Here's another entry in the assemblage category. This time, refreshingly, it isn't a chain restaurant, the people are friendly because they want to be, and the food is better than average.
It's JJ's Grille, a small storefront in a Winn-Dixie plaza on Curry Ford Road in Orlando. The sign claims "grilled fresh food" without being more specific than that. It would seem that it wants to be world fusion, though such generality is seldom a good idea. The website tab says Mexican, the owner is Venezuelan, and there is a Lebanese rice dish. But beyond that, it's a pretty basic unfused menu.
As with other assemblage concepts — Moe's, Chipotle, Italio, etc. — guests choose the ingredients and direct the staff member behind the sneeze guard who puts it all together into what one hopes will be a conglomeration that doesn't suck. Here you can choose a burrito as your food container, or perhaps a pita pocket, or maybe just a bowl to hold it all.
I went with the burrito, choosing a white flour tortilla instead of a whole wheat one, Mexican rice instead of brown or mjedderah (the Lebanese mix of rice and lentils), black beans instead of lentils, and steak as my meat option. It doesn't stop there. One must still choose sauces and other accouterments. It can get exhausting.
It all turned out well, however. My choices all came together into a well-stuffed burrito that was transferred into a well-stuffed diner. The quality of the ingredients — including hormone-free meat — was evident in the taste.
And to go along with the good food, the friendly staff made me feel welcome. There wasn't the strained "Welcome to Moe's" that that chain's workers are obviously forced to shout. Instead, I was greeted with a warm smile, eye-contact and what seemed like a genuine happiness to have another customer through the door.
I still prefer to have a chef or experienced cook create a flavorful combination for me, but as assemblage restaurants go, JJ's Grille is a good one.
JJ's Grille is at 2950 Curry Ford Road, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The website's menu doesn't have prices but my burrito came to a little over seven bucks. The phone number is 407-802-2947.