As I mentioned when I reviewed Citrus Restaurant most recently, the popular restaurant in Orlando's North Quarter has been stepping up the quality of its cuisine. Now it's offering a pretty extraordinary chef's dinner that not only is a delightful dining experience but also a crazy good deal.
Chefs Lucas Reid and Matt Wall are hosting guests in Citrus' comfortable private dining alcove, which can seat up to 10 guests, offering a four-course dinner — with wine and cocktail pairings — for $60 per person plus tax and gratuity. That would be a bargain even if the food were just mediocre, but the food I tasted when I was invited to be a guest at one of the dinners was exceptional.
We started with a tempura soft-shell crab served with a sofrito beurre blanc and grilled pineapple relish. It was paired with a Florida rum runner, which really should be the official state cocktail, don't you think? The breading was delicate and unoily, and the buttery sauce was a perfect complement to the earthiness of the crab.
Next were meatballs fashioned out of lamb and chorizo accompanied by ricotta gnocchi, the two separated by crispy flash-fried basil leaves. Perrin Cotes du Rhone was the wine pairing.
A fancified version of veal schnitzel was next, served with warm potato salad and pickled Brussels sprouts. The tender meat, with a well-seasoned and crisped breading, sat in a tangy mustard vinaigrette. Guests had the choice of Monk in the Trunk amber ale or Schloss Vollrads Reisling. (I chose both, but I think I preferred the ale.)
My host opted for a second entree, which featured roast duck breast with duxelle in a puff pastry and rabbit reduction sauce. A fruity Mettler zinfandel was just the right pairing.
Dessert was a clever tribute to Elvis (the later years). It was a knife and fork sandwich of sorts with maduros sweet plantains sauteed with pecan butter and dressed with bacon marmalade. Clever and delicious.
Service was up to the usual Citrus standards, and the dining alcove offered enough privacy for conversations around the table.
As I said, all of that for 60 bucks is an incredible bargain. But at the moment Citrus is offering a 10 percent discount on that low price. If you have friends or clients to entertain or just want an excuse to get a bunch of friends together for a great meal, this is a no brainer.
Citrus Restaurant is at 821 N. Orange Ave., Orlando. For details about the chef's dinner, contact Heidi Skehan at the restaurant, 407-373-0622.