A few weeks ago, we gave you a first look at Knife & Spoon, opening at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes on October 7, and last week we were invited back for a preview of the restaurant’s dining experience.
Knife & Spoon is a new signature steak & seafood restaurant conceived and led by award-winning Chef John Tesar, along with Chef de cuisine Gerald Sombright. Its menu will celebrate the bounty of Florida on land and at sea, adding to the luxury resort’s already diverse collection of culinary outlets.
The restaurant is located just off the entrance to the resort, and guests enter into a lounge and bar area that is full of comfortable nooks, as well as tables for groups.
The restaurant itself is decorated in various shades of blue, grey, and beige, and features a variety of seating options, including booths.
My guest and I were seated at a table next to one of the many windows that line the perimeter of Knife & Spoon. The overall ambiance was elegant but comfortable.
With the adjoining bar, the restaurant offers a variety of adult beverages from cocktails to wines. For the preview we opted to try The Highland 2.0 (Mastiha liqueur, red wine glace, house ginger beer, and lemon), which tasted like a sangria spritzer, and the Prince of Wales (Cask & Crew whiskey, maraschino liqueur, jansz rose, pineapple juice, and a touch of aquafaba for foam), a whiskey-forward drink that paired well with the meat dishes.
A bread service followed, with a choice of brioche, baguette, focaccia, and multi-grain varieties. They were served with a glass bell of lightly-herbed warmed butter. I recommend adding a few flakes of the lava salt from the condiment container on the table for a flavor pop.
Starters on the menu include everything from raw bar items to caviar, but as I’m allergic to seafood, we opted to start our meal with the Johnny Mac & Cheese. Named after Chef Tesar, the side dish featured al dente pasta coated in a two cheddar cheese mornay sauce, and topped with a mixture of toasted panko and crumbled bacon bits. Hearty, creamy, and full of flavor, this dish was a great start to our meal. We fork-dueled over the last bite.
My guest originally ordered the 44 Farms Dry Aged Bone-In Ribeye, but as it was a preview, they had just sold the last one. She then opted for the regular 44 Farms Bone-In Ribeye.
It arrived at our table pre-cut, and cooked to order with a nice pan-seared outer char. My guest proclaimed it one of the best steaks she’s ever had, and I’d have to agree. It was a very flavorful steak, not needing any additional sauces or seasonings.
It was served with a side stack of thick tempura battered onion rings. The onion inside was still semi-firm, which is something I rarely see. A good pairing with the steak, or just enjoyed on its own.
I wanted to try something that wasn’t steak to check out the rest of the entree offerings. I decided on the Pappardelle Bolognese. The ragu featured four kinds of meats (pancetta, beef, veal, and lamb), along with peas and carrots in a thick tomato sauce, served with al dente pappardelle noodles.
I was really, really happy with my choice, savoring every bite. I also used some of my leftover baguette with butter to sop up some of the ragu. My taste buds were high-fiving me on my dinner choice.
At this point, we were reaching full status, but in the interest of journalism, we soldiered on to sample the dessert offerings.
As we were waiting, we were served a tiny serving of coconut ice milk with toasted coconut flakes as a palette cleanser between the heavy entrees and dessert. It was a nice surprise and delicious.
My guest chose the Caramel dessert medley, featuring a Dulcey mousse and hazelnut crunch on a bed of mango cremeux, with bourbon caramel ice cream and a few pieces of warmed caramel popcorn.
It was a very rich and creamy dessert, but not too heavy. Of the two desserts we tried, it was definitely the sweetest, but not cloying sweet. It paired well with the cappuccino I ordered.
I went a little lighter and chose the Lychee dessert, featuring strawberry mint sorbet on a bed of lychee panna cotta, topped with white chocolate and vanilla mousse, and accented with edible pearls and silver leaf.
I loved the creaminess mixed with the light fruit flavors. It was mildly sweet, and a lovely end to my meal.
Our evening at Knife & Spoon was one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in a long time. In addition to the amazing food, service was top notch, with everyone wearing masks. I have to give a nod to our serving team of Brian and Matt for ensuring our dinner ran smoothly and for answering my many many questions.
As I mentioned, Knife & Spoon opens to the public this week on Wednesday, October 7, and this is the kind of meal you’ll want to make the focal point of your evening. Kudos to Chef Tesar on this new jewel in the Orlando dining scene.
Disclaimer: CitySurfing Orlando was hosted for a media preview, but as always, my opinions are honest, and my own.
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