It’s an odd location, I’ll grant you that.
Two Chefs Seafood & Oyster Bar, the very good new restaurant, occupies a space in a small office building in Orlando’s North Quarter district. Actually, it occupies several spaces. There is the main dining area next to the open kitchen; a bar, located across the way from the main room; and an upstairs dining room for private dining and spillover that overlooks the bar area, accessible through the waiting room of a doctor’s practice.
It’s an odd setup, but the food is excellent, as you would expect it to be from the two chefs of the title. That would be Bernard Carmouche, formerly corporate chef for Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants, and Larry Sinibaldi, who left his job as executive chef at Palm Restaurant to start this new venture.
The menu, which reflects Carmouche’s ties to New Orleans, is simple and straightforward, but has several items worth trying.
None more so than the gumbo, which is about as good as any you’ll find in the Crescent City. It has as its base a dark and moody roux, with hearty hunks of chicken and sausage, fluffy rice and vegetables. The seasonings were vibrant and forward, but integrated into the stew.
Almost as good was my shrimp po’boy (pictured at top), about a dozen shrimp, deftly fried to that golden brown they sing about in song, and stacked with thick slices of impossibly red tomatoes, shredded lettuce and a slather of mayo. There is a skill to frying shrimp without it being greasy or rubbery, and this kitchen has perfected it.
My companion’s Cajun Bowl was another treat, a stack of dirty rice, collard greens and roasted sweet potatoes with roast pork (chicken is another option) all to be mixed together. The pork was especially good, as was the rice. Douse on some hot sauce and you have a one-bowl feast.
We also had the roasted marrow bones, canoe cut so that the pulpy goodness was easier to scoop out. There was so much of the rich and fatty marrow that I had to cry uncle.
If there was anything that didn’t thrill us it was the crab-stuffed mushrooms. They were interesting in a nostalgic sort of way, a throwback to the days in the ‘80s and early ‘90s when stuffed mushroom were on every — EVERY! — menu in town.
Service was prompt and attentive.
The main dining area has a bit of a lunchroom feel that is very New Orleansian. Think Mother’s on Poydras Street. Think casual and comfortable.
You may drive by the office building facade without knowing there’s a restaurant inside, but keep an eye out for it, stop in, and treat yourself to some really terrific food.
Two Chefs Seafood & Oyster Bar is at 743 N. Magnolia Ave., Orlando. (Valet parking is provided in the back.) It is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. The phone number is 407-270-4740.