Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen has opened a downtown Orlando location in the City Arts Factory on Orange Avenue. It’s quite a different space from the Barnie’s CK on Park Avenue in Winter Park. It’s smaller, more of a grab and go kind of place than a sit and linger spot, though when I visited recently I saw several people doing just that.
But the coffee is just as good. You may recall that with the rebranding, Orlando-based Barnie’s started getting super serious about the coffee it serves, not just the quality of the beans, which they roast themselves, but also the way it is brewed.
The signature “brew” at Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen is the Pour Over, which is just what it sounds like. The coffee grounds are placed in a filtered funnel over a cup and the barista slowly and meticulously pours the boiling-hot water over the grounds, being careful to wet every edge of the grounds. It’s a technique I first saw at Monmouth Coffee near Borough Market in London and whenever I’m there I always stop by for a cup. It takes longer for a cup to be prepared, but it’s worth it, and I’m glad to see Barnie’s taking the extra effort.
But I’m as equally impressed that Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen is as serious about the Kitchen part of its name as it is the Coffee. The food is much more ambitious than the hard muffins and prepackaged sandwiches you might find at other coffee shops (I’m not naming names). And on weekend evenings in Winter Park, the menu reaches gourmet levels.
The food is under the direction of executive chef Camilo Velasco, and the offerings range from simple nibbles of warmed olives to more substantive fare, such as chicken empanadas and tacos de carnitas.
At the City Arts Factory location I sampled the Thai quinoa salad, with chopped carrots, red cabbage, delightfully fresh cilantro and a peanut dressing that gave it that Thai taste. I also tried the French lentil salad, which had more of a Moroccan flair, served on a big slice of tomato and leafy lettuce. They were both delicious; nice healthful options for lunch.
I also stopped by the Park Avenue Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen on a balmy Friday evening and snagged an outside table to people watch. That can create an appetite, so Velasco offered some samples of his weekend dinner menus.
I loved the wild mushroom tart, with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms in a flaky sort of pie coated with a truffle-scented custard.
Tamarind-soy glazed king salmon is a perfect example or the sort of thing you don’t expect to be served at a coffee shop. The fillet was pan-fried perfectly and served on a stack of soba noodles tossed in peanut sauce.
If that’s not hearty enough for you, how about braised short ribs with farro ragout? The tender rib was four hours in the braising, and was served with glazed whole carrots, scallions and tomatoes.
And by the way, all of the items are fairly priced. The mushroom tart was $8, the salmon $13 and the short ribs $12.75. Huge portions? No, but more than enough to fill you up.
Of course, food like this really needs wine pairings instead of coffees. So Barnie’s has a thoughtful list of wines by the glass or bottle for you to enjoy. Even better, they have a sommelier on staff to help you with your selection. And after dinner you can still enjoy a nice cup of coffee.
Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen is taking all of this very seriously, and it’s showing in the results.
If you’re downtown, check out the newest Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen location at City Arts Factory, 29 S. Orange Ave.; 407-722-8363. And in Winter Park, it’s 118 S. Park Avenue; 407-629-0042. The weekend dinner menu, by the way, is offered Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 to 10 p.m.