Trips to Bountiful
Stops at The Sanctum Café and Blended Café Bar yield wholesome, flavorful repasts.
My professional meal focus is generally aimed at dinner, but of course even a food writer has to eat breakfast and lunch sometimes. Which usually entails a wander, and this week I moseyed into a new restaurant, and an old favorite.
First, the breakfast, and since I was in the Colonialtown area we stopped at The Sanctum Cafe for a mostly plant-based start to the day. And if you consider that chickens eat plants and grains (and bugs … I’m not quite sure how they fit on the vegetarian scale), eggs are really close to plant based. Aren’t they? (Vegetarian restaurants in the UK typically have eggs on the menu … I’m just saying.) Coffee via Golden Hills Roasters in Groveland was exceptional, one of the best cappuccinos I’ve had outside Italy. The Sanctum avails itself of Florida purveyors: grass-fed milk from Dakin Dairy Farms in beautiful Myakka City, outside Sarasota; Arto Moro Tempeh in Gainesville; produce from Frog Song Organics, Sugar Top Farms and Fleet Farming; and all manner of things from local heroes Lake Meadow Naturals. My dish, the “Sunrise Salad,” combined a LMN egg, organic greens, tomato, radish, quinoa and carrot with a lemon tahini dressing.
It was also great to see impatiently expectant co-owner Chelsie Savage, who is as we speak building a new upscale scratch restaurant, Proper and Wild, in Winter Park, in a space formerly occupied by vegan eatery Daya, NOPA Grille and La Merce. Meanwhile, Chelsie and husband Jamie await the overdue arrival of their son, who has been delightfully dubbed “The Little Savage.”
Lunch—well, late lunch—well, early dinner perhaps, brought us to new restaurant, Blended Café Bar, in College Park. Any chef in Orlando would be delighted to have this large, open and tranquil space; it is simple and simply gorgeous, the former home of Juliana’s but totally revamped. Blended is a coffee shop, craft beer bar, bubble tea place and light bite café with “bubble waffle” desserts, the domain of Kathy and Christine Dao, whose family owns House Of Pho on John Young Parkway. The sisters can be found behind the abundantly large bar most days, dispensing delightful bao (the BBQ jackfruit was impressive, crispy tofu even more so), irresistible dumplings and eggrolls, and shredded sweet ‘n spicy chicken bánh mì (to pick one) so good that writing about it makes me want one right now. It’s a superior neighborhood hangout that, at least for now, is only open until 7 p.m; go while it’s still relatively undiscovered.
* Reyes Mezcaleria is holding a National Mezcal Day dinner (one might ask, which nation?) on Sunday, October 21, a five-course meal with pairings spotlighting Del Maguey single village mescal and introducing chef Wendy Lopez to the event dining scene at Reyes. Menu highlights include grilled oysters, shrimp ceviche and cochinita pibil slow roasted pork. Seats are still available.
* The above-mentioned Proper and Wild is popping up at East End Market for a preview dinner of the upcoming menu on October 24, including cocktail reception, plant-based charcuterie and a three-course meal with wine. Two seatings at 6 and 8 p.m.