Day of the Week: Saturday, 1/19
Total Bill: $177 & change (before tip)
Breakdown: 5 drinks, 5 small plates, 2 sashimi, 2 sushi rolls, 3 desserts, 1 espresso
Pros: Beautiful atmosphere, fantastic cocktails, some really awesome dishes.
Cons: Somewhat uneven food.
Verdict: Worth a return visit.
I noticed a while ago that a Dragonfly opened near my in-laws’ house in the Dr. Philips area of Orlando. I had been to a Dragonfly in Gainesville about eight years ago and sincerely hoped this was the same restaurant, so I wanted to check it out. But my in-laws aren’t in to that kind of food so much, nor are our friends who often go to Orlando with us, so we hadn’t gotten a chance to go until last weekend. We found ourselves flying solo for dinner Saturday night and Hubby was in the mood for Asian (but not Amura), so we decided to see how busy Dragonfly was. This Dragonfly is indeed the same restaurant as Gainesville.
Dragonfly is in the Dellagio development that opened a couple of years ago. There is a parking garage under the restaurants but most places (including Dragonfly) offer complimentary valet parking. We arrived a little after 9 PM (they’re open until 11:30 on Friday and Saturday). The restaurant is beautiful: modern with lots of Asian influences. Even the bathrooms are must-see.
The restaurant was busy but not packed. We wanted to sit at the bar and the hostess recommended we try the outside bar, which was very comfortable. We found two seats right away and a bartender greeted us quickly with menus. Our first round of cocktails (both $11) was the cucumber compulsion for Hubby (“Cucumber infused Russian Standard Vodka, St. Germain Elderflower Liquor, fresh lemon juice, garnished with a floating cucumber slice” ) and the summer fling for me (“Bombay Sapphire gin, cucumber infused Russian Standard Vodka, lavender infused syrup, fresh lemon juice, garnished with a lemon twist”). Both were excellent.
The concept of Dragonfly is explained on their site as being “a modern interpretation of the Japanese pub culture. Sushi, sashimi, and robatyaki (open fire grill) are served tapas-style … in a lounge environment.” Therefore, there really aren’t “main dishes” on their menu (although they do have some noodle dishes). We ordered the wagyu rib eye robata ($19), chorizo robata ($6), shishito peppers robata ($5), garlic lump crab fried rice ($12), crispy black pork belly ($13), yellowtail with ginger-scallion ($12), tuna kobachi ($16), and the techno roll ($12).
The robatas came out first. Each order is two skewers. The rib eye had a very good flavor but, when Hubby asked me if it was $19 good, I had to say no. Maybe it’s because I’m not a rib eye fan (they don’t have another cut of wagyu beef or I wouldn’t have gotten it). The chorizo and shishito peppers were both excellent. The chorizo may have been the best we’ve ever had.
While we were eating our robatas (by the way, if that wasn’t a word before, it is now), the fried rice came. Hubby thought it was very average. I didn’t like it at all. I thought it was too fishy.
Next we got our sashimi and sushi rolls. The sashimi was good but not really memorable. The yellowtail is “finished with aged balsamic and topped with Shirasu.” The tuna kobachi is “cubed. In a spicy sesame oil blend. Served with avocado & puffed rice.” I definitely prefer the tiraditos at Sushi Samba. We ordered the techno roll (“California with selection of sashimi slices on top”) but also received the Dragonfly roll by mistake (“Tuna & Albacore wrapped with Grouper & baked with spicy sauce. Topped with scallions & finished with eel sauce.”), which is $14. Apparently the bartender had entered this instead of our pork belly. He said the roll would be removed from our bill but it wasn’t. We decided not to challenge it because we really enjoyed this roll, even more than the techno roll we had ordered. We never would’ve ordered it but it was a happy mistake. Definitely get this roll if you go.
Because of the mix up, the pork belly came out last. It was worth the wait. This was the best pork belly we ever had, including at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, which has three Michelin stars! The crust on it was perfectly crispy while the inside was tender but not fatty. Hubby said, “You know how people say something melts in your mouth? This literally does.” My mouth is watering right now thinking about it.
During dinner, Hubby had two Moscow mules and I had a sumo smash (“Beefeater gin, ginger infused syrup, fresh mint, fresh lime juice, garnished with a crystallized ginger slice,” $10). Hubby’s Moscow mules were fantastic – not too sweet, excellent ginger flavor. My sumo smash was also delicious.
For dessert, we knew we wanted the Japanese doughnut and either the tempura cheesecake or the tempura ice cream. The bartender recommended the cheesecake. Hubby was intrigued by the green tea crème brulee, which the bartender said was his favorite dessert on the menu. (We forgot our itemized receipt and the online menu doesn’t include dessert, so I can’t give you verbatim descriptions or prices.) The doughnuts and the cheesecake were fantastic. I would absolutely recommend those. But the crème brulee was disappointing. The green tea flavor was too subtle and the custard was too runny.
Overall, we really enjoyed Dragonfly and will go back if we get a chance. The service was friendly, most of the food was excellent, and the restaurant is beautiful. It’s very possible that the few middling dishes we had are part of their growing pains since this is only their second restaurant.