DOC’S STREETSIDE GRILLE
1315 S. Orange Ave. | 407-841-3601 | docsstreetsidegrille.com | $$
I never did get the opportunity to dine at Doc’s, the upscale Orlando resto run by the late Neil Connolly (who, if you recall, spent the late ’80s and early ’90s as the Kennedys’ personal chef in Hyannis Port, Mass.). Doc’s closed about five years ago, then opened as the comparatively downscale Legends Sports Bar & Grill. Never visited that one either, but I did finally make it into the space’s latest incarnation – Doc’s Streetside Grille (note the “e” in “Grille”). The “Doc” in this case is orthopedic surgeon Thomas Winters, who owns the space and founded the restaurant with Connolly.
Being situated in the city’s medical quadrant, Doc’s, not surprisingly, draws a lot of medical professionals, each more willing than the next to write their fair share of liquid scrips. The sizable patio is often awash in the colors of hospital civvies, while inside, an equally colorful and decidedly cheery vibe takes hold. When Keith, the good-natured lounge singer/keyboardist, sauntered over to our table with a half-empty snifter in hand to shoot the breeze, we got a clear idea as to why this joint poses an attractive option to such a diverse patronage. In addition to doctors and nurses kicking back, we witnessed gamers getting serious on laptops; dressed-up couples conversing in hushed tones; and fearlessly dance-happy middle-agers strutting their stuff. The place is as unpretentious and carefree as a restaurant of this size and sort can get, and for those just looking to relax and unwind in a scene-free setting, it’s hard to think of a better place.
The dishes, well, they’re a cross-section of traditional bar fare – but, like Keith’s musical selections (“Stay,” “Careless Whisper,” “Year of the Cat”), their impact lingered. A bowl of the chef’s potato-heavy minestrone soup ($4.69), for example, incorporated gumbo-like flavorings that were a bit unexpected, but pleasant nonetheless. Similarly, tangy blue cheese gave the buffalo chicken nachos ($10.99) an unanticipated zing. The herbaceous gourmet flatbread pizza ($9.49), an ideal vegetarian selection, was built on a thicker dough to hold such toppings as kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, spinach and mushrooms. Plus, it held up nicely the next day for breakfast.
A whiff of cinnamon caught us off-guard in the mojo pulled pork sandwich ($8.95), which came served with a spicy-sweet barbecue sauce. If it weren’t for the less-than-sturdy brioche bun, the half-pound burger ($8.99) with cheddar, bacon, onion ring and house apple-barbecue sauce, could be regarded as one of the better burgers in the city, especially when paired with a pint of the newly released Stella Cidre. We were also surprised to learn that both the not-so-tart Key lime pie ($4.99) and the luscious mousse cake ($4.99) were made in-house, and both served their intended purpose of satisfying our collective sweet tooths.
This isn’t gourmet fare by any means, but the folks here aren’t looking for gussied-up gastronomy – that would be antithetical to the restaurant’s character, attitude and spirit. In a way, the food plays second fiddle to the restaurant’s mood and atmo, but don’t let that fool you, my dear patients. Doc’s still has a way of making you open your mouth and say ahhhh.