Park Yourself Here: The Parkview, Winter Park
The Parkview is a “neighborhood joint” that excels with most menu ventures, especially at brunch.
A brunch highlight: the Croque Madame, with smoked ham, Gruyere, Mornay, pastry, sunnyside-up egg, roasted potatoes and broccolini.
When Eola Wine Company opened in 2002 near the shores of Lake Eola (do lakes, particularly man-made ones, have shores?), it introduced an almost revolutionary concept to downtown Orlandoans. The by-the-glass wine bar with above-average light bites became so popular that it opened a second location in 2006 along Park Avenue in Winter Park, which made inviting friends out for a drink a little confusing. (“Let’s meet at Eola Wine— the one not at Lake Eola.”)
Fortunately for the GPS-dependent, longtime manager Matt Coltrin purchased the offshoot in 2014 and renamed it The Parkview. A few things remained, some have changed, but the neighborhood wine bar atmosphere is intact.
“We’re surrounded by some pretty big fish,” Coltrin says. “But I don’t think many of them feel like a neighborhood joint, and I like that idea.”
To further that atmosphere, Chef AJ Haines (who championed scratch charcuterie at Luma, Cask & Larder and Wolfie’s MiaPizza) came in during the changeover and developed the from-scratch menu. He left Parkview in 2016 for northern pastures. Currently, the kitchen is overseen by Chef Bradley Holmes, who joined in February and comes from the restaurants of Reunion Resort. While not as adventurous as his predecessor, Holmes turns out some interesting, shareable dishes.
“We remade a business that was about nightlife,” says Coltrin. “We weren’t for lunch at all before. Now, we get a ton of weekday business from the SunRail trains, and Saturday and Sunday brunch are our busiest times.”
Weekend brunch is indeed where Parkview excels, with items such as the pastrami tartine (which means open-faced sandwich, $12), house-cured beef and poached egg on a batard; and a variety of frittatas, the best being the melange of savory mushroom, broccolini and goat cheese ($12).
Servings are large, even when labeled “small bites.” The baked brie is simple but satisfying ($14), and people flock for the truffle mac & cheese; personally, I avoid truffle oil unless I’ve actually seen it being made. Platters of charcuterie are table-filling, with a good assortment of cheeses and cured meats. Roasted bone marrow ($13) is presented similarly to charcuterie, two lengthwise sections of beef bone canoes with pickled onions and roasted garlic. It’s an umami festival full of deep, rich flavors. Flatbreads and crostinis serve various toppings on crunchy breads, including rich dark-meat duck, pulled pork and well-roasted vegetables ($11-$16).
On the down side, the escargot dish ($16) is a grand misstep and a waste of many fine ingredients—six snails in shell (well, five in my order, the sixth shell was empty) with little taste and a tough texture, lounging in a butter broth that added nothing to the dish except for raw slices of garlic. The pastry covering wasn’t bad, but a disappointing whole, especially considering the exquisite versions available to both the north and south on Park Avenue, and a distraction from an otherwise pleasurable menu.
Tap takeovers by national and local breweries, live jazz and indie music nights and an intimate environment (couches are always a plus) help highlight the extensive wine list, which runs into hundreds of bottles and several dozen interesting vintages by the glass.
Drop in for post-museum snacks or a pre-dinner drink; you might just stay for the evening. It’s that kind of place.
One of the few legacies of Eola Wine Company that lives on at Parkview is the wine flight program. For the price of a single glass, a flight offers four 2-ounce pours of interesting varietals. I liked one including a seldom-seen Italian “Gavi di Gavi,” Pinot Blanc from Alsace, Australian Viognier and a Semillon from Washington State.