September used to mean it was Magical Dining Month, but no longer. Now Magical Dining Month is September and the last week of August. This year, the dining begins on August 25. Instead of MagDinMo we’ll call it MagDinMore.
Magical Dining Month is Visit Orlando’s annual event to showcase some of the area’s top restaurants who offer a special prix fixe menu, usually at substantial savings. Usually, but not always — you have to do some research to find the really good deals.
For the uninitiated, this is how it works. The restaurants that have signed up for Magical Dining Month put together a three course menu — usually a starter, an entree and a dessert (I do wish they’d have the option to have an app, salad and entree instead of dessert) — for a set price of $33. One dollar from every MagDinMore meal goes to a charity chosen by Visit Orlando. This year the monies will go to the Foundation for Foster Children. Some restaurants offer up the Magical Dining Month menu voluntarily; others you have to request it, so just be aware.
This year’s list of restaurants is impressive. I’m already staking out the ones I want to visit. But I still have some planning to do. The key is to check out the list of participating Magical Dining Month restaurants, look over their menus, then go to the restaurant’s website and look at the regular menu (assuming that the restaurant is savvy enough to display its prices). Check out the items that are available through the MagDinMore menu and compare the $33 cost to ordering the items a la carte from the regular menu. Usually by the time you add everything up you’re looking at a savings by going with the special menu.
Case in point: Funky Monkey Wine Company at Pointe Orlando. The lobster bisque on the regular menu is $12 and the New York Strip is $36. I don’t even need to know the regular price of the bananas Foster to know I’m going to come out ahead.
Here are some of the restaurants I would consider visiting:
- Bistro CloClo: It’s new, and this is a great opportunity to give it a try.
- Eddie V’s: Most of the entrees are over $33, so this is a no brainer.
- Venetian Room: Ditto.
- Spencer’s for Steaks and Chops: An oft-overlooked but really good steakhouse.
- Fiorenzo: Good time to try the rebranded restaurant at the rebranded Hyatt Regency Orlando.
- K restaurant: It’s one of the area’s top restaurants, so here’s your chance if you’ve been waiting.
- Hamilton’s Kitchen: Go see what the new chef is doing with the menu.
- Luma on Park: Some good options on the menu here.
- Maxine’s on Shine: New chef here, too; come see what veteran George Voglebacher is doing.
- Siro’s: Urban Italian Kitchen: Good local cuisine.
I’m also looking forward to revisiting Park Plaza Gardens. The place has been spiffed, and chef Rocky Tarantello has done over the menu.
Be aware that the $33 doesn’t include tax or gratuity (be nice to the servers) or beverages. Take advantage of the savings to try some good wine with your dinner.
And for the second year, Visit Orlando has arranged special hotel packages, too, so you can have the whole bottle of wine, if you like.
Here’s a link to Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month page. Start researching.