Park Plaza Gardens, the venerable Winter Park restaurant, is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and for the month of January -- and possibly beyond -- it is offering its 1980 menu. At 1980 prices.
That means you can dine on oysters Rockefeller for $3.25, coquilles St. Jacques for $3.95, or veal cordon bleu for $12.95. Click here to see the complete menu.
Chef John Tan has researched the menu archives and resurrected the old recipes. I had a chance to sample some of the dishes the other night, and I liked what I tasted.
Especially noteworthy was the shrimp in curry sauce “Calcutta,” jumbo shrimp sauteed in shallot butter with curry spices, currants and coconut, served with a timbale of fluffy rice. The curry flavoring was just hot enough, and the gravy-like sauce was terrific with the rice. At $14.50 it’s the costliest thing on the new (old) menu, yet priced at what some current restaurants are charging for an appetizer.
I also had the broiled grapefruit ($1.50), simple and sweet with brown and white sugar, and a splash of sherry, wilted spinach salad ($3), and peppered steak with sauce bordelaise ($12.95).
Park Plaza Gardens had already been in operation for eight years when I first came to Central Florida, and over the years its quality has had ups and downs. It’s currently on a very high up with the culinary direction of chef Tan.
I’ve always liked the feel of the atrium dining room, which was sort of like an enclosed outdoor patio. I learned the other night from owner Mary Demetree that what is now the dining room was originally a parking lot next to the Park Plaza Hotel. The original owner put the glass roof over the bricked lot.
Through the years the front bar has been opened up to the sidewalk for cafe dining (back when the restaurant first opened, the city didn’t allow sidewalk cafes). PPG is again the place where Winter Parkers go to see and be seen.
Park Plaza Gardens is at 319 Park Avenue S., Winter Park. It’s open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-645-2475, or reservations may be made through OpenTable. Click here for Park Plaza Garden’s Web site.