It seems as though every weekend a new restaurant pops up begging for a visit from my mouth, and who am I to neglect a tasty new experience? This past weekend we visited a new spot, close to home, called The Strand. I won't lie and tell you that I remember Chuck's Diner that previously held this small piece of real estate on Mills Ave. I honestly have no recollection of it, despite having visited other neighboring store fronts. After browsing some reviews that boasted mostly about their brunch offerings, we headed over around dusk on a Friday evening. We arrived to a completely full restaurant and bar. It's a small space, but the owners seemed to use the square footage much like other restaurants in town that we have visited recently. Most the of the space for seating comes from a long banquette with tables lining the length of it . There were a few lone two-tops, and one communal table. There were a few seats open at the communal table, but the taken side had kids using it as their jungle gym, so we decided to wait it out. Within about 5 minutes a two-top opened up and the staff quickly cleaned it and sat us. From a ex-server standpoint I could tell their staff knew their best bet for making good money in a smaller sized restaurant was going to come from quickly turning tables, and as the patron I appreciated their efficient speed.
You could easily see the kitchen from any vantage point which I liked. Nothing is hidden and a kitchen staff that can be out in the open, being seen and not heard, in my opinion is organized and has their act together.
Like many newer restaurants in Orlando, beer and wine are the only options. I opted for a flavored Pellegrino and my husband got one of their craft beers on tap which our served explained changed on a regular basis.
They had a small but varied list of appetizers, and we chose the warm pretzels. They are made with dough from the local Olde Hearth Bread Company is Casselberry. I was very skeptical of the Pimento Cheese dip they came with but I was very pleasantly surprised. It had a great flavor and may have possibly changed my usual abhorrence of all things Pimento. Two large pretzels, served hot and crispy, but soft inside was a great kick off to our meal.
For our meals I chose the "Porkzilla", pulled pork and coleslaw on brioche bun with fries, and Ian got the Fish & Chips. I really liked my sandwich, although next time I go I might ask how the pork was seasoned. There were flavors I could not identify (not that my palette is so sophisticated that I normally can) and with the topping of coleslaw on the pork there were different flavors mixing about - all good, just mysterious. I do wish my fries had been just a tad softer. Overcooked fries are by far the worst bummer and often most repeated offender when I dine out. I did however clean my plate, because fries are fries, am I right?
Ian got the Fish and Chips and dug into them before I could stop him so it's not pictured. He enjoyed them but did mention that the London Pavilion in Epcot's were better. Oh Disney, you strike again, blinding the mind of the local eater. I was able to steal a piece of fish and can say the breading was light and crispy and the fish was tender.
Never one to say no to desert despite how full I may be, I ordered the Olive Oil cake. That was honestly what got me in the door after seeing it repeatedly in my Instagram feed by other Orlando foodies.
Ian took the name quite literally and upon me ordering it he reacted with disgust and horror. "OLIVE OIL CAKE?" he exclaimed. After I forced him to try it he couldn't keep his spoon off my plate! The cake was so moist, topped with fresh cream, and what I assume were blood oranges but tasted more like grapefruit. I really need to work on my fruit identification. It was a light, creamy, citrus dream and I wanted more! I hope they never take it off the menu.
It should be noted that in several online reviews I saw complaints of slow service, but we experienced no such thing, and on a busy Friday evening no less. Our server was a young lady that was pleasant and quick.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my meal, and I am very happy with this new addition to the Mills/50 hood. I can't wait to try the other offerings on the menu. It's nice to have an option nearby that doesn't have the words Pho on the menu.
Check out their menu here.