Starting on 29 August and running through 2 October, Orlando celebrates some of its outstanding restaurants with the fantastic Magical Dining Month programme, featuring 90 locations and giving diners the chance to try some of the city’s most upscale venues at a fraction of the cost. What do you get for your $33? Each restaurant will offer a special Magical Dining Month menu with 3 or 4 options in the categories of starter, main course and dessert. Choose one from each category, with beverages extra.
What sort of menu items can you expect? As an example, a 3-course dinner at one of our favourite places—A Land Remembered at Rosen Shingle Creek Resort—would be a starter of Boca Grande Crab Cake with scallion aioli and red chili pepper glaze; a main course of 6oz Filet Mignon with roasted garlic, herb butter, smashed potatoes and fried green tomato; and ending with Chocolate Mousse Cake for dessert. Not bad for $33, is it?
We regularly take advantage of this annual event, both to visit somewhere new and to try innovative offerings at old favourites. This year we returned to one of our newest discoveries, the luxurious 1940s-themed Urbain 40. Located in The Dellagio complex on Sand Lake Road, the vibe here is Rat Pack cool, with a hefty dose of timeless elegance.
Our menu choices were French Onion Soup Gratinée, Farmer’s Salad, or Prince Edward Island Mussels for starters; Bolognese, Salmon Wellington, or Heritage Berkshire Farm Pork Shank as main courses; and Crème Fraiche Cheesecake with Seasonal Fruit or Red Berries and French Vanilla Crème Parfait for dessert.
We chose the Farmer’s Salad of arugula with house-baked brioche croutons, house-smoked bacon and a poached egg, breaking the egg open and mixing it into the light vinaigrette for a deliciously creamy effect. The French Onion Soup was a classic rendition from Lyons and featured a homemade baguette and Emmental cheese, sherry and port in a chicken stock, with caramelized onions. We also tried the mussels, beautifully soft and lemon-enriched, with a slight smokiness.
For our mains, the Pork Shank, braised for 5 hours with a jus of rosemary and thyme, was fall-off-the-bone tender, while the ragu-like Bolognese—wine-braised for 5-6 hours for a deep-rich flavour—was a hearty choice featuring freshly made fettuccine, and proved to be our stand-out favourite.
For dessert, the cheesecake was surprisingly light, with all the creamy texture you would expect but none of the heaviness. The parfait was perfection, with a genuine melt-in-the-mouth quality.
Executive Chef Jean Stephane Poinard, originally from Lyons, France, explained the Urbain 40 concept: “A traditional brasserie offers nice, elegant dishes, but family-style, and that’s what we do here. There is nothing more simple than pork shank, but our meat falls off the bone, and the salmon is a lean white salmon from the Faroe Islands in Europe, served with chanterelle mushroom jus in puff pastry. A brasserie is also a restaurant that brews its own beer, hence we feature craft beers as well as wine and cocktails.”
Unlike other participating locations, there will be no set menu for the whole month at Urbain 40. At least 1 entrée item will change from week to week. Click here, to find the weekly-special main course.
We highly recommend giving Urbain 40 a try, along with one (or several!) of our Top 5 Magic Dining Month choices (in no particular order) in the categories of Casual but Superb, Upscale Excellence and Total Splash-Out.
Top 5 Casual but Superb
Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse on International Drive
Roy’s Restaurant on Sand Lake Road
Seasons 52 on Sand Lake Road
Slate on Sand Lake Road
The Ravenous Pig in Winter Park
Top 5 Upscale Excellence
Luma on Park in Winter Park
Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs
The Capital Grill on International Drive
The Oceanaire Seafood Room on International Drive
Bice at Universal Orlando’s Portofino Bay Resort
Top 5 Total Splash-Out:
A Land Remembered at Rosen Shingle Creek Resort
Calla Bella at Rosen Shingle Creek Resort
Ravello at Four Seasons Resort in Lake Buena Vista
Hemingway’s Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Lake Buena Vista
Emeril’s Tchoup Chop at Universal Orlando’s Portofino Bay Resort
How do you take advantage of Magical Dining Month? Simply show up (better yet, make a reservation by phone or online) at the restaurant of your choice and ask for the Magical Dining Month menu. It’s just that easy. And not only will you enjoy a superb meal, but $1 for each guest participating in Magical Dining Month will be given to a local charity. This year’s charity is wonderful Russell Home for Atypical Children, which provides a homelike setting for special needs children and ‘child-like’ adults, as well as free day care for the community’s underprivileged special needs children.
Vantrease Blair, the Executive Director of Russell Home, joined our group for dinner, and shared her gratitude for being chosen as this year’s charity. “When we got the call that we would be the charity benefitting from Magical Dining Month, my sister and I sat down and cried,” she said. “This is the biggest fundraiser we’ve ever done, and it’s been amazing. We started 67 years ago and I’m the third generation member of the family to be in charge. Our only funding comes from the community.” Russell Home started with 45 children and now has 2 full scale classrooms. Two of the original children have been with them for over 60 years. And we call that a success.
Magical Dining Month is primarily community-driven, and while it is not targeted directly at the tourism market, your participation gives a big boost to the charity donation bottom line. Last year the annual event raised $160,735 for ELEVATE Orlando, a non-profit organisation that helps at-risk children chart a course for future success.
To find out more about this fantastic dining opportunity, view the restaurant list and menus, and make a reservation click here.
If you have any questions about Magical Dining Month, ask Susan and Simon on the Attraction Tickets Direct discussion forum. Make sure you share your experience with them too!
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