- Marla Hernandez
Barnie's CoffeeKitchen118 S. Park Ave.,
Barnie's Coffee, long familiar to Central Floridians as a cozy coffeehouse or quick iced mocha stop, is in the process of a complete rebranding. The Florida chain is rolling out its new identity, Barnie's CoffeeKitchen, gradually – the Park Avenue store is the first in the metamorphosis, with Baldwin Park, CityArts Factory and Dr. Phillips locations following in the next several months. The new “CoffeeKitchen” still has the makings of any ordinary coffeehouse, but they've added elegant breakfast and lunch menus to rival the best brunch spots in the city and re-envisioned the space with bright, cheery birchwood and stainless steel, instead of sofas and low lights.
That's not to say that they don't do coffee anymore. Barnie's has modernized its offerings with a popular pour-over brew ($3) that's smoother than any cuppa joe I've met. Though I'm not usually a fan of flavored coffee, I enjoyed the German chocolate cake blend's notes of rum, chocolate and coconut. On another occasion, I ordered a latte ($3) and it arrived adorned with latte art, an ornate clover shape “drawn” in the foam.
From the breakfast menu (served until 11 a.m. on weekdays, 11:30 a.m. on weekends), we shared a starter of seasonal melon ($5.25) – in this case cantaloupe, served in wedges alongside berries and orange-scented mascarpone cheese. The menu said it was served with a pomegranate syrup, but ours came with ruby-red arils instead; we weren't bummed by the switch. Israeli shakshuka ($8.25), two perfectly poached eggs sitting atop tomato sauce and crumbled feta cheese, was served in a tiny cast-iron cocotte. The runny yolks tempered the salt and acid in the cheese and sauce, while fresh thyme added savory accents. Ample amounts of chorizo, potatoes and Manchego cheese highlighted the satisfying Spanish frittata ($7.50).
The lunch menu is ambitious, but mostly successful. Warmed olives ($4) unfortunately lacked the advertised essence of garlic, orange zest, cumin and fennel seeds. The prosciutto tartine ($12.50), on the other hand, was piled high with the cured ham, as well as arugula and fresh mozzarella. An accompanying fennel-and-tomato confit lifted the open-faced sandwich from ordinary to remarkable. The Tanglewood Farms chicken breast panini ($10), filled with juicy pieces of white meat, goat cheese and grilled vegetables, was a winning combo on multi-grain bread. A selection of compound salads ($4.50 each; $12 for three) make refreshing sides or can be combined as a meal: My combo of cardamom-scented French lentil salad, haricots verts with toasted hazelnuts, and farro salad with almonds and cranberries was filling, healthy and just exotic enough.
Barnie's does right by the classic coffeehouse desserts (carrot cake made fresh daily, $4.50), but ups the game with choices like coffee-cardamom pot de crème ($5.75) and affogato ($3.50), gelato “drowned” in espresso. The only unappealing thing about this place is the fact that there's no space between “Coffee” and “Kitchen.” Other than that, I was happy to eat there twice in one weekend.