Progressive Dinner Stop #4: Luma on Park is a dessert-lovers dream!
For Day 3 of my “12 Days of Birthday” Celebrations, I hosted the Go Epicurista Ultimate Progressive Dinner in Winter Park. It was an amazing evening of great food, wine and friends! We sampled fantastic restaurants in this foodie hub of Orlando called Winter Park. We started with a fun chocolate party at Peterbrooke Chocolatier (recap here)which set the playful tone for the evening. Then “progressed” to The Wine Room on Park Avenue for an amazing wine and cheese tasting with a hint of secrecy (read all about it here). After strolling down Park Avenue and doing some window shopping, we arrived at our third stop, Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen, where everyone was surprised we were there to sample more than just coffee (read about it here). Our last stop of the evening was super-chic, celebrity favorite, Luma on Park which never disappoints. It was the place that provided the most laughs of the evening and perfect to end the night the way we started, on a sweet sugar-high! Luma on Park is a dessert-lovers dream!
Although we started the night with chocolate, we were having dessert again because, why not? We picked up our sweet treats to take home from Peterbrooke Chocolatier and headed across the street to Luma on Park, the culinary playground of James Beard Award nominee Chef Brandon McGlamery, Chef de Cuisine Derek Perez and Pastry Chef Brian Cernell. This is one of my favorite restaurants in town as it consistently delivers an outstanding experience from start to finish.
Their menu changes seasonally and focuses on using local farmers and producers. Plus, with glass walls lined with wine bottles, they have one of the most beautiful two-story wine cellars boasting a creative wine list of known brands mixed with small producers. I love that they have over 80 wines offered by the half and full glass. It is perfect for tastings and pairings. It is no surprise this hot spot was voted “Best Foodie Spot in Orlando” by USA Today, “Best Wine List” and “Best Celebrity Spotting” by Orlando Magazine in 2014.
The look of this restaurant has more of a South Beach vibe, trendy neutral tones, glass walls, and flowing sheers from high ceilings. The restrooms alone are worth a visit with the futuristic doors that open at the push of a button. They have a lively late-night bar scene but we sat in the dining room with a view of their open kitchen.
Luma On Park Offers Inventive & Laughter-Inducing Cocktails
We started with cocktails and I was happy to get their Chocolate Coconut Martini even though it is not currently on the menu. I had tried it during a previous visit and was craving it again! It is simply dessert in a glass with Malibu Coconut Rum, Godiva White Chocolate and Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur topped with fresh toasted coconut. It felt like I was on vacation!
Everyone in the group ordered something different to suit their tastes and there is a lot to choose from. The Taylor Fladgate Tawny Port flight with a 1oz sampling of 10, 20, 30 and 40 yr was fantastic. It is always so interesting to try a vintage vertical of the same wine because you can truly taste how it only gets better with age. Appropriate as I celebrate my birthday. I enjoyed the smooth and sexy 40 year, kind of like me! (someone stop me now before I embarrass myself further!) The La Fleur D’Or Sauterne dessert wine was divine on their dessert wine list. They also offer ports and Madeiras which you don’t see often on menus, plus an extensive variety of cordials and digestifs to choose from.
Their Luma After Dark menu features creative cocktails such as The Cherry Lane Martini with Stoli Vanil Vodka, Godiva White Chocolate and Luxardo Amarena Cherries which was a nice blend of sweet and tart.
The Tequila Pine Martini made with one of their house-made infusions of habanero pepper and pineapple tequila provided the most laughs of the night. Everyone took a sip and the reactions were priceless. At first, you get the fruity sweetness of the pineapple but then the habanero pepper truly comes up and surprises you with a kick, a hook and a jab! Think of the YouTube videos of babies sucking on a lemon for the first time and you will get the picture. Oh, fun times! The drink was a bit too spicy for some, and yet perfect for others but we all loved the laughs. I think you should always have at least one dish or drink that makes you laugh during the course of the evening, don’t you?
Desserts are Classical with a Twist at Luma on Park
I chose Luma on Park for our dessert course because, although an entire meal here is an amazing treat, their desserts are simply out of this world. The creativity of Chef Brian Cernell, a graduate of the Orlando Culinary Academy, must be tasted to be believed. He plays with classical recipes and throws in some surprises to challenge your notion of what a dessert should be. All the desserts have stunning presentation, so much so that when they hit the table everyone dove right in before I got a chance to snap pictures of all of them to share with you. I don’t blame them! Take a look at these and tell me if you would have been able to resist.
When you think of Buttermilk Panna Cotta it’s easy to think of a mild-flavored gelatin like custard, dare I say often a boring dessert, and definitely not exciting. At Luma’s it is the complete opposite. Infused with local citrus, passion fruit and Thai Basil with a pink peppercorn-cashew brittle, it is this perfect blend of sweet and savory flavors that is absolutely refreshing and had everyone at the table digging their spoons into this plate (you will notice a few bites missing on one of the pictures!) Antoine from Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen recommended it and he was 100% spot on. If you have nothing else on the menu, have this and you will be thoroughly satisfied.
The Chocolate Cremeaux with lemon curd, brown butter crumble, strawberry sorbet and Maldon salt was a rich and creamy experience for the chocolate-lovers in the group (me!). I enjoyed how the lemon curd and strawberry sorbet gave a nice refreshing balance to the intensely dense chocolate torte.
The Carrot Cake was described to us as “a great carrot cake that’s not a carrot cake” and that intrigued us. Hmm. Scratch your head with that one. Well, our server was right. It was more of a sponge loaf cake flavored with carrots and what elevated it was the blend of flavors with key lime curd, white chocolate, coconut sorbet and coffee crumble. These elements don’t seem to go together in a carrot cake and yet they all complemented each other so well that the dish still had the earthy, savory and sweet flavors of home you think of in a traditional carrot cake.
Lastly, the Strawberry Semifreddo with pine nut mousse, black pepper crumble, lemon verbena sherbert and rhubarb gel was another surprising creation. The lemon verbena was so fragrant and then you got a hint of spicy pepper, and then nuttiness, and then sweet strawberry. It was layers of flavors that kept coming at you all to create a perfect harmony in your mouth.
All I can say is wow! The Pastry Chef is an artist at producing perfectly balanced layers of flavors in all four of the desserts we sampled.
Luma on Park was the perfect location to end a perfect evening with great friends. Reservations are recommended, especially on weekends, and can be made online. Luma on Park is located on the corner of Park Avenue and New England Avenue at 290 S Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789.
If you’re curious what 12 Days of Birthdays is all about, click here. It is the best cure for the Birthday Blues. This is Day 3. Up next is Day 4 which included an amazing brunch and a birthday cake that received national attention. I hope you will join me on this celebration!
Now it’s your turn to share. What has been the most unique or creative dessert you’ve ever tried? Have you had a dish that created laughter among everyone at the table? Please share in the comments below. I would love to hear about it!
I hope you enjoyed the Go Epicurista Ultimate Progressive Dinner of Winter Park. Thank you for joining me on this culinary journey. If you liked this post and would like to experience this type of amazing event with your friends, or if you’ve ever said I want to do that “someday” then please share with your friends using the links below. Set a date, make plans and #MakeSomedayHappen!