No menu required: Five Orlando spots where the chefs let the food flow

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No menu required: Five Orlando spots where the chefs let the food flow
Photo by Rob Bartlett

To those of us who break into a sweat, offer to go last, and hope our dining partners have umpteen questions to ask before the server reaches us and asks for our decision, anyone who doesn’t have a hard time making a decision when it comes time to talk to the server is suspect. There’s one way to completely circumvent this crisis: chef’s tables. These menuless dinners eliminate dining-related decision-making altogether, instead showcasing the whim of the chef. Here’s where stressed-out eaters can sit down and just let the food flow.

Urbain 40

Chef Tim Keating isn't yet quite sure what he's going to do with the existing in-kitchen chef's table at his new Dr. Phillips digs. We're hoping he'll turn it into a super-exclusive spot where his more "urbane" dishes can shine – see what we did there?

8000 Via Dellagio Way, 407-872-2640,

Chef's Table at the Edgewater

You can just walk in and eat at the Tasting Room in front of the restaurant, but the truly special stuff goes on in the back. Make a reservation for the three-course prix fixe dinner paired with wine. Don't scrimp; you'll want the pan-seared foie gras covered in blueberry-lavender gastrique.

99 W. Plant St., Winter Garden, 407-230-4837,

Luma on Park

The Bentleys parked just outside might make your wallet quake, but for the seven to nine courses you can expect, Luma's famous chef's table is actually a bargain. Expect to be surprised, but only pleasantly – the menu is seasonal but takes diners' preferences into account. 290 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-599-4111,

Victoria & Albert's

If you're popping the question or turning 40 or celebrating something equally spectacular, you can't do much better than the chef's table at Vicky & Al's. James Beard-nominated chef Scott Hunnel will personally cook and serve your seven- to 10-course meal, with prices ranging from $250 to $355 per person with wine. There is a vegetarian option, too. Disney's Grand Floridian, 4401 Floridian Way, 407-939-3862,


Desperate to offer diners something beyond bento boxes and outrageous custom sushi rolls, the success of Jiro Dreams of Sushi inspired many local Japanese restaurants to embrace the omakase – literally "chef's whim." Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs offers the experience alongside executive chef and sushi savant Yuhi Fujinaga and runs $150 per person. Worth it, especially since there's a chance the Iron Chef himself might be in-house (he loves Disney). Kabooki Sushi on Colonial Drive isn't anything to look at from the outside, but the creations coming from the counter are stunners. Henry Moso's creations are nothing short of theatrical – appropriate considering the restaurant's moniker. Japanese visitors to Orlando generally seek out one of two ultra-authentic spots in town near the attractions, Hanamizuki and Sushitomi. If you're lucky, you'll be handed a modest slab of otoro, the fattiest underbelly of the tuna.

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