Friday, February 14, 2014

Graeme McDowell's Restaurant Wins Orlando Foodie Awards

Where can you get the best burger in Orlando? According to readers of the Orlando Sentinel newspaper, at Graeme McDowell's restaurant, Nona Blue Modern Tavern.

The newspaper's 2014 Foodie Awards recognizes the best Orlando restaurants in various categories, as voted on by readers. Nona Blue won five awards from readers, including best burger. A look at the Nona Blue menu shows two burgers. One is called the All American Burger, costs $11, and is described as "Fresh ground blend / American cheese / Lettuce / Tomato / Red Onion / Pickle / Mayo / Mustard / Toasted brioche." Pretty standard burger, except for the brioche.

So the burger that won Nona Blue the award is probably the $13 Nona Blue Burger, which is also served on a toasted brioche but comes with bleu cheese and smoked bacon.

Nona Blue also won Sentinel Foodie Awards for best bar menu, best outdoor dining, best new restaurant and best wine list.

Nona Blue is located at 9685 Lake Nona Village Place, about 10 minutes from the Orlando airport and within the Lake Nona community. But as G-Mac points out in this tour of the restaurant and bar, Nona Blue is not intended to be a "golf bar":

Nona Blue opened in March 2013. USA Today profiled McDowell's involvement:

McDowell, in partnership with Bistro Concepts LLC, is opening Nona Blue, an upscale gathering hub where a sports bar shares space with high-end dining featuring the finest food and drink imaginable. After a soft opening, the restaurant, just outside the gates of the upscale Lake Nona Golf & Country Club in Orlando where he lives, opened March 15. ...

"On my weeks off, going and hanging behind the bar and hanging with customers is something I'd love to do. Owning a restaurant and being part of that scene is something that has always been with me."

He didn't just want to be a part of any old restaurant. He wanted a place that would draw an eclectic crowd, a seamless lure for the beer-and-burger set and the steak-and-wine crowd. ...

There are 49 wines, 24 beers on tap. There is steak, fresh fish and lobster. Light fare includes deviled eggs with apple wood smoked bacon, oysters and numerous sandwiches.

Of course, considering McDowell's home country, there is a Shepherd's Pie and an all-day breakfast with an Irish theme. And the must-try dish has got to be the G-Mac and Cheese.

"It appeals to all comers," McDowell said. "We're really trying to hit every market. Our theme is we do good food done well."

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