Banking on a Comeback

Terrace 390’s solid menu and nifty tech touches enliven former Harvey’s spot.

It was easy to notice Harvey’s Bistro in a street-level corner of the Bank of America building. The rather manic rabbit statue and the crackle of energy generated by power lunches and after-trial libations gave a human touch to the spired tower straight out of a Batman movie.

The upscale bar and restaurant, in business since 1993, was the younger brother of the outstanding Manuel’s on 28th, which had its aerie 28 floors above, but in 2009 both restaurants closed and Orlando lost two culinary landmarks.

Now, the extraordinary view afforded by Manuel’s space can only be appreciated by office workers, while on the ground floor, Terrace 390 has taken up residence.

Former UCF quarterback Kyle Israel, marketer Carey Sobel and nightclub owner Travis Barr are the primary owners of this new enterprise. Barr, who opened The Attic on Pine Street in 2010, said the trio fell in love with the space and launched the restaurant in mid-April. Charles Walker, late of Luigino’s in Lake Mary, is the executive chef.

The room is massive, the exterior concrete block wrapping into the windowed interior and copied in paint around the space, dark wood and leather banquettes on one end of the high-ceilinged room and high-top tables and a big bar on the other. The patio is one of the nicer outdoor spaces in town, offering as many as 100 al fresco tables.

Terrace 390 (the number reflects the address) is awhirl with technology. Reservations can be made on the website, servers carry iPads that not only hold high-resolution pictures of every dish (“The eyes are the gateway to your stomach,” our waitress, Sam, told me), but send the order directly to the kitchen, and the receipt for your meal wings its way to your e-mail inbox before you’re even out the door. Parking is free, a low-tech but welcome service in parking-deficient downtown.

Which brings us to the location itself, a part of Orange Avenue unburdened by bars and nightlife.

Will business be attracted to the Terrace when summer heat is high and no high-profile homicide trial smolders across the street? It seems that the owners opened the doors with a business plan and a target audience: “There are 1,200 people working in this building,” Barr says, “and another 3,500 in the courthouse. That’s our base.” Beyond that, he says, happy-hour crowds and dinner patrons are slowly discovering the space, and the food.

The menu, described as “classic American,” is reasonably priced and relatively small; enough salads, entrées, starters, sandwiches and burgers to fill one sheet of the stylishly black bill of fare (the other side lists beers, a decent wine list and the seductive temptation of flavored cocktails). It’s a list filled with hits and a
few misses.

Consider ordering the tuna tacos when you dine at T390.

A special of wild mushroom soup ($3.95) was rich with crimini and shitake that tasted deep enough to have been roasted, with a touch of sherry and well-integrated cream; an excellent soup and a good indication that Chef Walker knows a thing or two.

After spending weeks abroad sampling freshly made mozzarella at its Italian source, I’m afraid I can’t recommend the caprese salad ($7.95), which paired ripe tomato slices with virtually tasteless cheese. Instead, order the tuna tacos ($9.95), three snack-sized grilled tortillas topped with creamy guacamole, seared tuna shreds with a nutty taste of sesame seeds and bright bite of wasabi, and topped with crunchy jicama and cucumber dice.

An order of flaky and firm grilled grouper ($14.95) was topped with “New Orleans sauce” (an extra $4) that puzzled me. The sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, an abundance of spinach and thick cream and cayenne sauce were enjoyable; I just don’t know what made it New Orleanian (the touch of Worcestershire I seemed to detect, or maybe wine?).

And now, on to that suddenly ubiquitous menu item, the Slider. T390’s trio of mini burgers ($6.95; beware, fries are included but cheese is a hidden extra) comes as chopped sirloin, turkey, or grilled chicken—or all three. Surprisingly, the fillings are inordinately good: moist steak, a tender piece of chicken, and a turkey burger as satisfying as the beef variety. The buns, while nicely toasted, are sweet brioche dough that might make a fine base for ice cream but do nothing good for meat of any kind.

The bottom of the BofA building may once again become a center of dealmakers and jubilant lawyers, but for now Terrace 390 is a fresh face in downtown, with enough good things to attract anyone wanting to avoid the Church Street hubbub.

ADDRESS 390 N. Orange Ave., Orlando
PHONE 407-425-2445
ENTRÉES $6.95 – $24.95

Categories: Reviews