The goal was to go to Magical Dining before going to Halloween Horror Nights (HHN). The original plan was set because my friend’s wife was not interested in going to RusTeak, but my friend and I were. As she does not attend HHN, this was a perfect time to get some food and then hit the park. The actuality was just going to dinner since HHN was closed due to a large corporation renting the park for the evening. After eating the meal, it was better that it worked that way.
Because they do not use OpenTable, like almost all the other restaurants that are part of Magical Dining, and because it was a weekday, we opted to try our luck and go without a reservation. Located in the center of College Park in Winter Park, it seemed like a nice place to go to break from studying when at Rollins or a longer drive if coming from UCF. As it was happy hour, it was a bit crowded (and loud), but we were able to get seated without issue. Because it was still happy hour, my friend decided he wanted to try the pretzel sticks, although we were getting a full meal.
After placing the initial order, our waitress returned, and we gave her our full meal order from the Magical Dining menu. It was a bit awkward as we both requested the exact same meal including drinks. The only difference was the cook of the meat. I opted for lemonade in hopes of getting my current stone under control. My friend did so just because it sounded good.
The pretzels were delivered, and they were complemented with honey mustard and beer cheese dips. There were three sticks total, but they were enough, especially with the meal we were about to have. I tried the cheese first and liked it. Then swapped sides of the stick (to prevent a double-dip) and had the mustard. I was not as fond of the mustard. My friend did the exact opposite and liked his first choice better. I am under the impression, it might be best to stick with the first dip because the flavor was robust enough to carry over and disturb the other dip’s appeal. I might be wrong, and those were our preferences, but I am a fan of both dips normally, and there was a divide in quality to me.
For the appetizer, we ordered the Kung Pao Cauliflower. It was much larger than we expected. They were crispy as described and had a bit of a kick. I would return for that alone. It is an excellent way to get an Asian flavor with better (not great) health benefits than eating chicken or another kung pao meat. Other than the texture of the peanuts, the taste wasn’t that noticeable, which is what I prefer.
The entrée we selected was the Ultron. Not sure where they were going with the name, but I liked it just the same. I also didn’t feel it was much of a flat iron steak as it was very thick. I ordered mine medium-rare, and my friend’s was medium. Both were cooked perfectly with a nice sear surrounding the entire piece of meat that was sliced for easy access. Between the gravy, a cream sauce that is listed as gruyere, and the flavorful meat, the extras that were in the potatoes (spinach-maple bacon) went unnoticed or blended so well it was not obvious. There were also jumbo shrimp topping the steak, and they were hearty. The entire plate was filling, and I could not finish. We both took at least half of the entrée to go. When I ate it later, the gravy and potatoes had more time to mix, and it was one of my favorite leftover courses I have eaten at home. I also liked the fact that they had recycled paper containers.
We ended our meal with the chocolate cake. It was listed as ten-layers. I didn’t count, and it is hard to tell from the picture I have, but I know it was good. It was moist and filling. The fruit on the side was fresh and tasted like it should (sometimes strawberries have no flavor, but I could tell it was the correct fruit as I ate it).
When we left, we were both full and happy that we were not walking through Universal that night in the heat.
My impression of the restaurant is becoming a common one, a dark gastropub that is loud. It was not so loud that I could not hear the person next to me, and I didn’t have to yell to have them listen to me, but this format seems to be a fixture in the places I have been trying. Their food was great, and the service was fast, on time, and always there with a refill. I will recommend this place to anyone that says they are in that area. It is centrally located to a lot of places in town, which makes it a good location. Parking there, as much of College Park shares the same issue, is limited. Other items on the menu looked appetizing and their happy hour specials were tempting. Had I not driven, I probably would have had a drink or two. They had a nice craft beer selection and cocktail list. So if you are in the mood for a gastropub away from the Park Ave crowd and don’t feel like driving to downtown Orlando, RusTeak is a nice alternative.