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Katie Davis

@PopCultureCuisine

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Kitchen Reigns Supreme

Monday, February 7, 2011 @ 09:02 AM

094Did ya’ll get hit with Snowmageddon 2011 or were you one of the lucky few friends of ours to be in a much warmer climate than us?  It was amazing! Not even our Dallas friends were safe from the bitter hand of Mother Nature, having had just as many problems this week with closings due to ice. So I’m assuming it is only you few Floridians and Californians who missed it…lucky arses. Smile Although, we didn’t get hit as bad as Chicago (man I’m glad we don’t have to deal with that anymore!) we did get some pretty fierce weather for sure.  I am starting to believe that this winter is going to be brutal and is FAR from over.  So I will repeat what I said last week…, I am just going to keep going back to our sunny Florida trip in my mind. It may not get me warm, but it will definitely ease the pain in the meantime.

One thing we keep saying over and over about that trip to Orlando was although a whirlwind, it was probably one of the most adventurous and all encompassing culinary trips we have ever done.  Not only did we visit 11 PCC worthy spots, we visited 11 drastically different in both cuisine and style; and though each one wasn’t a hit or likely to be remembered forever, there were a few that dramatically stood out…This next spot was one of those.

I am sure you are all aware by now of our love of all things Food Network. I mean come on…we feature it almost constantly; and while Iron Chef America is not a show that we watch often, if I happen to catch a particularly interesting episode, I will tune in and watch the fury.  What I have always found so fascinating about it is how quickly they can put together that many courses and in such interesting combinations with such unique ingredients. They certainly are Iron Chefs for a reason.

If you have never watched Iron Chef, that’s ok. Watching the show is not what inspired our want of visiting this next restaurant, it just familiarized us with the chef and creator of our next feature.  Cat Cora, who happens to be the only female Iron Chef in history, became a person of interest for us when we noticed her on that show.  We have since seen her featured on the Food Network in other capacities, primarily on the channel’s "The Best Things I Ever Ate." It was during one of these episodes where we discovered she happens to have her own restaurant, Kouzzina, in Orlando.

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This restaurant is actually apart of Walt Disney World, located at their Disney’s BoardWalk Resort; and when we decided that we would be going to Disney for our anniversary, this spot was at the top of our list.  What excited me so much about this restaurant is that it is Mediterranean/Greek food inspired by Cat’s Greek heritage.  And while I LOVE Greek food, I was even more excited about the prospect of trying Greek food that was designed and created by an Iron Chef! I was just sure it was going to have a certain notch above some of the rest that I’ve tried.

So on one of our evenings, we got all gussied up and headed over to the Boardwalk to check it out.

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(On a side note…,man I was tan! Oh too be that warm, sunny, and brown again…but I digress.) Smile

With Cat Cora being a famous chef, there was obviously a little bit of a wait, but that was fine, because the Boardwalk is fun to walk around and see.

Modeled after the famous boardwalk in Atlantic City, it has a very nostalgic feeling to it, and if you are like Adam and have gotten into HBO’s "Boardwalk Empire," you would have thought it was pretty lifelike too.  So after a short wait, we were seated in a cozy little back area of the restaurant.

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I will say now that the restaurant was a bit difficult to photograph due to the lighting and I had only brought my small camera with us.  You will also notice that the décor was maybe not as upscale as you might think.  I attributed this to the fact that it was at the Disney resort and they likely wanted it to feel open and comfortable to any type of diner. Also, the word Kouzzina is Greek for ‘kitchen’ and it’s supposed to make you feel like you are in the same kind of kitchen that Cat grew up in.

Well, we quickly settled in, enjoyed our wine, and perused the menu.  I already knew my eyes were going to be way bigger than my tummy, but I wanted to try as many things as possible. We started with an order of their Saganaki, because it is a favorite appetizer of ours, and Adam then ordered their Egg-lemon soup, while I got a Greek Salad.

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The Saganaki we agreed was not as melty as we’re typically used to. This is likely because they didn’t actually light it at the table, so it had hardened a bit by the time we got it. Still, it was tasty.  Adam really enjoyed his soup and my salad was delicious!  Tart, salty, crunchy, and tangy…, what a good Greek salad should be.

I was already getting full by this point, but I knew I had to try an entrée.  Adam decided upon the Pastitsio, a Greek-style Lasagna, a favorite of his at other Greek spots, while I went with the Kouzinna Trio.  I figured that way I would be able to try 3 dishes and get to taste a variety. The dish included the Greek-style lasagna, a lamb burger, and cinnamon stewed chicken.

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Holy cow it was all delicious! So much so that I had trouble deciding what dish to spend more time on.  I love the spices Greek food infuses…their use of things like cinnamon just add such a unique and comforting flavor. Although it had a bit of a kick, the lamb burger was easily my favorite and between it and the lasagna I could not seem to stop taking bites.  Adam loved his meal and said it was one of the best renditions of that dish he had ever had.  It was HUGE too! We likely could have split something, especially since we were unable to take any of it home, but all the tastes were well worth it.  And although stuffed by the end of it, I still had room for a sweet yummy Godiva chocolate martini and a few bites of the complementary cupcake they brought for our anniversary!  Also, Adam ordered the Galaktoboureko, this Greek vanilla custard treat lured him in and was way yummy…, so I guess we both had a bit of a sweet tooth that night.

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We had a fantastic time at Kouzzina and were treated so kindly by both our waiter…. and their manager/chef who was kind enough to stop and chat with us.  All in all…a terrific anniversary dinner, and the one that I keep going back to in my mind when I think about that trip and special occasion. Thanks for the great night!

SIGNATURE DISH: Kouzzina does not have a dish that they are known for per se, rather what makes all their dishes "signature" is that they were created/inspired by Cat Cora herself. The menu features a great deal of common “Greek” style favorites; and I would say that they differ from your typical neighborhood Greek restaurant in that these dishes all have a certain flair to them that makes you know these were given special attention.  They taste like your typical favorites, but with a twist…, that Iron Chef twist of perfection.

TASTE: DELICIOUS.  Now if you don’t happen to like Greek food, I would say you will not likely enjoy this meal, because all of the dishes are definitely heavily seasoned with those typical spices, but they truly add so much flavor I don’t see how you could not enjoy them.

AMBIANCE: I was a little shocked that the décor was not a little more upscale. I guess I just figured being an Iron Chef spot it would be.  However, I do understand the concept and Kouzzina meaning the “Kitchen” they have it set up in such a way that feels very homey and family style.  I also realize that located at a Disney resort, it has a certain need to feel uniform to other dining atmospheres so guests of all types will feel comfortable.  So although I did wish it had been a little fancier, it still was a very pleasant atmosphere.

PRICE: I would say that being located at a resort and having the notoriety of an Iron Chef behind the name, the prices were all higher than…say… a lot of other Greek-style places. Still, they were not outrageous, especially seeing as Greek food is typically on the higher end of the cost spectrum.  We definitely enjoyed ourselves and splurged, so ordering 3 appetizers, 2 main meals, alcohol, and dessert certainly drove our bill up. But it was VERY MUCH worth it and we’d both do it again in a second.

SERVICE: As I said earlier, our waiter John was very friendly and helpful.  We even had a chance to talk with the manager and head chef for a bit, which gave us more insight into the restaurant.

We really had a memorable meal at Kouzzina and would love to return someday.  So it is with pleasure that I give it 4 1/2 ‘Little Piggies.’

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2 Responses to “Kitchen Reigns Supreme”

  1. […] I mentioned recently, our trip to Orlando last October was truly a whirlwind for many reasons, but most of all because […]

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