Put on your heels and dust off that credit card. It's time to dine out in Orlando. September is Magical Dining Month here. That means dozens of restaurants offer three-course dinners for $33 every night they're open. Some of the menus give tremendous value, which is why locals find themselves sampling eateries all over town.
We were invited to experience the Magical Dining Month offerings at Le Coq au Vin, so last night we headed to South Orange Avenue to revisit an old-time French restaurant we'd been meaning to retry.
Every restaurant handles its Magical Dining Month menu differently. We were delighted to see that all the servers at Le Coq au Vin mentioned the Magical Dining Month option to each party as they handed out menus.
Some restaurants decline to bring up the fact that they have a lower-priced option. At those places, servers sometimes scorn while delivering a flimsy add-on menu when guests dare to ask about the selections. Le Coq au Vin not only mention the choice but has it on the back page of its hardbound regular menu.
That's smart. It gave us a chance to look at the regular entrees and remark, "Oh, this really is a value. Most of the entrees are $33 on their own." Most of the Magical Dining items were different than the standards, but that's okay. The quality level was the same.
We started with the French onion soup, which was a nice version of the simple, flavorful broth topped with melted cheese. It arrived in a decidedly small cup. I'd imagine the full, and even the half, versions on the standard menu are larger (I could be wrong), but we found it satisfying.
I'm a long-time fan of the restaurant's onion tart so quickly chose the $33 menu's zucchini tart. It was similar--a flaky pastry bottom topped with a combination of three creamy cheeses plus sliced vegetables. Mixed greens tossed with a spectacular herb-laced vinaigrette on the side made the appetizer more of a meal.
The third appetizer choice was a salad of wild greens with a mustard seed vinaigrette. If it's like the tart's side salad, or even if it's a larger version of that salad, it'll please you.
Le Coq au Vin offered four menu choices. We, hesitantly, passed over tournados of beef with Port wine sauce, and beef Bourguinon with egg noodles. Instead, we had a fork-tender salmon fillet with a mustard-flavored crust.
Our other selection was chicken Chasseur, a cut up leg or breast (your choice) in a brown sauce flavored with vermouth , tomatoes, herbs and spices. Both entrees were plated with butter-coated broccoli and carrots, and a cheese potato dish.
The dessert choices are crêpe Suzette and apple tart. The tart was sweet but not too sweet, buttery but not too buttery, and warm with vanilla ice cream on top.
My dining companion chose to pay $6 extra for a souffle. He ordered chocolate but received what I believe is Grand Marnier. Although he'd been craving chocolate, he liked end meal-topper so much that he didn't even mention it to the waiter.
We happened to have been due for a Le Coq au Vin visit so this was the perfect Magical Dining Month starter for us. You can choose from all kinds of other restaurants. Here's the list. I haven't tried any of this year's other $33 menus yet, but, that said, I'll suggest choosing Spencer's for Steaks and Chops, Big Fin Seafood Kitchen, and Luma on Park for starters. They all seem to offer exceptional value.