A Great American Sports Bar
A simple menu and high-quality ambiance make this local restaurant a local favorite sports bar
Kicking back to watch your favorite sports is an all-American pastime. And while your comfy couch and flat-screen TV at home are nice, there’s something uniquely relaxing about slipping into a neighborhood place to enjoy great food and drinks with great friends in an amazing atmosphere — that’s where Craig Miller’s Field House comes in for residents of Dr. Phillips, Windermere and the surrounding area.
Inside the Dellagio Plaza is a warm and welcoming space with 68 high-definition TVs lining the walls. This, bolstered by three separate state-of-the-art sound systems, enables guests to not only see all of the major sporting events in high definition, but also to hear them with clarity, something that most sports bars seem to overlook.
“I love how fast they are able to change the TV channels when most bars take forever, if it even ever does get changed,” said Jon, a regular, along with his brother, Chuck.
“We like to say there isn’t a bad seat in the house,” said Craig, who designed the restaurant with his son and executive chef, Jeffrey Miller. “We’re a sports restaurant and bar, but we’re set apart from others — we’re much more polished than the average sports bar.”
The décor, a rich combination of brick, granite and wood, simultaneously conveys a sense of comfort and elegance when coupled with the open kitchen with a flame hearth.
“As soon as they walk in, sit down and look at the menu, our guests know Craig Miller’s Field House is just not another sports restaurant — everything we do is designed to lift the experience,” Craig said.
With 40-plus years in the restaurant business, Craig knows a thing or two about satisfying his guests. He was twice the recipient of the Nation’s Restaurant News Golden Chain Award for his leadership at Uno Restaurants and Ruth’s Chris Steak House, as well as the 2005 recipient of the National Operator of the Year.
Craig’s professional career includes 11 years at Darden Restaurants, where he was one of its youngest vice presidents; 16 years at Uno Restaurant Holdings Corp., including 14 years as its president; a year as president and CEO of Furr’s Restaurant Group; and four years at Ruth’s Chris Steak House as president, CEO and chairman. He has been a board member of the National Restaurant Association since 1997 and was its chairman in 2005-06.
Craig feels like a Florida native. His father, Alvin Miller, served during World War II in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He later worked for NASA and moved the family to Brevard County in 1963. Craig followed in his father’s footsteps, serving in Vietnam before later going on to attend Florida State University and graduate from the University of Central Florida.
“I’ve spent my entire lifetime working for other people, and I loved it,” Craig said. “But I really wanted to do something on my own with my son.”
A made-from-scratch menu by Jeffrey, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., boasts everyone’s favorite game time fare. From signature wings with unique sauces like coffee molasses barbeque to great burgers and sandwiches to pizzas made in the restaurant’s authentic wood stone oven, the menu is sure to please. One favorite is the fuego pizza, which is topped with chili sauce; chorizo salami; smoked, fresh and whole mozzarella; provolone; South African Peppadew peppers; and ricotta salata.
“We have created a habit of simple, high-quality ingredients,” Jeffrey said. “The pizza dough, the sauce, the soup, the mozzarella sticks — it’s all made from scratch.”
Jeffrey also places an emphasis on local, sustainable and artisan foods, and he tries to make each dish hit one of those important notes.
Inside the menu, there is a veggie burger made with quinoa, brown rice, garbanzo beans, roasted mushrooms and shredded vegetables. There is also a 10-ounce New York strip steak, which is Florida-sourced from Seminole Pride Beef; is hormone- and antibiotic-free choice beef; and is born and raised right here in Florida.
To accompany the menu, there’s a full bar with creative cocktails and more than 50 different craft beers available by draft or bottle. The establishment’s current craft-rotate tap, now featuring Summer Helles from New Belgium Brewing Co., has the aroma of fresh grains and honey with a spicy herbal twang, and it pairs well with many of Field House’s fried offerings, like the zesty firecracker shrimp, a popular appetizer.
Guests enjoy the food at either of the granite bars, nearby high tops, in cozy booths, in the “Owners’ Box” for a private event, or on the palatial patio — a sprawling shaded space with views of the gorgeous palm tree-lined surroundings.
“I’m not sure I know of a better outdoor patio bar,” Craig said. “It looks over the plaza and is protected from the weather.”
That space, which is always popular, is sure to be even more in demand this summer when the FIFA World Cup kicks off June 12 at 4 p.m. with Brazil vs. Croatia.
Craig is often seen at the restaurant, improving on the Field House, listening to guests’ feedback, or introducing his two — soon to be three — grandchildren to guests.
“It truly is a family business, but we couldn’t do it without our fantastic co-workers and amazing staff,” Craig said.
“It’s a great local bar — the food and the atmosphere are what really make it,” said Bob DiMarcantonio, who — along with his wife, Marta — is a regular patron.
One visit to the Field House, and you sense how unique the atmosphere is and how the regulars silently and knowingly seem to confirm it.
“We’ve created a family business that is a wonderful retreat for sports enthusiasts who want a nice place to watch the game or just hang out. It’s a friendly, lively place that people think of as a second home. I know we do.”
Craig Miller’s Field House is located in Suite 100 at 7958 Via Dellagio Way in Orlando. For more information, call 407-248-3474 or visit
http://www.fieldhouseorlando.com on the Web.