I got a sneak peek at the brand spanking new Four Seasons and its restaruants on Thursday. Well, not all of it — just a couple of seasons, actually. But what I saw was enough to be hopeful that the property is going to be every bit as luxurious as you would expect the Four Seasons’ brand to be. It should be, considering that you have to pass by the multimillion dollar homes of Disney’s exclusive Golden Oaks community to get to it.
As part of a media preview, I got a look at Ravello, a two-level venue that features a bar and lounge on the entry level and a restaurant down a steep staircase to the pool level. The bar hadn’t quite been outfitted yet and still had an unfinished look. But that’s where we sipped the proprietary champagne a nonvintage brut by Louis Roederer— a bit too early for bubbly at 4 p.m. but we managed — and were greeted by the hotel’s management team, including regional vice president and general manager Thomas Steinhauer.
We all tottled down the stairs to the dining room, which will be the hotel’s main restaurant, serving breakfast and dinner. The space reminded me a great deal of Napa at the Hyatt Regency Orlando (formerly the Peabody). But Ravello, named for the town in Italy, features an open kitchen and marble flooring. A small room off the main dining room features a demonstration kitchen where, apparently, a large screen television will hang over the counter so that people will be able to see what the chefs are cooking.
Executive chef Fabrizio Schenardi and his crew treated us to a sample of the cuisine that will be served at Ravello, including veal ravioli with spinach and ricotta, served over wild mushroom and with a hint of truffle. We also tasted the seared tuna, with eggplant caponata and basil oil. The sturdy earthenware was by Jono Pandolfi, who, we were told also provides plates for Gramercy Tavern in New York. So there’s that. Here they were pouring the Four Seasons’ private wine label, Iconoclast, a chardonnay from Russian River Valley and a cabernet from Stag’s Leap district.
After a stop at the reception area of the spa, which had stinky incense burning to mask a smell that couldn’t possibly have been more offensive, we strolled out to the pools and to PB&G, which stands for Pool Bar & Grill, which will be the main lunch venue when the hotel opens. It’s a large, open air gazebo with various seating areas overlooking the pools and lake. The areas with overhead fans will be more popular eating areas, I’m sure. Barbecue is the main menu item, but the offerings will go beyond the traditional beef and pork, we were told, including octopus. Here we sampled deviled eggs, pickled okra and grapes, beef brisket with sauerkraut coleslaw on rye; rotisserie chicken with potato salad; and something they’re calling oysters “roc”a fella with spinach puree, smoked aioli, bacon breadcrumbs.
I had to excuse myself to get to Supper Club at Oceanaire, but the others were taken to the dessert venue called Lickety Split.
Unfortunately the two main restaurants, Capa, a Spanish steakhouse, and Cuban/American Plancha, were not available for us to see. In fact, even though the hotel will welcome its first guests on August 2, those two restaurants will not open until September. Based on what I saw Thursday, I can’t wait.