Just south of Walt Disney World off of I-4, a visit to Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate will transport you to a place where worries are far away. The recent addition of the “Ingredient of the Month” to their dining opportunities promoted by Omni’s Executive Chef Robert Ash will make you want to come visit the Omni soon, not to mention their 850-ft. lazy river, activity pool with slides and fountains, and a full course golfing experience.
Chef Robert Ash’s youthful looks belie his more than 20 years of experience, with a diverse background including training at L’Ecole Du Grand Chocolat in France and the International School of Confectionary Art in Maryland. His also served as Executive Chef of Milwaukee’s historic Preferred Hotel The Pfister, as well as Executive Chef/Director of Food and Beverage of the InterContinental Milwaukee and Executive Outlet Chef at the esteemed Wynn Resort in Las Vegas, rated Five-Star by Forbes and Five Diamond by AAA. Prior to that, Chef Ash worked at Parian Restaurant in the Regent International Hotel and for three-star Michelin Chef Jean Louis Palladin at Napa Restaurant in the Rio Suites Hotel of Las Vegas.
Chef Robert Ash recently told us about the new ingredient of the month events going on at the Omni. “I wanted to have the creative culinary team of chefs be able to showcase our local products here in Florida outside the standard menus we serve. So as I thought about it, I said why not feature one local based product a month and create weekly specials based on this ingredient and the seasonality of the ingredient.”
“This would support our philosophy of supporting locally sustainable products and giving back to our community through food. So I took the seasons and created a 12 month calendar that would highlight a specific ingredient during the peak times available to us.”
“Our restaurant chefs now create 5 specials to showcase these outstanding ingredients from local farmers, fisherman, ranchers, foragers and such. We are also translating this into our catering side as well by creating fun local seasonal special menus for meeting planners to try something different than our traditional menu offerings which are far from traditional as it is.”
I recently visited David’s Club to preview the new Ingredient of the Month menu for Fresh Local Corn and was thoroughly impressed.
David’s Club is Omni’s upscale sports bar with flat-screen televisions, fine cigars and cognacs and hand-cut steaks. For after dinner enjoyment, the Players Lounge features pool tables, darts and foosball, and the cigar terrace sparks laid- back conversations. David’s Club is named after David Leadbetter, the internationally acclaimed golf instructor – Omni Orlando is the world headquarters for The Leadbetter Golf Academy.
The featured corn is from Apopka’s very own local Long and Scott Farms, and the dishes turned out rather fabulous with them.
I savored the hushpuppies, little golden balls of fried goodness filled with smoked gouda cheese, corn, and cherrywood bacon with a house malted tartar sauce. The shrimp and grits entree was probably my favorite of the bunch, made with plump shrimps chock full of cajun spices and flavors with a nice blend of cheesy corn grits as a base. The chicken and waffles, with corn crusted chicken and jalapeno and cheddar corn bread style waffles was delicious, but probably did not need the sriracha maple syrup – maybe just regular maple syrup would suffice without the vinegary sriracha. The dessert was also a favorite, a sweet corn cake served with sweet corn and bacon ice cream made in house and some sprinkling of salted caramel corn.
The chicken mole tamale was the only miss of the list, a little too dry and in need of seasoning – but I was told they may be adjusting the menu still and may replace this one later this month.
smoked gouda cheese, nueske’s cherrywood bacon, house malted tartar sauce
Chicken Mole Tamale $9
mole sauce, queso fresco, tomato
Chicken and Waffles $20
corn crusted chicken, jalapeno and cheddar corn waffles, sriracha maple syrup
Shrimp n Grits $24
cajun bbq local shrimp, cheddar cheese grits, corn chutney
Corn Cake $8
sweet corn and bacon ice cream, salted caramel corn
Trevi’s is Omni’s casual, Italian family eatery with breakfast buffets, brick oven flat breads, pizza and pasta, drawing flavor from its outdoor herb garden. It’s easy to write this place off as just another hotel restaurant due to the rather stereotypical hotel restaurant decor, but there is something there in the kitchen that makes the place stand out.
Although this was a more South American take on the traditional bruschetta, the crisp corn, buttery avocado, and tomato version for the corn menu was absolutely delicious and refreshing. I liked the sea scallops, though it could have used a different sauce than the madeira sauce which overpowered some of the other flavors going on. Maybe a butter sauce would have been better suited for this dish. The sweet corn upside down cake is not to be missed, quite a feat of sophisticated techniques infusing lavender with peach – very nice.
Roasted Corn Bruschetta $8
tomato, roasted garlic, avocado, tarrago creme fraiche
Sea Scallops $12
grilled corn polenta, forest mushroom, madeira sauce
Atlantic Salmon $26
penne pasta, heirloom tomato, pancetta, corn pesto
Tuscan Chicken $22
corn risotto, charred roma tomato sauce
Sweet Corn Upside Down Cake $8
lavender scented peach, rosemary caramel, vanilla gelato
And in case you were wondering, next month’s ingredient of the month is local Florida shrimp.