With a name like Scratch, it’s probably no surprise to learn that this quaint, up-and-coming Winter Park eatery boasts a menu of delicious, entirely made from scratch modern tapas. But “made from scratch” is a more than a culinary concept for owners Dustin Haney, Michael Roller, and twin sisters Ashley and Brittany Byrd, it is also the heart of the restaurant’s origin and philosophy.
Nestled in an unassuming space on Fairbanks Avenue, next to a paint-your-own-pottery studio, Scratch owners had nothing to work with when they signed onto take over the property. The space was not at all restaurant-ready. Pouring the bulk of their start-up budget into the build out (stripping out the ceiling, pulling in plumbing and electric, constructing the kitchen space) the team had to get clever and resourceful when creating the critically important dining area décor. Leveraging Ashley’s handy upholstery skills, as well as furniture and art from their very own homes and serving as the only staff for the first many months post-opening, the talented team managed to conjure from thin air an eatery of uncommon charm that has won over a very loyal following since Scratch first opened its doors.
“The place is an absolute treasure,” says Laurie Hassell of Lake Nona. ಯIt’s such a hip, eclectic little hang out. There is an easy elegance here. I love the high-back, deep-seated upholstered booth seating, like sitting in someone’s living room for a stylish yet unpretentious dinner party. This is the type of place where you meet up with a friend for a drink and quick bite but end up hanging out talking all evening.”
Although definitely created with a “please, stay and linger awhile” mindset, do note that Scratch is rather tiny. Seating is limited, so be certain to book a reservation for any hope of securing a table on the weekend. That said, once you are inside, prepare for a sensational and surprising dining experience.
Offering a small, locally sourced, seasonally driven menu (typically just 10 items per night), Executive Chef Dustin Haney delivers beautifully executed tapas that hint at the French cuisine roots of his early career. The Grilled Loup de Mer ($12) is a not to be missed item – Mediterranean sea bass with delicately crisped skin, citrus thyme marinade, potato and fennel, and craft beer blanc sauce. This dish, in a word, is divine. Also wonderful in both flavor and texture is the Pork Belly Adobo ($15) with soy glaze, black rice, calamansi, carrots, and cilantro. For a ಯsurprisingರ dish, try the Sweet Corn Risotto ($11) with huitlacoche, preserved mushrooms, and summer truffles. Though perfectly capturing the creamy, earthy comfort one expects from risotto, the acidic lift from the pickled mushrooms simultaneously renders the dish light, bright, and summery. And for a sweet ending, a dense, dark chocolate, berry adorned torte awaits you at the end of your meal. A simple yet satisfying vanilla crème brûlée makes an equally beautiful end to an exquisite dining experience.
The only thing Scratch is truly lacking is expanded bar offerings. The restaurant offers only beer and wine so far, although the list for both is impressive. There’s just something about the kicked-back, cozy glamour of this place that practically begs you to have a sexy whiskey on the rocks or trendy crafted cocktail in your hand. It’s no wonder so many locals frequent this hip, friendly establishment regularly. Scratch is a welcome and refreshing addition to Winter Park’s dining scene.