Highball & Harvest - Orlando - 4.5 Stars
"If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst forth at once in the sky, that would be like the splendor." -- Gita
Highball & Harvest is a restaurant inside the Ritz Carlton Hotel. The Ritz works very hard to deliver an amazing overall experience whether in lodging or in dining. While I did not stay at the hotel itself, the opulence that surrounds you upon entering the restaurant is sumptuous. You have to take a circuitous route to get to this eatery but once seated you have great views of lush flora and fauna that are carefully manicured. The attention to detail is astounding.
The only downside to this spot is that the open air nature of this area caused sound to reverberate. Normally, this is not a big deal, but there was a gaggle of men hard-pitching what sounded like a Ponzi-like scheme to some young adults nearby. I tried to ignore them, but the leader of the pitch had a bellowing voice that carried throughout the place. He looked and sounded just like Marty Funkhouser from "Curb Your Enthusiasm." It was hard to avert my eyes because he apparently had obtained hair transplants years ago and did not have the foresight to consider future baldness. So he had perfect rows of wispy red hair on his head, a complete ring of baldness, and then more hair. Anyway, while this is a major digression from the point it was hilarious to watch and listen. I didn't need to stick my head in my phone for entertainment.
Now, back to my culinary experience. Highball & Harvest has, like all modern American restaurants, a craft drink menu.
A highball is another name for cocktail, which was big in usage at the turn of the last century. I chose to imbibe and picked the Industrialist from the menu. This consisted of Woodford Reserve double bourbon, Creme de' Menthe, and Fernet Branca. How they came up with this combination is beyond me but WOW! - it works. I ordered three sides instead of a full meal this time, choosing brussel sprouts with sherry-maple gastrique, Jimmy Red's goat cheese grits, and red cabbage deviled eggs. At first I was worried about the maple gastrique but my worry was for naught. The maple was barely noticeable but the sugars gave a potent punch on the finish. Now, as far as cheese grits go, I will eat them whenever they're on the menu. These Jimmy Red's had so much wonderful cheese I almost want to call it cheese with grits - truly amazing. Finally the deviled eggs: The chef who designed these eggs should get national recognition. The filling was smooth and creamy. The red cabbage finish topped with the pumpernickel crouton is the kind of crisp, clean, simple dish I so enjoy.
I can't say enough good things about Highball & Harvest. Their dishes are simple, yet complex, and contain the right balance of flavors with recipes that are outside of the proverbial box. Please, I implore you to go experience Highball & Harvest, so sayeth the Big Boy