A short drive from the theme parks and hustle and bustle of Orlando; Celebration, Florida is a quaint little city with old world charm. It is near major highways like Interstate 4 and the Central Florida Greenway, yet somehow you veer off the road into Celebration and are transported to a place lost in time, but in a good way.
The hotel overlooks a lake with lush trees surrounding it. I completely expected Floyd the Barber to wave gingerly from his shop as I drove by and to see kids running their nickels down to the pharmacy for a root beer float. This charming little city didn’t have girls in poodle skirts smiling at slick-haired boys, but it was full of sophisticated people without feeling too crowded. Colorful awnings drip from beautiful buildings like costume jewelry from a refined neck. I instantly felt different, mellower. I was grateful to have been invited to dine at the Bohemian Hotel at Celebration’s blogger event. It was a way to celebrate the return of Chef Zach and create a little blogger-magic buzz.
The Bohemian Hotel Celebration is a part of The Kessler Collection of hotels and every, single part of this hotel is a nod to Mr. Kessler’s love for art and music. When you first walk into the lobby of the hotel you get this warm feeling as warm wooden furniture and colors of nature envelop you. Walking around is like an adventure in itself, especially when you discover little reading nooks everywhere and a huge alligator, that Mr. Kessler slayed himself, hanging from the wall. The chandeliers were wild and artistic. The space was large but cozy at the same time.
Though I didn’t get a chance to stay at the hotel, there was an opportunity to tour the guest rooms and fabulous they were. The rooms struck me as a place Hemingway would have adored. They were roomy without swallowing you up and very quiet, which is good news to a weary traveler.
On the patio you will find more artwork and serenity. “Bow Stringer”, a statue by Jerry McKeller, is wielding his bow while watching over patrons as they sip their libations.
Speaking of sipping libations, we were treated to pre-dinner cocktails. The martinis were Key Lime Mojito, Tequila Sunrise, Lychee, Blood Orange and Malibu Bleu and they were delicious.
Here is my favorite of the few I tasted; blood orange. I would have liked to have tasted them all, but my car was not going to drive itself home that evening. Where is KIT when you need him? Aging myself a little bit there, huh. I guess it’s Uber these days.
I was able to sneak into the dining area to take a peek at the table setting prior to everyone arriving and, I must say, the Bohemian Hotel at Celebration really knows how to make a guest feel special. This was such a beautiful place in which to dine and everything was immaculate right down to the tiny details.
Tired of the babbling on yet? Me too, so let’s get to the food. To start we had summer corn bisque with a citrus yogurt drizzled on the surface. The bisque was so creamy and smooth and had a bright freshness that must have come from the citrus yogurt.
Next beets and bleu salad with pickled red onions, sprouts and a balsamic reduction. I am not a fan of beets, or so I thought. These were mild, creamy and not bitter like I had imagined. Growing up, my mother would have pickled canned beets all the time and she would scarf them down as though they were so good, but they just smelled putrid to me. These were NOT my mother’s canned beets!
Crab cakes were next on the menu and they came topped with shaved fennel, tomato, red onion and a champagne yogurt. This was the best thing so far. Then again, each course just got better and better. I’d never had fennel before and thought it would stand out as a bold, bitter flavor, but it melded with the other ingredients to make a really great bite. The crab cake still had a nice crust, which did not get mushy under the weight of those juicy veggies as one might think. Let’s talk about this champagne yogurt and why there wasn’t a pitcher of it sitting next to me. Suffice it to say that it was so yummy and silky smooth.
The Chilean seabass over soba noodles, pea tendrils, shiitake mushrooms, coconut curry broth and prawn butter was so succulent and different on my palate. I was very surprised that so many different flavors and textures was appealing to me because I am a meat and potatoes kind of girl. The pea tendrils were the real delight here because they offered a bright flavor to the seabass that cut the rich creaminess of the broth.
The next menu item was amazing simply because I thought the Chilean seabass was the end of the parade of food. Were we really being served yet another course?!?! Why, yes. Yes, we were. This is a two parter because, at the time, I was Pescetarian (and have since backslid into a meaty abyss of succulent, tender and juicy steaks, bacon and chops); so the hotel accommodated my seafood diet by substituting the beef for scallops.
Here is what everyone else ate: Filet mignon with summer roasted veggies, roasted fingerling potatoes and fresh herb butter.
Here is what I ate: essentially the same thing but with sea scallops. The scallops were perfectly cooked and tender and the fresh veggies were great, but the star of this dish was the potatoes. They were creamy and crispy all at the same time. The chef did an awesome job seasoning them and they were a great accompaniment to the scallops. I didn’t miss the beef at all that night.
Finally, those of us still standing were served Florida Key Lime Pie with sugared limes and dried raspberries, reconstituted and in a reduced sauce. The raspberry and chocolate sauces on the plate were not just for show because a rake of pie through them just made every bite better. This Florida hotel could not have had a better finish than this dessert. Not only was everything delectable, but the Bohemian incorporates locally sourced products every chance they get into their menu. I call that winning!
PSA: Bohemian Hotel at Celebration!! If ever you need someone to taste test any culinary creations for you, just call me. I promise to be prompt and ready to report for duty sooner than you can flip a biscuit! Wait! Do you have biscuits?