I rarely blog after a media meal. I think it's cheesy to fill space with free publicity for a restaurant just because I fueled up on its dime. If the food is worthy, I'll write about the flavors, the portion sizes, and the plate presentations in magazines, books, and online features as opportunities arise.
But oh my heavens, I just returned from sampling a few items off Cask & Larder's lunch menu, which debuts tomorrow. I'm so excited that I absolutely must share the highlights. I admit my enthusiasm might be due to the dreary fact that I usually gobble up lousy lunches while home alone, slapping together a sandwich or nuking leftovers. I won't go into details about sardines. But hey. Get hungry.
I started with a Public House bloody Mary ($10). Like everything at Cask & Larder, the cocktails are crafted by hand. That means no harsh Mr. & Mrs. Ts chemical crap. I'm not sure where the juice is from, but it tastes uber fresh, and it's perked up with pepper-infused Deep Eddy vodka, a small-batch spirits maker in Texas. Lemon, lime and and olive were skewered across the top.
You need a nosh with your cocktails, right? So my friend and I dove into a platter of pimento cheese fries ($6). Oh yes. A soft, creamy version of pimento cheese completely covered curly hand-cut fried potatoes. Gypsy peppers and scallions added subtle zing.
So, really, we needed no more. But we can diet when we're dead, true? So then we received our entrees. Mine was called Southern Picnic ($15). On a metal cafeteria tray, I saw deviled eggs (arguably the best I have ever had), two slabs of grilled summer sausage atop whole grain mustard, ham butter (who ever heard of that, right? Maybe if you're from the South ...) with bread, a stick of Van Sormon cheese, and pickled cauliflower (it has a wisp of curry, methinks), string beans, and okra with onions. Oh yes, that good.
My friend went for the brisket melt ($13). It's a hearty sandwich on white bread filled with sweet caramelized brisket thanks to a barbecue "gastrique," plus pimento cheese, caramelized onions, and fried green tomatoes.
So you'd think we would have slapped down the tip and wobbled back to work. Nuh-uh. Not when housemade ice cream was to be had. This trio: salted caramel, crazy-fresh blueberry, and white chocolate on pecan brittle. Yes please.
Cask & Larder is at 65 W. Fairbanks Avenue in Winter Park, Florida. 321.280.4200.