Orlando Good Eats: Napa at The Peabody Orlando

by Kate Higgins on April 25, 2011

House ricotta and crab cavatelli

House ricotta and crab cavatelli

I like food. A lot.

I like food that is fresh, exciting and innovative. I like food that surprises me with it’s complexity of flavors in the same bite. Food that goes well with wine. And beer. Food that is bright and colorful. And fun. Food that is slow, and moseys to my plate without having to ride cross country with an Amtrak ticket in it’s back pocket.

So when I’m able to experience all of this, I jump at both the opportunity and the chance to tell others. Napa is a new restaurant located in The Peabody Orlando and describes itself as “drawing on inspiration from Wine Country” while having a menu that is”comprised of organic, sustainable farm-to-fork selections”. Intrigued, my friends and I enjoyed a fantastic lunch over at Napa a few weeks ago.

The newly renovated Peabody Orlando was hopping with people and quite impressive with it’s increase in rooms and new dining options. Napa is located just off the main entrance on the lower level of the hotel. The space itself is gorgeous: modern and clean while retaining a certain degree of edginess. Plus the wine decor was pretty cool.

To start we shared the Crispy Cape Canaveral Calamari served with an Asian Curry Slaw and a Pepper Aioli. The calamari was a fantastic combination of melt in your mouth tenderness with a crispy shell. The slaw was a nice surprise. The crunchiness provided a good textural contrast while the curry added a whole new element to the plate.

I chose the House Ricotta and Crab Cavatelli for my entree. The homemade pasta, fresh and delicate, was tossed with Rapini, Cippolini Onions, Pancetta, Waterkist Farms (located in Sanford, Fl) Tomato Confit. Sounds like a lot…and it was. Full of flavor, this dish pleased me on many different levels. I loved the sweetness of the onions with the savoriness of the pancetta together with the pasta. The portion size was also large enough for me to take home half of the entire dish.

We finished our meal with the Meyer Lemon Tart topped with a Basil Sorbet. The dessert was a hit, and the bright flavors of the tart with the clean sorbet were a perfect light ending to the meal.

And, true to it’s name, Napa did have a great wine selection. We enjoyed the MacMurray Ranch Pinot Gris (ironically from Sonoma) throughout the meal. New World Pinot Gris has really become a favorite of mine. It can be very versatile with subtle hints of acidity and rich floral undertones.

I’d eat at Napa again in a heartbeat. The service was excellent, and valet parking is validated for those who are not staying at the hotel.  Florida does have many local food options, and it’s great to see a restaurant that takes advantage of this while producing some really tasty food that goes well with wine. And is exciting. And is slow. See, turns out I don’t ask for too much after all!

–- Kate Higgins of Kate’s Kitchen

[Photo credit: Kate Higgins]

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