Steak and Salad is the Least of What Is Offered Here
The sign out front couldn’t be less enticing, a plainly unadorned marquee with the words Steak & Salad in red lettering on a white background. In the restaurant’s defense, that is the name of the restaurant, though that alone is worth a lesson in the pros and cons of good marketing.
I had passed the small building in the 1300 block of Mills Avenue for months and couldn’t think of a good reason to stop. Then one day a blackboard had been placed outside that read, “Now serving Turkish food.” Now there was a reason to stop. Now I have even better reasons to go back.
The way I heard the story, the owners opened the restaurant, which was the former Friends cafe, with a menu that featured the eponymous food items, your basic salads and basic cuts of (decidedly inexpensive) meats. Then a server pointed out to the owners that they were of Turkish descent, and perhaps they might try serving some of their traditional homeland foods.
So a separate menu was added with such things as kebabs and kofte and bulgur pilav and red lentil soup.
That soup, also indicated on the menu with its Turkish names, mercimek corbasi, was a little bowl of spicy liquid heat, with the lentils more pureed than in pebble form.
For my entree I had the adana kebab, which the menu calls a spicy meatloaf. That’s pretty much the perfect description. The ground meat concoction was freckled with bits of red pepper, which added tastes of fire. But just in case that wasn’t enough spice, a whole grilled jalapeno was included. The meat and pepper were atop a flat pita, which also had slices of tomatoes and raw onions. You could either eat with a knife and fork or fold it all up into a wrap. At first I wanted to add a little tzatziki or other sauce, but once I started eating it I realized none was needed. A generous serving of bulgur pilav was included.
I also had the kofte, which are sort of like meatballs, and the shish kebab, which ahd sirloin steak tips and mushrooms. (I could leave without having some sort of steak.)
Dinners also include a choice from an array of side dishes, which are identified as salads. The shepherd salad was a mixture of large chunks of chopped tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and green peppers in a vinaigrette, a light and fresh-tasting salad. Eggplant and spinach salads were more like dips, along the lines of babaganouj or hummus. And they, too, were delicious.
The restaurant is small, fewer than 40 seats by my count, but it’s tidy and has the look of having been recently painted. Tabletops are a sort of greenish marble design, although no actual stone is present. A small bar has seating for three or four people at large wicker stools.
The dining room at Steak & Salad is tidy, tiny and comfortable.
Oh, about the bar. The menu lists a number of cocktails, but be warned -- these are not made with actual liquor. They are fashioned out of wine-based liquids meant for restaurants with licenses restricting them to beer and wine. To me, this is sort of like offering chopped steak fashioned out of tofu.
If, like me, you’ve passed Steak & Salad and dismissed it as unworthy of your time, I hope you’ll stop in. The folks are friendly, the setting is comfortable, and the food -- at least the Mediterranean fare -- is quite good.
Steak & Salad is at 1326 N. Mills Ave., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. The phone number is 407-898-0999. The Web site is steakandsaladorlando.com.