After what seemed like a very long time and a renovation that gutted the place, Brian’s Restaurant has reopened. If you were a regular before Brian’s closed for the redo -- and from the inquiries I’ve been getting, there are a lot of you -- you’re not going to recognize the place. The new decor is homey and just a little bit tony. Granite tabletops? How posh!
I have to admit that it has been years since I was last inside the restaurant. I was not a fan of the food and had never had what I would classify as a positive experience, so I just never returned. But take it from the woman sitting nearby on my recent visit who was reminiscing about the last time she had been there. She peppered her comments with words like filthy and disgusting. Not anymore. Pristine might be a word someone would use to describe Brian’s 2.0.
There are two smallish dining areas (it seems much smaller to me, but again, I’m working from a fuzzy memory). There are booths and banquets in the first room and conventional tables and chairs in the other. Windows with white plantation shutters decorate the wall between the two rooms. There’s a fireplace in the second room, but it may be just for show. The building now has a large outdoor patio up front, which is nice considering that Brian’s is across the street from Lake Ivanhoe. (Perhaps that’s why the inside area looks smaller -- some of the previous space is taken up by the patio.) Back inside, only two stools fit at the very small lunch counter, just opposite the cashier stand. The tile floor looked clean enough to eat off of.
If only there were something I would want to eat off of it. I ordered the corned beef hash with two eggs. The hash had been flattened and fried so that it resembled an overcooked latke. It was so crispy that it broke apart when I forked it. The eggs were cooked precisely to order. The sausage gravy was way too floury. The sweet roll that the restaurant is so proud of had a texture that was a bit too breadlike for my taste.
The restaurant was nowhere near crowded, yet my server seemed to be behind the whole time I was there. Having a bad day, I guess.
I’ll be interested in hearing from longtime fans of Brian’s whether they like the new place and its more casual cafe ambience. It may be that it was the diner atmosphere they enjoyed -- filthy and disgusting aside -- more than the food.
Brian’s Restaurant is at 1409 N. Orange Ave., Orlando. I’d love to tell you what days Brian’s is open, but there is no website, and the phone number comes up as disconnected. And if there is a new phone number, it isn’t printed on the takeout menu. Anybody got a good number? Leave it in the comments, please.