It's been a little over two years since the strip mall across from the UCF campus on the corner of University Boulevard and Alafaya Trail was demolished to make way for a student-centric apartment building. The demolition forced the relocation of such eateries as Lazy Moon Pizza and Miss Saigon and the outright closing of others, including Mama Millie's Caribbean and Anmol Indian restaurant. Things turned out just fine for Lazy Moon and Miss Saigon — they're both in better spaces, at least in terms of decor and functionality if not proximity to the student body.
The structure that now stands on that corner looks just fine, though those of us who watched it during its construction know that the solid looking facade is basically just, well, a facade — it hides the ticky-tacky that would go a long way in explaining if any of the new residents happen to hear a neighbor sneeze — two apartments away. (For all I know, the flats are perfectly solid and soundproofed; I suppose it's possible.)
But the new development also brought new retail and restaurant space. As far as I know, none of the businesses that were displaced from the old strip mall hung around to wait for the new construction, but businesses are starting to move in.
I visited one of the first ones, Bar Louie, a while back. You may be familiar with the Bar Louie that opened six years ago at the Rialto on Sand Lake Road.
This newest BL is an impressively posh looking space with a modern vibe. Doesn't seem like the kind of place that is hoping to attract students on a budget. More like a splurge kind of place.
The food I sampled, however, will make those students crave whatever their dorm cafeteria is slinging.
I had the meatballs al forno, which was presented nicely enough in a castiron skillet with enough bread to assemble my own loaf. The balls of meat were mealy in texture, and the marinara in which they stewed offered no elements of seasoning.
I also had the Buffalo chicken flatbread, thinking, apparently wrongly, that the name would indicate that the flavors on the thin crusted device might resemble those found on the famous chicken wings. Nope. None. Nada.
Mediocre food might be — might be — acceptable in a place with a warm and friendly staff, but the treatment that my guest and I received communicated to me that perhaps we were a bit too old for their desired guest profile.
Don't need to be told twice. You're welcome to give it a try yourself.
Bar Louie is at 4100 N. Alafaya Trail, Orlando. It's open for lunch and dinner daily. The online menu doesn't have prices. My bill for the two food items and two glasses of wine came to just over $40.