Nico Globos European Eatery
124 N. Fourth St., Lake Mary
More info in our restaurant guide
On a quaint little street, off Lake Mary Boulevard’s bustling thoroughfare and far from the madding crowds drawn like flies to the obnoxious fluorescence of fast-food joints and cookie-cutter chains, we dined. In Lake Mary. In a space designed to fit no more than 22 people comfortably.
Nico Globos, a homey resto run by Welsh ex-pats Neil and Louise O’Halloran, along with Neil’s globe-trotting brother Nicholas (Nico), offers the privacy of an Italian grotto with the intimacy of a French parlor. Brick and stone walls, wood wine racks and tables fashioned from antique doors topped with glass all lend to the eatery’s Old World charm, and while the open kitchen adds a convivial element, it’s never loud to the point of irritation.
Even our overly exuberant, far from polished server gave us cause to chuckle after he got a good-natured ribbing from the cooks behind the counter. Handing over a butter knife to slice a filet ($22.95) will most certainly get you needled, but given the quality of the dishes we sampled here, such a miscue quickly became an afterthought. Opting for the regenerative chicken noodle soup ($6.95) over the lobster and crab bisque was an easy choice, given the cool nighttime temperature and the fact that the chicken soup was said to be “homemade.” The flat noodles, carrots, celery and shredded chicken gave the potage a hearty weight and warmth, which we enjoyed with slices of rustic bread dipped in olive oil. Just as comforting was the truffled mushroom and gruyère tart ($8.95), served flaky-hot along with a refreshingly cool salad of organic field greens.
Also refreshing: the terse menu. Cumbersome it’s not, which made ordering our mains a relatively simple affair. Said filet, a velvety 8-ounce cut, was cooked to the desired medium-rare and served with a sublime smash of potatoes and creamy boursin cheese. An even-handed drizzling of Rioja demi-glace added a refined dignity to the steak, which we rapaciously devoured like famished vagabonds. Con- versely, heavy-handed use of blackening spice on the mahi-mahi took away from the naturally mild flavors of the meaty fish, and the astringency of the Thai mango salad gave our tongues an acid bath. We would’ve much preferred steamed asparagus or some such green, though the roasted potatoes with bacon did have us swooning.
When desserts are made in-house, that’s always a plus, and we enjoyed every bite of the caramel apple crumble ($5.95). Served with still-crisp slices of Golden Delicious, the fresh-baked fruit pastry made an ideal capper for two. Why they would mar a delightful wedge of flourless chocolate cake ($5.95) by crowning it with a cloying dollop of rapidly melting vanilla gelato is beyond me, though. Only after forking off that distraction were we able to enjoy the cake in its unadulterated form.
But for the most part, the seasoned chefs in the open kitchen handled their duties with aplomb – one of the advantages of working with a pared-down menu, even if it does change on a regular basis. You won’t find that sort of seasonal focus or devotion to market-fresh ingredients in the scores of mediocre “upscale” establishments in this suburban hamlet. With Nico Globos, Lake Mary finally has a restaurant it can be proud of, so let’s hear it for the boyo.
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