If you name your restaurant The H Cuisine, wouldn’t you expect people to wonder what the h the H stands for?
That’s the name of a beautiful restaurant in the Dr. Phillips district. It’s primarily a steakhouse and there are Turkish touches on the menu — Turkish and tulum salads, kafes (rack of lamb) — so might the initial be for halal, the designation for meats prepared by Muslim law?
Maybe it refers to the space, the former Stefano’s Grill, which has been so completely transformed into an upscale and posh dining room that it’s absolutely heavenly? Or for the prices, which are high?
No and no.
The owners all have last names that begin with the letter H. That’s it. As I’ve said before, naming a restaurant is really Hard (with a capital H).
It truly is an elegant restaurant, a little bit of Manhattan chic on Restaurant Row. Especial attention has been paid to the lighting, which is moody and low. And banquettes, booths and chairs at freestanding tables are plush and comfortable.
Tableside service is a forte here, and I watched as a large wood-slatted gueridon was wheeled throughout the restaurant and even outdoors to the front patio for various preparations. Some offerings simply included slicing meats or removing cuts from the bone. But one of the more popular dishes was the Pappardelle, which included a large Parmesan wheel welled out so that it could be flamed and the pasta tossed inside to be coated with the melting cheese. Dinner and a show.
I went a less ostentatious route, selecting the Lokum, slices of tenderloin that had been aged in butter for 25 days (I said less ostentation, not less outrageous). Lokum means Turkish delight and usually refers to a confection, but the name is still appropriate for this meat, which really was like butter.
It was served with firik rice, a pilaf with a nice chewy texture.
I also had the Josper Grilled Spanish Octopus, named for the brand of grill that is a showpiece of the open kitchen. The tentacle was nicely crisped and draped lovingly around a salad of smoked vegetables.
Servers were well trained and efficient. Managers — whose names may or may not have begun with the letter H — roamed about the restaurant and interacted with guests.
Prices are not insignificant. That tableside pappardelle, at $29.95, is one of the least expensive entrees. Osso Buco for two will run you $119.95. But the restaurant was at capacity, inside and out, which goes to show you there is a market for good quality food served in an upscale atmosphere.
Maybe the H is for haute.
The H Cuisine is at 7512 Dr. Phillips Blvd., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-930-3020.