Sligh Boulevard is an interesting little pocket of quaint. Specifically, the stretch of Sligh that runs in front of the train station where for decades Amtrak trains have stopped for passengers to get on and off and more recently SunRail has started doing the same. If you sit and face the depot you could forget that downtown Orlando is mere blocks north, or that the massive campus of Orlando Health, with its massive monuments to an aging populace, loom just behind.
You can get that view of the station and this little glimpse of yesteryear by sitting at Lucy Bleuz Cafe. And, not incidentally, you can have an excellent meal, too.
It’s been nearly five years since I last sat in this space. Then, it was known as Genuine Yum Cafe, which always made me think it as a Thai restaurant (it wasn’t). Lucy Bleuz, with its odd spelling, is also a curious name, though less so once you know that it’s named for a stray cat the owners feed in the back alley. (Still, since they gave the stray its name, you’d think they could come up with one with better spelling, but let’s not quibble.)
I had been heading down Kaley Avenue on my way to the I-4 on-ramp, dreading the drive to Restaurant Row and the eatery I was going to visit, when I remembered Lucy Bleuz. I turned off the main road and wound my way through the dead-end streets around Orlando Health and made my way to Sligh. It was something of a gray day, threatening to rain, but I was greeted so warmly by the woman serving as host and waitress that it made the day feel sunny.
I took a seat at a small table by the front window in the little side room and looked over the menu. It seemed a perfect day for ham and bean soup, so that was my first choice. I didn’t have to be told that it was made from scratch — it had that quality of having been recently crafted, slightly unpolished but in a good way. The carrots were not turned out by a machine, and the potatoes, beans and bits of ham all blended to make a thick and flavorful broth.
Shortly after I placed my order for the Juicy Lucy Burger, I feared that maybe I should have chosen something a little less standard. But there wasn’t anything standard about this burger. The impressively thick patty was fashioned out of freshly ground beef, cooked (almost) to the requested medium rare. The key was that it was cooked in a cast iron skillet, which gave the outside a delightful char. It was served on a large bun that despite its size did not dwarf the patty. It was speared with a black olive on a pick, garnished with leafy green lettuce and thickly sliced tomatoes and accompanied by a dollop of macaroni salad.
This, dear Orlando burger lovers, is a good burger.
While I was dining, an Amtrak train came in and a young couple sitting at a nearby table got up and grabbed their backpacks and headed toward the station. I thought, “How nice that their meal at Lucy Bleuz will be one of their last memories of Orlando.”
Lucy Bleuz Cafe is at 1321 Sligh Blvd, Orlando. It is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday. The phone number is 407-835-6899.