East Orlando has a new upscale-casual restaurants from the same team that brought you downtown’s Delaney’s Tavern. Pine & Oak, a “modern American tavern,” is in the newly renovated clubhouse at Rio Pinar golf course, which was once, apparently, the area’s premier golf club where links legends played before Bay Hill and other courses appeared. The new owners of the club want to restore some of that cache by reinvigorating the facilities and creating a new, open-to-the-public restaurant.
To that end, they partnered with Delaney’s Tavern principal Greg Allowe, who has created Pine & Oak, bringing with him Delaney’s executive chef, Anthony Albino.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the menu at Pine & Oak is similar to the one at Delaney’s – no argument from me; I’ve been a fan of Delaney’s Tavern since it first opened in 2019. But I stress that it’s similar, not the same. It has most of the set pieces – small plates, flatbreads, handhelds and mains – but the items in each category are unique or variations on a theme.
One notable exception is the pan roasted sea bass that is on both menus. It is a favorite of mine at Delaney’s (and Albino showed how he makes it in an episode of “Scott’s Kitchen”) and it prepared the same way at P&O, with the same delicious results. It’s a big, buttery fillet with a delightfully crisped exterior and big, flaky white chunks of flesh. It’s served on a ploof of mashed potatoes infused with wasabi and accompanied by baby bok choy and wild mushrooms with shoyu cream sauce.
One of my companions had the grilled swordfish, served on broccolini and graced with a pineapple ponzu sauce. A timbale of jasmine rice and cilantro lime butter completed the dish.
Another dining companion chose the black truffle and cheese ravioli, supplemented with grilled chicken. The delicate pillows of pasta were smothered in a sherry cream sauce with cipollini onions and clamshell mushroom. A nicely grilled sliced chicken breast was fanned on top.
Like Delaney’s Tavern, the small plates list has meatballs. But whereas Delaney’s is called Mama Becky’s, named for another of the owners, and smothered in a pulpy tomato sauce, here they’re called 5 Spice Meatballs and served in cream sauce and topped with crispy braised red cabbage.
We also shared the Mediterranean flatbread as a starter. It had nice crispy edges and was loaded with sundried tomatoes, artichokes, red onions, feta cheese and an artistic swatch of tomato cream.
As with Delaney’s, there is an emphasis on staff training. Our server was engaging and knowledgeable.
The main dining area is spacious and open. A sunken bar occupies one corner and colorful photographs adorn the walls. There is also ample private dining and event space.
This area of town has a dearth of good, full-service restaurants, let alone one with excellent food and service. Oak & Pine should do quite well here.