Tonight we are out at Chef Justin’s Park Plaza Gardens in Winter Park, FL. This place is about 15 miles north of our hotel and located in a cute little part of town.
I didn’t have many options while searching for places to make reservations for Thanksgiving but this place came with glowing reviews and an interesting menu for Thanksgiving. The prices were a little high IMHO ($54/person) but with many of the other local restaurants offering much more traditional fare for similar prices I went with it.
We arrived with player parking across from the restaurant. I was a little concerned at first as you could only see their bar from the street. Was this really the place? After walking to the back of the narrow bar you enter their restaurant section which was nicely decorated for the holidays with trees and lights. The floor was brick and the ceiling was made of glass tiles covered in a thin layer of cloth which made the light darkened but still “natural”.
We received the menu for Thanksgiving, which I was already familiar with from the net, and made our choices…
First course was crudite which included olives, meats, cheeses, pickled red and golden beets, celery, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and roasted red pepper hummus.
For the second course I chose the jumbo prawn and lump crab cocktail which was served with mixed green and fresh tangerine vinaigrette.
For the third course I chose their roasted free range tom turkey which was served with candied orange cranberry relish and tawny port demi glaze.
The first course was quite a bit smaller than I expected, coming out as only two small cake plates of food. I enjoyed it immensely, but my parents obviously did not. My father was especially irked by the glaze they placed over everything.
The bread was a spicy and cheese soft bread served with and olive oil, balsamic, and thyme. Very very good stuff!
The prawn and lump crab meat was exactly that. *A* prawn and a lump of crab meat. The prawn was good but I was certainly expecting a little more. Kim and my mother ordered the pumpkin bisque which I thought was fantastic.
The free range turkey and fixings was *excellent*. My father despises lima beans but he happily cleared everything else off of his plate. Kim left a little but I think she was saving for dessert. My mother also devoured what was placed in front of her even though they doused everything in gravy of which she is not a fan.
The dessert plates included bourbon balls, pumpkin spice cake with a cream cheese icing, and a small chunk of cranberry cheesecake. I didn’t try the bourbon balls or the cheesecake but was told they were awful. The pumpkin spice cakes were excellent though.
The service tonight was nothing short of horseshit. While extremely friendly and helpful, I can’t believe how utterly slow they were (bringing the coffee out after we finished dessert or having to wait 15 mins to be seated even though the place was empty and we had reservations and were ahead of 2 other tables) while the restaurant wasn’t even full and there were plenty of servers available.
The food was overpriced, not terribly plentiful, and just ok. It does NOT deserve the high star ratings and accolades it has received, well at least not for Thanksgiving. I won’t have the opportunity to return for a regular meal but if the service is the same I doubt I’d enjoy it.