Ember

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Ember, downtown Orlando: Is it a restaurant with drinks or a bar with food?

The short answer is a bar with food, but from the first taste I had the other night the food is encouraging. Ember takes over the space where Kate O'Brien's resided for many years. The facility has been redone quite lavishly in the style of a Mediterranean villa. There's a sizeable bar inside with a few feet-on-the-floor tables for dining; Outside is an even larger area -- (you sort of expect the outside to be larger than the indoors, don't you? That's why they call it the great outdoors, but you know what I mean.)

Most of the tables in the patio area are bar height, so I just chose to sit at the bar. One of the two unoccupied barkeeps took my drink order while I looked the menu over. It's mostly noshables, and there isn't anything over $13 -- in fact, most items are under $10. The menu, which was developed by the chef at Kres, although the two restaurants are owned by different entities, features soups and salads; flatbreads (to compete with Urban Flats, I suppose); pastas for the people who must have their carbs; and sliders and folds, the former being tiny burgers and the latter being wrap sandwiches.

I chose the choice burger ($9), which got me three of the little gut bombs, as we used to call the White Castle sliders. They were dense patties on Lilliputian sized buns, served with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and a small sweet pickle. The burgers were topped with cheese and they were pretty good.
They came with a handful of thick-cut fries, a more than ample amount. I'm torn whether to say they were worth nine bucks -- remember when we used to rail that the burgers and fries at Hard Rock Cafe were $7.50? I suppose for bar food they were priced accordingly, and one order should fill up the average person. Share? No, I don't think so.

Ember was quiet on the weeknight I visited, but I can imagine the place getting packed on the weekends, especially as we head into the best time of year for outdoor dining -- or outdoor drinking at a bar that also serves food.