Rudolph's keeps Christmas elves well fed
Country fried chicken with white gravy and two sides at Rudolph's Restaurant in Christmas. (Carin Perez, Orlando Sentinel / December 2, 2010)
If you live west, east or south a trip to the little town of Christmas can be quite a drive. In fact, some GPS systems will tell you that your destination is Titusville. With Santa Claus as my witness, you are not traveling that far. Christmas is a historical gem along a thoroughfare to the Space Coast, but there will be coal in the stockings of any Brevard County residents who try to take it for their own.
A year ago, Rudolph's Restaurant opened up on the main drag not too far from Blitzen Avenue. If country cooking and friendly service is on your holiday wish list, this place is for you. The country fried chicken or steak with white or brown gravy ($7.99 lunch, $8.99 dinner) was Cracker good. We opted for chicken with the white sauce, a nicely flavored topping with a subtle black pepper kick. My guest wanted mashed potatoes but those were a dinner-only side. The cook was more than happy to make fresh mash from scratch.
The catfish dinner plate ($9.95) had two blackened fillets (grilled and fried are other options), crisp hush puppies, fries, slaw and tartar sauce. The vinegary slaw was light and eased some of the guilt from the sweet corn fritters ($1.75) we scarfed down. The fried okra ($1.75) does not come clothed in a traditional cornmeal dusting. The pieces were dunked in a batter then into the fryer, which created a side dish that was a cut above the mass-marketed heavily cloaked okra found in supermarkets and many restaurants.
Other plate lunches and dinners include the meatloaf ($7.99-$8.99), pulled pork ($8.99), smoked half chicken ($8.99) and smoked ribs (market price). The lunch portions get two sides; dinner portions come with three sides.
The menu also has an assortment of burgers ($5.95-$7.75), one named for each of the jolly fellow's reindeer, quesadillas ($5.50-$5.95), wings ($6.99-$12.99), salads ($2.95-$8.95) and sandwiches ($4.59-$7.50).
Inside the plain metal building, the walls are filled with photos that tell the story of cattle ranchers, early schools and settlers. Order your food first, and then take a walk around to get a sense of Central Florida's pioneer spirit.
33rd Annual Florida Cracker Christmas
Fort Christmas Historical Park (1300 N. Fort Christmas Road) has a free weekend of Cracker-themed holiday activities from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. There will be food, more than 150 craft booths, Civil War and cow camps, Native American exhibit and pioneer lifestyle demonstrations of weaving, spinning, blacksmithing and using a smokehouse to cure meats. A replica of the original fort, built in 1837 during the Seminole Indian War, is the centerpiece of the park that also features a traditional Florida Cracker house, pioneer homes, a sugar cane mill and antique farm equipment. For details, call 407-568-4149.
See for yourself
Where: 24708 E. Colonial Drive, Christmas (between Blitzen and Cupid avenues)
When: Breakfast 7 a.m.-11 a.m. Tuesday-Thursday and 8 a.m.-noon Friday-Sunday; lunch and dinner 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, noon- 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon-4p.m. Sunday
How much: Breakfast $2.75-$7.99, lunch and dinner $5.95-$9.95, kids' menu $2.99-$3.79
Extras: Takeout, homemade pies and doughnuts
Wheelchair access: Easy
Credit: Visa and MasterCard