For many years, I have been a champion of Se7en Bites (http://www.se7enbites.com/), the local bakery and restaurant run by the delightful Chef Trina Gregory-Propst, a woman I am honored to call a friend. Ever since I first tasted her Signature Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Pecan Pie at another local establishment, Pom Pom’s Teahouse and Sandwicheria, I knew she was a master of her craft. It is, and still remains, the finest pie crust I’ve ever had. This is praise of the highest order, as I will always choose pie over all other desserts. Long before starting The Saboscrivner, long before the Orlando Foodie Forum on Facebook, I used to post about local food on the Florida forum of the website Chowhound.com, and I remember being the first to review her awe-inspiring pie on the entire Internet. As far as I was concerned, a star was born.
This was several years ago, long before Chef Trina founded her own place, Se7en Bites. It started out in Orlando’s “Milk District” neighborhood on Primrose and Robinson, in a very small space that regularly had lines out the door, especially for weekend breakfasts and brunches. Peering over the counter at the array of beautiful baked goods was like looking through a window into Willy Wonka’s factory: a world of pure imagination, crafted from sugar, flour, and love. We didn’t go as often as we liked, simply due to the crowds, but it was always a feast for the senses, as well as a great place to bring my co-workers and occasional out of town guests to show them one of Orlando’s best independent eateries.
Chef Trina became successful enough to expand to a larger location a few years ago, with much more parking. She’s still on Primrose, just south of Colonial. (And another one of my local favorite restaurants, Bad As’s Sandwich, has since opened in the original Se7en Bites location and has been absolutely killing it for the past two years.)
In 2017, she received a well-deserved accolade that some restauranteurs only dream of: Se7en Bites was featured on Guy Fieri’s ubiquitous and beloved Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, which only added to her status as a local legend. (That was Season 26, episode 10, “Wonder Women,” in case you’re ever lucky enough to catch a replay.) Once she started serving burgers (which are amazing!), I named her Italian Stallion burger one of my top five dishes of 2017 in a feature I wrote for the Orlando Weekly in their last issue of the year, but I’m no Guy Fieri, I get it. (However, I spent much of the late ’90s and 2000s wearing retro-looking shirts straight out of the “hipster doofus collection,” just like his.)
Needless to say, it has been a pleasure to watch Chef Trina become a recognized and respected face of Orlando’s culinary community, and my wife and I have been huge fans from the beginning! Whenever we go to Se7en Bites, we always get the friendliest service and some of my favorite food in Orlando. Whether we choose handmade burgers with ranch-seasoned crinkle-cut fries, buttermilk garlic breakfast biscuits heaped with bacon and eggs, or just have dessert because we’re grown-ass adults who can do that if we want to, we know we’re always in for a treat. Chef Trina never fails to come out of her bustling kitchen to check on us, and she always asks how my wife is doing when I pop in alone.
Unfortunately, I missed her on my most recent visit, around 1:00 on a weekend when I ordered everything to go. She was probably already hard at work at her other restaurant Sette, Orlando’s newest Italian restaurant, which I reviewed back in March 2019 and consider the best Italian restaurant in our City Beautiful. My poor wife was at home, grading papers while fighting off a cold, so I wanted to bring her a really nice lunch. When we saw photos of Se7en Bites’ weekend brunch special, the Minnie Pearl, on Facebook, she told me that was exactly what she wanted.
The Minnie Pearl ($14.75), named for the down-home hostess of Nashville’s legendary Grand Ole Opry, comes with two mini pearl sugar waffles (GET IT???), a buttermilk-fried chicken breast, and an over medium egg, although I requested the egg be cooked over hard for my wife, who doesn’t love runny eggs. It also comes with hot honey drizzle and the most amazing vanilla bean butter syrup, which they were kind enough to include in separate containers with lids. You can say “HOW-DEEEEEEE!” to that. I’m so glad my wife shared a little bite of the pearl sugar waffle with me. It was easily the best waffle I’ve ever tasted. Much crisper and denser than most breakfast waffles, including the ones from my beloved Waffle House, this one made the whole house smell like butter, vanilla, and good times.
The Minnie Pearl also included cheddar chive grits, which she is much more into than I am:
This is my favorite regular item on the menu at Se7en Bites, the meatloaf sandwich on grilled sourdough bread, with a mashed potato schmear ($9.25). I’m a meatloaf lover and make a damn amazing meatloaf, if I do say so myself. Chef Trina’s version is the only meatloaf that I think comes close to mine. And since I don’t always feel like a huge and hearty Southern breakfast, I know I can always count on this sandwich (since I always feel like sandwiches).
This is the pimento cheese and bacon sandwich, also on grilled sourdough bread ($8.75). And I opted for a crispy fried green tomato on mine, for a $2 upcharge. Pimento cheese is something else I make well, but I feel compelled to try it whenever I see it on a menu, since everyone’s version is a little different. The version at Se7en Bites is among my favorites.
Sides with the two sandwiches, creamy macaroni and cheese (a $3.25 upcharge) and the aforementioned ranch-seasoned crinkle-cut fries (a $2.75 upcharge). Sadly, the fries were cold by the time I got home with everything, thanks to hitting every light on Colonial and then again on Semoran. I’ll never order these fries with a takeout order again, but they are among my favorite fries in the city when I dine in at Se7en Bites.
To make the lines move along better, you order your sweets at a separate counter, where all the delicious, decadent desserts are on display under glass domes. Feel free to ask questions — her staff is probably used to them, and they’re always happy to tell you anything you want to know.
This is the aforementioned Signature dark chocolate sea salt caramel pecan pie ($7), which features the finest, flakiest, most buttery pie crust I’ve ever had. The whole thing is an embarrassment of richness. It looks small, but it can be easily be shared by two to four people.
I recently met one of my favorite Internet friends for the first time, along with his lovely girlfriend. He is a fellow aficionado of comic books, cats, pro wrestling, and pie, and we got together for dinner at an old Disney Springs favorite, The Polite Pig. I made sure to pick up one of Chef Trina’s signature pies for them, and I think it dazzled them the same way it always dazzles us. That crust remains unparalleled.
This is the Se7en Bites coconut cream pie ($7), one of my favorite kinds of pies, even after getting a little burned out on them judging the cream pie category at the National Pie Championship last spring. It’s another big hit in our household, to the point where after sharing small slivers when I brought our most recent takeout order home, my wife woke up very early the next morning and finished the rest of it before I got up. But what’s mine is hers, and at least I got a taste.
Most recently, when I picked up the signature pie for my visiting friend, I also noticed a new pie I had never seen before: a Samoa brownie cream pie ($7)! It looked magnificent, and I brought it home, split it evenly, and devoured it with my wife — while we were both watching each other, like something out of Treasure of the Sierra Madre. This pie has everything: a chocolate fudgy cookie-like crust, caramel, butterscotch, coconut, and the smoothest, coolest, creamiest filling. It was literally my favorite Se7en Bites dessert EVER, and I hope Chef Trina will consider adding it to the permanent menu.
And this thicc bar came highly recommended by one of the lovely and ever-patient women of the Se7en Bites staff. I believe it’s called I Don’t Give a Fudge, and the layers are chocolate chip cookie (bottom), rich fudge brownie (middle), smooth chocolate peanut butter (top), and then a soft cookie dough topping above all of that. It’s about four inches thick, and once again, meant to be shared by several people (or at least for one or two people to get several portions out of it. This one cost about $6.
Se7en Bites even serves special burgers on Fridays, which makes it difficult to catch them, but they have been among my favorite dishes there. In fact, this is an older photo of my favorite burger Chef Trina has ever crafted, the Italian Stallion. It is topped with a fried mozzarella plank, savory-sweet tomato jam, and pesto aioli, and it is one of my favorite burgers of all time. In fact, the Italian Stallion made my Top Five favorite dishes of 2017 in Orlando Weekly!
Anyone remember the Bennigan’s chain, so ubiquitous throughout the ’90s and the first half of the ’00s? They had a similar burger back then, the Wheelhouse burger, topped with a fried mozzarella cheese “wheel” and marinara sauce. That was good eatin’ back in the day, but the Se7en Bites version even leaves that fond memory behind, in the dust.
This was another special Friday burger, topped with bacon, Chef Trina’s wonderful pimento cheese, and onion rings, and I got it with a side of onion rings! That’s right — you didn’t think this was going to be a RING THE ALARM! feature, but I sneaked it in there, right at the end. I don’t remember the cute name this burger no doubt had, but I wish she would bring it back, and make those onion rings a regular menu item. Look at them! They’re the “good kind” of onion rings I always wax poetic about on this blog — beer-battered and golden brown, crispy but not crunchy, not too thin or too thick, not too greasy. These were the onion rings that dreams are made of!
Anyway, Se7en Bites is a local favorite with national renown for good reason, and between this and Sette, Trina and Va’s culinary empire is pretty well-established in Orlando. I can’t wait to see — and taste — whatever these gastronomic goddesses do next. In the meantime, if I have co-workers or out-of-town guests who are craving brunch or sweets, Se7en Bites will remain my top choice to bring them to. There isn’t much like it anywhere else, and we are so lucky to have it here. Don’t miss the Minnie Pearl with those perfect pearl sugar waffles, and be on the lookout for Friday burgers and that Samoa brownie cream pie!