Nailed it.

Winter Park is home to a relatively large collection of restaurants and stores. The Ravenous Pig is an unassuming little place down Orange Avenue, surrounded by office buildings, medical supply stores and banks. As we drove past, I assumed (largely because of the name) that it was  barbecue restaurant. We turned around and parked, and I was ready for some ribs or BBQ chicken. I wasn’t disappointed to find out that not only was it NOT a BBQ restaurant, but it was the best restaurant experience I have ever had the pleasure of enduring.

If you google “best restaurants in Orlando,” I guarantee you’ll see the Ravenous Pig among the first results. We stepped into the entrance, and were immediately greeted by a horde of attractive smiling females. Despite the lack of a reservation, they escorted us to a two-top about three steps from the front door. The poor lady looked apologetic, but we were abashed by not having reservations, so we were even. The sad moment gave way to a hearty greeting from Alex, who immediately offered us the most tantalizing sounding cocktails. I wasn’t in the mood for drinkin’, so I ordered an Unsweet Iced Tea. Man Biscuit has a theory that the quality of the servers in a restaurant is equal to the freshness of their iced tea.

I sipped my incredibly fresh tea and looked around. There were antiqued tiles on the ceiling and demure bare bulbs hanging down over the tables. The filaments in the bulbs glowed brightly, but not enough to hurt our eyes. There was some obscure metal art on the walls, butcher paper on the tables and not much else. I decided since the décor wasn’t seriously whacky, then the food must be the real art. As our foie gras arrived, I knew that was the case. Centered in a vast circular plate, two pieces of goose liver sat unceremoniously  steaming. Man Biscuit cut into it carefully and divvied out the goods.

As my tongue touched the liver, bread and slivers of fresh Plant City strawberries, a tear trickled from my eye. The flavor leapt from the fork and pierced my heart. Glorious fat, sweet and tart fruit and spongy bread mingled in a slow dance of perfection as the bite literally melted in my mouth. I was blown away. The sear was crisp, the foie gras was light and airy – it was like no liver I have ever tasted. Sheer perfection.  The only complaint I can muster, is that I would have eaten twice again as much.

For my meal, I ordered the most expensive thing on the menu. At a whopping $34, I was nervous about my selection. There was a perfectly delicious sounding hamburger for only $13. I don’t care. If there’s a menu with lamb on it, I have to order it. It’s a personal rule. So, I bit the bullet, and orered the Ellensburg Lamb Noisette. When it arrived, I marveled in the beauty of the dish. It was plated carefully, with perfect circles of sous-vide lamb, surrounded in lamb belly. I cut into it, with some difficulty, but after the initial workout I had a piece of lamb with fat together. The fat belly was seared perfectly, and the sous-vide lamb was tender.  The flavors mingled with the spring onion puree and lamb jus like old friends. The various kohlrabi, nigella and royal trumped mushrooms were cooked with precision and care, seasoned well and pleasant spots of color and flavor on the plate. The Nettle dumpling was a bit bland at first, but once I chewed through the nettles, the flavor brightened. A crumb-like seasoning dotted the plate, and once dipped provided a sweetness not unlike brown sugar that added some depth to all flavors on the plate. It was a decidedly heroic dish.

I must not forget to mention the truffle fries (which come with the burger, but dammit, we wanted to try them.) They were small string fries, lightly salted and flavored with truffle oil. They were just damn tasty.

The Ravenous Pig is a clear winner in the race to the top of Orlando Restaurants, and they proved that with a delectable dessert that finished off a near-perfect meal. I ordered the pistachio cake, complete with a blackberry sorbet. The sorbet was rich, dark and mysterious. The flavor bounced around the sprigs of mint and berry drizzle that drew your eye to a lovely layered cake. The cake was soft and moist, in two small slabs that surrounded a light and sweet honey mascarpone.


Each dish was treated with experience and an artful flare. Chef/Owners James & Julie Petrakis should be proud of their fare. I’m so glad it wasn’t just a BBQ joint.


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