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Inside Look: Bull and Bear at Waldorf Astoria Orlando – Spring 2024 – One Of Orlando’s Best Restaurants

This is one of the best restaurants I have ever had the pleasure of dining at in my life. I still remember fondly the first time I ever tried the “pasta explosion” and the “escargot & gnocchi” at Bull & Bear – truly among the best dishes I have tasted not only in Orlando, but in all my travels.

If you have not visited the Waldorf Astoria Orlando’s award-winning Bull & Bear recently, the restaurant and hotel late last year finished up new renovations including a brand-new look and feel. Thankfully, many of the classic dishes remain – but there are a few new decadent additions with the revamp as well.

FLORIDA FARMS CORN SOUP – Truffle & Robiola Sandwich

Named one of the Top 100 Restaurants in the United States by Open Table, Bull and Bear also has introduced several newly refined dishes (and table-side preparation) as well as new hand-crafted cocktails.

Some of their new dishes include:

  • The Grand Seafood Tower – Complete with oysters, jumbo shrimp, Alaskan king crab, chilled lobster and more

  • The Bull & Bear Carving Board – Inclusive of a tomahawk steak, fried chicken, a Maine lobster tail, and your choice of two sides

  • The iconic $100 Baked Ootato – served with petrossian Ossetra Caviar, jamon iberico de bellota, sour cream, and a gold leaf touch

  • The Ring of Yuzu for dessert – Strawberry whipped ganache with a basil sponge cloud, garnished with strawberry and presented with a cloud of liquid nitrogen!

We spoke with Bull and Bear‘s chef de cuisine Juan Suarez as well as Waldorf Astoria’s food and beverage director Justin Jaret about the new changes as well as his inspiration behind the menu.

Tasty Chomps Interview with Chef Juan Suarez, Bull & Bear Chef de Cuisine

Ricky Ly: Tell us about your childhood -– what inspired you to become a chef?

Chef Juan Suarez: I was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and cooking was an integral part of my upbringing, largely by the culinary traditions my father introduced. I began cooking with my grandmother at the age of two, and can’t recall ever wanting to be anything else. I started my career in the kitchen at the age of 12, and I’ve been cooking professionally for 23 years now. I had my first executive Sous Chef job at Big Fin Seafood, I then became Sous Chef at the James Beard nominated Cask & Larder and later spent 6 years working at the Ravenous Pig.

What are some of the new menu items and inspirations behind them?

We have added new dishes across all sections of our menu, including our dessert offerings and an all-new cocktail menu. One dish that is near and dear to my heart is the Carabineros Shrimp Seafood Paella. With my father originating from Spain, our family tradition included gathering every Sunday while my dad would cook Paella. This dish celebrates my Spanish heritage and draws inspiration from Sunday family gatherings where paella and music were always on the menu.

CARABINEROS SHRIMP
Seafood Paella, Espelette Butter

 Another new dish is The Tomato, which sits in our salad section of the menu. After the success of our lemon, our team was inspired to create another puzzling dish guests could enjoy.  While it appears you’ve been served a whole raw tomato, the surprise that unfolds as Burrata cheese is sure to delight.

THE TOMATO
Confit Heirloom Cherry Tomato, Burrata Mozzarella,
Pumpernickel, Arugula, White Balsamic Caviar, Basil Foam

Tell us about this baked potato…

The Baked Potato is luxury personified. It is made with a large Idaho grown potato that is sous vide for five hours in olive oil and aromatics. The dish is completed tableside as our team tops The Baked Potato with butter, sour cream, chives, Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, Petrossian Royal Ossetra Caviar, and an edible gold leaf. At $100 it’s the height of indulgence.

What are some of the most popular items right now at the restaurant?

Our classic dishes, such as the Pasta Explosion and The Lemon continue to shine and are always crowd pleasers. The Carving Board, a new addition quickly becoming a guest favorite, offers a selection of beloved dishes including the Bull & Bear Fried Chicken and Tomahawk Steak for Two, among others.

PASTA EXPLOSION
Pata Negra de Bellota, Parmigianio Reggiano

It was inspired by the overwhelming popularity of our Bull & Bear Fried Chicken, which was often ordered as an appetizer. We designed this board to eliminate the need for guests to choose between favorites, allowing them to enjoy a bit of everything.

FEATURED WAGYU
12oz Chef’s Selection

Plans for the menu in 2024?

In 2024, you can expect a menu that continues to blend tradition and innovation, offering both timeless classics and exciting surprises. Our team’s dedication to growth means there are always new exciting menu items in the works!

TUNA TARTARE NICOISE
Egg Fudge, Tomato Gelée, Kalamata, Espelette Vinaigrette

Bull & Bear is one of the best restaurants in Orlando period. What makes it such a great restaurant in your view?

The legacy behind Bull and Bear is the foundation we build upon to continue to create a great restaurant. Our goal is always to be one step ahead of the trends, while paying tribute to our past, and creating innovative dishes that wow our guests. This is what drives us at Bull & Bear. We utilize only the best ingredients and combine traditional cooking techniques with technology and innovation.

We showcase tableside preparations as much as possible to give our guests an interactive show, and we love to use optical illusions and showmanship to demonstrate our passion on a nightly basis. Though, what truly sets Bull & Bear apart is the flawless fusion of tradition and innovation, evident not just in the menu but also in its service model.

The collaboration of four team members per table creates a unique and personal touch for each guest, which certainly leaves a lasting impact. I, as Chef de Cusine, and our General Manager Lia Moretti partner to ensure everything from kitchen to dining room is perfectly orchestrated. In short, it is a true pleasure to dine at Bull & Bear and our team makes every guest feel special.

VANILLA NAPOLEON
Caramelized Mille Feuille, Tahitian Vanilla Bean Custard,
Vanilla Crème Chantilly, Pineapple Chutney and Coquito Gelato

What local ingredients do you use in the menu?

While we have a deep appreciation for our imported ingredients, we love partnering with local farms and farmers to ensure that we are representing a sense of place that rings true to what it means to be in Central Florida.

To name a few – our Arugula and Radishes are Frog Song Organics in Alachua County, and we utilize Play of Sunlight mushrooms, harvested here in Central Florida. Moreover, our Heirloom Tomatoes are from The Villages Grown and we proudly source our Clams from Cedar Key. In 2024 we continue to seek to further expand localization efforts and consistently procure exceptional local ingredients.

THE RING OF YUZU
Yuzu Inspiration Mousse, Buttery Sablé Breton, Strawberry whipped
Ganache with a Basil Sponge Cloud, Garnished with Strawberry
and Yuzu Inspiration Chocolate Lavash and Crispy Meringue

Interview with Justin Jaret, Director of Food & Beverage at Waldorf Astoria Orlando

Tell us about this new renovation – what were the inspirations behind it?

As guests step into Bull & Bear, they’ll notice a transformed space with the heightened experience of a classic steakhouse accented by notes of Mid-Century Modern era style. We looked a lot at the legacy of the original Bull and Bear in the Waldorf Astoria NYC when pulling inspiration.

Bull & Bear is a timeless expression of an enduring culinary institution—the American Steakhouse. Our brand is rooted in the heritage and elegance of the original 1931 New York location, while firmly being in the here and now. It conveys the dedication to tradition and modern innovation of our dining experience. The biggest challenge was that we didn’t want to alter the feel of Bull and Bear, while completely altering the look. I think we landed exactly where we wanted to with both the look and feel.

What else is planned for the restaurant in 2024?

For us, 2024 will be all about the details. We are committed to continuing to drive success with a strong focus on unique tableside moments and personalized guest experiences. We can also say that our menu development is far from finished. The Tomato and the Carabineros Shrimp Seafood Paella, among other new items, are just the beginning of what we have in store for our guests. With that being said, our beloved Bull & Bear favorites are here to stay.

Tell us about the history of Bull & Bear and how it started – what legacies can be found in Orlando?

The history of Bull and Bear predates the Waldorf Astoria Orlando. It all started in NYC in a time where a steak and a martini were a lunch time staple. The original restaurant was named after the stock market, to be either “Bullish” or “Bearish” while trading. When Waldorf Astoria Orlando first opened its doors, we aimed to pay homage to the iconic Waldorf Astoria New York, as we proudly stood as the only newly constructed Waldorf property outside of New York City. We named all of our food and beverage outlets after our counterparts in New York.

Bull and Bear started as a typical Orlando Steakhouse, however, we quickly realized that we wanted the experience to be more of a show than just a dinner. The Chefs went through a period of research and development to create unforgettable dishes like the Lemon, the Bull & Bear Fried Chicken, and the Pasta Explosion. To us, Bull and Bear is a place where you can indulge in the service of the past, while experiencing the creativity of the future. Over time, we found that we were a true representation of our name. We need to be both “Bullish”, willing to take risks and innovate, as well as “Bearish,” discerning  and consistent. 

Beyond culinary excellence, Bull & Bear has cultivated a loyal community of regulars since its opening. This sense of community, along with the low turnover rate and a unique service model where four team members collaborate to serve each guest, distinguishes the restaurant. The team’s unique service model allows staff to authentically engage with guests, fostering a culture of appreciation.

Chef Juan Suarez, weaves his Hispanic heritage into the culinary narrative through dishes such as his seafood paella, and General Manager Lia Moretti, a trailblazer in the industry, contributes to the restaurant’s diverse leadership. In essence, Bull & Bear isn’t just a restaurant; it’s a dynamic blend of tradition and innovation, a community hub, and a bastion of culinary excellence led by a diverse and passionate team. This is all brought together and elevated by the culmination of the Waldorf Astoria Orlando’s full reimagination which elevates the entire Bull & Bear experience from arrival or post dinner drinks in Peacock Alley. 

For more information about Waldorf Astoria Orlando or to make a reservation, please visit the hotel’s website or call 407.597.5500.

For more information about Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, visit stories.hilton.com.

Photos by So May Ly Photography

 

UPCOMING EVENT – SAVE THE DATE – EPICURIOUS: SIP & SAVOR

The epitome of culinary decadence, Epicurious Sip & Savor is an immersive, gourmet event that invites you to explore the art of the palette. Showcasing over 35 tastings through interactive programming, intimate wine tastings, and hands-on culinary experiences, Epicurious Sip & Savor brings together an incredible roster of chefs, wine and spirit experts, and top culinary talent for a deliciously unforgettable evening. Enjoy inspired bites, lavish libations, and fresh flavors as you taste your way through eight culinary kiosks and nine pop-up bars.

  • Date: Friday, December 6, 2024
  • Time: 6pm – 10pm
  • Location: Signia by Hilton Bonnet Creek Ballroom (new location due to weather)
  • Pricing: $100* for tickets purchased before March 31, 2024.  Regular priced tickets are $165 per person. Purchase tickets here.

For discounted Sip & Savor room rates and information, please email BonnetCreekEpicurious@hilton.com. Tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable.


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