I thought there’d be more piano. Or even some piano.
I mean, the place is called Cafe-Boutique Piano, so I don’t think my expectations were unwarranted. Granted, I dined fairly early in the evening at the Hannibal Square restaurant that opened last year, and midweek when live music in restaurants is scarce. But the decor sports a player piano in one corner, so it’s not like they’d have to hire a musician.
With a fairly small dining room, it certainly is boutiquey, though I have to say I don’t know why the name has the strangely placed hyphen.
But I found it to be a pleasant place to dine, even with recorded pop music in the background instead of tinkling ivories. (Some Peter Nero or Ferrante & Teicher albums would have been nice.) And while nothing I tasted from the menu was virtuosic, it was nevertheless good.
My dining companion and I started with the house-made chicken liver pate served in a terrine with congealed melted butter on top. It was nicely done and spread easily on the toasted bread that accompanied it. It would have been better if it hadn’t been refrigerator-cold.
I was pleased with my entree selection of baked grouper with creamy spinach sauce. It was a lovely presentation with the thinnish fillet balance atop a timbale of rice that was surrounded by a moat of the creamy sauce dotted with pieces of roasted red pepper. The fish was topped with two slices of roasted lemons that were meant to be eaten rind and all, and they added a nice piquant note to the creamy sauce. I also appreciated the ample portion of rice.
My friend chose the rigatoni with chorizo, another generous portion with the sausage blended into a tomato basil sauce. The penne was cooked just right but I thought the chorizo could have had more seasoning.
Our server, apparently also one of the owners, was delightful, and as the only visible staff member during our dinner had full command of the dining room.
Besides that player piano, the room features a small bar and windows on two sides. The remaining wall space has colorful paintings; a large tv screen showed Italian travelogues. If only there had been piano music – wouldn’t that have been grand.
Cafe-Boutique Piano is at 558 W. New England Ave., Winter Park (map). The phone number is 407-637-2016.