Lion’s Pride and Soccer are a Perfect Match By Sandra Carr

Gather your purple-pride posse before or after an Orlando City Soccer Club match and dine in style at the Lion’s Pride Soccer Pub & Grill in downtown Orlando’s Church Street district.

I experienced a filling, five-course foodie feast served by attentive staff during the restaurant’s media tasting event last week. The sports-dining destination, which is celebrating its one-year anniversary in May, serves delicious and moderately-priced dishes created by executive chef Scott Phillips.

I was welcomed with a glass of bubbly and presented with the first course, featuring peppered tuna with sweet Thai chili sauce drizzled on top, avocado relish and cilantro lime slaw paired with a mini Blue Moon draft and fresh orange wedge. The sweetness complemented the fresh and healthy sides and beer sample, which is my favorite, go-to wheat beer.

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Peppered tuna with sweet Thai chili sauce, avocado relish and cilantro lime slaw.

The starter course continued and included two petite brisket soft tacos with shredded iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, queso blanco and chipotle aioli paired with a Samuel Adams Winter Lager. The small but mighty duo was delicious and coupled with the brew. The brisket was tender and blended well with the fresh ingredients. The mixture didn’t fall out of the soft taco shells, which was a plus.

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Two petite brisket soft tacos with shredded iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, queso blanco and chipotle aioli.

Round two featured a caprese salad with good-sized red and yellow vine-ripe tomato slices and round chunks of buffalo mozzarella garnished with basil oil and balsamic glaze and paired with a glass of Terra d’Oro 2015 blended Chenin Blanc. The elegant salad’s veggies were deliciously compatible with the rich, buffalo mozzarella and basil oil and balsamic glaze. The glass of wine complemented the flavors even more with each sip.

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Caprese salad paired with a glass of Terra d’Oro 2015 blended Chenin Blanc.

Next was a shrimp and lobster risotto with creamy Parmesan cheese and parsley sprinkles paired with a Lion’s Pride signature, hand-muddled lime margarita. This was the creamiest risotto I have ever eaten, and was my favorite dish during the tasting. The medium-sized shrimp and lobster pieces were mixed smoothly with the Parmesan cheese and gave comfort food a whole new meaning with its refreshing margarita counterpart. More, please!

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Shrimp and lobster risotto with creamy Parmesan cheese.

The fourth dish, a blue cheese filet with garlic boursin mash potatoes and red wine demi-glaze with two generous-sized asparagus and a carrot paired with a glass of Emmolo 2015 Merlot from the Napa Valley was a hearty meal. The medium-cooked, juicy and tender filet with melted blue cheese was oh so good! The fresh-out-of-the-garden vegetables and the dollop of garlic boursin mashed potatoes made the meal even more satisfying with the glass of Merlot.

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Blue cheese filet with garlic boursin mash potatoes, red wine demi-glaze, asparagus and carrot.

Two desserts provided a sweet ending to the tasting. The thick, chocolate mousse with whipped cream paired with a Lion’s Pride whiskey-based red sangria adorned with a fruit skewer balanced the rich and sweetness nicely. The Romeo and Juliet, a guava-filled Phyllo dough pastry with white cheese queso blanco, was complemented with a glass of passion fruit pureed champagne and took an edge off of the sweet journey. The Romeo and Juliet is ideal for folks who like a light baked good as a snack or after dinner.

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Chocolate mousse with whipped cream paired with a Lion’s Pride whiskey-based red sangria and the Romeo and Juliet complemented with a glass of passion fruit pureed champagne.

Phillips was a Tribeca neighborhood chef in New York City for many years. His goal was to create a menu with an array of selections for everyone’s taste.

“The menu features a variety of different kinds of cuisine,” he said. “I didn’t want to stick to a typical sports-bar food menu. I wanted it to be a bit upscale.”

Besides the menu, I was impressed with the building’s transformation. The restaurant was formerly Bliss Ultra Lounge and Phineas Phogg’s, which was renowned for its nickel beer every Wednesday night back in the day. The décor features a casual-style design with warm, natural tones and a comfy ambiance that makes you feel right at home while watching a soccer match on the pub’s flat-screen TVs. I’m happy to report that some of the original brick panels were saved during the renovation.

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Lion’s Pride Soccer Pub & Grill

On the second level, soccer fans can score a VIP experience with Church Street views, a gold-tone leather sectional sofa with a glass soccer ball-shaped coffee table, purple leather stadium seats, tables with purple chairs, a mural of the Orlando City Soccer Club’s mascot Kingston, a long bar with a marble top and a private party room.

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An upstairs wall features a mural of Orlando City Soccer Club’s mascot Kingston.

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I’m posing on the gold-tone leather sectional sofa on the second level of the Lion’s Pride Soccer Pub & Grill.

Soccer fans can hang out with a brew or cocktail while seated at tables that can accommodate large groups, be mesmerized by a vintage World Cup soccer ball collection and purchase Orlando City Soccer Club and Pride merchandise on the first floor.

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View a vintage World Cup soccer ball collection on the first floor of the Lion’s Pride Soccer Pub & Grill.

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Purchase Orlando City Soccer Club and Pride merchandise on the first level of the Lion’s Pride Soccer Pub & Grill.

Watch the Orlando City Soccer Club and Pride’s home or away soccer matches, World Cup soccer matches from June 14 through July 15, 2018 and any sporting event while chowing down at this lion’s lair.

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