Well, this isn’t going to do anything to allay talk of a curse.
Matilda’s on Park is the latest to occupy the corner of Park and Canton Avenues, the restaurant space that has had a revolving door of occupants for the last decade or so. I listed as many as I could remember when I reviewed the previous tenant, Galopin, in November.
Technically, Galopin didn’t really leave, or at least not the owners. Rather, a partnership was entered into with Ryan Smith, owner of Delaware’s Matilda’s Pub and Mad-Macs, that allowed the rebranding — and reopening — to be faster than if a whole new ownership came in. (Indeed, my credit card receipt still had Galopin on it.)
This is the paragraph where I would usually tell you a little about the restaurant: the theme, the cuisine, the atmosphere. But I honestly have no clue.
Matilda’s logo features a kangaroo, so we’re probably looking at the Waltzing type of Matilda. And, in fact, there is a “Roo Burger” on the menu that is made with kanga meat, which, if mine is any indication, is rather dry. It was a beautiful burger, and I liked the coated fries that came with it very much, but the patty itself not so much.
So then, we’re looking at an Australian themed restaurant, yes? That really wouldn’t explain the tacos or the chicken wings or even the Reuben sandwich. And I admit I’m not up on all the Aussie lingo, but I don’t know what to make of the section of the menu labeled “Balls and Bites,” and I’ll just pause here for a moment while you make your own comment. Oh wait…you may also want to know that the only item of the former is something called Bleu Balls. OK, go ahead. And while you’re doing that, I’ll tell you that the bleu balls are fritters made with ham and chicken. You’re probably also thinking blue (or bleu) cheese is involved, but no, swiss cheese is included.
Although I was told that Matilda’s on Park was not meant to be a copy of either of the owner’s restaurants in Delaware, macaroni and cheese dishes are featured prominently, just as they are at Mad-Macs. I ordered the lobster mac, which featured an ultra creamy sauce of cream cheese and mascarpone, tinged with a bit of sherry. What few niblets of meat that were in the dish were small and chewy.
The restaurant space continues to have its dual personality — triple, if you count the lounge upstairs — with a casual and contemporary space up front and a more formal (and decidedly impersonal) dining area in the back. The evening I dined, the sets of doors in the front were open wide, even though it was one of our cooler nights. When I mentioned that it cold (and I was sitting as far away as possible) I was told that they had to remain open so the servers could get to a table with guests outside. So for the convenience of the servers, the guests inside must be uncomfortable. I think I get it.
Prices, for the most part, are not unreasonable, though $12 for the mini portion of the lobster mac and $8 for fritters, bleu or otherwise, is a bit much. My roo burger was $13.
My guess is that Matilda’s on Park is trying to be too many things and winds up being nothing. I left fairly confused, and instead of whistling “Waltzing Matilda” I was recalling the lyrics to “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport.”
Play your didgeridoo, Blue. Or Bleu, if you must.
Matilda’s on Park is at 358 Park Ave. N., Winter Park. It’s open for lunch and dinner daily. Here is a link to its Facebook page (a website is not yet up). The phone number is 407-951-5790.