Maitland's Enzian Theater premieres its new bar/eatery tonight. Eden Bar occupies a 2000 square-foot outdoor space with seating for 70. The entire area is open-air, but the bar and much of the seating is under a sturdy roof allowing for continuous service even in a downpour. It was a beautiful evening when the Hound stopped by for a preview, so added protection wasn't needed.
It's a beautiful space; the circular bar has a rich deep wood tone that is complimented by the swooping ceiling. Colored pendant lights over the bar and recessed can lights throughout the rest of the space add just enough glow to allow the surrounding greenery to be seen. All along the wall the bar shares with the actual theater building is an elaborate mural painted by Oscar-nominated animator Bill Plympton. The mural is a whimsical depiction of a Floridian version of the Garden of Eden, which explains how the bar/restaurant got its name. It doesn't explain the Austrian items on the dinner menu.
It turns out, according to a note on the menu, that "Enzian Theater was conceived by Tina Tiedtke in the spirit of Friedstein Castle, home to her grandmother, Princess Felicitas Hohenlohe." The menu note continues: "The Eden Bar is offering a few selections from the kitchen, including recipes from the houses of Hapsburg and Rothschild."
Those offering include a salad, and cheese spread, one soup, a main course of brook trout smoked with pine needles, and an almond and hazelnut torte. Turn the page and you have a vast variety of other options, including other salads, sandwiches, steak tacos, bento box nachos, flatbread pizzas and other uncomplicated fare that won't overstretch the limitations of Enzian's small kitchens.
Old-timers will remember that the Enzian grounds used to have a separate building, an old house, that was converted into a restaurant. For many years it was the well-received Jordan's Grove, but when that business closed, as steady parade of other eateries took up residence with varying rates of success. The house was razed several years ago.
The Hound sampled the libtauer cheese spread, described on the menu as delightfully tart and smoky, served with pita bread. But instead of pita, the spread was served with dark bread from Yalaha Bakery. I didn't get tart or smoky from the taste, but I did get caraway. I couldn't tell, however, if the seeds were in the spread or in the bread.
My friend and I also sampled one of the pizzas, the Yukon Gold potato ($14), which had roasted garlic, house-cured bacon, parmigiano-reggiano and mozzarella cheeses, and slices of potatoes. It was a pretty good pie, but I question the cost of $14 for such a small serving.
True to its name, Eden Bar features a full line of liquor and some nice wines. As I said in yesterday's post, one of the gimmicks of the bar is the offering of very old liquor, including pre-Prohibition bourbon and pre-Castro rum, at prices ranging from $75-$250 a shot.
Take that gimmick, the Floridian Garden of Eden theme and throw in an Austrian castle and you have a bit too much going on at once.
But I like the bar, it's a comfortable place to sit and chat, especially this time of year when outside is the place to be. I can see people coming to Eden Bar even if they don't have plans to see a movie.