I had a perfectly delightful lunch the other day at the Bistro on Park Avenue, which of course is not actually on Park Avenue but rather off the street in the charming Hidden Gardens. It's out-of-sight location probably keeps it out of mind for a lot of people looking for a good place to eat, but Bistro on Park Avenue is worth remembering.
As many longtime residents of the area know, this location was for many years home to Maison de Crepes, or as I liked to refer to it, the House of Pancakes. Erika Boesch, one of the owners of Bistro, says that so many people associated the restaurant with crepes that they finally gave in and put some on the menu.
Crepes have never been one of my go-to menu items, but I very much liked the one my lunch companion ordered. Instead of a delicate, lacy thing, this crepe had substance, and the filling of chicken sauteed with spinach, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes, which gave it a tangy note, in a velvety sauce.
I had the Reuben sandwich for my main. It featured plenty of corned beef, which is cooked in-house, on toasted marble rye bread with sauerkraut and melted swiss cheese. It's been a long time since I've had a good Reuben sandwich — it's one of my favorites. The sweet potato fries were an added bonus.
For appetizers, we nibbled on the shrimp and grits, firm shrimp in a house-made tomato gravy ladled over jalapeno-infused grits, and the crab cakes, nicely fried and served with chili crab sauce.
More often than not these days I pass on dessert. I try to choose my daily allotment of calories wisely. But I couldn't pass up the carrot cake, which, like all the desserts at Bistro on Park Ave., is made by Boesch. If this carrot cake had been any moister I would have had to eat it with a spoon. And the cream cheese icing was, well, the icing on the cake. I would gladly spend a couple of extra hours at the gym to have that one again.
I always enjoy sitting in the solarium space. It gives the feel of sitting outside without the feel of sitting outside, if you know what I mean. It's bright and sunny but temperature controlled. And the tablecloths add a classy touch.
I was glad to make a return visit to the Bistro on Park Avenue. I'm sure you would enjoy it, too.
The Bistro on Park Avenue is at 348 Park Ave. N. (off the street in the Hidden Gardens Courtyard), Winter Park. It is open for lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Monday through Saturday and brunch on both Saturday and Sunday. The phone number is 407-539-6520.