The Boheme, the fine dining restaurant in the Grand Bohemian hotel in downtown Orlando, had the good fortune to have a great new neighbor move in: the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts. Instantly, what had been a restaurant that mainly served hotel guests became the dining venue of first choice for DPAC patrons attending musicals, lecture series and concerts.
But instead of sitting back and resting on the laurels of its serendipitous surge in business, the Boheme stepped up its culinary game to show that it was worthy of the attention. In the many years that I’ve been dining at and reviewing the Boheme — I first critiqued it in June, 2001, when the hotel first opened — I don’t think I’ve ever seen the kitchen putting out as good as we experienced recently at the holiday edition of Scott Joseph’s Supper Club.
Executive chef Laurent Hollaender put together a travelogue menu of European holiday dishes, all paired perfectly with wines of France and California. It was a whirlwind tour with zero jet lag at the end.
Following a short reception with hors d’oeuvres passed by the serving staff and flutes of Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champagne of Epernay, France, we all took our seats in the far end of the flashily designed space that is part dining room and part fine art museum. (Yes, those are real Klimt’s on the walls.)
Our first stop was Germany and deviled “eier.” (We’re using the definition eggs but you’re welcome to Google the translation of eier for al alternative yet perhaps apt meaning.) These were duck eggs, which are a bit firmer as well as larger than your average hen, stuffed with lusciously whipped yolks that were infused with anchovies, mustards and parsley, topped with a speck of speck. The Champagne went nicely with the eggs.
From the Scandinavian shore, Salmon Gravlax, cured in beet juice with dill, tarragon and fresh horseradish, was served with toast points of rye and pumpernickel. A full-flavored 2013 Rombauer Chardonnay was the apropos pairing.
The coast of Spain was next with an inpressive Sopa de Pescado y Marisco, a soup of fish and shellfish, featuring a rich broth served in a cast iron cocotte with a bit of Spanish bread slathered with a saffron tinged aioli. Chateau Mont Redon’s 2014 Cotes du Rhone was the pairing, my favorite of the evening. The black and blue fruits in the wine went wonderfully with the spicy soup.
Our goose was cooked when we got to France. Roasted Wild Goose Breast, to be exact. Many of the Supper Clubbers proclaimed that it was the first goose they’d had, and Hollaender’s version was nicely done, appropriately on the rarer side, served with roasted potatoes, haritcots vert and graced with a reduction sauce fashioned from Mathilde Cassis. The black currant taste of the liqueur was an inspirational note. Ironically, the wine chosen for the French course was from California’s Alexander Valley. But Rodney strong’s ’12 cabernet sauvignon would be at home in any French bistro.
Dolce is Italian, and our dessert course was a bread pudding made from the iconic Christmas sweet bread called panettone, gussied up with some Nutella and a creme anglaise of Frangelico.
Boheme’s staff kept us all well served and wanting for nothing.
Supper Club was adjourned and only a few left happy. The others, also happy, stayed to enjoy an after-dinner cocktail in the lounge and to listen to some music. Me? I had an early flight back to the States, so I said to all a good night. And it was.
The Boheme is at 325 S. Orange Ave., Orlando. The phone number is 407-313-9001.