K Restaurant

1710 Edgewater Dr. Orlando, FL 32804(407) 872-2332kwinebar.com

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Having spoke lovingly about Cask & Larder and Highball & Harvest (I have a thing for ampersands), I was told K put them both to shame, so naturally it became a moral imperative for me to visit K and see if the chef could put his menu where his mouth is. And at the onset, things seemed very promising, I liked the décor inside and out. It’s located in a house with a charming wraparound porch for the outdoor seating and inside it was equally charming and warm, with just the right hint of modern.

I also thought our waiter was excellent. Knowledgeable and passionate about every dish, not bashful with the recommendations and as an added bonus, he was studying for his level two sommelier exam so he was Johnny on the spot with the suggestions on vino. In fact, he didn’t stop there either, bringing out a few extra freebie pairings along the way, to help some of the dishes shine. And help shining they most certainly needed, because not one single dish was amazing and many were underwhelming.

Starting with the better half, I would recommend the K filet, cooked spot on medium rare and perched on a tasty brick of au gratin. But truth be told, the au gratin really made the dish, so a bit of a backhanded compliment on this one.

The heirloom tomato salad was farm fresh and mighty all righty. The beet salad was also nice, but both salads are very common dishes and neither were inventive, so I’m not about to climb a mountain to espouse their praises.

Next up, the deviled eggs were very good, done with a clever recreation of bacon bits, but having just had the best deviled eggs in my life less than a year ago at a place called Libertine in Indianapolis, I found it hard to swoon too much over these.

And last but not least, the pork chop. Just barely making it across the mid-line, it was two inches thick in a preparation that made it flavorful, with sweet potatoes at its side and a red cabbage slaw on top. Sadly, its own flavor was a bit lost due to the fact that it was a hair overcooked and therefore on the dry side.

Now for the rejects, and some of these are going to come as a shock to the K faithful. The shrimp and grits, while served in a nice barbeque sauce with some good kick, actually wound up backfiring in my opinion, because it overpowered everything in the dish. The shrimp were two small to hold up and the meager portion of grits didn’t do much better. As a result, the dish tasted more like a bowl of spicy barbeque sauce with chunks. Maybe they were going for a variation on etouffee? Well, they choked. Get it? Etouffee means “to choke.” …At least I amuse myself.

Speaking of choking, the crab salad over fired green tomatoes (pictured) was so far beneath the one at Highball & Harvest I think K should have to stop serving it out of principle. And whoever dared to compare the two dishes- I’m not going to point fingers or call anyone out by name (my mother), should be absolutely mortified.

And while we’re busy taking things off the menu, let’s also nix the mahi, which was overcooked and absolute crap. But even worse was the gnocci, tasting like a bowl of mush drowning in a sea of over-preparation.

Now the smart money might guess that we cut our losses at this point and passed on dessert, but never let it be said that I always do the smart thing. Besides, this is for posterity and a sacrifice I was willing to make for you, my followers.

Of the three we tried, the French toast bread pudding was the clear winner. The peanut butter cake would be a distant second, partly because it deserves it, but also because I’m not the hugest fan of peanut butter in the dessert form. Not sure why, but I’m sure it’ll come out one day in therapy. And last, and actually least, the budino was lame-o.

A tough call between two and three knives, but I’m going with a rare lean toward the positive, mostly because of the service. That said, K is definitely more of a C in my book.

3 teeth

Primo

4040 Central Florida Pkwy. Orlando, FL 32837 • (407) 393-4444grandelakes.com/Primo-78.html

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Hotel food is always a dicey proposition at best. And a Marriott restaurant, dicier still, even if it is of the JW variety, case in point my review of Citron, the other place in this hotel. So, with low expectations in hand, I have to say, Primo sailed over them.

Some of the highlights were the mushroom pasta with scallops, my favorite thing of the night, and the tilefish entrée. Perfectly cooked and rich with the flavors of its preparation.

A few other apps on the table ranged from good to just okay. And the dessert ranged from skip it to… well, skip it. In fact, I just wouldn’t get dessert- not worth the calories or cost. But if you must, the budino was the best of the lot (basically a molten chocolate cake).  So a note to Primo, your pastry chef should be firedo.

Service was good. Décor is nice. And the wine list is very solid. So all in all, while a touch hit and miss, the net net is that Primo is yumo.

3 teeth

The Cookery

39 Chestnut St. Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522(914) 305-2336thecookeryrestaurant.com

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You should just take your socks off before the eating here, because they’re about to get blown off.

Apart from the best Osso Bucco I’ve ever had, they also make an amazing pasta with the very same pork, a killer quince salad, great octopus and two desserts that are out of this world, the chocolate polenta and the budino, which is done more like a bread pudding- no argument here.

And best of all, you can down every last bite with a stellar bottle of Amarone for only 60 bucks! And it’s in Westchester! Pinch me (just not on the tush, I’m a married man).

Seriously, this place honestly rivals every Italian restaurant I’ve eaten at in the city, which includes L’Artusi, Mailiano, Babbo, Del Posto, Lupa, Ciano, Carbone, Torrisi  and so on… The only thing we ever had that was a let down was the lasagna, too creamy and one note.

Also, one other small nit. Some people find the noise level a bit loud. For me, I let it slide, granted it does make it harder for you to hear yourself mmm-ing.

As for decor it seems like a bit of a missed opportunity to be fair, but with food this good, your eyes are usually closed most of the time anyways, savoring every last bite.

5 teeth