Whenever I’m asked for a recommendation for a place to get something to eat before a show at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts – or consider a place for myself, as I did recently before attending a concert at the incredible new Steinmetz Hall – I do a mental stroll north along Orange Avenue, maybe turning west on Church Street to consider some of the restaurants along there. I consider walkability a key factor
This time I strolled, for real, south instead, under the 408 overpass to Lucerne Circle to the Wellborn, a hotel, bar and restaurant in the former I.W. Phillips house (so there’s synergy with DPAC right there). Remarkably, it’s a shorter walk than to most of the restaurants in the other direction.
And it’s a lovely venue, which is probably why it had been chosen for the site of a wedding reception that was taking place when my companion and I arrived. They had taken over the courtyard, but there were seats on the two-level veranda overlooking the patio.
There is charm and there is convenience, but you’ll have to make do with a menu more focused on bites than a full dinner experience.
I ordered the pulled pork tacos, two warmed up flour tortillas with an ample amount of meat topped with slaw. It was accompanied by a container of creme fraiche, which was supposed to be cilantro infused but I couldn’t tell. It was also a bit thick, and the pork would have benefitted from something a bit saucier.
We also had the gyro sliders, which had the beef/lamb blend meat on doughy potato buns with pickles and aoili. (It’s a good thing the hall still had a mask policy in place to protect others from the garlicky sauce.)
Better than the food was the Orchard Old Fashioned cocktail made with Wellborn/Old Forester bourbon blend and tinged with bitters made with apple cider.
The setting is beautiful and the courtyard is lush with foliage and accented with twinkly lighting. You’d never guess you were in downtown Orlando.
Staff were courteous and helpful – when we were leaving I asked a gentleman for the quickest route to DPAC. Instead of telling us, he walked us to the back of the house and showed us the passageway that would lead us to the hall.
We were there in a few minutes.
The Wellborn is at 211 N. Lucerne Circle, Orlando (map). It is open for lunch Saturday and Sunday and for dinner daily. The phone number is 321-837-9614.