How to make Dad happy, aka, the post with all the food porn

If the title didn’t clue you in, I ate very well the past couple of weeks thanks to Father’s Day and random, happy circumstance. Since I haven’t done one of those mega food porn posts lately, you can probably guess what follows. Strap in and hang on tight, because you’re about to get deluged with some of the best Orlando has to offer.

First up, thanks to an alignment of the planets Mrs. Lo and I were both free on an early Friday evening with NO kids to watch, so we immediately hightailed it to our favorite restaurant in town, Ravenous Pig (Yes, I spend way too much time praising them. It makes me happy though. And no, they don’t pay me, it’s a labor of love.) It had been quite a while since we’ve been (almost two months, seriously, that’s waaaay too long to go without) and since we didn’t have a reservation we went early and easily found our favorite spot at the end corner of the bar. One of the nice things about the opening of their sister restaurant, Cask and Larder, (more on that later) is that the bar at Ravenous isn’t quite as insanely crowded as it used to be, so it’s easier to make these spur of the moment visits on a Friday night.

To start, I always have to get one of these, the Ravenous Pig Old Fashion.

Bacon infused buffalo trace bourbon, vanilla maple syrup, and angostura orange. Or, as I call it, pure, distilled awesomeness in a glass.

Bacon infused buffalo trace bourbon, vanilla maple syrup, and angostura orange. Or, as I call it, pure, distilled awesomeness in a glass.

As a starter, we shared the Ploughman’s Board. This was so, so very good.

Scotch egg, English cheddar, house made Branston pickles, and an ale mustard that I would do horrible, horrible things to have again. I was proud at the self control I showed by not licking the board clean.

Scotch egg, English cheddar, house made Branston pickles, and an ale mustard that I would do horrible, horrible things to have again. I was proud of the self control I showed by not licking the board clean. It was a near run thing though.

For entrees, we were completely prepared to share our single favorite dish there, the charcuterrie, but then I saw the most magical words in the English language (well technically I guess it’s French, but you get the picture): “foie gras.”

Delicious, delicious seared foie gras with morel mushrooms, crispy polenta, port wine, cava white nectarine and pickled asparagus. Pickled asparagus is something that I would have never even thought about, but it was simply awesome. That kind of creativity is why the Pig is worth every penny.

Delicious, delicious seared foie gras with morel mushrooms, crispy polenta, port wine, nectarines and pickled asparagus. Pickled asparagus is something that I would have never even thought about, but it was simply awesome. That kind of creativity is why the Pig is worth every penny.

My foie gras audible (great possible band name, that “Foie Gras Audible”) forced Mrs. Lo to pick an alternate entree, and she chose really well.

Ricota ravioli with morels, black truffles, crispy onions, and an egg cracked over the top to make a beautifully rich sauce.

Ricota ravioli with morels, black truffles, crispy onions, and an egg cracked over the top to make a beautifully rich sauce.

We didn’t plan on getting a desert, but come on, it’s the Pig. How are you going to say no to this?

Nectarine and blueberry crisp, with a deliciously complex desert wine that presents almost like a bourbon, but finishes like a Madeira.

Nectarine and blueberry crisp, with a deliciously complex desert wine that presents almost like a bourbon, but finishes like a Madeira.

We stumbled home from another wonderful experience at Ravenous Pig (the most underrated thing about the place is the peerless soundtrack – nothing pairs as well with the Old Fashion as Bowie’s Man Who Sold The World – seriously top shelf) and had little more than a week to work off this indulgence before another great meal at their sister restaurant (the aforementioned Cask and Larder) for Father’s Day brunch. (As an aside, I had a 20 mile bike ride planned for the next morning. Perhaps this wasn’t the best planning on my part, because you may have guessed that foie gras doesn’t make great ride fuel. I persevered, and can say definitively that you really haven’t lived though until you’ve sweated pure engorged goose liver for an hour and a half. Only the plus side, I tasted AMAZING afterward. Michelin tried to give my left arm one star before I got a shower.)

We scored this Cask reservation several weeks out and were looking forward to it, even though it meant risking my kids having a meltdown and our being politely banned from the place for life. It was a risk I was willing to take (and for the record, they were on their best behavior, thanks for not getting Daddy banned from one his favorite places, lads!)

Everything we got was blog worthy, but of course I was partial to my choices. Aaaaaand roll tape…

Anson Mill grits with a housemade sea salt butter. I could have gotten this only and been thrilled. Anyone who doesn't understand or like grits has never tasted ANYTHING like this.

Anson Mill grits with a housemade sea salt butter. I could have gotten this only and been thrilled. Anyone who doesn’t understand or like grits has never tasted ANYTHING like this.

Eggs Benedict, Cask and Larder-style. Toasted brioche, the creamiest of scrambled eggs, PORK BELLY (!), hollandaise, and soft shell crab. Happy ****ing Father's Day to me!

Eggs Benedict, Cask and Larder-style. Toasted brioche, the creamiest of scrambled eggs, PORK BELLY (!), hollandaise, and soft shell crab. Happy ****ing Father’s Day to me!

Mrs. Lo opted for the wonderful Nashville Hot Chicken.

Chicken with dill potatoes, white bread puree, and fried egg. Nothing but good.

Chicken with dill potatoes, white bread puree, and fried egg. Nothing but good.

Byron, our pickiest eater, went for the biscuits and gravy, and liked it so much he told the waitress to compliment the chef. That’s my boy!

I may have stolen a couple of bites of this. It may have been awesome.

I may have stolen a couple of bites of this. It may have been awesome. Not a great picture though.

Our other son Brandon got the brioche french toast. This was borderline obscene it was so good.

We may be wrong, but we think the pecans had an Old Bay-type seasoning on them that made this truly amazing and kept the richness from overwhelming the dish.

We may be wrong, but we think the pecans had an Old Bay-type seasoning on them that made this truly amazing and kept the richness from overwhelming the dish.

Last but certainly not least, no trip to Cask would be complete without having one of Ron Raike’s handcrafted beers. Ron’s creations continue to be one of the most exciting things to happen to Central Florida in a long, long time. I got Nana’s Pink Grapefruit IPA, brewed with Chinook hops and 130 lbs of grapefruit. Refreshing and a great pairing with our brunch. Sadly, I did not grab a picture of it.

I want to bring up one thing that happened while we there, because I think it’s a great example of how you should run a restaurant. The place was jammed packed for brunch, being Father’s Day and all, and there were several large parties there along with us. Part of of our order came out (the grits and the boys’ meals) and we expected our plates to follow soon afterward. A couple of minutes later the waitress came by to check on us, and, seeing that we were without our meals yet, she went back to the kitchen to check on them. Almost immediately afterward a manager came over and apologized to us, and said that our plates had gone out to another table in error. She bought us a cup of coffee, apologized again, and said that our food would be there shortly. Barely two minutes later both of our plates came out, and the manager followed up with us and apologized one more time and thanked us for our patience. I’m not somebody who freaks out when stuff like this happens anyway, but I think they handled this perfectly: they acknowledged the mistake honestly and addressed it. Simple and effective and all you can ask for. The free cup of coffee was just a bonus but a nice touch nonetheless. Well done, C&L.

One of the best things about Orlando is that you don’t have to go to nice places to have really good, creative food. I’ll give an example, a place called Tako Cheena on Mills Ave, which is basically a food truck in a permanent location (and I mean that in the best of ways.) I’ve heard lots of great things about it and finally got a chance to go there thanks to my mother-in-law, who watched the boys for us that evening so that I could do some vinyl browsing and have an evening out. Tako Cheena is very reasonably priced, with a smallish menu of tacos, burritos, and empanadas with Asian inspired ingredients and flavors. I got a sampler of three “takos” for less than $10, and my favorite by far was the crispy Indian curry tofu, but all were excellent.

Yummo. From right to left, the panko crusted cod, Chinese BBQ pork belly, and the Indian curry. All delicious, but I'll be coming back for the curry.

Yummo. From right to left, the panko crusted cod, Chinese BBQ pork belly, and the Indian curry. All delicious, but I’ll be coming back for the curry.

So there you have it, three great meals, 1200 or so words and way too many pictures for one blog post. Go to one or all of these places if you’re in Orlando and looking for a top shelf meal, or just an awesome taco.

Cheers.

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Posted on June 22, 2013, in Food and Drink and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. That is some serious food porn. I just learned the other day that foi gras means fatty liver. Therefore, I will never take part in that. But, I would definitely get down with that nectarine and blueberry crisp, the grits, the french toast, annnnd the tacos. I really want to try out Hawkers sometime. I know you love that place too.

    Also, all I see are Kim’s boobs in that picture. Sorry. It’s what I do now.

    • Oh, not just fatty liver, but fatty, engorged goose liver. It is quite literally the best tasting thing in the whole, wide world.

      Hawkers is great. Haven’t had anything bad there but they make a mean Bahn Mi and curry especially. Plus it’s small plates so is fun to go with a group and share. Or just mow through a bunch of different things yourself, your choice.

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