As we await the announcement of this year’s Florida Michelin Guide winners – they could come at any time within the next couple of months – I took the opportunity to revisit one of Central Florida’s starred restaurants, Knife & Spoon, to do an inspection of my own. Based on my visit, I expect the Ritz-Carton headliner will hold on to its star or even gain an additional one.
There have been a couple of changes since last year. Tyler Kineman took over the position of chef de cuisine from opening cdc Gerald Sombright. Kineman, who previously was Knife & Spoon’s sous chef, serves as the permanently-on-site head of the kitchen when Dallas-based John Tesar isn’t in town.
There are a few menu tweaks, too, but the forte remains the signature beef, which is sourced from 44 Farms, a Texas producer, and undergoes dry aging, some as long as 120 days. There’s a hefty per diem for that quality – a bone-in New York strip aged 30 days is $110 and $125 for the 60-day steak; 45- and 90-day ribeyes are $180 and $190 respectively.
These steaks are, however, 32 ounces and meant to be shared. Which is what my companion and I did with the 90-day ribeye, savoring the crisply charred crust and the juicy-warm interior of this superb steak. The longer aging gives the meat an earthy note that you’ll either find appealing or off-putting. (If you prefer a a richer, more buttery flavor, you may want to go with one of the shorter-aged steaks.)
The steak was certainly a highlight of the meal but not the only one. We started with one of the new menu items, Tuna and Foie Gras, which featured sushi-grade raw tuna over a layer of mousse pate and a brioche crust.
Although its primarily thought of as a steakhouse, Knife & Spoon does not give short shrift to seafood – the Spoon in the name is a reference to a type of fishing lure. We had the Diver Scallops appetizer, with mushroom dashi, poured tableside, brown butter and a touch of truffle.
We also were offered a taste of the mackerel that was offered as the fish of the day. Usually a whole fish, the fillet had a crispy skin and was served with a sauce that had been made using the head, tail and bones of the fish.
We were allowed to get a half order of the Uni Cacio e Pepe, which had strands of bucatini tossed with bottarga (dried mullet roe) and salty furikake.
The best of the side dishes was the wild mushroom, firm and chewy, flavored with a miso made from the mushroom stems.
We also had the salad made with ingredients from Frog Song Organics and featured a vinaigrette fashioned out of the lettuces, which are juiced and fermented. A unique way to reduce food waste.
Of the times I’ve dined at Knife & Spoon I don’t think I’d ever seen it as full as on my recent visit, and it can be quite bustling. I’ve grown to like the odd decor, which features a grassy mound in the middle of the octagonal room under a domed ceiling that looks like the aftermath of an explosion from inside a volcano.
Michelin inspectors, supposedly, do not take into consideration the decor or the service (they’d have nothing to complain about there). They only focus on the food. Which is why Knife & Spoon’s future continues to look starry.
Knife & Spoon is at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes, 4012 Central Florida Parkway (map). It is open for dinner daily. Reservations at OpenTable.