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French-Kissed Dining

Bites & Bubbles achieves its vision as a throwback to the 1960s neighborhood bistro.

In 2018, Bites & Bubbles opened in Mills50 in the building previously occupied by the short-lived Brooklyn Coffee Shop. The restaurant, which bills itself as an “American restaurant with a French kiss,” is the creation of Eddie Nickell and Nicholas Olivieri. On the eatery’s website, Nickell and Olivieri explain that they wanted Bites & Bubbles “to be a throwback to dining in America in 1960,” when French food in the big cities was white tablecloth, but neighborhood eateries throughout the U.S. were serving food that was influenced by French cuisine in a more laid-back setting.

My friend and I drove over to Bites & Bubbles on a Saturday night and parked down the street. The restaurant has no dedicated parking lot of its own, although apparently diners are allowed to park at the Addition Financial building, which I didn’t know until later. Nonetheless, Mills50 has plenty of unmetered street parking.

After we arrived, with no reservation, we were seated right away at a table for two. The dining room here is small, but the restaurant manages to fit quite a few tables into it without making things feel too cramped. There is also a long bar that takes up one side of the restaurant, chandelier lighting and wine bottles displayed prominently. The music was played lightly, a mix of ’60s hits.

The waiter handed us four paper menus: one for wine, another for food, one for a pre-fixe dinner centered on duck and, lastly, one listing the available beers.

The wine list is long and there are some by-the-glass options. Since bubbles appears in the restaurant’s name, I decided to order a sparkling rosé from France, the Louis Perdrier. My friend went with a riesling from Washington state called Kung Fu Girl.

The menu here is geared toward grazing with lots of small plates and a hefty charcuterie and fine cheeses section. From the charcuteries, we ordered the Wild Boar Salami ($13). From the seafood bites section, we chose the Crab Cake ($18) and then from the specialty bites, we settled on the Peaches & Crème ($15).

Out of those three choices, the Crab Cake was my favorite. The lump crab patty arrived atop two pieces of bread with some creamed potatoes and it was covered in a lobster vodka hollandaise sauce.

The crab cake was tender and came apart easily, while the sauce was creamy and flavorful. However, I do wish the bread had been toasted more to balance out the creaminess of everything else.

The Wild Boar Salami was sliced and came atop two pieces of untoasted bread. This plate also included some accoutrements including marinated white beans, sun-dried tomatoes and bite-size pickles. I loved the white beans, which had a nice vinegar taste and the salami itself was robust and savory.

The Peaches & Crème was my friend’s favorite small plate. Visually it was stunning with a Spanish peach skinned and served whole alongside two pieces of bread covered with cranberries and blueberries and deconstructed French brie, with everything drizzled with honey. The sweetness of the dish was heavily complemented by the freshness of the fruit.

For main plates, the menu had five meat offerings—steak, lamb chops, pork tenderloin, duck confit and a chicken Marsala pasta. And there was a salmon dish, too. Presented beautifully, the Duck Confit ($30) came stacked on top of brioche bread stuffing and covered in duck fat gravy, alongside creamed potatoes and some warm cranberries.

The duck was cooked just right; it was soft and had a slight gamy taste. The potatoes were great for soaking up the sauce, while the stuffing added some nice texture. But I really have to praise the inclusion of cranberries because they added acidity and really brought this dish to another level.

For dessert, we went with the Espresso Pot de Crème ($10), a creamy custard flavored with espresso topped with whipped cream and a cherry and served with crushed peppermint candy and caramel. The custard was velvety and a pleasing way to end our meal.

Bites & Bubbles seems to have achieved the “French kissed” vision its owners set out for it with a dining experience that feels genuine and inspired. And although small plates are a prominent part the menu, and you could certainly make an evening of just nibbling on them, I would not overlook the entrées here—they too deserve your attention. All in all, I look forward to visiting this neighborhood eatery again for a bite and another glass of bubbly.

Bites & Bubbles
912 N. Mills Ave. | Orlando
407-270-5085 |

This article originally appeared in Orlando Family Magazine’s March 2020 issue.