It had been a while since I’d last ventured to the Lake Nona area in search of eats. The previous jaunt, to Durian Durian Thai restaurant, was less than satisfying. I figured it might take a while for the burgeoning area -- burgeoned by the growing medical community -- to start attracting new businesses.
It would appear the time has come. I’m seeing more restaurants come online, from the inevitable chains and fast feeders to smaller, independently owned places. Proof that Lake Nona is coming into its own as a sustainable community, at least in culinary terms, can be found in the popularity of Nona Tap Room, a neighborhoody watering hole with decent food.
NTR is located in a medium-size strip mall -- near an outpost of Tim’s Wine Market! -- on Narcoossee Road. (Is anything in Lake Nona not located on Narcoossee Road?) In its corner spot, the Tap Room does its best to give the illusion of being a more long-established pub. Walls are painted the color of wheat or oxblood. Most of the table seating is at high tops, and there is a long bar of black galaxy granite. Behind the bar is a row of taps -- it’s the Nona Tap Room, after all -- of 50 or so beers. Another 50 brews are available by the bottle. (Feel free to sing a modified version of 100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.)
The beer list doesn’t offer much guidance in terms of tasting notes, at least not the printed menu. If you visit nonataproom.com, you’ll find more detailed information in the beer menu section. (Unfortunately the site is not optimized for mobile devices, so good luck reading it on your phone.)
The food menu stays pretty close to the basic pub fare. I ordered the Loaded Burger, which features onions, bacon and mushrooms as well as a choice of cheese. The patty was marinated in Guiness beer and had a nicely charred crust and a not unpleasant greasy quality. It was not, however, cooked to the requested medium-rare. It had passed that point some time before it was delivered.
The burger was served with sweet potato chips, which were cut like potato chips but had the softer texture of conventional french fries. I liked them.
Service was upbeat and friendly. The place was virtually packed on a weeknight, and most of the tables on the decidedly unattractive sidewalk out front were also occupied. I guess the Lake Nonans finally have a place to gather, drink and eat.
Nona Tap Room is at 9145 Narcoossee Road, Orlando. It’s open for lunch and dinner daily, with late night hours. Most of the burgers hover around the $10 mark. The phone number is 407-4404594.