A Southern Contemporary Dream
By Dave Nevill Jr. of OrlandoFoodScene.com
As the Downtown Orlando area continues to expand, offering exciting new culinary and cultural delights, so too does its surrounding communities. In the hip and revitalized neighborhood of Thornton Park, you’ll find Soco. The restaurant’s concept, born from the vision of Executive Chef/Partner Greg Richie, features a selection of both contemporary and southern-inspired cuisine. This restaurant is a truly unique blend of worlds, stitched together by a combination of southern hospitality and culinary excitement.
The first thing you’ll likely notice on your visit is the fantastically large front patio. The outdoor space really lets you soak in the charm of the area, which despite its growth, still maintains a certain southern charm with the brick roads and tree lined streets. The interior is where the contemporary really shines, with a design and style that confirms you’ve chosen wisely.
Our group had no trouble deciding on the appetizers, which included the cornmeal crisped oysters, chicken and dumplings and pork belly biscuits. The first two were a great start, but the pork belly biscuits were on a whole new level. A combination of sauces to dip those flaky, soft, pork-flavored masterpieces in is where you should start, no question.
Entrees included the smoked Florida cobia, the Korean-style fried chicken, grilled meatloaf, and the heritage pork chop. The cobia was perfectly cooked, served with a buttermilk potato cake and black-eyed pea tomato salsa. The Korean-style fried chicken was some of the best fried chicken we’ve tried, with its thin and well spiced breading, drizzled in a sweet and spicy sauce that we couldn’t rave enough about. The meatloaf and heritage pork chop both represented the chef’s creativity with presentations that made people stare as the plates passed by their tables. Each of these dishes are a testament to Chef Richie’s skill and his creative use of southern themes and contemporary twists.
With the meal winding to a close, I leaned back and soaked up the atmosphere. What I absorbed was a refreshing combination of happy diners, hip style without pretension, and friendly service from well-trained staff. Soco is a fantastic addition to the Thornton Park neighborhood, and one of our new favorite restaurants in Orlando!
629 East Central Boulevard Orlando, FL 32801