If you’ve driven the 417 near Orlando International Airport there’s no doubt that you’ve noticed the burgeoning 17-square-mile Lake Nona Community.
Residential neighborhoods, parking garages and the many large structures which compose “Medical City” including Nemours Children’s Hospital, the UF Research & Academic Center and the University of Central Florida’s Health Science Campus can all be seen from the highway. But what you can’t see are the restaurants that are tucked within.
CANVAS RESTAURANT & MARKET
Welcome to Canvas! New American cuisine, influenced by Florida’s Southern and Latin American roots.
Canvas Restaurant and Market is a waterfront eatery nestled in the Laureate Park community amongst brightly colored bungalows, multi-level homes, and cottages.
Because of its location, the restaurant exudes a very laid-back, relaxed vibe. My husband and I frequent Canvas quite often grabbing a seat at the bar and enjoying a local craft beer or cocktail while listening to live music and watching the planes take off and land as the sun sets over the lake.
Seating options abound once you’ve made it through the big yellow doors and past the marketplace.
Choose from traditional dining tables, banquette seating, chef’s counter, bar, cozy booth or outdoor patio.
You know good things are happening when the chef has an open display kitchen.
Each meal starts with a complementary plate of zippy oyster crackers to snack on while perusing the menu and selecting your beverages.
Choose from an assortment of local craft beer, wines by the glass (offered in five or nine ounce pours) as well as cocktails with names like “Clove and Cana”, “Texas to Chinatown” and the “Spicy Gummy Bear”. Yes, I’ve had it before. Yes, it does oddly enough taste like a spicy gummy bear. 😬
This particular dining experience started off with two appetizers.
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
Roasted Tomato-Serrano Salsa, Goat Cheese Filling
Both of the starters were perfect for sharing and worthy of a spot on your “do order” list. I did not find the chile relleno to be spicy, so if you’re spice averse you would have no problem with this dish.
Here’s a look at a couple of starters that have been enjoyed on previous visits.
SMOKED FISH DIP
House-Smoked Whitefish, Spiced Cream Cheese, Parmesan Flatbread
Pickled Green Tomato, Fig Balsamic, Grilled Ciabatta Bread
The above photo was taken in the fall when the cheese was offered with stone fruit. Chef said the accompaniments will rotate out seasonally.
I combined two menu items for my entrée and my husband ordered one of the traditional plates.
SHRIMP & GRITS
Florida Rock Shrimp, Anson Mills Grits, Fried Okra, House-Cured Tasso
Walnut-Basil Pesto, Tomato Confit, Mozzarella
CURRIED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
Spice Level Moderate
I know what you may be thinking, warm soup in the Florida heat? Yes. The spice level on this curried soup was on point. Flatbread was thin and crispy. It was hard for my husband to not order his favorite item off the menu.
The real superstar is something that we didn’t eat on this particular evening, but that we order all the time and is one of, if not THE most popular menu item.
House-Cured Ham, Mojo-Marinated Pork Belly, Garlic Dill Pickles, Dijonnaise, Yuca Fries
Guys!!! The yuca fries are drizzled with honey and the dish comes with a tomatillo aoli for dipping! Pro Tip: always order a side of yuca fries and ask for the dipping sauce.
We wrapped up our dining experience with the best dessert on the menu as the sun was setting.
SWEET POTATO CHEESECAKE
Pecan Toffee Sauce, Toasted Marshmallow
If you can swing it, try to plan your visit on a Wednesday or Friday when they have live music from 6 to 9 PM. The bar opens at 3 PM daily and happy hour is available Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 PM.
Canvas Restaurant and Market
13615 Sachs Avenue
Orlando, FL 32827
Special thanks to Canvas for hosting us at this dinner. As always, all opinions are my own.