's the return of Orlando Magical Dining Month!

For the entire month of September, restaurants throughout Orlando will be featuring special three courses for $33 menus (choice of an appetizer, entrée and dessert from the restaurant's Magical Dining Month menu; tax and gratuity not included), allowing you the to try some of the areas finest cuisine at an exceptional price. Plus, a portion of every meal's bill will benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Central Florida. So you enjoy good food and do a good deed at the same time -- total win. 

This year, more than 60 restaurants are participating, including a few of my personal favorites. Here are sample menus from my top three recommendations, at least in the theme park areas:

Napa at the Peabody Orlando (International Drive area)
Bibb Lettuce Salad (Toasted coconut, candied hazelnuts, kumquats, roasted spiced pineapple vinaigrette) Fall Squash Bisque (served with toasted sage marshmallow)

Grilled Beef Filet (with brussel sprouts & smoked bacon risotto, huckleberry demiglace)
Cioppino Stew (mussels, calamari, lump crab, rock shrimp, mahi mahi, fennel, leeks, spicy tomato broth, paprika rouille)
Forest Mushroom & Roasted Shallot Lasagne (vegetarian: spicy tarragon tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella) 

Warm Apple Crumb Cake (with candied walnuts & vanilla cream)
Nutty Brownie (dark chocolate mousse cake with cocoa nib tuille & Bailey's anglaise) 

Beet Salad (walnut vinaigrette, goat cheese fondue, beets) New England Style Clam Chowder (with salt cured bacon & house oyster crackers)

Simply Fish (market selection subject to change, served with silky potato, hearts of palm & warm crab dijon vinaigrette)
Char Grilled Chicken (with pomme fondant potato, garlic spinach, celery root & chicken jus)
House Garganelli (with rock shrimp, parmesan cream & charred broccolini)

Warm Chocolate Raspberry Molten Cake (chocolate cream pudding with raspberry sauce & raspberry ice cream)
Lemon Meringue Pavlova (with lemon curd, cassis agar, crumble, vanilla lemon peel ice cream & mini lemon macaroons) 

Heirloom Tomato Salad (seasonal tomatoes, cucumber, garlic confit & pickled lotus root, tossed with shallots & miso-yuzu vinaigrette) Local Watercress Salad (with crispy pancetta, bonito flakes, shaved parmesan & wasabi ranch)Katsuobishi Miso Soup (with littleneck clams, shiitake mushrooms, wakame & scallions)

Braised Short Ribs (served with pickled carrots, shiitake mushrooms & tamago over shemiji mushroom risotto) Robata Grilled Chicken Skewers (tare glazed and served with vegetable yaki soba noodles) Miso Yaki Black Cod (serve with lump crab fried rice & asparagus)
Magical Dining Sushi Combination (Chef’s Choice roll & 5-piece nigiri sushi)      

Seasonal Ice Cream (housemade Chef seasonal flavors)
Seasonal Sorbet  
(housemade Chef seasonal flavors) 
Japanese Donuts (miso butterscotch, red bean ice cream & dark chocolate walnuts)

You can see a complete list of all participating restaurants and their menus on the Magical Dining website. Make reservations early, especially for weekends. 


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