The little building at 745 Bennett Road has been home to a number of food and beverage businesses over the years. It was the original location of Redlight Redlight before that popular beer bar moved to Corrine Drive. I believe there was a barbecue restaurant at one point, and in the 1990s it was a gay bar.
More recently it served as the first location for the Smiling Bison, which opened a second location in Sanford in 2015 then last year made that its only location by leaving Bennett Road.
Now the freestanding building holds Blue Jacket Grille. The space has been spruced up considerably and now has a dining area that seems larger than it did under previous tenants. It’s a bit overly bright and sparsely decorated — rather having the appearance of a break room at some big box store. Televisions and a large lighted American Flag wall hanging comprise most of the decor of the dining area. There is a bar, near the kitchen — or Captain’s Room, as the sign over the kitchen door states — with a pristine granite countertop.
The “captain’s room” reference and a sign out front emblazoned with a cannon-festooned naval ship apparently have something to do with the name of the business, but that isn’t made clear anywhere that I could tell.
Burgers and sandwiches are the focus of the menu, a baker’s dozen of the former and 10 of the latter. From the burger list I chose the Blue Jacket, which seemed to have more toppings than burger. It featured an angus beef patty, cooked nicely to the requested medium rare, topped with three slices of American cheese, four rashers of bacon, and a fried egg, to boot. The egg was a bit overcooked, and the accompanying fries were nothing special, but the rest of the burger was quite enjoyable.
The Philly Cheese Steak wasn’t quite up to the level of the burger. It had sliced beef sauteed with onions and bell peppers and topped with melted provolone on a toasted bun. It was plainly presented on a piece of wax paper in a metal pie-like plate with no further adornment.
From the list of appetizers I tried the Bacon-wrapped Tator Tots, because why wouldn’t I? They looked like little rumakis, with the totted potatoes taking the place of chicken livers. The bacon was good, but a better tater would have helped.
I didn’t care for the Pepperoni Flatbread, which was more substantial than a flatbread should be but not enough to qualify as a pizza.
Servers seemed to still be finding their way in the new place. A man who appeared to be the owner came by the table and apologized for a minor issue, one without any real blame to assign, removing a charge from the final bill. It wasn’t necessary, but it was a proper gesture.
Blue Jacket Grille has the proximity of Baldwin Park and Audubon Park to mine as potential customers. It’s contentment to be a proper neighborhood destination without any grandeur illusions will decide its success.
Blue Jacket Grille is at 745 Bennett Road, Orlando. It’s open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-868-9006.