As I approached the hostess in the dimly lit restaurant, I had no idea what was about to come for my evening. I told the young woman I had a meeting with the Executive Chef at 7 p.m.
"We were expecting you," she said and led me to the chef's table placed next to the kitchen.
I browsed over the menu as the intoxicating aromas of searing meat and truffle danced up my nose. Over the steady hum of conversation, the constant "Yes, chef!" from the cooks stood out throughout the evening even over the continuous buzz of the restaurant. I watched as every dish was prepared with precision, which could only be done by hands that have seen many other kitchens. Executive Chef, Brandon McGlamery, personally looked over dishes to make sure their presentation was perfect as he wiped each plate clean with a white towel.
I barely made it through the menu when my waiter arrived. He informed I wouldn't need to order tonight because my own menu had already been selected. Little did I know, three hours and nine dishes later I would finish one of the best meals of my life. Come with me as I take you through my night at Luma on Park in Orlando, Fla., bite by bite.
Luma is an upscale, causal American kitchen serving original locally inspired cuisine. It is noted as one of Orlando's hottest tables -- with high ratings from hundreds of Yelpers, the restaurant has created a well-known name for itself in local circles.
Disney ain't the only thing this city has to offer.
Dish 1: Truffle Popcorn
Earthy flavors with a pop of sharpness that cut through the richness of the butter from the parmesan cheese
Dish 2: Shrimp Croquettes
Crispy outside with a tender inside. Strong Southwestern flavors. The salad added a layer of freshness to my palette.
Dish 3: Chesapeake Bay Oysters with rock shrimp remoulade topped with a carrot-jalepeño salad
The oysters were perfectly cooked leaving its original flavor of freshness intact. The carrot-jalepeño salad cut through the richness of the dish and cleansed the palette.
Dish 4: French King Onion Soup
The soup was very creamy and thick. The fried pancetta pieces on top added to the dish's depth of flavor and richness, but the crème fraîche cut through it all making the taste very balanced.
Dish 5: Lantern Bay Scallops Ceviche with grapefruit, purple kohlrabi, homemade almond butter and vanilla salt
I'm a sucker for ceviche so this was one of my favorite dishes of the night. It was light, and the perfect plate to get me ready for the next heavy dishes to come. The citrus from the grapefruit completely turned my palette into a clean slate. The scallops' delicate flavor did overwhelm what the rest of the dish had to offer. The almond butter added texture and creaminess to otherwise refreshening taste.
Dish 6: Cauliflower-Onion Tart
Flaky crust -- that's what I definitely remember about dish 6. The flavors of the cauliflower and onion were smooth, rich and creamy. Although the tart itself was heavy, the side of pickled vegetables added acidity.
Dish 7: Duck Sausage
Duck -- just the word itself is music to my ears. This duck sausage was heavy and rich. It was made with pretty much every part of the duck. Every bite I took, I tasted the love in it. The cooked cherries on top created a nice balance of sweet and savory. The other sides also added acidity to balance the heaviness of the dish out.
Dish 8: Hazelnut Tortellini
It's hard to play favorites sometimes when everything was so good, but this was my favorite dish of the night. Remembering the savory and earthy flavors of purple cauliflower, mushrooms, beef and hazelnut makes my mouth water. The tortellini was al-dente. The dish was absolutely perfect.
Dish 9: Chocolate Panna Cotta
By dish 9, my blazer was snug around me, but there's always room for dessert. The chocolate panna cotta was the best ending to a great meal. It wasn't overly sweet so you could really taste the rich quality of the cocoa. It was a mixture of dark and milk chocolate. The panna cotta was light and airy, but the crunchy bottom and caramel brought texture and depth to this dessert.
Atmosphere, service and food are all contributing factors for a great meal. How often do we go to a restaurant that falls short in some way? I can say that Luma on Park hit all the necessary components and more.
I would like to thank all the staff for creating such a memorable evening.
290 South Park Ave.
Winter Park, FL 32789