I had a perfectly pleasant lunch recently at Oley’s Kitchen and Bar-b-que, on Rio Grande Avenue near the corner of Michigan Street. It isn’t anything special or fancy, just plain, good food.
The woman who greeted me seemed to be the only one working there at the time, but she was handling all the duties just fine. She graciously offered me the menu and something to drink, then returned a few moments later to take my order.
Oley’s specializes, according to its menu, in both Southern/soul and Caribbean cuisines, so of course I had to have some of each. From the former I got the barbecued ribs, from the latter, stew chicken, not to be confused with chicken stew.
Stew chicken, also known as brown stew chicken, is a popular dish throughout the Caribbean Islands. It’s a bit darker than brown, actually, so much so that you might think you’d been served beef instead of chicken. That darkness comes from being stewed in brown sugar, which also gives the gravy a molasses-like taste and texture. There wasn’t a lot of meatiness in the chicken pieces, some of which were unidentifiable, though I think I spotted both wings, but the flavors were good.
The ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender and had a nice charred crust to them. They were quite messy to eat, as good ribs should be, so it’s odd that the paper napkins that Oley’s offers are so flimsy and inadequate for the task.
Each dish came with a choice of two sides. I had collard greens, okra with tomatoes, rice mixed with beans, and yams, and preferred them in that order. Each dish also came with a delicious square of corn bread.
Oley’s occupies a freestanding building. The dining room is large and open. The music played a bit too loudly, but it wasn’t uncomfortable.
Oley’s Kitchen and Bar-b-que is at 2700 S. Rio Grande Ave., Orlando. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-422-7288.