Luma on the Park: Gastronomical Delight, Perhaps Loosing it’s Edge?
I have had the pleasure of dining at Luma on numerous occasions. However, some how I never got around to penning my thoughts down with the discerning eye of a food writer. This time around I went armed with my camera and pen for our Saturday Evening Feast at Luma, in celebration of Florida Film Festival and Food. An intimate five course dinner exclusively prepared by Chef Brandon seemed the ideal opportunity to savor and talk about my experience.
The dinner was hosted in Luma’s private wine cellar. It’s always a pleasure walking into Luma; stellar staff, chic ambiance; the staff certainly knows how to make one feel special.
I was rather excited about our fiver course intimate dinner, especially since our dinner companions were Marcel Vigneron, Jeff Porter, Chad Galiano, Martha Foose, and Gui Allina. While waiting for our dinner service to start, I ordered myself a Sazerac. In my humble opinion true test lies in taste. I like to order cocktails to judge the creativity and talent of the bar and it’s mixologist.
Starting the Evening with Champagne
Luma's Twist on Sazerac
The Sazerac was tad on the sweeter side for me, still ultra smooth and refreshing.
Frog Song Farms Onion & Cauliflower Soup: Gruyère Tart, Pickled-Fried Onion, Olive Cream
The Cauliflower Soup, dollop of olive cream was light and creamy, though under seasoned personally in my opinion. The gruyere tart was too salty and the crust was at best ordinary. Some how I was disappointed, even though the flavors complimented each other. Perhaps because I am not a fan of fried onion rings, especially when you least expect it to be served at a fine dining place. (Let’s leave the notorious fried onions for Chili’s & Applebees).
Yellowfin Tuna & Red Snapper Ceviche: Rabbit run Farms Tomato, Lemon Verbena Compressed Melon, Serrano, Hazelnut
The Ceviche was spot on, well executed; having the right amount of citrus; combined with sushi grade tuna, melon, tomato, and serrano brought the flavors together in harmony and the hazelnut added an element of crunchy texture.
Spring Ramp Gnocchetti: Sardi Snail, Guanciale Pangrattato, Cortez Bottarga
Since, I am allergic to shell-fish, Luma substituted the shrimp with snails for me. The Gnoochi was perfectly al dente and the dish was beautifully presented. I hate to admit it but once more I found myself reaching out for freshly ground black pepper. For me any pasta is incomplete without a generous shake of freshly ground black pepper, drizzle of olive oil, and some shaved cheese. That said, Chef Brandon managed to please all our senses with the gnoochi.
Local African Pompano: Roasted Mushrooms, Asparagus, Eggplant Agrodolce, Stinging Nettle Broth
For our entree, we were given a choice between the pompano or waygu beef. Now I am a die-hard beef lover, so the natural choice was Waygu. Few of our fellow diners obliged me by shooting their beautiful dinner.
Ribeye of Waygu Beef: Veal Sweetbread-Beef Cheek Pot Pie, Pea Shoot Purée, Golden Raisin Jam
The veal sweetbread-beef cheek pot pie was the highlight of this dish. Rich, buttery, and creamy, brimming with sublime flavors. Wish I could have had more.! Sadly, the generous portion of Waygu was cooked a tad longer rendering it tough for my personal liking. Nicely presented though.
Yogurt Panna Cotta: King Farm Blueberries, Thai Basil-Lime Sorbet, Cornmeal Crumble
The Panna Cotta was an ideal finish to our beautiful dinner. The yogurt panna cotta combined with the thai-basil sorbet was luscious and refreshing. The textural inter-play was what I expect, from Chef Brandon and his offerings.
Please don’t get me wrong. The impeccable service, chic decor, notable wine list, stunning presentation, consistently classic flavors – Yes! Luma is one of the finest all round restaurants in Orlando.
Yet I left disappointed. At $125 a person I expected a bolder approach on the menu. Perhaps it was the absence of free-flowing wine; or the lack of personal interaction with the esteemed chefs and gastronomical geniuses in the room; or was it that for such enterprising foodie patrons I anticipated a little playfulness from Chef Branden, after all he had our undivided attention? Why not showcase something unique, create signature dishes to tantalize our palates and our senses? Where was the ‘WOW factor?