|The ham sampler that began my love affair.|
When Cask & Larder opened in the fall of 2012, I was beyond excited. Sister restaurant to my favorite, The Ravenous Pig, my expectations were high and I was eager to try out their take on a Southern Public House. I was not disappointed. Yes, there were hits and misses, but the highs were so high, I keep going back.
Lets start with the Country Ham. Every time I eat at Cask & Larder, I get the Country Ham. This sampler comes with three artisan hams (pictured above is Father's from KY, Benton's from TN, and Rufus Brown from NC) biscuits, pickles, mustard and pepper jelly. This dish perfectly represents everything that makes Cask & Larder special and wonderful. Everything on the menu is either sourced from the best Southern artisans (in this case, the hams) while absolutely everything else on the menu is house made. Their pickles are addictive, the biscuits are lovely, and the pepper jelly is some of the best I've ever had. A previous version of this dish also included house made farmers cheese which I keep hoping they'll bring back.
Cask & Larder serves dinner nightly, plus a late night menu and Sunday brunch. People rave about the brunch. While the dinner menu is where the restaurant really shines, if you must have a big Southern brunch, Cask & Larder fits the bill. From biscuits and gravy to homemade hash or pancakes, they have what you're craving.
The last time I had brunch, my husband got the above chicken sandwich. Good, not great, but the tomato and cucumber salad on the side was to die for. So fresh and perfect, I'd happily eat it every day.
I chose the chicken and waffles. This is hot chicken, and they don't hold back on the spice. The chicken was perfectly cooked, juicy and tender and the spicy kick married perfectly with the sweet syrup and waffles. While this is not a dish that will please everyone, it pleased me quite a lot.
Whether you come for brunch, dinner, or late night snacks, you must have a cocktail. Starting from the top left, we've got a whiskey smash, surprisingly light and refreshing. Underneath that is another brunch favorite, the Public House Bloody Larry, their play on a Bloody Mary. Good, but overly salty and spiced for my taste. I enjoyed the drink quite a lot at first, but had palate fatigue pretty quickly. On the top right was one of the best cocktails I've ever had, a Barrel-Aged Maxwelton. This play on a Manhattan included rye whiskey, punt e mes, sherry and bitters. Barrel-aged anything works for me, but this was so familiar yet so special, I'll be hoping for it to stay on the menu for a long time. The bottom right photo was their Jealous Monk, a gin, Chartreuse, lime, celery bitters and vinegar cocktail that reminded me quite a lot of a Last Word which I make at home pretty frequently. Like The Ravenous Pig, they do Gin & Tonics on tap which are wonderful at both restaurants, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
|Sweetbreads on popcorn grits.|
But, let's get back to dinner. Cask & Larder has an oyster bar that is pretty fantastic and their crudos are always a hit.
The sweetbreads on popcorn grits were rich with a hint of sweetness on a satisfying base. The dips, specifically the pimento cheese, are super tasty, not to mention the deviled eggs, brussels sprouts (a little sweet for my taste but addictive nonetheless), and the pork burger which are mainstays on the menu for good reason.
There are moments of weakness though, that as the restaurant develops and evolves, I'm sure will become far fewer. Recently, my husband ordered a hangar steak entree that had a perfect hangar steak that he loved served with a side of fingerling potatoes and sunchokes that didn't quite work. I really enjoyed their goat tamale, but the goat meat was very salty, and the desserts can be a mixed bag. Macarons and a play on cronuts were disappointing, but their ice cream sandwiches and house made donuts are beyond delicious, perfect endings for any meal no matter how full you think you are.
All in all, Cask & Larder strives to feed Orlando the way The Yardbird feeds Miami, serving both traditional and plays on Sourthern cuisine. It's a much needed restaurant here, and only just beginning to get the recognition it deserves. I certainly can't keep myself away.
|Goat tamale, so close to perfection|
|Assorted sweets. The ice cream sandwiches, bottom right are killer!|
Cask & Larder
565 West Fairbanks Ave.
Winter Park, FL 32789
Labels: Cocktails, Orlando, Restaurants