Boca Kitchen Bar Market

Exterior

Interior

**** (4 stars)

I used to think this space was cursed, because of the long succession of unsuccessful restaurants that occupied it. But it turns out it wasn’t the space, it was the restaurants that were the problem. Boca is packed every day, and with good reason.

The food and service are both top notch. We had the day’s lunch special, a blackened amberjack sandwich. The amberjack was a thick piece, perfectly cooked. The accompanying mango slaw was a bit sweet for my taste, but with just a little on the sandwich it was perfect.

Rather than fries we asked for the mixed vegetables which had been sauteed and had a delightful smokey flavor.

Boca is one of the best bets for lunch on Park Avenue.

Boca Kitchen Bar Market
358 North Park Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 636-7022
http://www.yelp.com/biz/boca-kitchen-bar-market-winter-park

Bulla Gastrobar

Exterior

Interior

Gazpacho

Ceviche

Flatbread

Salmon rillettes

Burger

**** (4 stars)

I love the interior design of this place, which has cool lighting and excellent acoustics. It is a Spanish tapas restaurant, but at least at brunch I found the selections to be more modern American that authentic Spanish tapas.

My companion had the gazpacho, which was excellent, although unusual in that it seemed to include cream. She also had the ceviche, which included a very generous portion of cooked shrimp, but wasn’t really what she was looking for in an authentic Spanish ceviche.

I had the brunch, which allows you to choose three plates for $27. While that might sound steep, they are very large servings and quite shareable.

I had the flatbread with Mahón cheese, sunny side up quail eggs, caramelized onions, oyster mushrooms and bacon. It was one of the best flatbreads I’ve had, with a thin, crisp crust, charred around the edges, and the eggs and bacon perfectly cooked. The sweetness of the caramelized onions went perfectly with the savoriness of the other ingredients.

My second plate was supposed to be the salmon crostini, slices of salmon on crostini. Due to confusion in the kitchen (or a mistake our waiter was unwilling to admit to) they actually brought me the Salmon Rillettes, which was a spread. It’s actually not a selection on the brunch tasting menu, but I liked it fine, despite my confusion.

My third plate was the least successful. The Bulla Burger was a generous serviing of 45 day dry-aged beef, topped by cheese, sauteed onions and a single pepper. The meat was, in fact far too generous, more of a baseball than a patty. As a result the “medium” I ordered ended up charred on the outside but completely raw throughout the middle. I also felt the burger needed some condiments, as the ingredients didn’t really have that much flavor. However at this point I’d had so much food it didn’t really matter that this course went largely uneaten. I will say the accompanying “truffle fries” (which were actually rosemary flavored diced potatoes) were well cooked and tasty.

I’m not a big brunch fan, so I appreciated the wide varieties of non-brunchy offerings at Bulla. Service was friendly, and I’d definitely go back.

Bulla Gastrobar
110 S Orlando Ave
Ste 7
Winter Park, FL 32789
(321) 594-4175
http://www.yelp.com/biz/bulla-gastrobar-winter-park-2

Kona Grill

Wasabi salmon

Exterior

Interior

***** (5 stars)

I really loved everything about this place.

The interior decor is wonderful, with separate areas for sushi bar, regular dining, hightops, a long bar facing the street through large plate glass windows, and considerable sidewalk dining. It should be noted that at lunch only about 20% of the place was filled and it wasn’t quiet, so I can imagine it could be very noisy on a popular night.

The menu is extensive and eclectic, ranging from sandwich and salads to Italian, and an entire side devoted to sushi. We tried a spicy yellow tail roll and a sunrise roll, and they were both pretty good, but the wasabi salmon sashimi we started with was a home run. Really excellent flavors and consistency.

I also really like my Oriental salad (isn’t that no longer politically correct?) which was mostly a huge volcano of shredded cabbage with a delicious vinaigrette and some crunchy noodle bits.

Service seemed a bit tentative, but was friendly and effective. The kitchen and sushi bar are not speedy, so don’t go on a tight lunch hour.

Kona Grill
110 S Orlando Ave
Ste 12
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 900-0100
https://www.yelp.com/biz/kona-grill-winter-park

Fiddler’s Green Irish Pub & Eatery

**** (4 stars)

This is about as authentic as an Irish pub gets. In fact, it’s more authentic than a few pubs I’ve been to in Ireland.

The decor is traditional and homey. The stew, fish and chips, and hen in a pot are all quite authentic. They even have the same traditional Irish nachos I had in Ireland. Seriously.

There’s a nice beer list that also include some local favorites, including some interesting stouts and porters.

Service is a bit better here than traditional Irish pub service, in that you don’t have to order at the bar.

This is probably the best pub I’ve been to in the US.

Fiddler’s Green Irish Pub & Eatery
544 W Fairbanks Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 645-2050
http://www.yelp.com/biz/fiddlers-green-irish-pub-and-eatery-winter-park

Mynt

Exterior

Exterior

Downstairs

Upstairs Sunday Brunch

Upstairs Sunday Brunch

**** (4 stars)

This tiny space off of Hannibal square is owned by the people behind Saffron on Sand Lake Road, but it has better food and service.

We started with papadums and garlic naan bread. The papadums were more delicate than most, served with two chutneys, mint and tamarind. The garlic naan was particularly good, very thin and a bit crisp in the center, with lots of garlic.

Next we shared the tandoori platter, a combination of chicken, lamb, shrimp and sausage. All were very good although not remarkable.

We finished with an order of butter chicken, which was extremely flavorful, a bit more complex and slightly less rich than some versions.

Service was very attentive. There seemed to be more servers than patrons, although I guess Saturday lunch is slow. Although we didn’t take advantage of it, there is a superb lunch deal, with a full meal for just about $10.

We also went back for brunch, which was upstairs, and a spectacular spread of very fresh food, with terrific variety. Brunch is a deal, priced at $13.95 including a drink or glass of sparkling wine.

Many of the dishes on the menu are not names I’m familiar with from the other Indian restaurants I’ve been too, so I’m looking forward to returning and trying some new things.

Mynt
533 W New England Ave
Ste 100
Winter Park, FL 32789
(321) 441-9872
http://www.yelp.com/biz/mynt-winter-park

Cask & Larder

**** (4 stars)

This is a great place for pork lovers, as most of the dishes involve some variant of that meat. The aroma of the place reminds me of some of Chicago’s pig-centric restaurants such as The Girl and the Goat.

The micro brew beers are interesting. I tried the cilantro lime variant, and it went great with the CBLT, a BLT involving fried chicken skin.

I also tried the Devils on Horseback, dates wrapped in country ham and stuffed with bleu cheese, but felt they were too sweet.

There’s an extensive cocktail list, and since half the space is taken up by the bar, it’s a great place for happy hour.

Cask & Larder
565 W Fairbanks Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789
(321) 280-4200
http://www.yelp.com/biz/cask-and-larder-winter-park

Luma on Park

***** (5 stars)

Offering one of the more hip fine dining environments in town, Luma manages to create a techno vibe without being deafening. A creative, evolving menu offers a nice variety of foods for both vegetarians and carnivores.

Pizzas–more like flatbreads, really–are a great starter. They also make a great burger. These simple foods are not reflective of the overall menu, though, which is fairly sophisticated. Most of the food is more oriented toward small plates, although there are some great entrees as well.

There are plenty of interesting wines to match with a multi course grazing menu, although the wine list is perhaps the most annoying I’ve ever encountered. I’ve seen wines lists sorted by varietal, by country, by color, even by “weight”, but this is the only list I’ve every encountered that is sorted by bottle price and otherwise completely jumbled. Know that you want a chardonnay? Good luck comparing them, as they’ll be scattered randomly around the list.

That said, the wine prices are very reasonable, albeit reflective of fairly obscure selections. There is a reserve list that is less jumbled, and has more recognizable names.

Service is always professional and friendly. There is a small private room beyond the kitchen suitable for parties of eight or so, and also some “chef’s bar” seating that faces the kitchen. For an even more memorable visit, the downstairs wine room offers sofas, a TV, and a single table suitable for about ten. The room can also be rearranged for larger parties.

One of our favorite things to request downstairs is the truffle popcorn, which is amazing.

Luma on Park
290 S Park Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 599-4111
http://www.yelp.com/biz/luma-on-park-winter-park

Winter Park Playhouse

***** (5 stars)

There aren’t many small professional theaters left, so it’s great to see this one thriving. The shows are very professional, with live music and talented performers, and since there are only a few rows, there are no bad seats.

It’s particularly nice that there is a comfortable lounge and bar with piano music for hanging out before the show, and the founders are always there to greet guests and make sure everyone has a nice time.

Definitely one of the best theatrical experiences in Central Florida.

Winter Park Playhouse
711 Orange Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 645-0145
http://www.yelp.com/biz/winter-park-playhouse-winter-park

Scratch

***** (5 stars)

Amazing food and service in an intimate environment. The menu changes constantly, so it’s a fun surprise to see what they have. We were there for a private party, and they knocked it out of the park with one dish after another. The rib eye with bone marrow was the best beef dish I ever tasted. It’s nice that they’re open until 2am most nights, because with only 40 seats going early or late is the only way to get in.

Scratch
223 W Fairbanks Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 325-5165
http://www.yelp.com/biz/scratch-winter-park

Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen

**** (4 stars)

I like the decor and service here very much. You can sense the Tijuana Flats influence, but it’s definitely a sit-down restaurant. I’ve tried quite a few of the items here, and haven’t yet found the thing that transports me back to New Orleans. That said, the food is good, especially the dirty rice. There aren’t many cajun choices in town, and Tibby does a good job of filling the gap.

Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen
2203 Aloma Ave
Winter Park, FL 32792
(407) 672-5753
http://www.yelp.com/biz/tibbys-new-orleans-kitchen-winter-park