When I first moved to Orlando, in 1988, and was still becoming familiar with the dining scene, I often found myself in conversations with locals about favorite restaurants. And one name that kept coming up as a favorite special occasion restaurant was the Mason Jar.
I couldn’t imagine how a place named Mason Jar could be a fine dining restaurant. And it would be some time before I realized that Mason Jar was a tongue-in-cheek reference for a restaurant whose real name was Maison et Jardin. (It’s possible that people just didn’t know how to pronounce it correctly and anglicized it, much in the same way that l’Enfant Castille in London came to be known, officially, as Elephant & Castle.)
Now there is a restaurant in Orlando whose actual name is Mason Jar, Mason Jar Provisions, to be precise, and no one will be referring to is as Maison et Jardin.
Nor should they. In this case the name is a more appropriate approximation of the food that is served, though, to be honest, I did not have anything served in an actual Mason jar.
But then maybe those aren’t available for takeout.
But the dishes I had, all served in recyclable cardboard containers, were good.
Best among them was the boudin balls, and you may decide if you want to pronounce them boo-DEHN or boh-DEEN. I’m calling them tasty. They were deep-fried balls of ground pork mixed with rice and bits of jalapeno and served with a sweetish pepper jelly for dipping.
They were a better appetizer than the mac & cheese, which is not to say the mac/cheese wasn’t good. It’s just that it was too filling to be a starter. Smoked gouda, which was blended with cheddar, gave it a rich note. Buttery bread crumbs added more carbs to the elbow macaroni. Consider this one for a nonmeat entree.
But if you want some meat, one of the smash burgers should do. I ordered the Mason Jar burger, which had two patties – still pinkish even though squashed – with a generous slice of tasso ham and plenty of melted American cheese. A thick slice of tomato, a fresh, crispy lettuce leaf and a slathering of remoulade were included between the toasted brioche buns.
I also sampled the shrimp po’boy, breaded and deep fried shrimp on a substantial sized hoagie roll with pickles, shredded lettuce and remoulade. Both the burger and the po’boy were accompanied by seasoned fries.
Mason Jar has an online ordering form but it is only available during business hours. And apparently one can only place an order for immediate pickup, not for a later hour. The order form did allow me to prepay and add a tip but there is no option for curbside pickup. (The curb has been covered with barriers, presumably to allow more outside table space.) After I placed my order a note popped up that the order was sent but had not been confirmed. It told me that I would receive a notification from the restaurant. After 12 minutes with no notification, I called the restaurant to verify that the order had been received. It had, the man on the phone said, and in fact was nearly ready.
When I arrived at the restaurant, which is in Thornton Park next door to Burton’s Bar, I called the same number to see if the order could be brought outside, but the call went to voicemail. I went inside where my package was waiting on the counter.
(By the way, Maison et Jardin still exists in Altamonte Springs, but ever since 2006 it has functioned only as an event and catering space.)
Mason Jar Provisions is at 805 W. Washington St., Orlando. It is open for dinner daily. The phone number is 407-270-4322.