Marlow’s Tavern, the Atlanta area concept that made its Central Florida debut last year at Pointe Orlando, has opened a second location here, this time in Winter Park.
Marlow’s has taken over a former McDonald’s structure (you don’t see many of those close down, though wouldn’t that be nice?) and pretty much stripped the inside of the place, although you can still easily spot what part of the structure held the playground -- it’s now an inside patio.
Both the Pointe and WP Marlow’s are under the direction of former Darden executive Alan Palmieri. There are now 12 Marlow’s Taverns; the two local restaurants so far are the only extra georgian ones. Palmieri says he has other locations in mind and is working on the leases to open more.
Should you care?
Yes, I think the Taverns Marlow have something to offer. They have a nice neighborhoody appeal -- although the Pointe Orlando one is more of an “all the world’s one big neighborhood type operation -- and the food, which is under the direction of corporate executive chef John Metz, is mostly good and recommendable.
As with my experience with the Pointe Marlow’s in October, I still feel burgers are the forte here. A friend and I stopped in for dinner earlier this month shortly after the restaurant opened its doors. Rick chose the Tavern burger but I went for something new, the crispy brick chicken that has been added as a summer menu item. The chicken featured a grilled airline breast (with the wing joint attached) served with summer ratatouille that included chickpeas, zucchini, asparagus and grape tomatoes, dressed with a kale pesto picatta. It alls sounds complex but it was fairly mundane.
I kept coveting Rick’s burger, a thick patty, oozing with juices, grilled to a lovely red medium-rare, topped with shredded romaine lettuce, a thick slice of tomato and some red onion, all on a softly fresh sesame seed-studded bun. This place knows how to do a good burger.
On another visit, more recently, as part of a media tasting lunch, I ordered the steak frites. It featured nicely grilled center-cut filets doused with au poivre sauce and accompanied by a stack of hand cut fries and an arugula salad. It was all fine, though the filet elevated it a bit too high above the usual ribeye and tended to make it more of a steak dinner served with fries. Why was this billed as steak frites and not steak au poivre?
Pan-seared ruby trout was a nice non-beef item. The fish was stuffed in a way with bright green snow pea shoots and served atop a “fried rice” that used quinoa rather than long-grain. It was a nicely creative dish.
Standout appetizers include firecracker shrimp, tempura coated and fried, served with a spicy aioli, and asparagus fries, lightly breaded. J.T.’s Kettle Chips are a nachos-like pile of potato chips interlaced with gorgonzola cheese, bacon and tomatoes. To make things confusing, however, the apps meny features something called the shrimp & crab “nacho” plate, which is sort of a shrimp and crab Rangoon on individual nachos, no piling on. Very rich; I could handle only one.
The restaurant is divided into three sections. There is a dining room of sorts in the back to the building in front of the sort-of open kitchen. Here you’ll find mostly leather booth seating, though there is an area off to one side with more of a living room feel. The middle part is the bar area, with high-top tables beneath fabric covered boxes of light. Behind the bar, a black and white mural of an unnamed local lake covers a window, blocking the view of a building next door. No, I’m told, the lake view isn’t meant to emulate the one at nearby Hillstone.
The third area is the PlayPlace, I mean all-weather patio, which means it’s pretty much indoors. That’s where you’ll find the occasional live entertainment.
The place can be a bit noisy -- that’s to be expected with a tavern concept -- and if the presence of televisions annoys you then you’d best stay away.
But I think you’ll find Marlow’s Tavern to be a comfortable meeting spot or place for a bite to eat, especially if you bite into one of its excellent burgers.
Marlow’s Tavern is at 1008 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park (just north of the Orange Avenue intersection). It is open for lunch and dinner daily. Here is a link to MarlowsTavern.com. The phone number for the Winter Park location is 407-960-3670.