Orlando - Atlas House (Uzbek cuisine)
I was down in Orlando visiting family this weekend and came across an ad for Atlas House in one of those free tourist guides. I'd never been to an Uzbek restaurant before so dropped by to check it out and was pleasantly surprised. We ordered the eggplant rolls (probably our favourite dish), chicken kebab (really moist!), chuchvara (small boiled dumplings with sour cream - very nice) and lula kebab (we didn't like this much, it was a bit too salty). It's quite inexpensive and the service was really friendly. Only downside is that it took quite a long time to get our food since they were making everything fresh and it took us a few tries to order because we discovered that they didn't have all of the menu items available for lunch. But I'd definitely return if I lived in the area. They have a website: http://www.atlashouserestaurant.com/
Visiting from Miami, tried it as well this weekend. This was a great surprise for us. We had no idea what to expect and no benchmark vs other Uzbeki cuisine, but as someone who enjoys fine (and not so fine) dining and eats out a lot, I thought the food was great.
Service- very friendly, service-oriented and humble. Talk about not being in Miami anymore!
Prices- we overordered based on the low prices. Portions were normal. The food itself was fairly simple, though very different. A very good deal overall, especially that decor is nice.
Carrot Salad: this was nice, refreshing sort of lightly pickled/marinated carrots. Not too carroty if you dislike raw carrots.
Eggplant Roll: these were great little slices of eggplant layered inside with tomato, cucumber and spices lightly fried.
Chuchvara: boiled meat dumplings served in a sort of cream sauce. not really my thing but everyone else really enjoyed them.
Manti Squash: Similar to above but filled with intense-tasting pumpkin (no meat). These were very good but I do not recommend eating as your entree. Both the Chuchvara and Manti Squash were eaten with a sort of hot paste most similar to me to harissa.
Palov: This was my dish and my favorite- this is a rice dish served with lean slices of lamb and a side of creamy pungent "salad" (think coleslaw with a different flavor profile). Very strange at first but it was a great, great dish, we ordered a second and people at the table were googling recipes before dinner was finished.
Mix Kabab: The kabob's were fine, well cooked, etc. However they do use more traditional, fattier cuts of meat and served with marinated onions. Our table was divided on these and I assume a lot of other people will be too. Served with some great marinated onions.
For dessert we enjoyed some honey cake "medovik" and ice cream. That cake was something special. The cake itself is sort of dry, sliced into extremely thin slices and then stacked with a touch of honey or condensed milk between each slice, then topped with graham crackers. Fantastic.
I do agree that for dinner the serving speed was slow, but they warned us at the very beginning that it would be slow. We received appetizers fairly quickly, entrees a little bit after, kabobs after the entree (we had to wait), and dessert fairly quickly. We will most likely return with a larger group next time we're in the area.