Outpost Neighborhood Kitchen opened in the neighborhood of College Park in early 2015 – hardly seems that long ago.
It closed in June, earlier than it wanted to prior to a planned move to another location. The dining restrictions imposed because of the pandemic were cited at the time as the reason for the premature closing while the new location was in the early stages of construction. I’m sure the fingers of its fans were crossed in hopes that it would indeed reopen.
Dropping the Neighborhood from its name, Outpost Kitchen, Bar & Provisions has taken up residence at the Maitland City Centre. Perhaps the sprawling office, retail and apartment complex didn’t feel quite neighborhoody enough.
Outpost occupies a corner spot at the intersection of busy Orlando and Horatio Avenues. It’s a much more spacious venue than the one it left behind in College Park. (The cramped environs of the old place would be a tough sell right now.) The interior features double-height ceilings with faux ceiling tile panels and single-strand Edison bulbs hanging about. Tables are bare wood and flatware is proffered rolled up in a flimsy paper napkin inserted in a paper sleeve.There is a red brick wall behind the large bar (with windows to outside seating), a wood-slat wall on an opposite wall, and white subway tiles surrounding the open kitchen. Wood-staved beer kegs there, a small statue of a buffalo up there and an old airplane propeller on a nearby wall. So, eclectic.
So is the menu. Between the time Outpost Neighborhood Kitchen closed and Outpost Kitchen, Bar & Provisions opened, Nick Sierputowski was hired to be the chef. Sierputowski has great cooking chops, with such places as Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton, Luma On Park and Cask & Larder on his resume. Most recently he was chef de cuisine at Ravenous Pig. I’ve enjoyed his food in all those places.
When my guest and I told our server that it was our first time at the restaurant, she responded that Outpost was a 1920s/1930s style Southern restaurant. Which...really?
I never got much of a Southern restaurant vibe from Outpost, then or now, and indeed the Google listing for the restaurant says that it is a “modern American eatery,” so let’s go with that.
A modern American eatery is a good place to feature a dish like wild boar stroganoff. (The wild boar puts it firmly in south Russia.) The meat had a smokiness and its texture suggested it was at least partially cured. Chewy roasted mushrooms, onions and green peas were also served atop pasta with a loose corkscrew curl. There was surprisingly little sauce.
Meatloaf featured a large brick of ground beef with a fine dense texture. It was slathered with a slightly spicy Cajun ketchup and served in a ploof of creamed potatoes. Several stalks of broccolini accompanied.
Perhaps the most impressive dish I sampled was the “small plate” offering of pork belly, a beer-gut sized slab, well roasted and served on greens that were billed as collard kimchi (South Korea, no doubt). I didn’t quite get the kimchi-ness of the greens but I liked the salty taste with the fatty meat.
When I arrived at the host stand and told the young woman there the name on my reservations, she pointed a gun at my forehead. She was taking my temperature, and I’m fine with that. Oddly, though, she did not take my companion’s temperature. (As Dr. Fauci would say, in another context, “Here we go again with the theater.”) I did appreciate that staff were wearing masks, and even the inside tables seemed appropriately separated. Some basic training would elevate the level of service.
The City Centre is probably the biggest thing to happen to Maitland since, well, I’m sure there must have been something. People are driving there in droves, which is undoubtedly why the attached parking garage was full on the night I visited. (And it requires a three-point maneuver to turn around because the upper decks are gated off.) And it’s especially nice to see that so many of the tenant restaurants are independently owned local businesses, like Outpost Kitchen.
Outpost Kitchen, Bar & Provisions is at 111 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland (map). The hours are not listed on the website – plenty of restaurants are keeping tentative schedules these days; Outpost’s Facebook pages lists them as brunch on Sunday and dinner on Wednesday and Friday through Sunday, but I suggest you call ahead. The phone number is 407-636-4317.