2305 Edgewater Drive | 407-730-7963 | hangarorlando.com | $$$
Harmoni Artisan Market created a wave of dissonance when it closed its doors on the ground floor of the Wellesley condos on Edgewater Drive back in 2011. The residents of College Park were left reeling, and the prospect of a Wildside BBQ opening in its place prompted a collective whoop-de-doo. Fast-forward a couple of years later and the barbecue joint was transformed into an aeronautics-themed restaurant virtually overnight – technically, over the span of three days – in an effort to boost patronage and ensure longevity on this high-traffic thoroughfare. Having worked in the field of aircraft maintenance, owners Joe and Jeanie Chiovari used many of their own paintings, photos and memorabilia depicting flying machines and their daring young men (and women) to deck out the joint. They’ve done a fine job remodeling the space to make it feel comfortable, without a doubt.
Now, had they put the same effort into menu development, food quality and hiring kitchen staff as they did into the decor, the Hangar might be worth paying a visit. As it stands, we’re still left ruing the loss of Harmoni, a fact that became regrettably clear after biting into a starter of fried pickle spears and zucchini chips ($9). The batter, way too thick and chewy, practically negated the flavors of the pickles and zucchini. On a previous visit to the restaurant with friends, the same starter was served with hardly any batter at all. Still, that appetizer was far and away better (or less bad) than the comparatively healthy hummus platter ($6). The “fresh” garlic hummus didn’t taste fresh, nor did it taste like hummus, for that matter. Serving the bland mush with overdone pita bread that cracked like potato chips was just sad.
I could go into greater detail about how the greasy French dip ($10) served with limp fries resulted in … how do I say this politely … “post-meal distress” in one of my guests, but I won’t. Certainly, the Swedish meatballs ($18) could’ve been presented in a more appetizing manner than simply stuffing the five enormous orbs (not small, like traditional Swedish meatballs) and a bed of egg noodles into a small oval baker. The dish drew quizzical reactions from all who sampled it – the flavors were hard to discern, and the gravy, combined with the density of the meatballs, made noodle disintegration inevitable.
It all just turned into a meaty goop.
The mixed grill ($25) came with overdone “hangar” steak (apparently they couldn’t resist the pun on hanger steak), over-seared tuna and, yes, overcooked chicken. Accompanying sweet potato fries and grilled asparagus were done nicely, which leads me to the lone item we’ve enjoyed here – the parmesan-crusted flounder sandwich ($10). The sizable fillet, tenderly fried, came served on a doughy kaiser roll with a house-made tartar sauce. Both pricey pineapple upside-down cake ($7.99) and the mango key lime pie ($6.99) offered straightforward satisfaction, likely because neither is fashioned in-house.
It’s unfortunate, especially for the denizens of 32804, that this eatery fails to meet expectations – a space like this on a street like this in a neighborhood like this deserves more. Hangar Bar & Grille might be an aviation-themed eatery, but I’m afraid it’s also just another fly-by-night operation.
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