Several months ago, MetroWest residents met their new neighbor when Crafted Block & Brew opened its doors near Publix in the MetroWest Village shopping center. Since then, Crafted has shown true hospitality by providing a comfortable seat to enjoy a thoughtfully handcrafted menu of bites and brews, just what the neighborhood needed.
Owner Doug Taylor has lived in MetroWest for the past 20 years. Also the owner of several bars and restaurants in downtown Orlando, there was a dream he had yet to fulfill. “I feel connected to my community,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to own a neighborhood restaurant and bar where I live.”
He connected with General Manager and Executive Chef Devon Tillman to develop the food portion of the Crafted brand. Tillman’s impressive culinary background completed Taylor’s vision of his neighborhood restaurant and bar. “I could have unbelievable food because I have an unbelievable culinarian who would be at the helm of the ship,” he says.
With clever sayings like “You are what you meet” and “Wish you were beer” adorning the walls, Crafted is inviting its neighbors to come in and stay a while. Making guests feel comfortable and at home by providing welcoming service is what Crafted is quickly becoming known for. The 24 craft beer varieties and stellar food menu that adds a twist to common dishes is an added bonus. “We wanted to take what you would consider common pub food – or common comfort food – change it up a little bit and make it not as mainstream as you would find other places,” Devon says. “We’re not reinventing anything but we’re making subtle changes to make it different.”
Quickly becoming one of the most popular appetizers is the Totchos ($8.95), a bowl of crispy tater tots, slow-roasted pork belly and green chile sauce topped with melted cheddar cheese, green onion and red jalapeno. While some believe this dish to be a play on nachos, it is actually modeled after poutine. Another favorite is the Artisanal Cheese Dip ($7.95), which blends boursin, goat and cream cheeses into a delicate and creamy dip that is complemented by sweet tomato jam and served with lavash crisps for dipping. On the lighter side, the Caprese Salad ($8.95) can be a shared starter salad or a meal in itself. Pairing fresh ovolini mozzarella with crispy prosciutto, heirloom tomato, basil lives and a drizzle of balsamic glaze and extra virgin olive oil, this dish is best described as refreshing. Heavier salad entrees include the Block Tenderloin Salad ($12.95), a mixture of fresh spinach and arugula mixed with crumbledGorgonzola cheese, grape tomatoes, crispy onions and horseradish dressing. The star is the tender, marinated steak medallions that top the dish.
Fans of the cheese dip may lean toward the Stuffed Chicken ($13.95) entrée since the same cheese blend is stuffed inside a juicy chicken breast with artichokes and spinach. Served with garlic mashed potatoes, glazed carrots and topped with feta cream sauce, this dish is best when you’re craving comfort food. A burger and beer for dinner is perfect when you’re looking to kick back and relax. The Block & Blue ($12.45) tops a blackened burger with stout caramelized onion, blue cheese aioli, crispy onions and bourbon bacon.
Every Sunday, Crafted hosts brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The unique menu features items from the all-day menu as well as tasty additions like the Jelly Belly ($9.95), a play on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that layers almond butter mousse, house-made strawberry jelly and pork belly between rice crispy-crusted challah French toast. The Chicken & Waffles ($10.95) has an unexpected twist as lightly spiced fried chicken breast tops a sage and cornbread waffle with sweet maple bourbon syrup. Add the Bloody Mary and mimosa bar and your Sunday Funday will be off to a great start.
Whether you’re in for brunch, lunch or dinner, the perfect end to your meal is the Ancho Chocolate Brownie ($7.95). This spicy Ghirardelli chocolate brownie is complemented by salted caramel ice cream, whipped cream, candied walnuts, chocolate sauce and sweet ancho bourbon bacon.
And with that, Taylor’s vision of opening a restaurant and bar in his own neighborhood has been seen. With the help of Tillman, Crafted is becoming a home away from home in the heart of MetroWest and a neighbor you can turn to when you’re hungry, thirsty or both. “Great food and great drinks help neighbors become better neighbors,” Taylor says.