I’ve written about the lounges available at Orlando Airport. However, the one section that doesn’t have a lounge nearby are gates 100-129, which services Southwest and Alaska Airlines. All hope is not lost though, because this section of the airport is home to Cask & Larder. I’d put this dining establishment up on the list of the best airport restaurants out there, anywhere.
For those of you not up to date on the Orlando restaurant scene, the James Beard Award-nominated husband and wife tandem of James and Julie Petrakis opened their first restaurant, The Ravenous Pig, in Winter Park, Florida (just a few miles north of Downtown Orlando) in 2007. The Ravenous Pig has served sustainable food created with passion and prepared using ingredients sourced in Florida. They’ve dazzled diners and earned critical acclaim for their thoughtful creations inspired by the best seasonal foods the Sunshine State has to offer.
There was quite a buzz when they announced they were taking over a restaurant down the road, previously a BBQ place, and opening a new concept called Cask & Larder. Taking advantage of the smoker already on site, they planned on featuring House Cured & Smoked Meats and Craft Beers brewed on the premises. While the restaurant was great, it was not a good fit for the large space it inhabited. Eventually, The Ravenous Pig moved from its original location to the larger Cask & Larder space and it was announced that Cask & Larder would be moving to the Orlando Airport.
Jump forward to the opening of Cask & Larder at the airport. It took over space previously inhabited by an awful Mexican restaurant and did a total renovation of the central area of the terminal. Cask & Larder now consists of a grab and go section, table seating for meals, and a bar area that looks over the tarmac. It’s genuinely a fantastic design that takes full advantage of the natural light available to transform the area into what feels like an outdoor space.
Enough about history…what about the food?!?! The menu is based on comfort foods with southern and barbecue influence. Some of the menu items from the previous Cask & Larder location, as well as items from The Ravenous Pig, have made it over to the airport.
To start off our meal, we ordered some drinks. From prior experience, I know they make a great Gin & Tonic (at The Ravenous Pig they serve it On Tap), so I went with that and water. Sharon ordered a Coppertail Wheat Stroke from the draught beer list. We then picked out our meals. Wanting to get a good idea of the different choices available, Sharon went with the barbecue platter. That came with pulled pork, sliced brisket and chicken apple sausage with a side of coleslaw and cornbread. I was feeling hungry, so I went with the burnt ends meatloaf.
Once you get over the fact you’re eating with plastic utensils, the food was delicious. The meatloaf was crazy flavorful (but I’m not going to that town of flavor, thank you very much). Sharon let me try some of her BBQ but only a taste as we only finished half of our meals so we could bring home the extra for leftovers. There are some perks of eating at your home airport, after all.
Since we saved room, we decided to try the deserts. Oh, the things we do for the readers of this website.
Sharon had the candied bacon ice cream with shortbread crumble and I had the southern pecan pie (they were all out of the bread pudding. Oh well, next time).
The ice cream looked good but wasn’t bacony enough for bacon ice cream. The pecan pie was good, but they wouldn’t be a very good southern restaurant at all if they messed that up.
We’ve also stopped by for breakfast. If you know anything about people from the south, they know their breakfast. The eggs, sausage and grits were right on point!
We’ve had really good meals at Cask & Larder. It isn’t cheap for comfort food, but you do get good quality for the price you pay. I never would have imagined stopping for dinner at the airport after my flight home but this is a restaurant for which I’ll make an exception. I’m not going to make flight arrangements around eating here but if the opportunity is available, we’ll definitely take it. We’ve finally had the chance to try the grab & go selections and agree with several of our readers that they’re excellent and nothing like the typical chef salad or ham & cheese croissant places usually offer.
By the way, if you’re ever at Walt Disney World and eat at The Polite Pig, at Disney Springs….also the same owners!
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary