NORMAN’S is in a class of its own

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IMG_4310I only get one wedding anniversary every year, so when Marc and I start thinking about where to celebrate, we don’t choose the restaurant hastily. Sure, I want dinner to be good, but I want the whole experience to be memorable… is that too much to ask? I don’t think so.

This year, we toasted eight years at NORMAN'S, Chef Norman Van Aken's award-winning restaurant inside the Ritz-Carlton Orlando. The fact that we had couples on either side of our table also celebrating anniversaries will tell you that we’re not the first pair of lovebirds to think of this spot for special occasions. After an unbelievable evening, I can assure you that we won’t be the last.

Besides its location, NORMAN’S appeal surely stems from the uniqueness of its cuisine, which represents a fusion of flavors from Chef Van Aken’s favorite places in the world. Part Caribbean, part Latin, and part Asian, the menu offers lots of fresh fish main entrees as well as a handful of immensely flavorful carnivorous choices.

IMG_4320Regardless of which entree you choose, be sure to start with the Key West Shrimp Ceviche. This menu mainstay’s tableside preparation makes for a memorable moment.

The only dessert I can vouch for is the Havana Banana Split, a rum-flamed banana paired with house-made macadamia nut brittle and vanilla bean ice cream. It was so good I nearly licked the plate clean.

Beyond the a la carte menu, NORMAN’S also features a tasting menu. Priced at $95 per person, this option allows guests to sample and savor six different courses. Wine pairings can be added for an additional $46.

The fare is fabulous but so is the restaurant itself. NORMAN’S stands out in the sea of Orlando eateries because of its design, which is a spacious and bright circular dining room with light-colored banquettes set against the windows overlooking the golf course and lake. In the middle of the dining room, there is a wood-encased wine room, which can be reserved for special occasions.

NORMAN’S is easy to recommend to my fellow date nighters—the food, the service, and the ambiance are all faultless. Count on a $150+ tab at the end of the night but also on the feeling that it was worth every penny.


Check out NORMAN'S via this YouTube video:

By the way, you should follow GDO on ODNG.

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