In recognition of current social distancing and voluntary isolation, Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide will be focusing on restaurants offering takeout, delivery and curbside pickup. Check here for a continuously updated list of restaurants offering to-go options.
Big Fin Seafood Kitchen, the popular Restaurant Row destination, has launched a special menu for curbside pickup.
It’s far from a limited selection and includes many of chef James Slattery’s most popular items.
Orders for curbside pickup must be placed by phone. When I called in, I was greeted by a cheerful woman who seemed delighted to take my order. (I asked her later how many she had taken so far that evening – I was the third.)
I ordered an appetizer of Maryland Style Crab Cake and entrees of Shrimp Fra Diavolo and Scallops Orleans.
I gave her my credit card information for prepayment and she said all I would have to do when I arrived at the restaurant was hand her the credit card to verify the information. I questioned that process – since the goal of curbside pickup is to be as contactless as possible, would there be a way to run the transaction without having to hand over the credit card. She said sure; all I would have to do is show it to her so she could verify my information (the credit card does not have my name on it).
As we ended the phone call, she asked what kind of car I would be driving and said my order would be ready in approximately 25 minutes. What should I do when I get there? I asked. “We’ll be looking for you,” she replied.
When I arrived at the Dellagio Town Center, I pulled into Big Fin’s drive and waited. It only took a couple of minutes for the young woman to come out with a big brown paper bag filled with my order, which she handed through the window.
But then she said she needed the credit card to process the slip. I thought that had been taken care of on the phone, but it hadn’t dawned on me why this part was necessary. She returned to the car with a standard credit card folder with the charge slip for me to sign, and that’s when I realized I hadn’t told her to add a tip during the phone order.
So the contactless part went out the window – or more precisely in the window – as I took the folder that had been handled by so many people before me. (She, to her credit, was wearing gloves.) I signed the slip, handed it back and squirted my hands with the sanitizer I now keep in my car.
The food was still hot when I arrived at home about 20 minutes later. It was packaged in plastic clamshell containers with clear tops, including one container just with sliced bread.
And it was all just as delicious as it would have been dining in.
The crab cake had very little filler and a nicely singed coating. It was served with tartar sauce, lemon wedges and a stack of spicy arugula.
The shrimp fra diavolo was worthy of its devilish name, with al dente linguine tossed with a spicy arrabiata sauce, baby artichokes, tomatoes, spinach and tooth-tender shrimp.
The scallops in my Orleans dish were seared perfectly and I loved eating them with a scoop of the wonderful parmesan-infused grits. The dish also included spinach and sun-dried tomatoes and a container of rich and buttery Cajun cream sauce.
It was a wonderful meal and the quality was not diminished one bit by the travel time or the packaging (though it might have been more efficient to put the bread in a paper bag).
The next time I’ll be sure to have the tip added during the transaction and to authorize the processing of the charge without a signature.
And during these times, at least, let’s dispense with the argument of how much to tip for takeout. It’s an ongoing debate with some people saying a dollar or two is sufficient and others who think 10 percent is more than enough. Let’s all tip at least 20 percent – consider it combat pay for the people on the front lines who are still working to keep up fed.
By the way, the dining room remains open and follows the CDC guidelines for distancing between tables. Slattery also specified in a text message that his staff is using “a lot of gloves” and using extra cleaner to wipe down tables after guests leave. I’m sure that Slattery, who was a chemist before becoming a chef, adheres to the strictest sanitation rituals. Still, I’ll be choosing takeout for the time being.
Big Fin Seafood Kitchen is at 8046 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando. Curbside pickup is being offered from 5 to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 9 p.m. on weekends at least through April 10. Phones orders at 407-392-9627.