Barnie’s Coffee & Tea, the homegrown caffeinator, had big plans when it opened Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen in late 2011. Previously serving mainly the hot beverages stipulated in its name, the one-unspaced-word CoffeeKitchen featured a menu by Camilo Velasco, a chef who had previously cooked at Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton.
So the Barnie’s bunch was clearly serious about adding a food element, and the Park Avenue location became the prototype for what was planned to multiple locations.
But for some reason – certainly not Velasco’s food – the concept lagged and the CoffeeKitchen branding quietly went away. It was once again good ol’ Barnie’s Coffee & Tea, and the company focused on putting its products on to supermarket shelves. (Velasco moved on, first to 1921 by Norman Van Aken then to Ravenous Pig and currently chef de cuisine at Tiffins at Animal Kingdom.)
But food is back at the Winter Park Barnie’s, with a menu that perhaps is not as ambitious as before but more than just a few pastries as you might find at other coffee shops. And, no, CoffeeKitchen has not returned. Now it’s just referred to as the flagship cafe (flagship being a freighted word that implies others to follow, though I don’t know if that’s the case).
The interior has been redone. Previously, it was appointed to give the illusion of sitting in your kitchen, that is if your kitchen had multiple tables occupied by strangers seated nearby.
The look is more spartan now, with a monochromatic palate: white marble tabletops and black chairs, gray walls and white hexagonal floor tiles with a few connected gray ones that makes the floor sort of look like a chemistry chart.
There is table service if you’re dining in (not if you plan to eat in your own kitchen). My lunch companion and I were greeted by a pleasant young man and placed our order. My friend chose the roasted beet salad and I went for the combo of half soup or chili bowl and half a sandwich, requesting the Cuban as my sandwich. The server told me the Cuban was not one of the available choices for the combo but it could be had for an upcharge. I hadn’t noticed the note, printed in very light blue, that listed the sandwich options, and I said so. The waiter said that was just one of the problems with the menu. I did not ask him to elaborate. I ok’d the upcharge.
I had the chili option and wondered if I hadn’t accidentally been served minestrone instead. The soup had corn and celery mixed in with black and red beans in a thin broth. Didn’t have much of a chili flavor, either.
I enjoyed the half Cuban (meaning the sandwich, not my dining companion), though I wondered what became of the other half – it looked lonely on the plate. There was plenty of ham and enough roast pork to qualify, with melted swiss cheese and a healthy slather of yellow mustard in between crusty pressed bread.
The beet salad added color to the entire room with bright green spinach and roasted red beets, with walnuts and vegan feta cheese, as if that’s a real thing.
The breakfast menu looks more interesting, with such items as shakshuka and huevos rancheros. (There’s also oatmeal. Who goes out for oatmeal?) I’ll give that a try the next time I decide to have breakfast outside my kitchen.
Barnie’s Coffee & Tea is at 118 S. Park Ave., Winter Park (map). It is open for breakfast and lunch daily. The phone number is 407-629-0042.