People who live and work in MetroWest are always complaining that they have a dearth of good restaurants in the area. Whenever they complain directly to me, I rattle off a few names of places I’ve enjoyed in the past. At the top of the list is Tavern on the Lake.
TotL had a rough start a couple of years ago to be sure. It began as Dan Marino’s Tavern on the Lake, but the former Miami Dolphins star’s affiliation ended quite soon after the newly constructed restaurant opened. (To be precise, Tavern on the Lake doesn’t consider itself to be in MetroWest but rather in Veranda Park, although it can’t be denied that Veranda Park is in MetroWest.)
My dinner guest and I started with the calamari appetizer, which was tender and nicely crisped. However, it could have used some spicing in the batter, which was fairly bland.
The salmon crunch roll, a sushi offering, was a generous portion of fish rolled in rice and served with pickled ginger, spicy wasabi and soy sauce.
It was after we had finished the appetizer course and before the entrees were delivered that our server came by the table to ask if she would remove the bread plates. We couldn’t see any reason why not, seeing as how no bread was offered and they were just superfluously sitting there.
For my entree I had the seared sea scallops, nice, big, plump specimens deftly cooked and full of fresh buttery flavor. I didn’t think the mashed potatoes were a good accompaniment for the scallops, truffled or not. But I liked the sauteed spinach, and the flash-fried spinach leaf added a dandy flourish to the presentation.
My friend had the duck breast and leg confit. The confit was tender-juicy, the breast meat less so, but it came with some delicious mushroom risotto and a frizzle of fried sweet potatoes
For dessert there was a version of a banana split called tropical split that had chocolate and vanilla ice cream with a bruleed banana and caramelized pineapple. Very gloppy, as a banana split should be. The chocolate mousse was a bit on the light side.
The dining room is a lovely space with soaring ceilings and dramatic lighting. Tabletops are highly polished wood accented with square shadow-shade lamps. It’s nice enough to be upscale but stops short of being posh.
Frankly, I’m always surprised when I visit the Tavern and it isn’t full. Maybe MetroWesterners just don’t realize what they’ve got.
Tavern on the Lake is at 6996 Piazza Grande Ave., Orlando. It's open for lunch Monday through Friday, dinner nightly and brunch on Sunday. Entrees range from $12.25 to $27.25. The phone number is 407-233-2900. Click here for the Web site.
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