The staff of JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek does not do things halfway. I knew that already from previous visits to the upscale resort and its restaurants, but it was reinforced at the recent Scott Joseph’s Dinner Party (formerly Supper Club), our first vertically progressive dinner.
The dinner was nearly a year in planning, involving three of the hotel’s dining venues, as well as a portable station set up for the reception, and it took precision timing designed so that we could enjoy the food and service while still moving things along with the goal of having us to the final stop – the rooftop lounge illume – in time to watch the fireworks at Epcot.
Not only did the evening go off hitchless, the JWOBC team exceeded expectations with stellar service, exceptional food and a few surprises, including a gift bag at the end of the evening.
Click the image below to watch a video of the evening,
We started the evening by gathering at the lower level herb garden where staff were serving a special cocktail, the Mindful Moment, which had Old St. Pete Sunset Gin, cucumber juice, lime juice, simple syrup, and peppermint and golden rain rosemary freshly harvested from that very garden. As someone who doesn’t usually like cucumber in my drinks, I had to admit it was quite refreshing. It was served alongside a station serving crostini with burrata and cherry tomatoes.
We were then invited inside the double doors to UnReserved, the multi-stationed food bazaar, where chef Peter Kunstek served our first course. Or courses, as it were (as it was).
The tables were set with carafes of Constellation Sangria, made with Grey Goose Essences White Peach and Rosemary, peach liqueur, lime and lemon juice, star anise & cinnamon-infused syrup, and pinot grigio. Guests were also offered glasses of Cloud Chaser Hefeweizen from Crooked Can Brewing Co. (You can’t see the constellation if the clouds aren’t chased away.)
The appetizer was a sampling of three rolls from UnReserved’s sushi counter, including Wagyu Aburi (torched A5 Wagyu, truffle butter, sisho, tempura flakes, 24K gold, shaved black truffles); UnReserved Roll (king crab, jalapeño, cucumber, spicy mayo, tobiko); and Bonnet Creek Dragon Roll (shrimp tempura, cucumber, avocado, kabayaki, black tobiko).
The rolls were accompanied by a baby kale salad, with spinach, radicchio and cucumber with an African blue basil vinaigrette.
(We were also surprised with a tumbler of one of a zero-proof drink from the resort’s mocktail list – maybe build a future Dinner Party around nonalcohol pairings?)
Then it was to the elevators (though a few of us opted for the stairs) to the lobby level and the estimable Sear + Sea, grabbing another cocktail, the Rosemary Beret, made with Aviation Gin, torched rosemary, raspberry, lemon, aquafaba, as we made our way to the terrace overlooking the actual Bonnet Creek.
Here, chef Peter Cox and crew served another appetizer, Smoked Day Boat Scallop, with hazelnut romesco, charred cauliflower, marcona almond, Castelvetrano Olive, and roasted pearl onion. (This was one of my favorites.) We also nibbled on the delicious house-baked olive and rosemary bread served with two butters, one with goat cheese and one with black garlic.
Our wine was a Chateau Rahoul Graves from Bordeaux, decanted and poured by the attentive staff.
The entree, a Land + Sea Duo Plate, was a stunner, with a dry aged New York strip steak and seared Florida snapper. And full-size servings of both. The meat was served with Cox’s beef tallow cabbage (the recipe for which he shared in a recent Compliments of the Chef video) and caper salsa. The fish had a cioppino broth and a large-format ratatouille. All of it first rate.
As the sun began to set, we cleansed our palates with lemon rosemary sorbet, then headed to the elevators for the ninth floor.
Where we were greeted with a full table of desserts, including bonbons, almond-strawberry yuzi, macarons and more from pastry chef Sergio Favela, who also created the chocolate trees that decorated the table. And on the balcony, in an area reserved for us, bartenders fashioned the Magritte’s Pipe signature cocktail – a sort of Japanese Old Fashioned made with Hibiki Harmony Whiskey, Amaro Montenegro and tobacco bitters – carefully torching the chips to smoke each glass.
We nibbled and sipped as the fireworks launched in the sky – at our eyes’ level – in the distance.
An absolutely perfect Dinner Party.