Damon meeting, Orlando

I attended the Damon continuing education meeting in Orlando last weekend.  Depending on who you ask, Damon is either an orthodontic bracket (brace), or a religion.  It was held at the JW Marriott, which is part of the Grande Lakes complex, along with the Ritz Carlton.

I had dinner Thursday night at Norman’s, Norm Van Aken’s restaurant in the Ritz Carlton.  It is a beautiful restaurant, dark and rich as you would expect in a Ritz Carlton.  We were a party of 10, and ate at the ‘Chef’s Table’, which, surprisingly, was in the middle of the main dining room surrounded by wine storage.  I had always thought the chef’s table was in the kitchen, but I guess that’s in the eye of the beholder.

The food was good, although not great, and I was particularly disappointed in the limited seafood offerings, and the unenthusiastic description of the seafood dishes by the waitstaff.  What was incredible, however, was the steak tartare appetizer.  I could hardly get enough of it- almost indescribably delicious.  We also enjoyed several bottles of a relatively inexpensive Cabernet called Decoy.  I will look for it again in the future.  Overall, I was a little disappointed.  I really enjoyed the ‘No Reservations’ episode where Bourdain cooked at Norman’s house in Key West, and I was expecting a transcendent meal.  Yet again, the Orlando outpost of a celebrity chef proves to be a weak sister.  Emeril’s ‘Tchoup Shop’ at Universal proved to be particularly disappointing when I ate there several years ago.

One positive note is that the banquet/meeting food at the JW Marriott was outstanding- without a doubt the best I have ever had at an event of this type.

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