I have to admit I haven’t been all that excited about Magical Dining Month this year. That’s because most of the restaurants on the list are places I’ve already been. And while most are places I like and wouldn’t mind revisiting, I’m more interested in new experiences. So that’s why Urban Tide was one of my MDM choices.
Technically, Urban Tide isn’t entirely new. It replaced the wrong-coastally named Napa when the hotel it is in was named Peabody Orlando. The new owners, Hyatt Regency Orlando, gave it a much more appropriate name, one that celebrates the seafood potentials of the correct coasts while acknowledging its inland city locale.
Little has been changed in the decor — no changes were really necessary. The space was spiffed up for Napa in 2010 with a contemporary design that emphasized a friendship with the environment (lots of cork tiles, for example).
And Jared Gross, an able and creative culinarian, remains as chef de cuisine.
The MagDinMo menu was not only presented without my having to ask for it, there was also a banner at the top of the stairs that lead from the main level down to the restaurant touting the special menu. (The restaurant isn’t totally subterranean, it looks out on the pool’s grotto area. It’s not the greatest view, but it’s a view.)
Gross’ menu for the month features an appetizer called Maine Lobster that is actually a risotto dish. That isn’t to diminish the amount of lobster meat in it, which was substantial and included a small claw that also served as the garnish. The risotto was wonderfully creamy, thanks, no doubt, to the tarragon mascarpone and grilled shrimp butter that were blended in.
For my entree, I wavered between ordering the Cioppino or the Grilled Yellowtail Snapper. (Given the name of the restaurant, the Local Lamb Bolognese wasn’t in the running, because lamb is seldom tidal.)
I decided to go with the snapper, and I wasn’t disappointed. The fillet was beautifully grilled so that the outside had just the slightest crisp while leaving inside flesh moist and delicious. I liked that the skin was left on — it leant a pungent flavor that was ameliorated somewhat by the Cajun beurre blanc that had been drizzled over the platform of stone ground Georgia grits. The orange wedges and grape tomatoes didn’t seem integral to the dish other than to provide some color and perhaps introduce some local produce.
For dessert I chose the Apple Honey Clafoutis, which looked more like a small donut than a classic clafoutis. Cinnamon cremeux and pecan dust were also involved, but I found it easy to take just one bite and move on.
The Cheddar Biscuits that were served to me at the beginning of the meal were another thing. They were substantial biscuits with the cheese melted over. If that weren’t enough, you could slather on some pimento spread, or maybe the burnt onion jam, which I was assured was burnt in-house. (I was told that the biscuits were included with the meal, but I noticed that they’re a $4 item on the regular menu. If you go and you’re not given the biscuits with your Magical Dining meal, just say, “Well, you gave them to Scott Joseph!”)
Service was low key. I was glad I had the server I did and not the glad-happy one serving some nearby tables who was trying too hard. It matters.
Urban Tide is at the Hyatt Regency Orlando, 9801 International Drive. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Magical Dining Month menu is available only at dinner, through Sept. The phone number is 407-345-4570.