In the movie Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, there were two superheroes in their own right battling it out in a brawn vs. brawn sort of way. I thought it would be fun to do a comparison of a couple chefs who’s cuisine I recently sampled and see if there was an overall winner; a duel of dinner! To begin, let’s set the stage with two well known and successful chefs, namely Emeril Legasse and Wolfgang Puck, that for all intents and purposes have reached their own individual superhero status in the world of celebrity culinarians. They both are successful TV personalities, have written popular cookbooks, and have reached international acclaim as restauranteurs. They also each happen to have their own restaurant, Wolfgang Puck and Emeril’s Orlando, in Orlando, Florida outside of two famous amusement parks, Disney World and Universal Studios respectively.
When Disney Springs was still Downtown Disney, we visited Wolfgang Puck’s “The Cafe”. I ordered the Butternut Squash Ravioli and my husband ordered a wood fired pizza. (I can’t remember what we ordered the kids… only two of them then!) I do remember we really enjoyed our dinner. This time we had reservations for “The Dining Room,” his upstairs venue with a completely different menu. I have to say, I was really excited to visit Emeril Legasse’s and Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants. To me that just screams vacation, mommy style.
(Side note: Fair or not, if two such well known chefs are going to put their name on the side of a building and imply that their very own recipes can be purchased and tasted inside, I have an expectation that I am going to be impressed. I don’t pretend to have some well-trained palate that can pick up subtleties others would often miss. I’m only saying that if I am going to pay tourist prices for a celebrity chef meal for a family of 6, I’d like it to taste good… Okay?)
Our first stop was at The Dining Room by Wolfgang Puck. It had been a long day on the road (we drove in from Atlanta, Georgia) and we were happy to finally be at our Disney World resort. After we were seated upstairs, we placed our orders. Since I’m on my health kick I ordered the Sweet Corn Chowder (with crab, paprika oil and basil), along with the Apple Salad (with golden raisins, almonds, blue cheese, parmesan, and a sherry vinaigrette). They were very accommodating when Owen ordered a Blackened Shrimp that wasn’t exactly on the menu; My oldest son was excited to find out they offered a children’s steak option; My next two children are pretty consistent with their desire of chicken tenders, and the baby was taken care of with a (non-dairy) pasta marinara.
My soup was fantastic, absolutely delicious. Owen thought the shrimp was probably the best shrimp dish he had ever eaten. Isaiah devoured his perfectly done and tender filet. Naomi and Elijah were happy with their chicken and Noah LOVED the pasta. Just because I could, I tasted a piece of the kid’s chicken. Sometimes I think the best way to know if something is special is to try what you make or order on a regular basis. It was crispy, moist, very flavorful and did not disappoint. But honestly, the baby’s pasta surprised me the most. It looked like a regular spaghetti with a light coating of red sauce, but the amount of concentrated garlic and tomato flavor that clung to those thin noodles was impressive! It was an overall great meal.
A few days later we visited Emeril’s Orlando for a late lunch/early dinner between switching parks at Universal Studios. It was kind of fun that they were offering a free appetizer or dessert with the purchase of any entree. Yay! With the exception of myself, our orders were coincidentally similar to the ones at our other celebrity chef’s restaurant. This time I ordered White Bean & Cheese Enchiladas served over Steamed Mussels (pictured above). Owen ordered the New Orlean’s Barbecue Shrimp with a side of white rice. Isaiah ordered another steak; the middle kids ordered their chicken and fries, and again we ordered the baby a pasta marinara.
I don’t know how I missed the part about the enchiladas being served over mussels. I don’t eat mussels! What was I thinking? Regardless, it was presented beautifully and the enchiladas were delicious. Owen’s shrimp was good, but not nearly as impressionable as the shrimp he tasted the other day. Isaiah ate his steak, but it wasn’t a juicy or flavorful as his previous filet. Naomi and Elijah only took a couple bites of their chicken. The tenderloins were very meaty and the crust really didn’t stay on which made them difficult (particularly for a 3 year old) to handle. To make things worse, Noah took one bite of his pasta and spit it out. To be fair, the pasta was not on the menu, they made it to accommodate the special needs of the baby. But he couldn’t be coerced into another bite. Believing it couldn’t be that bad, I tried it myself… it was edible, but I didn’t want another bite either. At least there was dessert!
In short, here is my theory: Everyone knows that Superman is awesome, but anyone can beat him if they have kryptonite; which makes Batman the clear winner. In this scenario the kryptonite was flavor, and Wolfgang Puck won hands down. Maybe on any other given day it could have gone the other way. Perhaps if we had adventured out from our repetative orders, we would have been pleasantly surprised by a different outcome. And I’d like to add that we had great service at both places. However, as it stands, the next time we’re in Orlando, we’ll make sure to get reservations… with one of them. 😉