I’d been hearing some good things about Salamanders, a sports grill in Winter Springs, so I suggested it as a meet-up place to talk business over lunch recently.
The things I’d been hearing about it had to do with its food. According to the website, “At Salamanders, we make everything from fresh ingredients. From our hand-cut fries, to the bleu cheese dressing, our food is never frozen or pre-packaged.” That’s pretty impressive for a sports bar, so I figured it was worth the drive from downtown Orlando.
The house-made quality of the chili certainly came through. With the ground beef, onions and peppers in the thick gravylike sauce, it had the unctuously good greasiness of the chili I would make at home, except that mine would have beans. And let me just say here that I applaud anyone who isn’t afraid to put chili on a menu in the middle of August in Florida. Some things transcend the seasons.
My burger was good, too, though in retrospect I wish I had ordered one of the regulars instead of one of the stunted burgers on the lunch menu. The regulars are half-pounders and the lunch menu’s are quarter-pounders. Ordinarily, I encourage going with a smaller portion in the interest of not overeating. But something changes when some foods are downsized, burgers among them. It just isn’t the same as having, say, half a sandwich.
That said, the burger was sufficiently juicy but had passed the requested medium-rare temperature by several degrees. That’s another problem with a smaller patty.
My lunch companions both chose flatbreads and I didn’t find them very satisfying, mainly because of the flattened bread. Going back to the assertion that everything is made fresh in house, I would suggest that the folks in the kitchen find a way to make a better flatbread, one that doesn’t taste as though it came from a package.
The menu takes more thought process than should be necessary. Items have names like The Basketball Manager, You’re Fired, The European League, The Golfer and so on. Those names probably make sense to someone one but I’d rather just have the name of an item tell me what’s in it.
The lunch menu gets even more convoluted with categories of Varsity Player, Rookie and All-Star and options to choose a Varsity and a Rookie or a Varsity and an All-Star, but only if you want to be your own Manager. And if you choose, say, flatbread from the list of Varsity Players, you have to go back to the regular menu for the list of flatbreads, then wade through what’s a Softball Player, a Sprinter, or even more confusing, the All-Star, which is not the same thing as the All-Star category on the lunch menu.
Really, folks, when it comes to menu writing, you can be too clever for your own good.
But overall the experience was a pleasant one, and as sports bars go, Salamanders is small enough to have a neighborhood appeal.
Salamanders Sports Grill is at 859 E. State Road 434, Winter Springs. It is open for lunch Tuesday through Sunday and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-542-7824.