I stopped by an odd little cafe today, odd in a fun and intriguing sense. It’s called Spooky’s Black Cat Cafe & Milk District Marketplace. Quirky doesn’t even begin to describe it.
For those who aren’t hip to it -- and that would likely include anyone who still thinks it’s hip to say hip -- the Milk District is the name given to the blocks surrounding the T.G. Lee Dairy facility at Robinson Street and Bumby Avenue. Several businesses in this area have had a bohemian or outsider mien for years. The hard-edged Sportstown Billiards and the Drunken Monkey come to mind. The area is now attracting more of that ilk.
A while back I visited one business that was getting a lot of buzz. It was called the Social Chameleon and seemed to strive more for atmosphere than for good food. Most of what I sampled had a slapdash look, feel and taste. I decided not to write about it, then watched in bemusement as other reviewers in town sang its praises.
As I sat in Spooky’s, I had the distinct feeling that this is the sort of place Social Chameleon wishes it could be. It was until after I left, totally satisfied and totally charmed with the place, that I learned the owners are the same.
I don’t know if they’ve figured out how to do things better since I visited the Social C. or if there is something unique about this space. Regardless, I liked it, and I’ll definitely return.
I started with an appetizer of deviled eggs. No, not deviled, dragon eggs, as they’re called on the menu, as in fire-breathing. A bit of wasabi and sriacha blended into the creamy yolks did indeed make the eggs hot, though really not too. They were served with a sweet chili sauce, which added its own bit of spice flavor. The dish included three eggs, meaning there was a fourth one lying around somewhere.
For my entree I had a special of hominy hash, an unusual concoction of large corn kernels with ground meat that, when served over cornbread, had the effect of being a large tamale pie. I can’t pay it any higher compliment. I loved it, especially with theglop of sour cream.
The rest of the menu is a mix of sandwiches, flatbreads and personal pizzas (I happen to believe all pizzas are personal, but that’s just me). There are some vegetarian options and at least one vegan item. I was amused by the menu entry named “Sandwich King.” That is the name of the business that occupied this space previously, and for many years at that.
Spooky’s has the look of having been decorated by a nomadic tribe of gypsies. The ceiling is swathed with fabric that gives the room a tented feel. Tables are covered with more cloth than is necessary, much of it brocaded and ornate. Over a bar area is a row of beer taps, simply for decorative purposes (although the beverage menu does offer an impressive lineup of beers and wines). Another counter has a mosaic of beer caps, and peach baskets here and there are filled with wine bottles. Wine is apparently available for package purchase, but I saw little else that would warrant the Marketplace designation.
I also saw nothing remotely Chinese on the menu, which caused me to wonder why the placemats were the type typically found in Asian restaurants with the Chinese zodiac. Also, a fortune cookie is proffered with the check.
Well, like I said, it’s kind of an odd place. But in a fortunate way.
Spooky’s Black Cat Cafe is at 207 N. Primrose Ave., Orlando. It’s open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Most items range from $6.50 to $8. This link will take you to themilkdistrictmarketplace.com where you’ll find more info on Spooky’s that the sister properties. The phone number is 407-896-2377.