A recent dinner out at Luma on Park in Winter Park, Fla, reminded me of just how different the sophisticated eatery is from other restaurants in town, and how tasty and inventive the food is. First, make sure to reserve a chef's table. I had not done that before, and it is really a great experience to see up-close how the smoothly the kitchen runs. You also get to talk to the chefs and sous-chefs, and truly feel a part of your meal, from start to finish.
On this night out, we opted to order off the tasting menu, and Chef de Cuisine Derek Perez brought us plates he thought we wold enjoy. The Florida Grouper-Crab Fritter, served with house-smoked chorizo aioli and pickled beans was one of my favorite starters - so light and flavorful. It was paired with a delicious Anne Amie Vineyards "Cuvee A" Riesling, which has notes of peach and citrus. The Warm-Haricot Vert Salad is one of my favorite apps on the menu. A suveed, lightly poached egg sits atop radicchio, green beans and hazelnuts, and is served with a pancetta vinaigrette. The combination seems strange at first, but once you eat everything together the flavors make so much sense.
Still, I was lucky enough to find something even tastier: Nantucket Bay Scallops "Mi-Cuit", which is beautifully cooked scallops served with suveed radishes, fresh crunchy passion fruit, and a lemongrass and ginger puree. The plate presentation on this dish - and all of the dishes - make me feel like I am eating at a high-end New York restaurant. I also love how each dish tastes so fresh, because the restaurant buys its meat, seafood, produce, and other items from local farms as much as possible. The Fort Pierce Speared Flounder, served with a ginger butter broth, quinoa, broccolini, and Florida datil pepper relish, was cooked perfectly. The fish was flavorful and I loved the crispy skin. The broccolini didn't serve much purpose in this dish, though.
We were so full, but of course we made room for dessert! Luma on Park's chefs prepare unique desserts and I love the plate presentation. I highly recommend the Dulce de Leche Pot de Creme, which is somewhat like a creme brulee, but has a nice, thick custard texture and light flavor. It is served with delicious Passion Fruit Sorbet. I also loved the Creme Fraiche Cake with Brown Sugar Crumble and Strawberry Ice Cream.
These dishes may not be on the menu next time you visit, though. Luma on Park is committed to using local, seasonal ingredients, so the menu changes very frequently. Still, the restaurant always carries its guests favorites, such as Rigatoni Bolognese and Margherita Pizza.
Where: 290 South Park Ave., Winter Park, Fla.