You’ll be glad to know that Rock & Brews, the restaurant founded by rockers Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, is not exclusively a tribute to their band, Kiss. That is, you’ll be glad to know that unless you’re diehard Kiss fans, in which case I’m not sure there’s anything that can truly make you happy.
Instead, Rock & Brews, or R&B, as it is misleadingly abbreviated, is a paean to rockers of all stripes. Nearly every inch of wall space in the massive space — and there are a lot of inches in the two-story open room — is covered with photos and album cover reproductions of everyone from Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and Bruce Springsteen to The Rolling Stones and, yes, Kiss. (Maybe even Yes.) I should say every inch of wall space that isn’t also sporting a big screen tv, most of which are tuned to sports channels, though interspersed among them are screens that play vintage music videos. Not the sound from those videos — that’s supplied by a constant stream of rock music played loudly over the restaurant’s sound system. And when you have a restaurant that is dedicated to rock music and has partners known for for their heavy metal style, you can’t fault the place for the sound level. Expect it to be a tad noisy.
The Central Florida Rock & Brews is the first of the small chain’s locations to open east of the Mississippi. According the the website, Oviedo was chosen for its “energized music and restaurant scene.”
The menu is…
Yep, that’s what it says: “Marking the brand’s first east coast location just outside of Orlando, FL, Oviedo’s energized music and restaurant scene will soon be the home of a new dining and entertainment concept that truly rocks: Rock & Brews.” (Might want to update the wording on that.”
Anyway, as I was saying, the menu, which is nearly as large as the free-standing building, hits all your basic sports bar notes. You’ve got your wings, you’ve got your burgers, you’ve got your tacos, a little barbecue there, some pizzas over there. I might have started with an appetizer — perhaps the calamari or the oak-grilled artichoke — but they were all priced almost as much as the entrees. I guess they’re not interested in selling too many starters, or opening acts, as the menu calls them.
So I went right for a Headliner, which was actually listed as an R&B specialty: the Santa Maria Fire Grilled Tri Tip Sandwich. I was a bit startled when my server asked how I wanted it prepared, and even more surprised to find that it was served exactly as I’d requested. And it was a pretty good sandwich all around. There was plenty of tender, not too thinly sliced meat inside the roll (which was billed as “artisan sourdough,” though both descriptors raise an eyebrow). The steak had a very nice peppery note, and the sandwich was dressed with pico de gallo, which added both onions and tomatoes in a more flavorful way, and micro greens.
The sandwich came with a choice of sides: crispy fries, fruit, coleslaw, sweet potato fries, or sticky rice. When my server read the list to me, however, she said “white rice.” I inquired about the stickiness of the rice. “That’s just a fancy name they give it,” she said with a little roll of the eyes, “it’s just plain white rice.”
I chose the fries, which were indeed crispy. In fact, they were quite airy and deceptively light. The seasoning on the outside made up for the lack of potato meat inside.
R&B also promotes its extensive list of craft beers, both on tap and bottled. Seating is either at high-top tables or the picnic variety.
I can’t really speak to Oviedo’s music scene but I’d hardly call its restaurant scene energized. Whether Rock & Brews can add a spark is the real question.
Rock & Brews is at 7131 Red Bug Lake Road, Oviedo. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The website menu does not list prices. My sandwich was $12.49. The phone number is 407-956-4124.