By Kristen Manieri
When your belly is craving something fresh and flavorful, nothing beats a plate piled high with seasonal fare sourced from local farms. Lovers of the farm-to-table movement will be delighted when dining in Orlando to find that local chefs are committed to working closely with Central Florida farmers to create cuisine that showcases Florida's bounty.
A concept created by farm-to-table pioneer Melissa Kelly, Primo at the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes not only incorporates the harvest from local farms-including seasonal strawberries, squash and zucchini from nearby Plant City-but you'll also find greens and herbs gracing the plates from Primo's onsite garden.
Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen
Also at the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, The Kitchen touts a laidback living room setting where guests can enjoy small plates paired perfectly with beer brewed at the onsite nano-brewery. You'll find local and seasonal gems (including many provisions from the onsite Whisper Creek Farm) incorporated into sandwiches and flatbreads but also used in the beer brewing process as well.
Boca Kitchen & Bar
Menus are updated seasonally at this farm-to-table concept on Park Avenue in Winter Park with chefs visiting nearby farms twice each week to snag the freshest finds. This spring, be sure to order the delicious blueberry cobbler made with blueberries from Plant City at the Boca Kitchen & Bar.
Tucked inside The Alfond Inn, a lovely boutique property in the heart of Winter Park, Hamilton's Kitchen prides itself on supporting local farmers and purveyors as it creates its seasonal menu offerings. You'll find eggs from Lake Meadow Naturals in Ocoee, beef from Seminole County, Gulf shrimp, Cape Canaveral flounder and fresh pasta made in nearby College Park, just to name a few local ingredients used to prepare the culinary delights found in this much-loved restaurant.
The Rusty Spoon
Three-time James Beard nominated Chef Kathleen Blake sits at the culinary helm of this downtown Orlando restaurant known for its relentless dedication to strengthening the bond between chef and farmer. Sourcing almost exclusively from local farms, including Uncle Matt's Organic Farm, Lake Meadow Naturals, Palm Meadow Creek Farms, Frog's Song Organic, Chef Blake wows with dishes at the The Rusty Spoon that let the flavors of the seasons shine.
Celebrating its 15th anniversary in April, K Restaurant and Wine Bar in College Park is the platform from which chef/owner Kevin Fonzo shares his commitment to local food. From his garden in the restaurant's backyard to his relationships with local farms, Chef Fonzo graces his plates with heirloom tomatoes, spring onions, cauliflower, escarole, beets, peas, and dandelion greens from local farms. Meats, eggs and seafood are sourced locally too.
Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse
This Hyatt Regency Orlando restaurant demonstrates that even large hotel properties can work with small local purveyors. Inside this elegant space, guests at the Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse can relish bread from Olde Hearth Bread Company and pasta from Trevis Pastas, both located just a few miles away. Sous Chef G also incorporates heirloom tomatoes from Lakeland for the Caprese salad and local short rib for his slow-cooked bolognaise sauce.
Stop into this chic space in downtown Orlando's North Quarter District for lunch and a fish sandwich made with Florida fresh-catch and bread from Olde Hearth awaits. Chef Lucas Reid's jerk chicken and bacon cheeseburger offerings are made with local chicken and beef. For dinner at Citrus, opt for the local rib eye or Chef Reid's Wahoo Poke Tacos made with Florida wahoo.
Even with his Irish roots, Master Chef Kevin Dundon steers his kitchen toward Florida fresh in everything from the Plant City berries found in cocktails, desserts and entrees to the local pork used in his much-loved Pork By Pork dish, a sage & onion stuffed pork loin with an apple sauce. Raglan Road is a beacon of fresh flavors in the heart of Disney Springs at Walt Disney World.
Luma on Park
Chef Brandon McGlamery's list of local farm partners is long, which is why you'll find Florida provisions woven throughout his entire menu at Luma. On any given day, guest might find a dish adorned with pea shoots from Zen Farm, salads with colorful radishes from Frog Song Organics, and desserts bursting with the sweetness of Plant City strawberries.
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Kristen Manieri is the founder and editor of the Orlando Date Night Guide, which houses hundreds of ideas recommendations for sharing fun and meaningful quality time together in Orlando. From cooking classes to hidden gem restaurants to unique and exciting things to do, you'll find the best of Orlando's date night offerings inside the pages of this comprehensive online guide.