I stopped in to check out Ollie’s Public House the other night. Ollie’s, you may recall, is the business that replaced the Jax 5th Avenue on Edgewater Drive in College Park when Jax’s owner sold the remaining restaurants and moved out of state.
Little about the place has changed, which is not necessarily a good thing. The free-standing building that now sits in front of the Edgewater High School campus (it used to be a strip mall where the Mark II dinner theater was located) was in need of remodeling. When I saw a large container in front of the place after Jax closed, I was heartened that the much needed repairs would take place. I even predicted that it would take months before Ollie’s opened. I should have known not to expect much when, in fact, it opened only a few days later.
Let’s be clear: Ollie’s is primarily a bar, albeit one that happens to serve food. I wouldn’t come here specifically to have dinner. But if I were here and enjoying a beer with friends, I might order something to eat.
I’d probably have the beef on a weck again. Now, before you Buffaloers start sending me emails, I want you to know that the 'a' in the name of the dish is Ollie’s doing, not mine. I know that the appropriate name is the more shorthanded beef on weck. For the uninitiated, beef on weck is a Western New York sandwich consisting of roast beef on a kummelweck roll. A kummelweck is akin to a kaiser roll, but with big grains of salt baked on top. There was a plentiful amount of roast beef stacked between the soft, doughy buns. The predominant flavors came from the spicy horseradish that was slathered on the roll, and from those tasty salt grains. I had it with potato salad because the more traditional fries are not an option here. It’s also traditional to serve a beef on weck with a dill pickle, though none was offered. But I’ll have something to say about that in a moment.
One of my friends, with whom, in fact, I was indeed enjoying a beer, ordered the shrimp salad pita. The second-most impressive thing about this sandwich was the huge amount of shrimp that had been crammed into the pita pocket. The number one impressive thing was the total lack of flavor in the shrimp. I’m serious when I say that if I had been blindfolded and served a forkful of the shrimp salad I would not have been able to identify one ingredient, including seafood.
Another friend had a rather mundane club wrap. The filly, however, ordered by another companion, had many of the ingredients found in a Philly cheesesteak. Cream cheese, however, kept it from being a classic rendering, so the filly name was a good call. (And it was a good sandwich.)
One of the pleasures of the old Jax Fifth Ave. was the jar of thick-sliced dill pickles that were presented to each table. It wasn’t until I was finished with my sandwich that I saw a server deliver a jar to a nearby table. I asked my server why we hadn’t been offered any. She said, “You have to ask for them.” So, I’m supposed to ask for something I don’t know is available? She explained that the restaurant was throwing out huge buckets of unused pickles each night, so they chose to make it an on-request item. I didn’t know it was an option; now you do.
I can understand, I suppose, why the new owners didn't want to put a lot into redoing the decor. What exists is just fine for a tavern. It would be nice, however, if some funds could be found to spruce up the bathrooms. Even beer drinkers appreciate a clean and kempt place to return the beer to.
Despite the little pickle omission, I was pleased with my server and the others that assisted her. We’re not talking polished, but it’s better than you get in most bars.
And as the name says, Ollie’s Public House is a bar. But you can get a tasty sandwich here, too.
Ollie’s Public House is at 3400 Edgewater Drive, Orlando. It’s open for lunch and dinner, and offers late-night dining (and drinking). Here is a link to olliespublichouse.com. The phone number is 407-999-8934.