LOTUS: Chef Luis Brings a Bite of the Exotic to Downtown Orlando Dining Scene!
Perched a stone’s throw from the breathtakingly beautiful and expansive Lake Eola, LOTUS Restaurant opened it’s doors on August 1st and is now serving brunch, lunch and dinner. Recently I was invited by Bitner/Hennessy PR to join fellow bloggers for an exclusive experience of Chef Luis J. Negrón’s farm-to-table fusion menu, combining local ingredients fused with international cooking techniques.
Chic and trendy interiors, large patio, full bar with fresh cocktails, comprehensive wine list, and happy hour daily from 4-8 p.m, LOTUS is designed to appeal to the 30-plus crowd as a hip destination to enjoy dining, entertainment and nightlife. (Ms. Orlando Family Style graciously posed for me).
Our tasting menu consisted of a six course menu and we sure were in for a treat! While we waited for Chef Luis to dazzle us with first of many dishes, I ordered their house made Noir Sangria. Infused with blackberry brandy, peach puree, and ginger ale it was both spicy yet refreshing. I also managed to sneak a sip of the Bacardi Dragon Berry & Van Gogh Mango cocktails from my fellow dining guests.
Our Amuse Bouche as the name sake was Lotus Chips with Green Dipping Sauce. These chips are made from the crunchy and delicate lotus roots most commonly seen in South East Asian and Indian cuisine. How innovative! Lotus root is not only delicious, it is composed of health benefiting phyto-nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. Now that’s a healthy way to start your happy hour or evening. Lightly fried and served with a spiked green dipping sauce. I couldn’t have enough of it. Would it be rude to ask for another bowl?
For fear of making this post to long, I am condensing the pictures into one. Please bear with me.
Our first course comprised of Pork Belly Tacos with Harissa Aioli: Melting in your mouth pork, pickled onions, aioli with a hint of spice – It was a bite literally made in heaven!!
Second course was Goat Cheese Agnolotti, Porcini Volute: Chef Luis proudly pointed out that LOTUS makes all breads, pastas, pastries, and desserts from scratch, an ambitious endeavor. Sweet and tangy goat cheese paired with earthy mushroom is such a classic marriage.
Third course was Ruby Red Shrimp Pouche with Spicy Strawberry Jam: Since I am allergic to shell-fish, I quietly passed on the delectable looking dish. Apparently a little birdie mentioned it to the chef and he quickly rummaged a vegetarian pouche for me. How thoughtful!! Bursting with vibrant flavors and Asian influences, it showcased Chef Luis’s playful personality. Nicely done!
By now I was ready to call in the dump truck to hoist me but ….
Fourth course was Seared Scallops with Coconut Infused Purple Rice & Carrot Foam: A fine example of Chef Luis’s grasp of International cuisine. Perfectly seared scallops, creamy and sweet purple rice, this course managed to refresh all my senses. Ah! perhaps Chef has something up his sleeve?
Fifth course consisted of Grilled Skirt Steak with Truffle Chimichurri: Truffle and steak, few of my favorite gourmand items. Even though I was utterly stuffed, I couldn’t help relishing the juiciness of the skirt steak. Served with french fries and chimichurri – it would make any meat lover squeal with delight.
I would have very much liked to stick around to appreciate the dessert course but mommy duty called so I was literally saved by the bell!! (kidding).
Culinary school graduate, Chef Luis J. Negrón charmed us with his beautiful presentation complimented by bold and bright flavors. I can’t wait to return with my family and friends for brunch and happy hour.
LOTUS like all new restaurants is still ironing out their kinks. The food as you can see is delightful. I wish them all the luck and hope soon Lotus will become a permanent neighborhood fixture of the fashionable Lake Eola district.
LOTUS is located in The Sanctuary Building 100 South Eola Drive, Orlando, FL 32801. Complimentary parking available on the adjacent lot to LOTUS at the entrance on Mariposa Street. In addition to Lotus, the AURA group also plans to announce the début of Lotus’ sister restaurant, “Honey,” which will open shortly after Lotus. And two more restaurants and bars in the vicinity. Their goal is to shape the Eola Square neighborhood into a “dining & dating destination.” Visit AuroFL for more information.