Church Street Tavern is one of the more low-profile places in the former Church Street Station. I first visited it in October, happening upon it when it was merely hours old and offering a limited menu. I decided to give it some time and return before writing about it. But then I just sort of forgot it. I’ve been on the street dozens of times since then, but the Tavern was never the destination. I finally made it one recently.
Church Street Tavern occupies the space that was most recently the Dessert Lady. The bar dominates the room, which is full of rich, dark woods.
The menu is a bit odd, but not in a negative way. There is a full section of pierogies, the Polish dumplings. You’ll also find Cincinnati chili and meatloaf. Kielbasa sliders featured hunks of the grilled sausage on small buns with caramelized onions with a bit of mustard. It was a noble attempt but ultimately a bit too greasy.
The wild mushroom and sauerkraut pierogies, on the other hand, were delicious. Delicate little pillows served with onions and sour cream.
I was drawn in to order one of the sandwiches billed as The Beast. It’s a sandwich with a choice of meat, provolone cheese, tomatoes, cole slaw and fries — all placed between the bread slices. I chose the pastrami, and it was plopped down in front of me with large knife stuck into it as though it were something to be found in Camelot.
Inasmuch as the sandwich came nearly to the dagger’s hilt, it was clear that this was not one to be picked up. It would take four hands to handle this whopper, and I was dining alone. Plus, just stabbing the sandwich with the knife was a not-so-subtle indication that this was to be eaten with a fork.
The problem was that it was served in a basket lined with waxed paper, and when I sliced through the compilation with force sufficient to go through all the elements, I inevitably sliced through the waxed paper, too. I’ve never much cared for eating waxed paper, but little bits of it were hard to avoid. So I settled on eating the meat and other ingredients without cutting through the bread, which for some reason was toasted on only one side, and not the outside side, either. There were many more fries than there were slices of pastrami, but the meat wasn’t insignificant. Still, I don’t think I’d plop down $9.95 to order it again.
The staff were friendly, and I liked that there was a greeter standing outside the front door to welcome arriving guests and to thank those leaving for coming. It’s nice, too, that there is new sidewalk seating in the front, but it’s less pleasant to have smoke wafting to the tables inside.
Church Street Tavern is at 120 W. Church St., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily, late night until 2 a.m. The phone number is 407-597-0270.