Kasa Restaurant & Raw Bar is Magical Dining indeed
Trying a restaurant for the first time is like playing the lottery. Fingers crossed, you hope for the winning ticket. Chances are, if you’re really lucky, you only get a few numbers right. Great food, drinks, service, ambiance and value – shouldn’t we get them all? I am happy to say I won the jackpot! My first visit to Kasa Restaurant & Raw Bar was a Magical Dining experience indeed. I guarantee it won’t be my last.
Kasa Restaurant is relatively new to the Orlando dining scene. It opened in Downtown Orlando’s Plaza Building in Fall of 2013. A new participant of Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month, which Chef Shawn Kaplan tells us has been very successful bringing first timers, like me, through the door. The menu is eclectic, showing a global influence with predominant Latin and Asian flavors and California flair, no doubt a result of Kaplan’s time working in Napa Valley. The presentation of each dish was gorgeous, colorful and fun. The flavors followed suit and exceeded my expectations. Every dish was perfectly seasoned with its unique identity. It was difficult to pick a favorite of the night. They were all good in their own way.
The Magical Dining menu featured some of the most popular dishes on the Kasa Restaurant menu. It showcased Chef Kaplan’s creativity, the reason I was drawn to visit. Kasa Corn and Tuna Avocado Tostones appetizers sound more exciting than a house soup or salad any day of the week – take note other Magical Dining Restaurants.
Kasa Restaurant Beverages
The bar offers creative hand-crafted cocktails ($9-$12), sangrias ($7-$8), beers ($4-$5), wines from around the globe in a good price range, several under $50/bottle ($38-110) and champagnes ($100-$250).
We started our evening with these cocktails:
- ^ The White Diamond ($10), one of their most popular, with Marilyn Monroe strawberry vodka, Malibu rum, prosecco, lychee and pear puree, was sweet but not overly syrupy.
^ Kasa Old Fashioned ($12) with Knob Creek Bourbon was traditionally made, and even for a non-bourbon drinker like me, quite enjoyable. I appreciated the use of one big ice-cube. Quality ice is an important component of great cocktails, often missed in most bars.
^ Fired Up Sangria ($7), a blend of red wine, Fireball whiskey and fresh fruit, had the cinnamon flavor from the whiskey without the bite, making it quite good – and probably a bit dangerous as I can see these being consumed quickly on a warm day. The sangrias at Kasa Restaurant are quite popular, including a Sparkling Hibiscus made with sparkling wine and hibiscus vodka and Kasa Blanca with white wine and elderflower liqueur, which I have to try on my next visit.
Magical Dining Appetizers:
- ^ Kasa Corn ($6) inspired by Mexican street fare, is not your ordinary corn on the cob. The corn was nicely roasted, covered in miso lime aioli, togarashi spices, manchego cheese and queso fresco. You may find it strange to cover corn in mayo and then top it with cheese but this was fantastic. The flavor of the cheese gave it depth and the spices provided a nice punch of flavor. It was not necessarily the most lady-like dish to eat. You have to get messy and use your hands and yes, you may need some floss afterwards, but every bite is worth it. I was not surprised to learn the Kasa Corn is one of their most popular dishes on their Tastings Menu.
^ Adobo Pork & Crispy Polenta Cake ($9) also on their Tastings Menu, these small bites packed a ton of flavor. Mini rounds of polenta cake, made with marscapone and parmesan for added richness, are topped with chipotle braised pork – slow cooked for six hours – avocado puree, pickled red onions, queso fresco, and fresh cilantro.
^ Mini Tuna Tostones ($12) coming from their Raw Bar, this dish showcased the fusion of Latin and Asian cuisine beautifully. Spicy tuna tartare topped with avocado puree (which at first had me worried as it looked like wasabi), and tropical mango relish accompanied by plantain chips. Chef Kaplan called these tostone chips, which is a loose interpretation, and all I could say is I wanted more of them to scoop up the generous portion of tuna.
Magical Dining Entrees:
- ^ Grilled Chimichurri Hangar Steak ($26) the beef is thoroughly tenderized with a hand tool Chef Kaplan happily showed us. Comprised of 48 stainless steel blades and a handle, it’s perfect for a Halloween movie, but it definitely does its job as the meat was practically fork tender for this usually tough cut of beef. Cooked perfectly with a beautiful char on the outside,served over smashed smoked paprika fingerling potatoes and topped with shiitake mushrooms and sugar snap peas with slight pickling. The flavors worked well together and the steak was well seasoned. The traditional Argentinian chimichurri sauce was emulsified for a more elegant look. Lots of garlic and red pepper flakes gave it a nice kick which was a surprise. I would definitely order this entrée again.
^ Vegetable Spring Pea Gnocchi ($18) Hand crafted gnocchi tossed with an exotic mushroom ragu, spring peas,and carrots, topped with parmesan cheese, pickled onions, watercress and frisse greens. I am not a big fan of ordering pasta when there are so many other choices on the menu, however, this dish was a winner. Bright flavors to match the bright colors of all the ingredients.
^ Pan Seared Salmon ($22) perfectly seared with a nice crust and medium interior. Served atop ratatouille risotto, made hearty by roasted eggplant puree, sautéed zucchini, roasted tomatoes artistically presented, and red pepper consommé, added a nice contrast and made the plate even more colorful. Where many Magical Dining menus are offering salmon, this one stood in a class on its own. Full of flavor, beautiful presentation and a nice portion which sent me home with leftovers.
Magical Dining Desserts:
- ^ Wrecked Apple Pie Roll ($8) is not your grandma’s apple pie. Thinly sliced granny smith apples are made into a sushi-like roll, tempura battered and fried to a golden crisp. Served with sea salt caramel ice cream, topped with Maple sea salt, it was pure heaven. I will not be able to eat a regular piece of apple pie again. Garnished with a beautiful spun sugar crisp. It was a gorgeous presentation. This was one dish we did not want to share.
^ Decadent Chocolate Cake ($8) Flourless-gluten free chocolate cake with orange Chantilly cream. It looked quite decadent indeed and one every chocoholic would love.
Service was genuinely friendly and attentive from all staff we encountered. Our server knew the menu well and expertly made recommendations for both our food and beverage choices. I already have a list of items I must try next time. I hadn’t even finished this meal and I was already thinking about my next visit. Isn’t that what every restaurant considers hitting the jackpot?
The restaurant design is beautiful. South Beach modern chic, comfortable and spa-like, with soft green and light wood tones. Kasa has an expansive bar area, popular for evenings out with friends, especially for their weekly events. Daily Happy Hour from 5pm-7pm and Tasting Tuesday from 5p-10:30p offers specially priced tasting plates and cocktails starting at $4. Unwine’d Wednesday offers all you can drink wine, beer and bites, plus live entertainment for $20 per person from 5pm-9pm. Thursday Ladies Night offers an all night happy hour from 5pm-close for the ladies. Kasa Restaurant’s Sunday Brunch offers an all you can eat buffet and all you can drink mimosas for only $30, from 11am-4pm.
Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month offers the perfect opportunity to try a new restaurant – either a new establishment to the area or one that is new to you – at a fraction of the cost. You enjoy three courses consisting of an appetizer, entrée and dessert from a fixed menu for only $33, usually the price of the entrée alone at most of these high-end restaurants. Locals and visitors alike take advantage of this program with over 70 restaurants to choose from. Here are my tips to get The Most Magic from Magical Dining.
GO check out Kasa Restaurant! It would be a magical dining experience indeed.
Kasa Restaurant is located at 183 S. Orange Ave., Orlando FL (407) 985-5272.
Hours of operation:
Monday & Tuesday 11:30 am – 10:30 pm
Wednesday – Friday 11:30 am – Late
Saturday 5 pm – Late
Sunday Brunch 11 am – 4 pm
Tasting Tuesday: 5pm-10:30pm
Happy Hour: 5pm-7pm, bar and lounge only
Discounted parking available at the Plaza Garage for a duration of 90 minutes. You may also want to check out nearby parking options which would be less expensive.
My dining companions and I were invited guests of Kasa Restaurant to sample their Magical Dining menu. I was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own and I only share dining experiences worth celebrating.