I had been anticipating visiting the new Black Bean Deli location in Winter Park. I wanted to see how the former Winnie’s Oriental Garden had been transformed into a Cuban deli.
But since I’m sticking with takeout cuisine for the time being, I’ll have to wait a while longer to see the inside of the new dining room. But I can tell you the quality of the food is just as good as it was when BBD was just a little pocket place on Orlando Avenue.
And Black Bean Deli is especially appropriate for takeout because that’s how it started out. The original location, at 325 S. Orlando Ave., had no tables. There was a shelf in front of the window and six stools for people who couldn’t wait to tear into their boxed food. But for the most part, you were expected to pick up your order at the counter and take it home.
In fact, for many years Black Bean Deli was a frequent winner of the Sentinel’s Foodie Award for Best Takeout, both the readers’ award and the critic’s (my) choice. That included the 2002 awards, which is the year that the longtime owners of Black Bean, Gladys and George Miavitz, who opened the restaurant in 1982, retired and sold the operation to Andres Corton.
I remember thinking that Corton, at 23, was too young to be taking on such a popular restaurant. Eighteen years later, he’s still the owner and has expanded the business, first taking over the former Vega’s Cafe on Colonial Drive, itself a Cuban food favorite, then, last year, Winnie’s.
So in March, when everything started to go to hell and restaurants scrambled to switch to a takeout business model, Corton was all ready.
And more important, the quality of the food is every bit as good as it has always been.
The Havana pork was an especial favorite of my recent takeout order. It featured shredded roast pork dotted onions and drizzled with a mojo that added some pleasant garlic notes. It was accompanied by yellow rice and black beans, of course, sweet plantains and a modest green side salald. An ample amount of food.
So was the picadillo, the traditional dish of seasoned ground beef mixed with raisins, carrots, olives and potatoes. White rice was the choice here, but all the other accouterments were the same.
For appetizers, I ordered two croquetas, one chicken and one ham, and a papas rellenas filled with ground beef. The croquetas were one bite morsels, each with a golden crust. The papas rellenas, a big ball of mashed potatoes with the meat center, was easier to share.
Ordering process, by phone, was effortless. And when I arrived that the restaurant and called to announce my arrival, a masked young woman quickly brought out my order and placed it in the trunk.
By the way, Corton isn’t finished expanding. He recently purchased the former Sprinkles space on Fairbanks Avenue, next to Ravenous Pig, for a catering and commissary facility. The original location was sold and the entire mini strip mall with its western motif has been demolished for a new development.
Only one wall has been left standing: a street-facing wall that still bears the name Black Bean Deli.
Black Bean Deli is at 1346 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. The phone number is 407-628-0294. Check website for address and phone of the Orlando location.