I’m gearing up for my annual trip to New Orleans so I thought it would be a good time to review Regional Grill & Bayou. Actually, I could have used that same opening line if I were planning a trip to Boston or Seattle or Phoenix, too.
That’s because the Regional in the name refers to various regions around the country and not just a region in Louisiana. In other words, it is trying to have something for everyone. But as they say, when you’re a jack of all trades you’re usually a master of none.
Other restaurants have tried this route and I’ve yet to see anyone pull it off. Sadly, that’s the case here, too. But Regional Grill & Bayou does manage to be a master in at least one aspect: it serves a damn fine breakfast at a bargain basement price.
Every breakfast on the menu is $6, and the breakfast I had was terrific. I had a sausage and cheese omelet that was chockfull of spicy bits of meat and served with a fruit salad and a side of home fries that were just the right touch of greasy. My breakfast companion had the breakfast quesadilla, which had scrambled eggs, bacon and peppers rolled inside a flour tortilla, also served with fruit and potatoes.
When I returned for a lunch visit I chose one of the New Orleans themed dishes, jambalaya. Classic jambalaya, of course, is a rice dish that usually has andouille sausage, chicken and various spices blended in. There are variations, to be sure, but most don’t stray far from that. When the dish was placed in front of me I was certain that the server had given me the wrong entree, perhaps an etouffe instead. No, I was assured, it was the jambalaya. It indeed had sausage, chicken, even some crawfish and tasso, but it was ladled over the rice, not blended in with it.
But wait — that wasn’t even rice. It orzo, which fools the eye but not the tooth. The flavors were good, but when someone orders jambalaya he should get jambalaya.
On another visit I had the patty melt, which is from the North region of the menu. I also ordered a side of red beans and rice. The sandwich, a thick patty just a tad beyond the medium-rare that I had requested, was good, served with caramelized onions with jack and American cheese on rye bread. The red beans and rice were just OK.
I thought the $9.95 for the sandwich was a bit steep, but when I got my bill I saw that I was not charged for the red beans and rice, so perhaps the dish came with a side choice? It doesn’t make that clear on the menu.
All of the servers I had contact with were very good, above average even. One of the servers sped across the dining room to open the door for me when she saw my hands were full. I was thanked and wished a good day each time.
Regional Grill & Bayou occupies the space on Curry Ford Road that has been a number of businesses over the years, most recently Smile Thai and Chai Thai before that. It is tasteful and neat, though there seemed to be an odd odor in the air. Tables are covered with white cloth but with a sheet of butcher paper on top.
I understand the desire of any restaurant and especially a restaurant to want to please everyone. It’s an admirable place to begin. But one has to recognize that there needs to be a focus, something to specialize in and perfect. Regional Grill & Bayou would do well to focus on its breakfast and maybe one other region. Maybe not the one with bayous in it.
Regional Grill & Bayou is at 3334 Curry Ford Road, Orlando. It is open for breakfast Thursday through Sunday, lunch Monday through Friday, and dinner Monday through Saturday. The phone number is 407-898-0085.