Winter Park has a history steeped in New England traditions, given that, where else in the Orlando area would you expect to see a live Maine lobster dinner for $18.95?
Welcome to Shipyard Emporium, Winter Park’s newest hot spot!
Shipyard Emporium, the brain child of Shipyard Brewing Company headquartered in Portland Maine, is the first of the company’s brew pubs to open in Florida and if the crowds are any indication of it’s success, then it looks like they are off to a great start.
Situated in a prime location on Fairbanks between New York Avenue and Park Avenue, they are sure to benefit not only from commuters and locals driving by, but also from the abundance of foot traffic that Park Ave and Rollins College are famous for.
I first heard about the place from a friend checking in on Foursquare. Being from New England and familiar with the Shipyard brand I was thrilled with the prospect of a little piece of Maine in the Orlando area and knew that I had to venture there for dinner.
Expecting a restaurant, I was amazed to find inside the airy two story, open concept facility, a store with freshly made Maine dips, salsas and sauces, Moxie, a variety of smaller breweries bottled craft beer (Shipyard also acts as a distributor), Shipyard brand merchandise, tees, towels, magnets and bags and their very own Capt’n Eli’s line of soda pop which comes in a variety of flavors and is made with real cane sugar. Looking beyond the racks of goods, was the deli area with a line of deli cases packed with a variety of salami, cheeses, marinated artichokes, hummus and a goodies case featuring miniature cupcakes baked by The Bees Knees Sweet Treats, a local company.
Behind the counter were several shelves stocked with freshly baked loaves of bread for sale to the general public, and just when I thought I had seen it all, the test kitchen unfolded in front of me. An open area with cabinets, wine racks an oven and a stove top built into a beautiful slab of blue/grey granite countertop complete with seating. This area is for special events such as the upcoming Beer vs. Wine Dinner and is also available for booking.
I was on my way to the brew pub area when I met the General Manager, Allison Stevens. She took a few minutes to introduce herself and explain a little bit about the Shipyard Emporium and it’s many facets. She took me on a brief tour and talked enthusiastically about a few of the events they would be scheduling from Bicycle Tours to Wine and Food pairings, Live Maine Mondays and The Mug Club.
I hadn’t eaten a thing and already I loved this place! I left Allison to peruse the menu in the brew pub and order a flight of beer. The four beers I chose were Shipyard Fuggles IPA, Pugsley’s Imperial Porter, Menage a Palm and Shipyard Light. The Fuggles IPA was well hopped and crisp. The Imperial Porter was swirling with flavor; hints of chocolate, caramel, vanilla and perhaps bourbon. The Menage a Palm 3 oat stout was very smooth, lightly hopped and had a clean finish with a hint of chocolate. The Shipyard Light was slightly effervescent and refreshing with pretty full body for a light ale. To pair with the flight I ordered the Dips and Sauces Try All Three which included White Bean Hummus, Tzatziki and Buffalo Chicken Dip served with croustades. Everything was delicious, but the Buffalo Chicken Dip was outstanding. The service was very good with our server gladly making recommendations and helping with beer selection.
All in all, I had a wonderful first experience at Shipyard Emporium and have returned at least 7 times with friends. Though the parking is limited, they do have free valet service in the evenings which helps tremendously.
If you are looking for a piece of Maine in Winter Park, a bakery, a deli or a clean brew pub that is always serving up something new, I would give Shipyard Emporium a try.