Below are details about each of the five dishes with a Gallic touch.
(Please note: I know the holiday is spelled St. Patrick's Day, with a period and an apostrophe mark, but SEO nonsense dictates that I ignore those conventions. Humbug.)
St Patricks Day in Orlando: Fish 'n' Chips -- a Fancy Version -- at The Osprey Tavern
Fish 'n' chips will be Osprey Tavern's tribute to St Patrick's Day in Orlando. This is no predictable version, though. The Baldwin Park urban tavern will make its entree with Atlantic flounder that's embraced with an IPA beer batter. Sharing the plate: smoked french fries and dollops of malt vinegar "gel." Why gel? Because it's far less messy than a shaker bottle of liquid.
St Patricks Day in Orlando: The Lucky Pat Panini at Hot Krust
You've got to give Hot Krust credit. This little sandwich shop in Dr. Phillips is jumping into the festive fray by serving an all-green sandwich on St Patricks Day in Orlando. Owner Evan Dimov dubbed it the Lucky Pat Panini. It'll be filled with a load of green items including avocado, dill greek yogurt sauce, jalapeño, cucumber, lettuce and green pepper sauce. Add in some onions and provolone and you've got yourself a melt.
St Patricks Day in Orlando: Bangers and Mash at The Cloak & Blaster
A pubby place known for geeky pursuits like game-playing, The Cloak & Blaster is a natural fit for a St Patricks Day celebration in Orlando. The night's menu will have several Irish specialties, including the bangers (sausage) and mash (mashed potatoes) with gravy pictured above.
Cottage pie, cabbage soup, beer-battered fish 'n' chips, and a Blarney Burger topped with mashed potatoes and Guinness gravy will also be on the menu. The beer won't be green, but it will be prolific: Guinness, Guinness Nitro IPA, a mix of the two called the Dublin Decker, and Cigar City Patio Tools (from Tampa). Bonus: Irish Coffee.
The bar will open at 3, the kitchen at 4. Bring the kids early, because the crowd turns to adult-only at 8 p.m.
St Patricks Day in Orlando: Chicken-fried Corned Beef at Soco
Talk about creative. Chef Greg Richie of Soco, a New Southern restaurant in Thornton Park, wanted to put a contemporary, Southern spin on a holiday so far from what his kitchen normally does. The result? This St. Paddy’s Day dish: chicken-fried corned beef with collard green-colcannon potatoes and Guinness pan gravy. If I didn't have book group at a friend's house on March 17, I'd be at Soco. If Soco's chicken-fried cauliflower is amazing -- it is; read this -- I can only imagine what this man does with a slab of corned beef.
Bonus: Down the block at his Asian restaurant Baoery, Chef Greg will call the place "O'Baoery's" and serve a bao "bun" filled with corned beef and kim chi, a Korean-styled pickled vegetable.
St Patricks Day in Orlando: Shepherd's Pie at Raglan Road
Shepherd's pie is just the start of it. Raglan Road is a massive Irish restaurant at Disney Springs, where live music and Irish dancing are part of the fun seemingly around the clock. So are upmarket takes on traditional foods. Just look at Keen Eye for the Shepherd’s Pie. A visual work of art, right? It's made with top-quality ingredients, and skill. I've had it. It's delicious. Key ingredients are a beef and lamb mix, a wine reduction, and a roasted shallot garnish.
Raglan Road's festivities are already underway, as its Mighty St. Patrick's Festival runs March 11 through March 17, 2016. The food, beer (none of it green) and entertainment are so popular that on St. Paddy's Day itself, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, guests will be seated on a first-come, first-served basis, and adults will pay a $10 cover charge. You can get a reservation on other festival days. Call 407.938-0300.
Want to celebrate St Patricks Day in Orlando in a classy way? Follow my advice and choose one of these restaurants, or another that serves good food and good fun without excessive ... well, excess.