Blake Shelton’s Ole Purple Orlando on Worldwide Drive
Opening during a pandemic may not be an optimal plan. But sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. And that’s certainly the case with Blake Shelton’s Ole Red, ICON Park’s newest hotspot, on International Drive.
Shelton chose Orlando as the location for his newest restaurant – there are four Ole Reds in total – because of the fun factor in town. “I think it’s impossible to visit Orlando and not have a good time, and that’s why I know Ole Red will be a perfect fit,” he said when the project was announced.
Recently, Orlando Magazine and Where Orlando were invited to experience the newly opened restaurant. Today we share a tour with you.
A look around
Take a short walk from the ICON parking garage – don’t forget to take the ICON Wheel picture for the gram – and you’ll find Ole Red at the other end of the complex.
Large patios provide plenty of outdoor seating for guests who prefer an outdoor experience.
Once inside you will see the stage and big screen dominate the room. Graphics celebrating the text of Shelton’s hit “Ole Red” flank both sides of the stage.
Art throughout space pays homage to country greats. Currently the tables are well spaced for social distancing and the menus are all non-contact. All staff also wear masks to ensure the safety of guests and others.
A word for entertainment
But Ole Red is more than just a pretty face. It also offers live music during opening hours. Right. Like ALL opening times with a break of one hour between the individual files.
When we visited recently, we were treated to a fantastic set by guitarist and singer Bryan Malpass accompanied by Tanner Johnson on violin. The duo played a bit of everything, including original material and country classics from artists like Rascal Flatts and Charlie Daniels, to Matchbox 20 (a nod to the local Orlando music scene). They even took a request for Billie Eilish (which they did surprisingly well).
Great music is part of Ole Red’s DNA – and not just because it’s named after Blake Shelton. The singer and star of NBC’s “The Voice” partnered with Ryman Entertainment to bring the concept to life and provide great entertainment. As a result of the partnership with Ryman, “Ole Red offers its guests unparalleled access to top-notch country musicians,” said Colin Reed, CEO of Ryman Hospitality Properties, in a recent interview with us.
Let yourself be enchanted, enjoy the music and check out the menu offers.
Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Ole Red is currently offering a limited menu, but we’ve still found plenty to enjoy.
Although a walk-in bar service is not currently available, you can still enjoy a wide variety of drinks, from mocktails and cocktails to your favorite beer. In addition to the popular favorites, local craft beers are also offered.
The bar serves a variety of fun and festive drinks with names like “Came to Forget” (Sauza Silver Tequila, Ginger Liqueur, Orange Juice, Ginger Beer, and Mint) and “Redneck Maitai” (coconut rum, dark rum). Mountain dew, melon liqueur and pineapple juice).
However, I opted for a low octane option from the cocktail list. I couldn’t resist “Bless Your Heart” just because of its name. The refreshing, frothy drink, a combination of pineapple and lime juice, strawberry and lemonade, wasn’t too sweet and felt special enough to convey the “hey, I’m having fun” mood without alcohol.
It’s important to note that drinks are usually served in fun souvenir glasses. However, the restaurant currently uses disposable servings so you can pick up your glass at the gift shop on the way out.
We started with the redneck nachos, a generous combination of kettle chips, smoked chicken, beer cheese sauce, tomatoes, spring onions, pickled jalapenos, and avocado. The platter was drizzled with Ole Red’s barbecue sauce and sour cream.
While it may be difficult to tell from this photo, the serving could easily feed four hungry people and offer a few bites to six or even eight people. It was big.
Interestingly, the nachos are based more on potato chips than tortilla chips. I found that the chips withstood all heavy toppings and even warmed up well.
Next we stuck in a trio of sandwiches. While the currently limited menu also features some salads, we wanted to get a good selection of handhelds on our first break.
“Nacho” Average vegan burger
Our first pick was the average vegan nacho burger with Beyond burger patties, vegan nacho cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickled jalapeños. Chef Mark Boor (whose name you may know from his earlier days at Paddlefish) also pointed out that the bun is both vegan and gluten-free – something that took a bit of work to source. “We are working with a bakery in Atlanta to make sure that the bun is not only gluten-free but also vegan,” he shared during our chat. Steak fries and homemade cucumber round off the plate.
The burger was delicious, with the flavorful counterpoints of nacho cheese and jalapeños adding a kick.
And if there was a topic about our meal, it was “kick”. Ole Red’s chefs seem to be enjoying their fair share of spices. That should serve as a word of caution when hot stuff isn’t your jam.
Nashville Hot Chicken Biscuit
Next we tried the Nashville Hot Chicken Biscuit. Topped with a vinegar coleslaw and served with pickles, all of the flavors worked well together. The breaded chicken thigh was tender with just the right amount of heat. The biscuit is served with a homemade side. As in “Tater”. More on that in a second.
Turkey shoot burger
The Turkey Shoot Burger rounds off the appetizer selection and is a show stopper for several reasons. While we appreciated the flavors here, the onion rings on the burger were extremely hot – for our taste buds anyway. I like some heat, but they made me reach for my water to put out the flames.
But a word about these little things. This is my childhood fault, but Tater Tots remains a guilty treat to me, and these homemade versions were the bomb. Chef Boor announced that they are freshly prepared on the premises every day. Don’t skip this one if you’re a fan of potatoes. They’re hearty, flavorful, and well worth the calories, IMO.
And that left only one thing: dessert.
The sweet stuff
Chef Boor looks forward to introducing lots of fun flavors in the future, but there is only one option for now. And if all you want is one dessert, it should definitely be an Ooey Gooey Tub-O-Fudge Brownie topped with oreo crumbs and served with vanilla ice cream.
That dense brownie that is coated in fudge and can definitely be shared is an alcoholic’s dream.
The last word
Whether you’re looking for a fun place to hang out and listen to music, a great place to have a fun drink with friends, or delicious dishes from Mediterranean comfort cuisine, Ole Red is probably the one for you. The convenient location in ICON Park offers free parking, which is always a nice advantage.
In the current COVID-19 climate, you can also expect good social distancing, staff wearing and cleaning masks, lots of space due to the size of the venue, touchless menu options, and disposable tableware.
Overall, the venue brings something new, fresh, and fun to the growing ICON Orlando area, and we look forward to more visiting opportunities.
Ole Red, 8417 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819, 321.430.1200, OleRed.com/Orlando
Categories:: Eat Drink, Where Orlando
Keywords:: Blake Shelton, Brownies, chocolate cake, Country music, entertainment, I drive, ICON Park, impossible burger, international drive, live music, Mocktails, Nachos, Nashville hot chicken, Ole Red, Orlando, Orlando food, spicy food, Tater Tots, Turkey burger, vegan burger