It occurs to me that Bites & Bubbles, the Mills 50 restaurant from longtime local restaurateurs Eddie Nickell and Nicholas Olivieri, is somewhat misnamed.
Not the Bubbles part. There is a a very nice list that does indeed include sparkling wines as well as good selections of still wines, both by the glass and by the bottle, and craft cocktails, too.
But Bites? That conjures images of nibbles and noshes or tapas-sized tidbits. That doesn’t describe the portions here, which, based on my multiple visits, have been ample and filling. And high quality, too.
Maybe Big Bites & Bubbles?
The Smoked Fish Dip is a case in point. My companion and I ordered the dip while we awaited for two other friends to join us. We figured it would be something to tide us over. Instead, it turned out to be not only a large mound of the titular white fish, delicious on its own, but the presentation also included an ample array of pickled vegetables – okra, yellow tomatoes, eggplant, gigante beans – and a spicy spreadable sausage with three kinds of breads upon which to spread it. I would have been happy – and full – with this as my only selection.
But we moved on to other items. One of my guests chose the Pork Belly, a sizable slab served atop a round polenta cake and topped by a perfectly cooked sunnyside-up egg. The meat was tender and had a wonderful mouthfeel, and the runny yolk added to the oozy goodness. A bit of pepper jelly was included.
Even the trio of Bison Sliders were more substantial than your run-of-the-mill slider. The patties were thick enough to be cooked to a requested temperature, and they were served on toasted buns with thick slices of tomato, melted pepperjack cheese and a slathering of tomato jam. The fries that my friend ordered to accompany the dish were so thick they really should have been called potato wedges.
I chose the Ahi Tuna Tostada Stack, a tower of sticky rice, creamy avocado, crispy tortillas and a mound of sushi grade tuna cubes topped with sprouts. The dish was served with chopsticks but I found it best to use my fork to knock it all down and eat it in forkfuls.
For dessert we had the Affogato, a huge bowl of ice cream with bombolini puffs filled with Nutella plus nutty wafers. After it was brought to the table, our host poured hot espresso over it. Nice presentation.
Bites & Bubbles occupies a two-story building if you count the roof as the second story, which you should. It’s a pleasant outdoor space with its own bar and additional dining tables. Very nice on temperate evenings. The main floor also features a large bar and indoor dining tables as well as back and side patios for more al fresco dining. The decor inside is upscale funk, with crystal chandeliers a focal point.
Service was attentive and intuitive.
I was very impressed with my dining experience. Bites & Bubbles will be my choice pre-theater dining when going to see something at the nearby Orlando Shakes. Or anytime I want, you know, just a bite to eat.
Bites & Bubbles is at 1618 N. Mills Ave., Orlando (map). It is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. The phone number is 407-270-5085.