Local, Simple, Honest

The farm-to-table concept is nothing new to Orlando’s thriving dining scene, but a brand new restaurant on Park Avenue in Winter Park is shaking up the way it will work with local farmers. Chefs at Boca Winter Park create, and sometimes change up, menu items based on what is available from the harvest of partner farmers. Even more, two in-house grow walls produce fresh greens for salads and other items inside the walls of the restaurant.

Local farms include Lake Meadows Natural in Ocoee, Winter Park Dairy and Uriah’s Urban Farms in Tampa among others. A farmer from Uriah’s visits the restaurant three times each week to harvest the greens on the grow wall, which include toscano kale, green gem romaine, yugo red bibb, red gem romaine and red ribbon sorrel. Then they go straight to the kitchen to be used in Off the Wall Salad selections and other kitchen creations. The close partnership with local farmers allows for specialty items like blueberry mint to be grown specifically for BocaWinter Park. In a blueberry mojito, this mint can be used to add flavor rather than sugary blueberry syrup.

The warmth of Boca Winter Park’s interior is inviting and cozy. Several communal tables and the bar were built using natural Brazilian cypress bark, which gives a rustic feel to the space. A fair amount of patio seating is available when the large windows in the bar area are open. In the main dining room, tables are close together and comfortable couch seats replace traditional booth seats, both of which leave diners feeling right at home.

Chef de Cuisine Christopher Spaulding carries an impressive resume with him into Boca Winter Park’s kitchen. Formerly at the helm of the ship at Victoria & Albert’s, Todd English’s bluZoo and Norman’s, each fine dining restaurant gave him the experience necessary to whip up tempting creations for diners. He describes the menu as approachable, familiar and, most importantly, honest. Spaulding’s menu features dishes that can be separated into three categories: sharable, comfortable and challenging.

Diners can share the Boca-ditos, which are a tasty twist on bruchetta. The three varieties of this non-traditional menu item, each with its own unique flavor profile, can be tried individually or on a sampler board. One layers warm Tellegio cheese, sweet fig jam, prosciutto and fresh arugula on top of toasty bread. Another stacks chive crème fraiche, pickled onions, Boca smoked salmon, caper berries and fresh dill, all of which offers a softer texture against the crunch of the bread. A vegetarian variety combines creamy goat cheese, heirloom tomato, sherry reduction and the red ribbon sorrel from the grow wall.

The Lobster Pot Pie is both comfortable and decadent with Pewee potatoes,fall vegetables and generous chunks of Maine lobster baked in rich lobster bisque underneath a puff pastry crust. Try this filling dish with a Park Avenue cocktail; themixture of St. Augustine gin, Cardamaro, lemon juice, simple syrup and beet fluid is equally decadent. Adventurous diners should try the Staff Meal, an item that changes nightly using ingredients Spaulding has on hand in the coolers.

Order a dessert and expect Pastry Chef Ginger Ball to be the one to create and hand deliver it. She says she curates a dessert menu that is approachable for the customer. The menu will usually include something chocolate, something with fruit, something decadent and something indulgent.

The Beet Cake, similar to an old-fashioned carrot cake, is made with freshly grated purple beets. Cinnamon cream cheese frosting separates the two layers, and a scattering of candied pumpkin seeds on top adds a touch of salt. The artful design of the plate includes beet paint and sweetened beet fluid geil. While purple beets are used in the cake, Ball notes it is missing the root vegetable’s signature color because of a chemical reaction with the baking soda. Other creations include approachable items with a twist like the milkshake and cookies. A black cherry chocolate shake and a Negro Modela beer with vanilla shake are paired with cookie flavors like the French macaron from Treat Me Sweet bakery in Tampa.

While Boca Winter Park prides itself in its handcrafted cocktails and exceptional menu, it is also providing diners with an in-house market. Freshly made preserves and pickled vegetables – found on the charcuterie board – along with organic honey and craft sodas are offered. This allows diners to recreate their favorite flavors from the menu in the comfort of their own kitchen.

Diners at Boca Winter Park should expect only the freshest ingredients and a unique experience with each visit.


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Written by Lyndsay Fogarty

Lyndsay Fogarty has had many roles at Central Florida Lifestyle, working her way from intern to contributing writer to managing editor. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication where she earned her degree in journalism. Along the way, she has learned that teamwork and dedication to your craft will get you far, and a positive outlook on the present will get you even farther.

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