When Slate first opened, in 2015, I wasn’t much of a fan. It wasn’t that I couldn’t recommend the Restaurant Row newcomer, I just didn’t see any reason to.
All of the components seemed promising. The restaurant was the project of Atlanta’s Concentrics Restaurants, with several people involved with opening Luma on Park, though everyone was careful to point out there was no ownership connection; a decor by the Johnson Studio (now the Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry), which designed Prato (and more recently Luke’s Kitchen and Bar); and a charismatic and promising young chef, Dominic Rice, a Florida native who once worked at Luma on Park before adding some impressive New York restaurants to his resume and returning to Central Florida.
(Rice came back to the area to be the chef at Boca on Winter Park’s Park Avenue but left before that restaurant opened; Slate hired him right away.)
But somehow the whole was lesser than the sum of its parts. There was a lack of focus, of purpose to exist. And, as I said in my original review, the very fact that all of the people involved had impressive pedigrees in upscale dining was reason to hold Slate to a higher standard.
Rice left last summer (back in New York, he is now corporate chef at Amali) and Jacob Woolf is the new executive chef, so I thought it would be appropriate to go back and see how the restaurant is doing.
Either it’s found its focus or I’m getting softer, but I enjoyed my recent visit to Slate. It seems to be a smoother operation, and it has settled comfortably into the Restaurant Row region.
A highlight was the Gnocchi Nero that one of my dining companions had. It featured ringlets of squid, and the blackness of the soft and doughy dumplings was provided by squid ink. There were also tender-firm shrimp, florets of cauliflower, and rich brown butter.
Another guest had the Flat Iron Steak, a nicely grilled hunk of meat served atop crisply fried potatoes on the bottom and buttery whole green beans in the middle. A bearnaise tinged with oniony ramps graced the steak.
Instead of an entree I selected two appetizers, the Sweet & Sour Calamari and Slate Meatballs. I liked the meatballs very much. A blend of ground beef and pork, the little orbs were doused in a piquant red sauce and served with a bit of mozzarella.
The calamari was the only disappointment. Despite its name on the menu, it was neither sweet nor sour, and the breaded and fried squid had a bit too much chew.
But everything else was such that I’m happy now to recommend Slate.
Slate is at 8323 W. Sand Lake Road, Orlando. It is open for lunch on Fridays, brunch Saturday and Sunday, and dinner Monday through Saturday. The phone number is 407-500-7528.