My most memorable dining experience surprisingly happened on a regular midweek evening. I was packed and ready for my month trip, my flight was scheduled early in the morning and I knew I had some time on my hands. I wanted to spend it with my best friend before I left, and with that great idea in mind I headed to her place of work, Emeril’s Restaurant. I had never dined there before due to the pricy tag that every fine dining restaurant carries, but that day I decided to start my vacation early and splurge myself.
I’m really glad I did!
Everyone should experience a fine dining atmosphere at least once in their lifetime because those exceptional memories are priceless. As I arrived, a sign with “complementary valet parking” on it already set the tone for a pleasant surprise. I made my way to the main entrance enjoying a light breeze that brought a sweet floral smell. Immediately a friendly hostess approached me asking if I had a reservation tonight.
I let her know I was here to visit one of the employees, my best friend Julia. While she was calling for her, I couldn’t help but stare at the luxury ambiance of that place, I felt like I walked into a palace.
Extremely high ceilings decorated with bright color chandeliers contributed well to unique natural light coming through mosaic color glass windows creating a beautiful atmosphere and first impression. Walking through the dinning room with my friend, I saw towering shelves at the bar filled with exclusive wines and spirits, while across from it featured serene lily pond that runs in a center of the restaurant. Wet walls of that pond create mini waterfalls for a romantic scenery at the booths right next to it.
After all this I decided to explore another pearl of this restaurant, the Chef’s food bar! Located right in front of the kitchen, where all the action takes place it couldn’t be a better choice for me. Seeing that amazing South Pacific ambiance with contemporary design had me more than excited to try their food creations. Right away I receive a complementary appetizer from the Chef for being a first time guest and it gave me time to look over a menu. With my spicy tuna roll I receive a sake martini well paired by Julia for that Asian infusion.
It softened the spicy bite of roll and accented fresh crisp vegetables and tempura crust in my mouth, a great start. I chose to continue with seafood throughout the courses, as the only request I asked Julia for while she’s making a decisions for me. The next dish was an obvious choice as she knows how much I love crab cakes, and now I get to try Chef Emerile’s Polynesian take on it. It arrived on a big blue plate that contrasted bright yellow mango-habanero butter sauce and included a wonderful caramelized pineapples on top of jumbo golden crusted cake.
Presentation was completed by long cut chives, cilantro leaf, and black sesame seeds. The first bite is melting in my mouth while I’m tasting the strong flavor of the snow blue crab, and then the sauce comes in play bringing sweetness of mango and slight kick of habanero. Things I thought could never exist on the same plate, as well as soft texture of crab on the inside and panko crisped outside and another layer of soft caramelized pineapple are so well blended. With all the smells and steams of well crafted food coming my way, I know I’m ready for the main course!
My dining set up gets changed again, and I’m excited to see chop sticks, that means I’m getting something from a stir fry pan. My excitement and anticipation grows bigger when the bartender, Tony, personally brings his creation – a tropical spritzer made of fresh juice, white wine, sparkling water, and garnished with real bright pink flower, yet another picture worthy presentation. Shortly after, mouthwatering pan seared scallops over rice noodles have arrived and I can see hot steam rising from my plate bringing an inviting scent of soy sauce and mushrooms.
Soft, spicy noodles deliver a strong kick, but sure enough my refreshing spritzer off sets the powerful taste and cleanse the pallet for the scallop. That wonderful meal transported me to the peaceful resort on the Pacific Islands for few hours, and in my mind I wasn’t in Orlando at all, I was on vacation already. Everything from the stunning space, well executed dishes, to the exquisite service created warm memories for me to take on a long trip. I think everyone should treat themselves to fine dining experience at least once for a life time memories, and I assure you, Emeril’s just the place for it!