A lot of vegans — and plenty of people who just like good, creative food regardless of the central protein — mourned the loss of Cafe 118. Perhaps not enough to have kept the raw-food restaurant in business, but that’s another matter.
If those folks want a second chance to support a vegan restaurant on Park Avenue, or really close to it, they can get behind Daya. Not necessarily a raw food concept (the 118 in the previous name refers to the uppermost degrees Fahrenheit that the food could be rendered), Daya’s menu is totally plant based. So, no dairy, including butter, or anything else that was once part of an animal, living or dead. See an item on the menu that includes “cheese”? It was fabricated using nuts.
But Daya’s menu doesn’t try to sound meat centric as some other vegetarian restaurants might, attaching “chicken” and “beef” to items that contain neither. Instead, it proudly proclaims the vegetable stars that are featured in most of the entrees.
Such as the cauliflower that was the leading character in the wrap sandwich that I had ordered, which incidentally was billed as a Buffalo Cauliflower Wrap, indicating that the florets would be treated the same way as Buffalo Wings in terms of seasoning and preparation.
They weren’t exactly the kind of spicy that you get with Buffalo wings — I think maybe the chicken fat lends something that is essential to that taste. But it was a flavorful sandwich nonetheless. The firm cauliflower pieces were nicely breaded and stuffed into the spinach wrap (there are other flavors available) with some chopped tomatoes and some lettuce for crunch.
I also had a cup of the Indian Curry, which was the featured soup of the day. It might have had a bit more spicing to earn its curried name, but it was a satisfying soup anyway.
My server was amiable and knowledgeable, careful to let me know the type of restaurant I was in just in case I’d wandered through the door unaware.
Daya’s dining room is simple but tasteful. The walls have a plant-based kind of hue themselves, and tables are polished woodgrain. When I visited, I was the only guest seated in the dining room, which is not to say that the place was without business. Most of the other guests had chosen to sit outside.
By the way, I keep pronouncing it DIE-uh, but the people at the restaurant say a long A sound. I might have asked the person sitting at the bar on a computer about the pronunciation when I was leaving — she seemed to be a manager or an owner — but there was no acknowledgement that a guest was leaving. That was the only real misstep in an otherwise pleasant visit.
Daya is at 155 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park. It is open for lunch and dinner daily (a brunch menu is offered on Sunday). The phone number is 407-636-9461. Note: At the time of publication the restaurant's website was not working.