I have known Fidel Palenzuela for a number of years now (he has gathered no moss at a number of area wine establishments that I frequent) and have fully enjoyed his friendship, wine knowledge, and company. So when he invited me to his new restaurant venture, I promised to gather up a few friends and patronize the establishment the following Saturday.
The restaurant is unobtrusively positioned at the end of Via Dellagio Way (8060, Suite 106), a veritable Restaurant Row just off the granddaddy of Restaurant Rows, Sand Lake Road. The glazed double doors, with stylized text, which announce that you have arrived, hide an environment that stops you in your tracks upon entering.
The room is dominated by a large, dark-colored, marble-topped table positioned left of center and surrounded by black chairs. The table is a single piece of granite resting on wooden legs that were whittled by the staff. The width of the table is brought into focus by the sight of two chairs at each end. The table itself is decorated with shell-type vases in the center and is crowned by a shimmering aluminum and glass chandelier that is stunning to behold. The aluminum for the chandelier was acquired from an airplane salvage yard while the hand-blown glass was purchased from an area retailer and repurposed for this application. At the end of the table farthest from the door is an 18th-century chest made from reclaimed Indian cedar.
Over to the right of the dining room is a bar which is defined by wine bottles lying horizontally on luminescent, rectangular projections. These "shelves" are connected to a computer which controls the color and intensity of the light contained therein. Fidel explained that they had a miniscule budget so the build-out was done by the people working there. They sure did a phenomenal job.
We were ushered into the establishment by Fidel's broad, welcoming smile and a flute each of Ca'del Bosco Franciacorta. My guests arrived intermittently and it was interesting to see the looks on their faces when they opened the doors for the first time and surveyed the surroundings. It was like peering at a mirror into the past and seeing the look of amazement that was probably on my face when I first stepped in.
The table seats 22 people so there were six attendees in addition to my group. We all stood around drinking sparkling wine and gabbing about the restaurant. After we had killed the Ca'del Bosco, Fidel began pouring Proseco (Flor, Bastia) and when that was exhausted, Billecart-Salmon. The venue was phenomenal, and combined with the flowing sparkling wines/champagne and good friends, served to create a wonderful atmosphere. At this point I knew that the only thing that could screw the evening up was "less-than-stellar" food. After tasting butler-passed compressed watermelon and lobster bisque, I knew that the chefs were going to deliver.
Who are the people behind this venture and how did they arrive at this place? The chefs are transplanted Rhode Islanders Tyler Brassel and Loren Falsone, a husband-and-wife team whose accomplishments include appearances on the cover of Food and Wine magazine and record attendees at the James Beard House. They both teach at Le Cordon Bleu in Orlando and, according to Loren, the restaurant is an extension of their home. They are passionate about food and wine and never miss an opportunity to have friends over to share this passion. The Table Orlando represents their attempt to share these passions with the broader public. The chefs are responsible for creating world-class dishes while Fidel is responsible for matching their creations with wines of equal quality. In addition to his sommelier role Fidel also appears to be responsible for business acquisition and client engagement during the actual dinner.
|From left to right Fidel, Loren, Tyler and Ron|