Tastes of Summer: Emeril’s Orlando and Emeril’s Tchoup Chop

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We recently grabbed a seat at the bar at Emeril’s Orlando at Universal CityWalk – what a treat to see an abundance of local produce on the summer menu.

The restaurant is offering new small plates, perfect for a bite or two and for sharing: Gulf fish ceviche with cilantro and lime chilis; yellowfin tuna lettuce wraps with wakame salad, avocado, jalapeño and ponzu sauce; house-made guacamole with spiced tortilla chips; and a shrimp mojito taco with mojo, cilantro and salsa verde. Everything is $5-7.

The more substantial dinner menu includes starters such as wood oven roasted artichokes with lemon aioli; rich fried oysters with Rockefeller sauce, Brie fondue and bacon; and curried veggie pizza. In typical Emeril fashion, new hearty entrees include apple cider glazed pork ham chops with mascarpone grits and collards; duck confit and bucatini pasta with veggies and duck butter; roasted Florida grouper in a stew with mussels, calamari, tomato and coconut milk; and mussels and hand-cut frites.

Also at Universal, Emeril’s Tchoup Chop welcomes new chef Ryan Vargas, who’s made some tweaks to the menu over the past few months. A new robata grill anchors one corner of the kitchen, where Chef Vargas is creating bold, simple flavors, such as shishito peppers with just a touch of lime and sea salt, Thai-spiced lamb satay and rich pork belly with tamari chile vinegar. The robata heats to 1,000°F, searing the flavors and giving meat and veggies a delectable crunch. Cool sushi is a hot seller, from simple sashimi (above) to designer rolls like the Hurricane with spicy salmon and hamachi and the crunchy coconut shrimp. Between the robata and sushi, main dishes range from a grilled pork chop with Chinese broccoli (below) to Szechuan pepper duck confit. We noticed plenty of diners ordering the “KFC” Korean Fried Chicken with kim chee spring onion smashed potatoes and garlicky spinach. Just save room for a generous slice of Emeril’s banana cream pie.Grilled pork chop high res

Located in Lowe’s Royal Pacific Resort, but with a private entrance for dinner (and free valet parking), Tchoup Chop is a beautiful, quiet spot in the midst of the busy Universal resort.

Walk-ins are welcome at both Emeril’s Orlando and Emeril’s Tchoup Chop. Both restaurants are open daily for lunch and dinner. For reservations for Tchoup Chop, emerilsrestaurants.com or call 407-503-2467. For Emeril’s, 407-224-2424.

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