Artisan’s Table has moved about a block and a half to Church Street from its original location on Pine Street in downtown Orlando. The five-year-old restaurant gained visibility with its move to a space on the ground floor of the 55 West apartment building across the courtyard from Rusty Spoon.
I wish now that it could regain some of the artisanality one would expect from its name. Instead, it offers a fairly unexciting menu of safe options. The food I sampled was all good; it just wasn’t what I would call artisanal.
The General Tso’s Calamari showed the best promise. It took the fried squid that every other restaurant in town offers and added the sticky coating of the Chinese chicken dish, with hot chili peppers and crushed peanuts thrown in. Extra points for creativity, but as a starter it was just OK.
(Technically, the calamari was under the heading of Sharables with Baked Feta and Fried Brussels Sprouts the other options. This category is somehow distinguished from Small Plates, which has chips and dip, hummus, deviled eggs and steak skewers on offer. Although there is a category labeled Salads & Soup, on two visits I was told that there was no Soup of the Day.)
For my entree, I chose the Seared Duck Breast, crisped-skin meat with a red wine sauce flavored with orange, topped with dressed arugula and leaning against a mound of wild rice.
My dinner companion had the Artisan Burger, featuring a patty fashioned out of short rib and brisket. It was a thick burger presented Instagramably with bright red tomato slices, melted cheese and pickles on a brioche bun. It had a nice charred flavor and was accompanied by skin-on fries.
Service ranged from brusque and slow on a lunchtime visit to friendly and slow on an evening stop.
When the restaurant opened on Pine Street, the tables at Artisan’s Table had white cloths topped with butcher paper. Neither is employed at the new location. Tables and chairs are utilitarian. Decor is at a minimum and the atmosphere is a bit bleak.
Artisan’s Table’s website lists Lee Kaleel as the owner and Monica McCown as the executive chef and managing partner. (Scott Copeland was the original chef.) Perhaps the two determined that downtown Orlando doesn’t want creative cuisine, though their cross-plaza neighbor might disagree. There’s something to be said for playing it safe and giving the people what they want. But it’s reasonable to expect more from a place with artisan in its name.
Artisan’s Table is at 55 W. Church St., Orlando. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-730-7499.