I was a little skeptical when I was first told that the new owners of the WildSide Bar & Grille in College Park planned to close it on a Saturday and reopen a few days later rebranded as the Hangar Bar & Grille. Really? That’s barely enough time to change the greeting on the answering machine.
But when I stopped in recently for a quick first visit, I was impressed with the whole operation. The decor, which features myriad aircraft and flying memorabilia, including framed black-and-white photos of vintage planes, old signs and other bric-a-brac. There are, of course, more televisions hanging about than at a Best Buy super center, but that’s to be expected, and they all fit in nicely with everything else.
There are touches of exposed brick, a polished wood floor and dark wood tables and chairs, plus comfy booth seating. Everything is pristine and clean, or at least it was during my late lunch visit, a time when it isn’t unusual at other restaurants to see the detritus of earlier lunchers strewn about.
If you’re waiting for a “but” from me I don’t have one. I thought I might when I was approached by the young man who was serving as greeter and waiter for me and the others in the main dining room (which is separated from a huge bar area and, beyond that, an outdoor seating area). This fellow at first had the air of someone for whom waiting tables was not a worthy undertaking. However, I was only misreading his confidence, because he turned out to be not only competent and efficient but also took initiative to go a step or two further. (When I requested the check he asked if i’d like a to-go cup for my full glass of water -- what a nice thing!)
And I’ll admit to an eye roll or two as I read the menu, which is strewn with strained attempts of clever aviation inspired names: delta echo eggs, taco formation, barnstormer pub grub.
The flighty reference of the charlie chopped Rueben was lost on me, but a fine sandwich it was, with lots of juicy hunks of corned beef on toasted marbled rye with sauerkraut (house made, according to the menu) and the restaurant’s own sauce instead of thousand island. If there is to be a negative -- for those of you who have held on in hope this far -- it would be the side order of fries, which were a bit greasy and decidedly mushy. But these days I hardly consider anything that deters me from mindlessly munching of fries as a negative.
I just liked the whole feel of the Hangar, and I think it has a very good chance of becoming a popular College Park hangout.
The Hangar Bar and Grille is at 2305 Edgewater Drive, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily with brunch served on Sundays. The phone number is 407-730-7963.