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Chef's Table - An excellent gourmet meal in an unexpected location - Orlando/Winter Garden

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Friends had been telling us of a place in the historic area of downtown Winter Garden (who knew that Winter Garden had a downtown let alone a historic one?)

The Chef's Table is located inside an old hotel called the Edgewater right in the middle of the restored old-time downtown on Plant Street. The kitchen is smack-dab in the middle of the restaurant with only about 15 tables in the whole joint. There just aren't many places like this in Central Florida. The building is older with all the accoutrements that entails (details in the ceilings and corners, random doors and entryways throughout the space, etc). The street it is on is another discovery - seriously cute with a nice mix of wine bars, low cost food options (BBQ, ice cream, pizza) and old-style stores (GE appliances etc) - all with ample free parking on- and off-street. The area itself has a real family vibe, but the restaurant is definitely for grown-ups. Even if the food was only OK, I'd still recommend a visit to the area as it is unique and a nice change of pace.

Ah, but the food is worth the trip too! The menu is prix fixe at $49 per person for a 3 course meal and changes constantly - you pick from 3-4 options per course. You can opt for a wine pairing at $22 pp or select from a nice list of bottles or by the glass. The chef visits you at the table and takes you through the menu explaining the dishes he's most excited by and answering any questions you have. This comes off as authentic rather than pretentious, and it was a really great way to start the meal. The dishes are all gourmet without being too avant garde or "out there". For instance, on the night I visited, I had an appetizer of a 3 mushroom torte with a rich sauce and my wife had a fresh green salad in a green goddess dressing - no seriously green goddess, but man was it a solid execution. My entree was called something like a Southern Love Plate, that featured pork two ways, a tenderloin and a fine pork belly, along with excellently executed grits. My wife had a generous rack of lamb with a tasty mint sauce. Desserts for us were an excellent play on a bananas foster and a creme brulee. I don't want to imply the food was unsophisticated as the flavors were complex and ingredients were fresh and worked well together. What I want to get across is this is not a chef's table experience where your likely get abalone, caviar, or something sous vide or foamed. Just tasty, solid, well-executed food.

The service and room really add to the appeal. The chef's wife served us and that was a nice touch. The room is warm and inviting and the atmosphere from the entire staff is friendly and family-feel. A real contrast from places in the tourist corridor or Winter Park with their professional staffs and/or high turnover. They are even charmingly clumsy at times, as when one of the runners managed to mix up who got which order every course - yet due to the vibe and her overall sweetness this actually added to the experience vs. harming it. It was just so REAL....

So you can guess I recommend this. It is a great date spot, romantic dinner or special occasion. It is also fun for groups of couples looking for a mellow night out with great food and conversation in an unrushed atmosphere. You can actually hear your conversation. I also believe they only have one sitting per table per night as our meal took over two hours with the multiple courses. I hear the chef is always in the dining room but not always behind the stove. We were lucky that night to have him cooking, yet he still hit every table.

As for the location, it is just 5 minutes off the freeway (429) or north of SR-50. You could get there in 20 minutes from Disney via 429 or 30 minutes from downtown using the 408 EW Expressway and the turnpike.

We so rarely get an authentic independent restaurant in Central Florida, so I encourage you all to try it out and support it not only for a wonderful meal and experience but also to ensure we are able to support independent places to augment the heavy number of chain places that dominate our increasingly homogeneous dining scene.

With the long meal time and prix fixe, you likely need a reservation, so be sure to call ahead.

Here's their website:

http://www.chefstableattheedgewater.com/

If you go, be sure to come back on here and let the community know what you think.

PS They also have an afternoon tea service with Finger Sandwiches, Scones, Clotted Cream, Desserts, and a Pot of Tea every Saturday - another unique experience for the area

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Chef's Table
99 W Plant St, Winter Garden, FL 34787

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  1. Sounds lovely!

    6 Replies
    1. re: sweet_polly

      Scott Joseph did a nice write up about them a couple of months ago - I think the chef (and his wife too) may have worked at Victoria & Albert's.

      1. re: southie_chick

        southie_chick,

        Not 100% confirmed about the chef's wife association with Victoria & Albert's but according to Chef's Table's website, Chef Kevin Tarter did "come from the kitchen" of Victoria and Albert's.

        From http://www.chefstableattheedgewater.com/ :
        "With over 20 years restaurant experience, Chef/Owner Kevin Tarter comes from the kitchens of Disney’s prestigious Victoria & Albert’s and New Orlean’s Arnaud’s."

        Not too sure how deep he was into Victoria & Albert's but some experience is better than no experience.

        Jonathan

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        Victoria and Albert's
        , Orlando, FL 32830

        Chef's Table
        99 W Plant St, Winter Garden, FL 34787

        1. re: ChristDriven

          I thought I saw a mention on Victoria & Albert's in the Scott Joseph article about the chef - & I think his wife too - but couldn't remember if it mentioned what he did there. Thought that it said the wife did pastry at Victoria & Alberts, but I'll have to check out the Scott Joseph website (http://www.scottjosephorlando.com/ ). But, as long as their food is good now .......... I don't care where they used to work! : )
          I think you should check it out CD - I think you'd enjoy that place. I'm a bit far away (NH) & only get one "new" restaurant a year to try on my annual trip to Florida - don't think I'm gonna get to this one unfortunately this year. Make sure you post a review - I'd like to see how you like it. Pictures would be nice too. : )

          1. re: southie_chick

            Southie_chick,

            I am seriously considering visiting this restaurant. Another couple, my wife, and I are going to Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival in November. I am going to try to convince them to stop here on the way down from Jacksonville. I will definitely post up pictures with a review if we do end up going.

            Scott Joseph's site looks like a great resource. I'll bookmark it. Thanks!

            Jonathan

            1. re: ChristDriven

              Glad you checked out Scott's site - he's a regular on this bord too. I use his website (as well as this one) for suggestions for my annual trip, & my in-laws who live in Deltona are arways amazed that I pick such good restaurants for them to try.
              Many thanks fellow 'hounds (my "home bords" are Boston & Northern New England if you ever need any tips when you travel East) - I really appreciate all the great tips.

          2. re: ChristDriven

            Kevin worked at Arnaud's or one those type restaurants in NO before going to V and A's. He does a wicked cassolet with mirleton that I recommend if it is on the menu. He and his wife both were servers at California Grill immediately before opening up their current place.

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            California Grill
            Disneys Contemporary Resort, Orlando, FL 32830

      2. Great that you shared this experience.

        Thank You.

        1. YosemiteSam,

          Nice report, mate. Sounds delightful, really. Your emphasis on the atmosphere and experience of it all makes me yearn to try this place.

          Looking at the website's sample prix fixe menu, I saw foie gras creme brulee. I have never even heard of such a dish. I can only imagine what it is like. Probably very creamy and worth tucking in for.

          The price sounds right for what you get too!

          Any pictures from your meal there?

          Jonathan

          1 Reply
          1. re: ChristDriven

            Yeah, I'm not one to take photos of my meal - usually too busy eating! I've been known to stab the server in the hand with a fork in my excitement to try a dish before they can even put it down :)