I first met Edgar Massoni, owner and proprietor of Orlando Meats, a couple of years back at the Audubon Park Community Market. I needed goat, and he happily obliged with meat that was local, pasture-raised, and free of hormones, antibiotics and fur.
Now, at his slick and gleaming butcher-eatery, goat can be easily had along with a bevy of other meats, offal, bone broths and animal fats. Head butcher Raul Rubero is big on spotlighting lesser-known and interesting cuts of carne like the Denver steak, Scotch tender, coulotte, baseball steak, lamb neck chop, lamb belly, pork trotters, pig head and such, and they look irresistible in the display case. When they're deployed in the kitchen for purposes of serving in the restaurant, you can knock the execution, but you can't knock the meat.
Massoni sources from within a 250-mile radius and has forged relationships with farmers and ranchers from Weirsdale to Avon Park. The beef is procured from Cowart Ranch and, for the purist, the burger ($12) fashioned from Cowart's grass-fed beef is one to relish. The heavy massing of the finely ground patty gives it undeniable heft, and you won't find any added weight from lettuce, tomato, onion and the like compromising the integrity of the French bread. Rather, added flavor comes courtesy of a smear of bacon XO sauce, garlic aioli and melted provolone. Needless to say, it's a bloody-good and bloody-juicy medium-rare burger.
But in all honesty, I'm a bigger fan of Orlando Meats' in-house sausages – the currywurst pork sausage ($10) with purple sauerkraut, for example, or the chicken nugget dog ($10) on a New England roll served with Sichuan sauce. My fave might be the roll nested with twin smoked venison ($13) sausages with crunchy bits (fry flecks) and an aioli made with Lineage Coffee's 431 espresso roast.
Chips fried in beef tallow came with all the aforementioned orders, and the flavor is noticeable. McDonald's used to fry their potatoes in beef tallow right up until the time I stopped frequenting the Golden Arches – around 1990. You can purchase tallow at Orlando Meats for home use, though I'm sure the American Heart Association would advise you against it.
The Shanghai Carnival ($12) has tempura-fried morsels of chicken, but the somewhat dry nuggets gave us little to celebrate. Even with that Sichuan sauce. The French fries, however, were gone in minutes (see note about tallow above) as was the cole slaw, which I've become addicted to.
I've popped in during the morning hours to sample their doughnuts ($2) – I'm partial to the Thai tea and chocolate wallpaper paste – as well as their breakfast burger ($12) – it's got cheesy eggs on top and comes with home fries. Massoni even makes it a point to have a meatless option or two on the ever-changing menu. Sure, they may not be at the level of, say, a Sanctum Café, but for a place called "Orlando Meats," the veg options really don't need to be beefed up any.
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