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Spotlight: Scott Joseph Reviews Kadence

Photo courtesy of Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide
Photo courtesy of Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide

This review is abridged for broadcast. Find the full version of the review at Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide on this page.

I’m tempted to say that Kadence is one of the best restaurants in Central Florida but I’m not sure that it is. A restaurant, I mean.

Sure, it meets most of the criteria: It prepares and serves food for which customers pay; beverages are available; full service is provided.

But those components are applied in such a way as to produce something unique.

For starters, you don’t so much as make a reservation to dine here as you do buy a ticket. You essentially pay for your meal in advance and your purchase is nonrefundable, just as it would be if you were buying a ticket to a performance, which in a way you are. The policy helps to cut down on the number of no-shows and lessens the pain if a booked seat goes empty.

Because there are only nine seats in the place.

Nine stools, actually, and all are situated at an L-shaped sushi bar facing the sushi prep arena where co-owners Lordfer Lalicon, Mark Berdin and Jennifer Benagale perform a careful choreography of exquisitely executed omakase sushi, supported by a cadre of backstage assistants.

Those tickets are not inexpensive. Dinner is $190 per person; lunch is $85; and a matinee option — sort of an early bird sushi dinner — is $95. Beverages, including a sake pairing, are extra. Empty seats are rare.

When I dined for lunch there were at least four frequent diners among my fellow guests. And one man was negotiating to return for the matinee seating that same day.

Yes, it’s that good. And when quality is considered with cost, a meal here is a bargain.

There is no menu, and everyone is seated and served at the same time.

I can’t tell you what to have; you’ll have what they serve you. Don’t ask for substitutions and don’t show up expecting that your aversion to raw fish will be accommodated with kitchen food replacements, it’s not going to happen. What they serve you will depend on what can be acquired that is the freshest and highest quality.

I can only assure you that it will all be excellent, and the experience will be like no other in Central Florida.

Nicole came to Central Florida to attend Rollins College and started working for Orlando’s ABC News Radio affiliate shortly after graduation. She joined Central Florida Public Media in 2010. As a field reporter, news anchor and radio show host in the City Beautiful, she has covered everything from local arts to national elections, from extraordinary hurricanes to historic space flights, from the people and procedures of Florida’s justice system to the changing face of the state’s economy.