McCoy's Bar and Grill

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McCoys MCO Travelers TrioI’ve always liked McCoy’s, the lobby-level bar and grill at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in the main terminal of Orlando International Airport. But I’ve also always wished that it were on the airside of the airport, after the security checkpoint. That isn’t practical, of course. The restaurant functions as one of the very large hotel’s two restaurants, the other being Hemisphere on the top floor, which is open only for breakfast and dinner.

But I know I’d plan my arrivals for departures from OIA with a visit to McCoy’s built in if I weren’t one of those people who can’t relax until he’s on the other side of security.

The restaurant is even more attractive now, following a months-long renovation of the kitchen and dining room, and menu, too.

The renovations went “down to the studs,” according to Pat Engfer, who has been the  hotel’s general manager since it opened, in 1992. The redesign has a modern look that features soothing green glass tiles on the walls of the kitchen area, which is now open and in full view of the bar and dining areas, and bamboo flooring. Areas that are carpeted feature a bamboo-leaf design. Seating is either at booths and tables in the main dining area (several of which have thoughtfully placed power outlets for device recharging), the long bar, or at communal tables near the bar at gathering height (lower than hightops).

Or you may choose to sit at the sushi bar, which has been brought out into the main dining area, but is still commanded by longtime sushi chef Hirokatsu “Hiro” Masaki.

The kitchen is also still under the direction of David Didzunas, who has been the hotel’s executive chef since 1997. (These people must really love working here -- they never leave!) 

The menu places the focus on sustainability and local sourcing, as so many restaurants do McCoys Dining Roomthese days. There’s also a thoughtful mix of light bites and full meals to suit the needs of the traveler -- some people just want something to tide them over, others want something for the long haul.

I attended a media tasting and had a sample of a number of the dishes. One of the nicer options is what they’re calling the MCO Traveler’s Trio. These are smaller, tapas-sized plates that may be purchased singly for $7 (in which case it would not be a traveler’s trio) or you can choose three dishes for $17.95. Some of the options include empanadas, quesadilla, tacos, spring rolls, fish bites, and lemon hummus. The plates are not so small that you won’t mind sharing with your traveling companion, but not so large that you’re going to need a to-go box.

If you’d rather go larger, you can get the salmon, or other fish of the day, prepared to your whim and with a sauce of your choosing. Or maybe the Palmetto Creek Farms grilled pork chop, with fresh fig sauce and roasted potatoes and vegetables, sure to lull you to sleep before your plane backs away from the gate.

Or you could make a feast of Masaki’s sushi, with everything from simple nigirizushi by the piece to a full Omakase bento box.

Although it is on the hotel’s lobby level, McCoy’s is one floor up from the main level of the airport, so away from the mad-dashing crowds. It offers a wonderful respite if you’ve arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare, or a calm place to meet a business contact who is flying in just for the day.

Think about it the next time you’re scheduled to fly out of OIA. Maybe with the next remodel they can install a dedicated security line right there in the restaurant, just for guests. At the very least, it would be nice if they could somehow display the average wait time to get through security. I know I would be able to relax and enjoy my meal more if I knew what to expect when I left to continue on my way.

McCoy’s Bar and Grill is at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport. It is open for lunch and dinner daily, with continuous service from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Here is a link to the website. The phone number is 407-825-1234. {jcomments on}