After dining at City Fire American Oven, I was sold on Restaurant Row. Turns out the food in Orlando isn’t that bad if you take the time to actually look and leave Disney. Not a total knock on Disney, as there are some good places there too. It’s definitely more just the looking thing and avoiding the obvious tourist traps. (As a side note, Winter Park apparently has a lot of restaurants that are highly ranked on UrbanSpoon, but that was half an hour away whereas Restaurant Row was only 10 minutes).
For my next dinner, I decided to drive myself back up there to Restaurant Row and just find something. I had no real plan, and no destination in mind. I just knew I wanted to go somewhere that I could sit outside and enjoy the warm temperatures that I had been missing for so long in Seattle. I parked, started walking around, and pretty quickly settled on Dragonfly. There was an outside space that was covered from the elements and have a TV for watching Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals (a debacle for the Canuckleheadz for sure). And normally I’m pretty wary of sushi outside of the West Coast, but by the look of the place, and considering it is Orlando, I figured they would do alright.
I made my way to the outdoor bar, ordered myself some cold sake, and started taking a look at the menu. The first thing that jumped out at me was the Robata grill. I had never actually been to a place with one, only seen them on TV. They are a traditional charcoal grill that uses a special Japanese bincho-tan wood that an get very hot (Morimoto has used it on Iron Chef a few times). So, I knew I was ordering something from there. Since it was my first time at Dragonfly, I went with my usual default…ask the bartender. I wanted to start with something from the Robata grill, and go from there. She recommended the bacon wrapped enoki mushrooms and ribeye. I went with those and added my favorite nigiri (hamachi and maguro) to start the night.
While I was waiting for my food to come out, I ended up taking a call from one of my work colleagues, and was still on it when the dishes arrived. Normally this isn’t an issue except I was confused by the ribeye. See, I thought she had said chicken. There was some gesturing and nodding and shaking of my head as I thought I was getting something different. We finally got it sorted out and I got my work thing sorted out, and I started eating. The maguro and the hamachi were very good. Just good quality, nice and tender, very flavorful fish. The bacon wrapped Enoki mushrooms were awesome. In the past I wouldn’t have considered anything with mushroom, but I’m glad I did. Enoki mushrooms are a small, thin mushroom with a small cap. They look similar to bean sprouts actually. And they add a nice, earthy flavor that pares very nicely with a nice, smoky, well cooked piece of bacon. As for the ribeye, it was ok. Normally ribeye is a fatty, juicy piece of meat, but this was a bit lean and a bit overcooked. I ended up dipping it in the variety of sauces provided (which I never thought I would do with ribeye!), liking the spicy miso the most.
After that, it was time to move on to the maki rolls. Based on the bartender recommendation, I went with the “Bomb” roll; a combination of tempura shrimp, tuna, snow crab and avocado. It was a great combination of the crispiness from the tempura, smooth and “coolness” from the tuna, and creaminess of the avocado that just created flavorful bite after flavorful bite. The sauces added just a hint of heat, and enough flavor that I didn’t even need to dip it into the soy sauce mixture. Finally I wrapped everything up with the mango tango; a roll of mango, smoked salmon, cream cheese, and served with a peach-apricot reduction. It sounded like the perfect “dessert” roll, and it was good. But I was actually hoping for something a bit sweeter. It may have just been that the fruit wasn’t full in season, and so not fully flavorful. It was a little more bland than I had hoped.
Once all of the rolls had been eaten and everything cleared away, I got myself an Asahi and just took a few moments to sit back, enjoy the warm weather, and watch the end of the hockey game. I had an opportunity to chat with the GM Dave for a little bit about the technological wonder that is the iPad 2. Overall it was a very good dinner. Not as good as Umi in Seattle, but better than a lot of places I’ve been to.