Bar Harbor Seafood, one of the companies that provides fresh fish, shellfish and other goodies from the sea to area restaurants, has been serving lunch from its South Orlando warehouse space for about a year now. I only learned of it recently, and stopped in thinking it would be an obscure, sparsely attended out-of-the-way lunch spot to try out.
Well, it certainly is out of the way. But sparsely attended, no.
In fact, I haven’t seen lines this long for a counter restaurant that didn’t specialize in barbecue and have the name Rivers attached to it for quite some time.
Bar Harbor’s wholesale facility is on Premier Row, just west of South Orange Blossom Trail, in Orlando’s Central Park. Its neighbors are other warehouses and showrooms, and I’m thinking it was a lot of the workers from those other businesses that were cramming into the decidedly too small space where lunch orders are taken. (It’s the same space where the company offers retail seafood orders to those who don’t buy their fish by the tonnage.
There isn’t a lot of guidance to folks coming in to place an order, yet everyone seemed to fall into a pattern of moving from the front door down to a cashier, and along the way, someone from behind the counter would ask “Who’s next?” and take the orders. The cashiers would ring the orders up and folks would hang out waiting for their lunch, trying to get out of the way of the next person in line. When names were called, the workers would ask if the customer had paid already and take their answer as the truth. It was the best example of ordered chaos (or ordering chaos, if you will) that I’ve seen in some time.
Bar Harbor’s “dining room” is an outdoor patio with numerous picnic tables with umbrellas for shade.
The menu features fish and chips, Ipswich clams, sushi rolls, cod sliders and such. Most of the cooking seems to be done somewhere else on the property -- one of the workers was shouting orders into a walkie talkie device -- although at one point I saw someone slip a live lobster into a large pot of water boiling on a portable hot plate.
I decided I wanted lobster and requested the lobster roll. I also ordered the clam chowder.
When I opened my clamshell container (foam, not real clamshells) I was disappointed with the size of the lobster roll, but its look was deceiving. It was actually an ample amount of lobster salad with plentiful chunks of fresh, sweet meat, all tucked into a buttery toasted roll. As good as any I’ve had in New England.
The clam chowder was good, too. It had lots of pieces of chewy clam bits and the broth wasn’t overly thickened. Lunch also included a choice of a side dish. While others were going for the fries, I opted for the cole slaw, and I was happy with that.
Prices are appropriate for this type of service. The chowder was $3.95 and the lobster roll was $9.95. (Certain days the lobster roll is $6.95 -- call to verify.) And although the location is technically in an industrial park, the picnic surroundings are pleasant.
Bar Harbor Seafood is at 2000 Premier Row, Orlando. Lunch is served Monday through Saturday. Here is a link to Bar Harbor Seafood’s web page. The phone number is 407-447-6455. And by the way, you can phone an order in and skip some of the chaos, but you may not have as much fun.