Hyatt Hodges

If you’re spending Memorial Day weekend in town this year, you have some a fun food, drink and entertainment option available to you, and I don’t mean the usual boring backyard barbecue.

Hyatt Regency Orlando is kicking off its Summer Sensation celebration next weekend with a special Chef’s Table dinner and entertainment by country music stars Josh Thompson, JT Hodges and Nikki Lane.

The Chef’s Table, which is Saturday, May 23, at 7 p.m., sounds extra intriguing because Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse's chef de cuisine, Will Walters, is curating his menu to be paired with beers from New Belgium Brewing. NBB, of course, is the Colorado and North Carolina based craft brewery best known for its Fat Tire amber ale. The dinner will feature New Belgium’s Snapshot Wheat, Ranger IPA, Trippel Ale, 1554 Black Lager, and for the dessert course, Not Your Father’s Root Beer. (That’s the name of the brew from Small Town Brewery of Wauconda, a small town in Illinois; it’s not meant to say that your father’s root beer isn’t welcome. Actually, it is meant to say that, but never mind.)

Walters will be pairing the beers with lump crab salad, espresso rubbed tenderloin, mustard glazed pork belly and other delicacies. Here's the full menu:

Fiorenzo Beer Dinner

The multi-course meal is only $75 per person plus tax and service. To reserve your place — seating is limited — call 407-345-4570.

The country music concert is on Sunday, May 24, from 2 to 9 p.m., and will be on the Garden Terrace next to the Terrace pool. Tickets are only $25 for general admission ($75 VIP; reserved seats, meet and greets, snacks) and can be obtained at the Hyatt Summer Sensation website. Your ticket also gets you free self parking and 20 percent off of your food purchase at Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse, Urban Tide and B-Line Diner.

And if you want to make it a weekend staycation, the hotel is offering special pricing, including overnight accommodations and two general admission tickets for $199. Plus, guests can spend the whole weekend at the hotel with rates from $99 for additional nights. Click this link to get more details and to book a room. For those of you who still haven’t recognized the name change, the Hyatt Regency Orlando is the former Peabody Orlando, so we’re talking pretty posh accommodations here.

I think this sounds like a dandy way to spend the weekend.

Hyatt Regency Orlando is at 9801 International Drive, Orlando.

Whiskey Burger

The space that held Cricketers Arms didn’t sit empty too long after that British pub closed. It’s now called The Whiskey, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that any place with such a name is more about the drink than about the food. But based on my recent visit, that isn’t the case at all.

Oh, it’s very serious about the drink part, especially with cocktails featuring the eponymous liquid. There is an interesting craft cocktail menu with some intriguing entries. I chose the one called the Devereaux, which had Woodford Reserve bourbon, elderflower, fresh lemon juice and a splash of sparkling wine. Sort of like a French 75 but with bourbon instead of gin (a Kentucky 75?) The sparkling wine and elderflower took some of the edginess off of the bourbon, which usually is not one of my call liquors.

Chefs Station

The folks at the JW Marriott recently opened two new entities, Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen and Whisper Creek Farm: The Brewery.

You’ll notice The Kitchen as soon as you walk through the front door of the hotel. It’s just off the lobby, to the right. The Brewery is a little harder to spot. In fact, you’d need a staff person to escort you through the warren of corridors and passageways to the kitchen office where the vats, tanks and necessary gauges have been set up in a corner. It’s definitely not a show brewery such as the one at Cask & Larder.

But the Kitchen is on full display, and what it’s churning out is surprisingly ambitious. I say surprisingly because when it was first announced it was downplayed somewhat, as though it would be more of a bar-menu venue.

But while portions are meant to be more of the small plate size — or, reasonable portions, as I like to think of them — the items are well above the ranks of bar snacks.

Chef Kyle AndersonOrlando World Center Marriott has named Kyle Anderson as chef de cuisine for its farm-to-table restaurant Siro: Urban Italian Kitchen. The position had previously been held by Alexia Gawlak, who left to join her husband, Rhys, at Swine & Sons Provisions in Winter Park.

Anderson is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and the Culinary Institute of America. Among the positions he has held is the title of sous chef under Kenneth Juran at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. 

Anderson is expected to bring his take on classic Italian dishes to the well-received restaurant.

“We’re extremely excited about the unique blend of creativity and the level of passion for Italian cuisine that chef Kyle Anderson brings to Orlando World Center Marriott,” Doug Ridge, general manager of Orlando World Center Marriott, said in a statement. “His experience and ability to master new techniques in the kitchen exemplifies what an incredible asset he is to the team."

Neighborhood Eatery

Hey, downtown, there’s a new eatery in the neighborhood. It’s called Neighborhood Eatery.

OK, so not a real inventive name, but there’s a bit of creativity in the compact menu. That’s because owner Jon Lee, a second generation Korean-American, has fused the cuisines of his heritages into simple but tasty offerings. Think more along the lines of Tako Cheeno.