A Clean Slate

The table is set at the newest neighborhood restaurant in Dr. Phillips, a lively, stylish addition to Sand Lake Road’s Restaurant Row that focuses on seasonal, farm-to-table, modern American fare.

Slate is located in the new Unicorp development called Parkside at Dr. Phillips, right next door to Trader Joe’s. The restaurant is the third Central Florida project for Concentrics Restaurants, a company founded by James Beard award nominated restaurateur Bob Amick who also helped launch Winter Park’s popular Luma on Park and Prato. Executive Chef Dominic Rice, a native Floridian and graduate of Le Cordon Bleu’s Orlando Culinary Academy, was also part of the opening team at Luma on Park before staging at the acclaimed Gary Danko in San Francisco and Jean Georges in New York.

There’s a big Southern city feel at Slate – industrial yet rustic in its charm. Upon entering the huge metal, slate door, diners are welcomed into a lively open dining room, accented with copper tints and steel, where the air is almost electric with chatter and energy.

Toward the center of the dining room is an L-shaped floating bar where guests can order craft beers or classic and specialty cocktails. For a refreshing citrus-accented cocktail, try the Noble Migration, a concoction of Alyesbury Duck vodka, Alvear sherry, lemon and rosemary herb. The classic Paloma cocktail is a cool, delicious mix of Milagro Silver tequila, grapefruit, velvet falernum, lime and bitters. Beers from favorite local breweries such as Cigar City’s Maguro and Funky Buddha’s Floridian Hefe round out the drink list.

As diners sip on their craft cocktails, they can observe Slate’s chefs preparing the next dish in the fully open kitchen or watch the bakers tend to the pizza dough baking in the massive copper-plated, wood-burning ovens. Chef Dominic bases many of the dishes here on the “abundance of fresh, local ingredients indigenous to Florida.” So it’s not surprising that seasonality, quality of available product, texture of ingredients, and guest requests all play a major role in Slate’s food offerings.

Starters like the Watermelon Skewers, which are pierced together with feta cheese, olives and basil, are elegant in their simplicity. The savory Wagyu Steak Tartare, which is drizzled with tomato vinaigrette, topped with radish, shallots and capers, and served on grilled toast, is great for sharing, along with the Deviled Eggs that are topped with crunchy chicharrones and tart red onion. From the house-crafted charcuterie plate selections, make sure to choose the chicken liver mousse, one of the finest renditions in the entire City Beautiful.

The dough category of Slate’s menu consists of both pizzas and pastas. The wood fire grilled, house-cured Soppressata Pizza is a comforting, yet simple pizza that is topped with fresh mozzarella cheese, marinated tomatoes and oregano. In the pasta category, the al dente Black Pepper Cavatelli with oyster mushrooms, asparagus, peas, herb ricotta cheese and a soft poached farm egg is a decadent and delicious standout.

For those looking to graze on lighter fare, Slate’s Seared Tuna salad on Bibb lettuce salad is a delight. Topped with pineapple, edamame, crunchy peanuts, avocado and drizzled with citrusy chili-orange vinaigrette, the dish is both healthy and delectable. Hearty hand-held menu options include the 28 Day Dry-Aged Ground Burger with gruyere cheese and red onion jam and the Shaved Roast Beef sandwich with au jus sauce.

For entrees, Chef Dominic recommends the Hearth Roasted Red Snapper, which is simply basted with lemon oil and roasted in the wood fire oven. This dish is served with zucchini ribbons and a side of cornmeal spoon bread. Popular in the south, spoon bread is a moist cornmeal soufflé dish that got its name because guests could eat the soft cornbread with a spoon. It is both subtly sweet and very satisfying.

Slate’s many indulgent desserts are made from scratch. An almond sponge cake lightly glazed with Grand Marnier, blood orange, lemon and lime sauces, the Baked Alaska is just the dessert to save room for at the end of the meal. Or, if you’re just craving a bite, try a scoop of house made ice cream that comes in unique flavors like sweet corn with frosted flakes cereal.

For a sophisticated neighborhood restaurant with a dynamic atmosphere, serving upscale modern American food with a twist, visit the new Slate in Orlando soon.

Written by Ricky Ly

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