Monday, April 30, 2007

Emeril's Tchoup Chop - Orlando

We just spent a great long weekend in Orlando, playing at Universal and Disney and enjoying the beautiful weather and I wanted to write a review of Emeril's Tchoup Chop, where we had a fantastic dinner on Friday night. My hubby had been there on a conference about a year ago and recommended that our group try it after a hard day riding the rides at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. It is located right next to the Universal Complex, at the Royal Pacific resort and is fairly secluded. You wouldn't know it was there unless you were staying at the resort. After having a chat with our server, it seems that this is certainly true as he said it has taken about 4 years to get their name known in the area. A real shame for such a fabulous place, in my opinion. However, at least it was not impossible to get a reservation.

have been construed as "tank top" or strapless. In fact, we argued, almost all women's clothing that would be worn in a hot environment like So, around lunch time we decided to take Rich's advice and book our dinner for that night at Tchoup Chop (pronounced Chop Chop), which serves Polynesian fusion cuisine. They told us that the dress was casual, but that no tank tops or muscle shirts were allowed. This was followed by a lengthy discussion on what they could mean by no tank tops. Myself and R (both of the female persuasion) were completely horrified as everything we bought to wear couldFlorida would fall under these categories. We finally decided that perhaps this was meant as a rule for men. Or perhaps for the "wife-beater" like tank tops that would be worn somewhere like the parks. In any case, this is a nice restaurant, so I guess they don't want people shlepping directly from the park in their grimey, sweaty clothes.

We decided to go back to our hotel for a shower and then headed over to the restaurant at 8:30, for our reservation. When we walked in, we all said "wow!". This place is super nice and very well decorated. It has a very subdued atmosphere, almost zen like. There are 4 enormous chandeliers made from hand blown glass flowers in orange and yellow. In a circle in the middle of the ceiling are dark purple glass cylinders that are lit from within, giving off a wonderful purple glow. A large rectangular pond runs the length of the restaurant, in its centre and it is filled with lillies (albeit fake ones, but they look very real). The water flows over the sides of the pond, giving a waterfall like effect. There is also a great view of the large open kitchen, which can be seen from anywhere in the restaurant. There are some regular tables around the outside, but surrounding the pond are booths made from long, low cylindrical cushions. These were very stylish and meant that no view was obstructed in the restaurant...very asian.

After a brief exchange with the front desk where they thought Rich had said his name was David, we cleared up the misunderstanding then got seated at one of the best seats in the house. They proceeded to tell us that we would have not one, not two, but three servers to take care of us. Then they explained the menu and gave us complimentary shrimp crisps (prawn crackers for the aussies) with the most amazing peanut chilli dipping sauce. I am ashamed to say we put away two servings of these delicious little morsels in record time, they were that good!

I apologize for the lack of photo's, but it was difficult to get a good picture due to the dim lighting and my fellow diners would not have been too happy about me taking 10 minutes to get the pictures of food just right!!

For appetizer, myself and N shared the Marinated Flash Fried Calamari with Homemade Spicy Garlic Glaze and Crumbled Feta Cheese. Very tasty. Whilst Rich and R shared chicken with spinach pancakes, which they said was very good, although they thought the pancakes were a little strange. For main course I had Braised Lamb Shank Marinated in Chinese Mustard & Soy with Maytag Blue Cheese Smashed Potatoes, Garlic Wilted Spinach, Apio Chips and a Sherry Reduction Sauce. This was amazing. I didn't even need a knife, the meat just fell straight off the bone. The mashed potatoes were very rich, but absolutely delicious, especially if you like bleu cheese. Rich had the Braised Lamb Shank Marinated in Chinese Mustard & Soy with Maytag Blue Cheese Smashed Potatoes, Garlic Wilted Spinach, Apio Chips and a Sherry Reduction Sauce, R had the Tchoup Chop Chicken "Hawaiian Style" Marinated, Rotisserie Roasted Half Chicken served with Peanut Fried Rice, Soy Pineapple Glaze, Stir Fried Bok Choy and Baby Carrots and N had the Grilled Double Cut Pork Chop with Ginger Roasted Sweet Potato Mash, Tamarind Barbecue Glaze and Five Spiced Green Apple Chutney. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their meal and was raving about the flavors.

At this point in the meal, we were so stuffed, but couldn't resist getting a little dessert. N and R shared Emeril's signature dessert, the banana cream pie, which was absolutely enormous, but tasted incredible. I got the pecan pie, which was to die for and Rich got a frozen coconut souffle, which he barely touched for the simple reason that it was so rich in flavour. I tried it an could not eat more than a spoonful, the concentrated flavor of the coconut was almost too much. It would have been great if I was not so full, but was a little much on a full stomach.

So all in all, this was a fantastic place. The service was impeccable. The waiters knew exactly what each person was having, what they were drinking and never let your glass go empty. It was kind of pricey, but really only worked out to be $75 per person including the tip, which for a 3 course meal with wine, great ambiance and spectacular service is pretty darn good in my opinion. If you have the chance to try this restaurant, so won't regret it!!

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