Ole' Red Restaurant & Music Venue at ICON Park

Ole' Red Restaurant & Music Venue at ICON Park


Posted 2023-03-01 by Gail Clifford MDfollow

Finding our way in Orlando along International Drive to ICON Park was even nicer when we learned the parking is free in levels 4 thru 7. We could've stayed all afternoon if only we hadn't time restrictions with other venues, so we had a LOT of ground to cover in just three hours... the giant swings ( Starflyer ), the Sea Life Aquarium , Madame Tussaud's , the Museum of Illusions .... and then we saw Ole' Red. Blake Shelton's Nashville, Tennessee-based restaurant.

As part of the Visit Orlando VIP Media Passport, Ole Red hosted us for our meal. All opinions are my own. Don't be surprised if I'm a chef fangirl during this article. He's brilliant.

Ole Red's a wide open, spacious, airy, country bar, with a laid-back atmosphere and some glitz and glam along the way. By the entry, Blake Shelton's all black outfit. You must go upstairs to find the glitz of Gwen Stefani's outfit.

Around the bend, the gift shop with kitschy items.

Strewn along the walls and hanging from the ceiling, farm tractors, implements, and cool sayings. Eclectic is one word.

Music typically begins around 11am, though Monday and Tuesday typically later, around 3:30pm and goes until about 11pm.

We'd just met our server, Alex, an old hand at this and fine dining, and started to look at the menu (I ran in to wash my hands, the bathroom has a bright jungle print with ferns and vine, but the best is the wall outside the confessional booth - just like on The Voice.) …

Jessica, our contact person, provided a big surprise ... the Executive Chef, Mark Boors, was there that day and she brought him out to meet us!

He's created the menus in Nashville & Gatlinburg, Tennessee and is now working on the High Roller menu for the Las Vegas restaurant. Here, in Orlando, he's fine turning the next menu updates. Done twice a year, he tells us the biggest seller is the Alligator wings. Yes, they really are alligator. He sources them from a farmer in Louisiana who sends him the back legs of the alligator. Here in Florida, the tails and the leather is used, but we don't know what happens to these hindquarters. Full of funny anecdotes about restaurant life in Orlando and Ole Red, he's been with the company 3 years.

"We're known for burgers and BBQ. It's a scratch kitchen - we do 98% in house. We're proud of our food." Mark tells us as he reviews the menu, "Taking you to the Must Haves, the nachos, and the tater tot poutine. My favorite burger is the "Southern Gentleman," a unique one to Orlando. I do that with a 24- hour brine and then we vacuum seal it and then we are sous vide and there's a quick pick up on the grill, so that it's quite well. Personally, I think that's one of the better pork chops I've ever had."

He speaks to menu changes that he wants to make, one sandwich that isn't quite where he wants it to be and the hybrid products made with local favorites, like pimento cheese, and the advantages of having the Nashville success to anticipate the hot Nashville Chicken Waffle entrée as an Orlando favorite. He's also considering a Grouper Blackened Reuben with a Southern flare with a pineapple cole slaw. Come back later in the year to try it.

Ole Red opens in Las Vegas and Mark Boors coordinates the food with the special, high roller experience on a third level high-end lounge experience in Vegas as well as a rooftop bar. Extravagances already planned include two-pound lobster corndogs and Wagyu tacos.

Mark Boor, Ole Red's Executive chef, asked if we trusted him to offer us a tasting menu. Um, yes, please! He was kind enough to take our dietary restrictions under consideration and presented:

The Bang Bang shrimp dish looks like a piece of art with the tails intact. They have smoked brisket with tater tots that are in the shape of hush puppies with a very dense potato.

Tater tots with poutine and cheese curds on the side with a fresh easy fried egg and corn scattered through.

The Southern Gentleman burger, perfectly prepared, with a special secret sauce definitely a flavor we've not seen before. I think it's a jalapeño and peach jam and then layered bread, a beef patty, and a fried green tomato, layered on a bed of lettuce too thick to eat in one bite. The bone-in pork chop lives up to the hype as being "even better than a New York strip" served over scrumptious garlic mashed potatoes with shards of melted cheese with heavy gravy (we thought it was too good to be hidden). It's a super thick chop but remains moist thanks to that extensive process in the kitchen.

For the truly over the top item, you need look no further than the dessert. Everyone we speak to recommends we "Do the Trio." So, of course, we do. There's a cheesecake, today a Reese's peanut butter, a hot fudge brownie a la mode (Blake's choice), and a banana custard with Nilla Wafers, each served in a miniature jelly jar.

For a delicious meal, go to Ole Red any time. For great music, avoid lunch Monday or Tuesday but go any other time and live music will likely be available. It's a great excuse to return for another good time at ICON Park.

93919 - 2023-06-12 01:05:26


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