Chef’s Dinner at Citrus Restaurant

Written By Scott Joseph On July 30, 2014

citrus crab

As I mentioned when I reviewed Citrus Restaurant most recently, the popular restaurant in Orlando’s North Quarter has been stepping up the quality of its cuisine. Now it’s offering a pretty extraordinary chef’s dinner that not only is a delightful dining experience but also a crazy good deal.

Chefs Lucas Reid and Matt Wall are hosting guests in Citrus’ comfortable private dining alcove, which can seat up to 10 guests, offering a four-course dinner — with wine and cocktail pairings — for $60 per person plus tax and gratuity. That would be a bargain even if the food were just mediocre, but the food I tasted when I was invited to be a guest at one of the dinners was exceptional.

We started with a tempura soft-shell crab served with a sofrito beurre blanc and grilled pineapple relish. It was paired with a Florida rum runner, which really should be the official state cocktail, don’t you think? The breading was delicate and unoily, and the buttery sauce was a perfect complement to the earthiness of the crab.

Citrus meatballs

Next were meatballs fashioned out of lamb and chorizo accompanied by ricotta gnocchi, the two separated by crispy flash-fried basil leaves. Perrin Cotes du Rhone was the wine pairing.

citrus veal

A fancified version of veal schnitzel was next, served with warm potato salad and pickled Brussels sprouts. The tender meat, with a well-seasoned and crisped breading, sat in a tangy mustard vinaigrette. Guests had the choice of Monk in the Trunk amber ale or Schloss Vollrads Reisling. (I chose both, but I think I preferred the ale.)

citrus duck breast

My host opted for a second entree, which featured roast duck breast with duxelle in a puff pastry and rabbit reduction sauce. A fruity Mettler zinfandel was just the right pairing.

Citrus elvis

Dessert was a clever tribute to Elvis (the later years). It was a knife and fork sandwich of sorts with maduros sweet plantains sauteed with pecan butter and dressed with bacon marmalade. Clever and delicious.

Service was up to the usual Citrus standards, and the dining alcove offered enough privacy for conversations around the table.

As I said, all of that for 60 bucks is an incredible bargain. But at the moment Citrus is offering a 10 percent discount on that low price. If you have friends or clients to entertain or just want an excuse to get a bunch of friends together for a great meal, this is a no brainer.

Citrus Restaurant is at 821 N. Orange Ave., Orlando. For details about the chef’s dinner, contact Heidi Skehan at the restaurant, 407-373-0622.

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Citrus Restaurant (2013)

Written By Scott Joseph On November 26, 2013

Citrus rillettes

I was recently purchased by some of the area’s most prominent citizens.

That’s right, I said purchased. Or, if you prefer, I recently went to the highest bidders as a silent auction item at the annual gala for Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF. The item at the Orlando Shakes event was for dinner for two with me at Citrus restaurant to help write an updated review. The folks at Citrus generously donated the dinner.

Actually, the folks at Citrus turned out to be doubly generous. I’m humbled to report that I was the focus of a bidding war between two couples: John and Rita Lowndes and Mike and Marian Peters. John, of course, is the first name in the Lowndes, Drosdick, et. al. law firm; Rita is the area’s indefatigable benefactor and a founder of the Orlando Shakespeare Theater.

Mike Peters is the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist who draws the Mother Goose & Grimm comic strip. He and Marian purchased me before, and our dinner was so much fun that I was delighted to see them bidding on me again.

But Rita was not to be outdone, and after several back and forth uppings of the bid amount, we all finally came to a solution: we’d make it dinner for five, which doubled the amount raised for O-Shakes.


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SJO Dining Deal: $40 of Food and Drink at Citrus for $20

Written By Scott Joseph On April 7, 2011


Update: This SJO Dining Deal has sold out. To ensure you are among the first to know about future Deals, sign up for the newsletter.

It’s been fun watching Citrus become a good restaurant. I mean a really good restaurant. I should explain. When Citrus opened, in 2007, it was good enough, which is what I said in my initial review. But I also said it could be better. Instead of high-fiving each other for being good enough, the team at Urban Life Restaurant Group, which also owns HUE and Cityfish, decided to strive to be better.

They were an immediate hit as a lunch destination, and I awarded the restaurant my critic’s choice Foodie Award for best power lunch on several occasions. The downtown power elite descend on this NoDo restaurant in droves. One particular politician was so partial to an item on the menu that it was renamed Mayor Dyer’s Lime Chicken Salad.

But if your only experience with Citrus is at lunchtime, you’re missing out on what it has to offer as a dinner destination, one that is uniquely urban and urbane. The Florida shrimp and grits here are among the best in town. Florida snapper, Idaho brook trout and pomegranate salmon are wonderfully light entrees. But lest you think this is seafood  centric (and, just between you and me, that is their forte), the chimichurri skirt steak and passion fruit flat iron chicken are also good choices.

So now, not quite four years after opening, Citrus has found its stride. There is a easy balance between the comfortabilty of a known menu and the edginess of a vibrant, downtown venue. Trust me, this place changes vibes after dark, and it’s a lot of fun.

So I’m pleased to offer Citrus as our next SJO Dining Deal. Click here to get a certificate that is worth $40 or food and drink but pay only $20 for it. That’s like, what?, half off? it’s a great opportunity to come back and rediscover Citrus and to see how they’re doing, or, if you’re new, to enjoy it for the first time. I know you’re going to like this one because I know that you like places that are better than just good enough.


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