One Lounge's Central Asian specialties reveal the dynamic intersection where East meets West on I-Drive

Uzbek trek

One Lounge's Central Asian specialties reveal the dynamic intersection where East meets West on I-Drive
Photo by Rob Bartlett

While the name One Lounge doesn't reveal much, there's a whole lot to tell about this new International Drive restaurant. The name might land a little less generically when you consider that it may just be the one place in Orlando where a taste of Uzbekistan can be found. Even in the broad spectrum of cuisines available in the area, Uzbek food is especially obscure, which makes One Lounge immediately exciting simply by dint of its existence.

Due to its location on the fringe where Europe and Asia converge, Uzbekistan is a culinary crossroads of sorts. As such, One Lounge's menu reflects a broader Eurasian intersectionality, with flavors that span Europe and the Middle East.

The restaurant handles those cuisines respectably. The spanakopita ($11.88) is a flaky, flavorful taste of Greece. The chicken adana kebab ($22.88) is a decent Turkish delight featuring well-seasoned ground chicken served with delicious pickled red cabbage salad, yogurt dip, grilled yellow peppers, rice and flatbread.

But the regional specialties from Central Asia — and, in particular, Uzbekistan — are what make One Lounge particularly unique. The Uzbek fare here is a deep dive into not just cuisine but history. Taste the food, and the influences of all the ancient trade routes converge on your tongue.

click to enlarge One Lounge's Central Asian specialties reveal the dynamic intersection where East meets West on I-Drive
Photo by Rob Bartlett

More than any other section on the menu, the soups at One Lounge offer the most regional focus, with native tastes from Ukraine (borscht), Russia (okroshka) and Uzbekistan (mastava and shurpa). We enjoyed the shurpa ($10.88), a comforting bowl of home-style broth with chunks of lamb, potatoes, carrots, bell peppers and garbanzo beans, served with a house-baked Uzbek roll.

As for appetizers, the somsa ($10.88) is not only the most traditional Uzbek choice but also one of the most beautiful and tasty dishes of our meal. This exceptional starter features two plump and savory meat pastries — filled with tasty beef cubes and speckled with black and white sesame seeds — that exude fresh-baked goodness.

Of the main courses, the Uzbek national dish of osh plov ($18.88) is the star attraction here. Steeped in tradition, One Lounge's take on the pilaf specialty is a soulful, hearty rice medley swimming in the savory flavors of fatty lamb and beef, the sweetness of dried currants and yellow carrots, the heft of garbanzos and a gorgeous spice profile that plays on the palate like a map of history. The serrano pepper on the side only makes their plov that much sexier. A customary and perfect accompaniment to the rich plov is the achichuk salad ($5.88), a fresh foil that brings the lightness of dilled tomato, cucumber and onion.

To bring our journey to a sweet end, we took our server's recommendation and enjoyed the medovik ($9.99), a Russian honey sponge cake layered with vanilla pastry cream that was light and lovely.

Speaking of service, you're in great hands if Katya is at your tableside. She not only provided hospitality but helped guide us to the most authentic stuff on the menu.

click to enlarge Hookah patio at One Lounge - Photo by Rob Bartlett
Photo by Rob Bartlett
Hookah patio at One Lounge

Although it's situated in a tourist-trap strip plaza at the intersection of I-Drive and Kirkman Road, One Lounge is definitely trying to inject a different pulse — not just with the food, but with a lounge vibe featuring moody lighting, deep house music, a hookah patio and late-night hours. But it's the dishes coming out of the kitchen that truly distinguish this spot. The Central Asian flavors and Uzbek specialties served here make One Lounge not simply special but perhaps even singular in Orlando. It's a fresh culinary breath in an area that spotlights a region often overshadowed between the monoliths of the Eastern and Western worlds.

Location Details

One Lounge

5648 International Drive, Orlando I-Drive/Universal

850-800-0050

www.onelounge.cafe


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