Have you been to Eola Wine Company’s new place yet? It’s easy to find. Just go to the wine bar’s original address on Central Boulevard across from Lake Eola, face the front door, then look to your right, just across the street. It was a short move, but a big leap in terms of space and functionality.
When Eola Wine Company first opened, in 2001, the owners had intended for it to be primarily a retail wine shop. But they soon discovered that downtowners were hungry -- or thirsty, as the case may be -- for a place to go, sit, sip, and mingle with friends. Going hand in hand with sipping, of course, is noshing. But with the original focus on retail, the owners had minimal space for food preparation. The menu when I first reviewed EWC was basically cheese platters, an appetizer or two, and desserts. The second location for Eola Wine Company, on Winter Park’s Park Avenue, which opened in 2006, had more space for people and food prep from the beginning. But that original location, while still popular with the downtown crowds, was still problematic.
The new location, at 430 E. Central Blvd., is a terrific improvement. It’s bigger, but not so large that it loses the feel of intimacy. And there’s more space to prepare food, so there’s more food to prepare.
Wine is still the focus, with more than 70 wines available by the glass at any given time. And interesting, noteworthy wines, too. This is a wonderful place to come and try something besides your usual go-to chardonnay or merlot. In fact, Eola Wine Company offers an array of wine flights, one of which is called the A.B.C. (Anything But Chard).
The food menu still features cheeses, but there’s a greater (grater?) selection. And the cheese boards are supplemented with charcuterie, salads, wraps, tacos and flatbreads.
I stopped in the other evening and enjoyed a lovely glass of wine with a friend while we had a few nibbles. We ordered a dish of marinated olives and I had two tacos, the rock shrimp and the pork. My friend got the El Cubano flatbread, which featured pork, (both pulled and prosciutto), queso fresca, mustard and pickles, sort of like a Cuban sandwich laid out flat. The meats were plentiful, and the flavors, especially the tangy mustard, were pleasant.
I really liked the tacos, which were in soft tortillas and garnished with crunchy slaw and vibrant fresh cilantro. The rock shrimp taco was my favorite, with lots of firm bits of the sweet meat.
Prices are good, too. Wines by the glass range from $7 on up, with the majority under $10. Tacos were $10 for the two, and the flatbread was $13.
As always, service at Eola Wine Company was friendly and welcoming. They’ve always been good at showing their appreciation that you stopped in.
Parking is a lot easier than in the past, too. Just pull into the garage across Osceola Avenue and you can park for just a few bucks. (The days of free parking in downtown Orlando are over; let’s just accept it and move on.)
It’s great to see a local business doing so well. I hope you’ll support them by stopping in and having a glass of wine and something to eat. Take along some friends.
Eola Wine Company is at 430 E. Central Blvd., Orlando, and 136 Park Ave. S., Winter Park. Both are open for dinner daily. Here's a link to EolaWineCompany.com.