Since our Best Of Broward/Palm Beach edition (due out June 16) doesn't cover north of the Palm Beach County line, it's fitting to declare a few out-of-the-area favorites. And the winner for Best Orlando Restaurant is the Ravenous Pig.
In the true sense of the gastropub, the Ravenous Pig places a strong emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients. Chef-owners James and Julie Petrakis take these ingredients and elevate them into dishes that are foodgasmic. Most of the dishes on the menu are made in-house, including the charcuterie platter. The day I visited, the selection combined brown sugar fennel, hunter, pork cheek pastrami, speck, merguez, rabbit rillette, country terrine, comte cheese, and valdeon, a blue cheese from Spain.
I heard from one of their pork suppliers that they often host special events. To find out more, I contacted Erin Allport, their public relations director.
She sent me a menu for a Palmetto Creek Farm whole beast dinner. Dishes included: one-year-aged Palmetto Creek prosciutto, pig's head souse, pickled apple, and a bistro salad with frisée, fried pigs ear, pork belly croutons, soft boiled egg, and red wine vinaigrette. Creative dishes such as these are common at the Ravenous Pig. According to Allport, "We order the whole hog and butcher it. We also buy the things that other chefs don't want, such as offal and trotter, and find ways to incorporate them into other dishes. Our customers trust us. We've built up an adventurous crowd."