We loved our family vacation at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. You can see our full hotel review here.
I had the please of dining at Highball & Harvest, a farm to table restaurant located at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes that takes a modern and fresh approach to a Southern cuisine. The atmosphere is unexpectedly laid back considering it is at The Ritz-Carlton and was designed around a wonderful concept. So before I go into my dining experience I want to share a little fun fact about the name, which shows the thought that went into the planning of the restaurant:
“Aside from the classic cocktail, a highball is a train conductor’s signal to depart at full speed. It was how Central Florida’s abundant harvests moved from field to table, an iconic symbol of the region’s agricultural might. Highball & Harvest (H&H) pays homage to this legacy, with menus laden with ingredients from local farms, as well as our own green-growing efforts. We pluck fresh produce from our on-site 7,000- square-foot garden at Whisper Creek Farm. Handcrafted cocktails are infused with seasonal fruits and herbs, and create a culinary adventure that is as inspiring as it is memorable.”
I had the opportunity to see their onsite farm on an Eco Adventure tour. Their farm is called Whisper Creek Farm. Read here to see my photos from the farm, including the animals they raise as well as the veggies and herbs.
Highball & Harvest: The Restuarant
The restaurant itself is expansive and modernly beautiful. You can enter from the hotel lobby by taking the stairs down to the ground through the entrance (You can take the elevator or enter from outside area). It has a fun bar area with comfy sitting, game area and live music on certain nights – luckily it was music night when we dined! The main dining room of the restaurant is located in the back, so the hostess stand is located in the middle, which seems odd since there is only one entrance area.
The sleek decor is a mix of modern, chic, and rustic. The ambiance is hip yet upscale.
Highball & Harvest: Signature Handcrafted Cocktails
| Highball & Harvest: Great on tap selection at the bar
The bar offers a great selection of beers (craft and tap), and handcrafted cocktails infused with seasonal fruits and herbs.
We rarely pass up a good signature cocktail, so these impressive flavors swayed our decision. Josh settled on the Last Wish, a mixture of “campfire” whiskey, spiced cola syrup, tobacco bitters and orange essence.
| Highball & Harvest: The Last Wish signature cocktail
I, as a vodka fan, chose the Seasoned Traveler. This was a refreshing drink made with cucumber infused vodka, dolin blanc, lemon, green chartreuse and basil. It literally makes my mouth water as I type out the description, it was that good. This drink definitely held up to the menu’s claim of their signature drinks being memorable.
| Highball & Harvest: The Seasoned Traveler, a signature cocktail
Other drinks on the menu that sounded interested to us include the Doc Holliday made with vodka, blueberry jam and ginger beer, Dill or No Dill using gin, elderflower, cucumber, lemon and dill and the Earful with whiskey, chili liquor, lemon and whiskey barrel bitters.
Highball & Harvest: Gettin’ Started
| Highball & Harvest: FL Tomato Salad
FL Tomato Salad ($15) Peanut Hummus / Marinated Tomato / Pea Tendrils / African Blue Basil / Aged Goat Cheese If you love tomatoes then you will love this salad loaded with fresh, plump tomatoes on a nice bed of greens.
The Southern Spread ($18) Pimento Cheese / Smoked Fish Dip / Pickled Vegetables / Benne-Seed Lavash / Sourdough Bread. I am a cheese lover and the home-made pimento cheese was tempting, so tempting I made sure to incorporate it later in the meal. hint—mac-n-cheese.
H&H Parker House Rolls ($8) Ancient Grains / Herb Butter / Apple Butter
Do not skip this bread service. These rolls arrive at the table baked fresh and served warm with two decadent sides. I normally would not suggest buying bread at a restaurant but this looked divine and well worth it if you are looking for a carb load.
Highball & Harvest: Main Entrees
The menu is divided into a few sections that help you create your main course: Supper Plates, From the Smoker and Fixins. From chicken to duck, the menu offers something for everyones tastebuds. I chose the Skirt steak. It was cooked perfectly and came with a nice side of charred broccolini. Joh ordered the stuffed quail and before I knew it it was gone. He says it was amazing. Between our appetizers, these plates and the two additional sides we were stuffed!
| Highball & Harvest: Skirt Steak
A few of the tempting main menu options:
Booker’s Skirt Steak ($38) Shrimp and Grits ($29) FL Grouper ($34)
Stuffed Quail ($34) Duck and Dumplings ($34) Kickin Wings ($26)
Highball & Harvest: Fixins
I knew I wanted to try to the baked pimento mac-n-cheese and our server highly recommended the brussel sprouts, so we went with both. They were both good but the brussel sprouts took the win for sides!
| Highball & Harvest: Pimento Mac-n-cheese
Highball & Harvest: Sweets
We usually a pass on desserts. But our server convinced us to at least split one and he brought us a Digestive Cocktail that hopefully helped ease our full stomachs.
| Highball & Harvest: Waffles & Bananas
Waffles & Bananas ($10) Waffle with Bacon Bits / Caramelized Bananas / Vanilla Ice Cream If you like waffle and you like bananas then you will love this dessert.
Baby Donuts ($12) Donut holes /Cappuccino Ice Cream / Chocolate Hazelnut Spread These little hollow donut bites that you fill with a hazelnut spread seemed to be a hit, as I saw them at a lot of tables. I imagine this is a great dessert to end a meal with coffee.
| Highball & Harvest: Cappuccino Ice Cream
Highball & Harvest: Exceptional Service
The service is what took this dining experience to the next level. When we walked in we had everyone welcoming us- making us feel as if we were regulars. They are definitely pulling off the “Southern Hospitality” us true Southerners (I was born and raised in Tennessee and Josh from Alabama). Our server, Steven, was beyond awesome. So friendly, charismatic and informative. He was enthusiastic about the menu and gave wonderful recommendations. He introduced us to our very first digestive after meal drink. Plus he got major brownie points for noticing how much I was eyeing the certain flavored ice cream and brought it as a bonus treat! Stevens attention to detail was some of the best service I have had in a restaurant in years. Kuddos to him for making a delicious meal a wonderful overall experience.
| Highball & Harvest: Our server Steven and the surprise treats he brought us
Highball & Harvest is open daily serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner (see the menu here). The bar is open from 11 am to midnight. Valet parking is free when dining at the bar or restaurant. Present your parking voucher for validation. If you are in the Orlando area, don’t skip over this restaurant, GO!
Highball & Harvest
at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
4012 Central Florida Parkway
Orlando, Florida 32837
Disclosure: The meal at Highball & Harvest was complimentary but the opinions and deliciousness expressed are all my own. This is not a sponsored post.