Today we’re visiting Rosen Shingle Creek’s A Land Remembered, a moniker so vague that in most references the hotel feels it necessary to add Steakhouse after the name. Of course, if we’re going to talk about strange names we could start with Shingle Creek, but let’s just let that one go for now.
A Land Remembered gets its name from the title of a novel by Patrick Smith, a Merritt Island writer. A Land Remembered (Pineapple Press, Inc.), first published in 1984 and still in print, is the story of three generations of a pioneer family in Florida. I have not read the book so I don’t know if there’s a logical reason to name a steakhouse after the novel. Perhaps the pioneer family were cattle ranchers. And, to be fair, there is a restaurant in Cross Creek called The Yearling, but at least there you have the possible connection of venison.
Anyway, the name doesn’t bother me as much as the designation, because of all the things I liked about A Land Remembered – and I liked quite a bit about it – the steaks were the least of it. But a lovely atmosphere, first-rate service and an extensive menu under the direction of chef James Slattery make this a dining experience worth recommending.
The best entrée I sampled was the prime rib ($36), a 24-ounce cut that was so large it looked as though it could tip over Fred Flintstone’s car. And just as impressive as its size were its buttery texture and mouth-filling flavor. It was topped with fresh horseradish shavings and served with creamy horseradish sauce and meat juices. For some reason prime rib is difficult to find in Central Florida. It’s nice to have a place that does it so well.
But then look at the New York strip paired with twin lobster tails in the Land Remembered surf and turf ($85; and shouldn’t that be Land and Sea Remembered?). The strip was surprisingly thin and looked more like a piece of meat you’d be served in a family-style restaurant, not an upscale one like this and not in a place that prides itself a steakhouse. The outside of the steak was gray, not charred, and the inside was, not so surprising given the thickness, a bit overcooked.
But then look at the lobster tails that came with it, two lovely South African morsels, beautiful grilled and with plenty of sweet meat to dip in the pure, melted butter.
On another visit I had the porterhouse ($48), a much better steak in quality and taste, this time with a seared and well-seasoned crust but still a tad overdone. Side items are an extra eight bucks each – yes, even at the prices charged. The baked potato was sufficiently “meaty,” and Vidalia onions were also good, but outrageously overpriced given the small serving.
I was disappointed with the crab cake appetizer ($15). The crabmeat was shredded and stringy and there was too much filler. Steak tartare ($18) was unevenly chopped and had a bit more mustard in the mix than was necessary.
I liked the Gator Creek stew ($8), aptly described by a server as a Manhattan-style clam chowder with gator meat instead of clams.
For dessert there was a wonderful bread pudding ($12) with a crisped crust over a creamy textured custard. The banana cream pie ($12), on the other hand, was a post-modern version with tiny amounts of the cream filling, gelatin and chocolate between two triangular wafers.
I have nothing but praise for the serving staff. The waiters and assistants were diligent, attentive, anticipatory and precise. The wine list is thorough and has some very nice selections by the glass.
A Land Remembered is in the clubhouse of the resort’s golf course, just steps from the main hotel building. It’s a comfortable space, not too big yet spacious enough that tables were far enough apart to afford privacy. Massive beams cross the high ceiling, but even with the expanse the noise level is low. The sound system plays lovely music from a bygone era. Seating is at booths and tables and lighting is provided mainly by some rather odd lampposts that features something like palm fronds or maybe ferns and lampshades with ball tassles. You have to see them. Tables are covered with nice linens – at these prices they can afford the laundry bill.
It is, ultimately, too overpriced. That will deter some people and perhaps attract others. And it’s sure to make the meal memorable.
A Land Remembered is at Rosen Shingle Creek, 9939 Universal Blvd., Orlando. It is open for dinner nightly (call first, they've been known to shut down if there aren't many advance reservations). The phone number is 407-996-3663. Here's a link to the Web site.