Nicely transformed from the urban metro chic decor of Graze to this stylish take on the American Frontier. Anchoring a corner of the prestigious Sanctuary building, surrounded by sidewalk style seating and a private tree lined patio is the new comer on the block.
The decor is bright, lively, and chic. White table cloths and leather bound chairs on blond floors really open up the space. The high ceilings are complimented with a sprinkling of high and regular tables. Swanky booths adorn the walls. This is definitely a modern take on what one would imagine is the rustic American Frontier. The sidewalk tables, when the rails go up, would make a great addition to outdoor dining. Though, I am a little baffled why the rails are necessary. Ocean Drive on South Beach Miami, the mecca of sidewalk dining, does not have rails anywhere. Different town, different codes? On the other corner is a very nice cozy patio. Tall thick shrubbery makes an excellent wall of privacy. It has a courtyard feel with the full height of the Sanctuary building as a wall. Quite majestic.
The food menu, Bobby Flay meets Orlando. Finally, here is a restaurant which showcases the great frontier ingredients that is prevalent in the Southwest, without being a another cheesy Tex Mex slop. There is definitely talent at the helm of the kitchen. Ingredients and cooking techniques blend very well to present strong culinary background and pedigree. BLACK & WHITE SOUP Black bean and jalapeno jack cheese, sweet red chile puree. Dazzling presentation with flair and simplicity. The flavors and textures melts beautifully together. TEQUILA SHRIMP & CORN PANCAKES Tequila marinated, chipotle butter, tomato salsa, cilantro. Three little darlings in heaven…or on the frontier. Amazing flavors and aromas from this dish. It comes from a rustic almost outdoor fire pit cooking smell to sit on delicate corn cakes that makes excellent backdrops to sop up the tequila. The corn cakes were slightly too delicate as they fell apart if not scooped up properly. DUCK BREAST Navajo Style herb roasted vegetables, crispy bacon, dried cherry jam, spicy pepitas and lime oil. A new star on duck preparation is born. These ingredients alone are perfect and as a combination magical. Almost like a magical camp fire dancing in the night…I mean plate. Amazingly cooked duck breast. BISON Blue cheese, caramelized onions, balsamic, green leaf lettuce and tomato. It does not get better than this. Bison meat is so lean and tender it is like a sin to eat the whole big burger. For the health conscious, the perfect indulgence have arrived. Perfectly medium burger with juices sealed in and cooked to perfection.
Gruet Blanc De Noirs, New Mexico, NV. Really, from New Mexico? Oh yes, this was a perfect compliment to the restaurant’s theme. The toasty aromas, raspberry flavors, and slight acidity rounds out lingering little dancing bubbles on the palate. A true compliment of regional food is regional wines. Bravo! Torres, Celeste, Ribera del Duero nice blend of Tempranillo with aromas and flavors of berryish fruit, herbaceousness, and an earthy-leathery minerality.
This restaurant is newly opened and with all new openings there are snags. The service process here needs a little tightening. Do we really need to hear the host’s interpretation of the outdoor seating laws and codes pertaining to pets? You either allow pets on your patio or not. If not, then I’ll take an explanation. Same as the website, a technical legal disclaimer? What about cookies? Should I eat them or worry about them eating my computer? Dine at my own risk. Bad taste. Upon walking in I passed a couple of people outside the front door, no host? So I walked over to the bar and asked if I could sit outside. The bartender pointed me back to the host stand. Pointed! Okay, back to the host stand, I passed the host on my way in, no acknowledgement!
The actual service was very cordial and deliberate but spotty. We waited forever after being seated for our server to come over. We were never given menus when seated. When our server came over, oops no menus. He had to go get some. Then there were several wines on the menu, but not in stock. I ordered a sparkling wine and was given a Chardonnay, by my server, oops. After an initial greeting our server disappeared forever. “Someone” else came over and offered to take an order. Who was that? With a half empty restaurant, where was our server? We were the only table on the patio and the food runner walked out looking around, had to verify with the server our table number? Huh? The red wine was corked. Then another “someone” in a suit walked over and asked if he could get us anything? Who are these random people? No one ever introduces themselves anymore? Okay, no more service bashing.
Prickly Pear is a great concept in a very beautifully appointed location and setting. Lake Eola Square is definitely buzzing these days. The food is surely a first in Orlando and it is heavenly. Here is hoping that the service kinks get worked out soon and not affect this promising restaurant.