When Kappo was the hot spot within the East End Market, I was only able to try their 7-course tasting experience once. The price tag for a Sunday tasting lunch is $75 with no added beverage service per person, and while I will admit that for me this is more of a special occasion price tag, it's definitely worth every cent.
Since the closing of Kappo almost two years ago the three owners, Mark, Jen, and Lo, have been busy traveling, crafting their menu, and renovating the old Winter Park Beer Company building in Audubon Park to bring those who missed them dearly, and those who never got the chance to visit them, Kadence.
While some may not be a fan of the black exterior of their new space, I actually like it; especially when finding upon entering the interior is completely opposite. Stark white, then woods tones, clean and minimal decor.
Upon entering you come into a lobby/bar where you are greeted by one of the staff and you can enjoy a drink prior to your meal, or take it into the dining area if you didn't purchase a specific drink service throughout the meal. Sake, wine and beer are available, but Jen makes the best matcha milk tea, so that's all I needed beyond water.
Each course is prepped beforehand, but you still get to see much of the work that goes into each dish. There is something satisfying watching someone expertly slice fish, a craft Mark said took him 10 years to perfect.
Here is the breakdown of our eight course tasting. The photos below are in corresponding order. I'm sure I'm missing ingredients, but I didn't quite catch everything as it was explained over the Drake, NAS, Toni Braxton, Hall & Oates, Linda Ronstadt, OutKast, and Wu-Tang that accompanied my experience.
- Sea trout, ginger, wasabi, cucumber
- Soup miso based
- Sashimi course
- Poached egg, potato and mushroom dish
- Live Octopus, garlic, slow cooked (4 hours) potato with Japanese butter
- Uni from Peru with Waygu beef and potato chips
- Rice with aged pickles and orange clams
- Mochi, frozen moose
I thoroughly enjoyed each course with the octopus and sashimi being my favorites, and the Uni and Waygu beef being the most unfamiliar duo to my palette. I didn't even care what was being served for dessert because I learned quickly at Kappo that anything Jen makes, including her ice creams, are perfection.
If you are thinking $75 per person is a bit high for a meal out, you are not wrong (lunch is $55 per person, dinner is $135-145 per person for 18+ courses). However, as someone who is not keen on spending high prices for food that could potentially miss the mark, I don't believe you would ever feel that the money spent at Kadence was wasted. It is a one-of-a-kind experience in Orlando, (our lunch lasted two hours) and you can see the skill that goes into their craft in the execution, timing, precision, and the ingredients they are selecting from all over the world.
That being said, if you decide you want to try this experience you need to be open and adventurous. You will get no say in what is served to you (at least during these tasting courses) and if you aren't open to trying new textures, flavors, or creatures for that matter, you may find yourself out of place. I can say from my past experiences with the Chefs I trust them implicitly to take pairings I would never dream of and make me fall in love with each one.
Also to be noted, you cannot choose the other people you are dining with in this intimate space. With prices where they are, the chances are good that you may find yourself dining with some pretentious people as we did, that were not ideal dining partners. Just focus on the food and how good it is and you'll get through it, I promise.
To make your reservations visit their website. Some lunch offerings require no reservation and are at a first come, first serve basis. Follow their instagram for more info and details.
I dined at Kadence at my own expense, this was not a media event, nor did they ask me to write this post. All photographs belong to me, and are not permitted to be used without permission.