Don't miss the Magical Dining menu at 1921 by Norman Van Aken


Chef Norman Van Aken opened his Mt. Dora restaurant in June 2016. - ROB BARTLETT
  • Rob Bartlett
  • Chef Norman Van Aken opened his Mt. Dora restaurant in June 2016.
Last year during Magical Dining Month, 1921 by Norman Van Aken in Mount Dora was only a month old, so they didn't participate. This year, they're not missing a beat.

For just $35, enjoy an ultra-elegant three-course dinner from executive chef Camilo Velasco and pastry chef Gloriann Rivera. Get to Mount Dora early so you can wander the downtown antiques district and pop into a few of the shops that line the streets. Then, dig in.

Here are six of the dishes on the perfectly curated carte.

Hearth Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
  • Holly V. Kapherr
It might still be 100+ degrees outside, but at 1921, the MDM menu is all about fall. Just about every one of the menu items beckons the cooler weather with not-so-subtle holiday spices and warm-fuzzy homey dishes like this soup, topped with pepitas and pumpkin seed oil.

Conch Fritters
  • Holly V. Kapherr
It ain't Norman Van Aken unless there's conch fritters on the menu. The "godfather" of Floribbean cuisine, Van Aken is a master at morphing a bar snack like these and elevating them. You'll be obsessed with the hot pepper jelly on which they sit. Shown here with the "Jam" cocktail.

Braised Kurobuta Pork Shoulder
  • Holly V. Kapherr
Pretty much everyone we talked to at the restaurant is just obsessed with this dish, and for good reason. The meaty, lean trumpet mushrooms and sweet potato puree (autumn!) are ideal to pair with this creamy cut of pork. To accompany, don't look at any other wine other than the $17 glass of 2004 Vina Olabarri tempranillo from Rioja, Spain. It's the sommelier's favorite bottle for good reason.

Pan-Roasted Heritage Chicken Breast
  • Holly V. Kapherr
You think you don't want to order the chicken, but you really do. Tasting the dark-meat chicken confit was a first for me, and I have to admit, I might like it better than duck. The roasted whole carrots and farro rounded out a perfect comfort-food composition.

Banana Bread Pudding
  • Holly V. Kapherr
It doesn't get any more classic than this, and the scoop of house-made vanilla ice cream takes it over the top. Maple crumble imparts the dessert with a little bit of crunch.

Chocolate Tiramisu Panna Cotta
  • Holly V. Kapherr
At this point, chef Rivera is just showing off with her impossibly creamy, wobbly panna cotta, topped with mascarpone custard. Even if you don't think you have room for dessert after two rounds, we'll bet you anything you can gladly fit this in your gullet.

View the rest of the menu and make OpenTable reservations here.

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