A First Taste of Luke’s in Maitland – Orlando Sentinel

A First Taste of Luke’s in Maitland – Orlando Sentinel

I don’t know how, but I nearly drove past Luke’s Kitchen + Bar on opening day.

It appeared that no one else had that problem. The Maitland restaurant was packed Monday with diners bellying up to the bars — raw and cocktail — or taking up tables in the dining room.

It’s easy to understand why so many folks were there: Luke’s is the third local restaurant for chef Brandon McGlamery and general manager, Tim Noelke. Their Winter Park eateries, Luma on Park and Prato, have become Central Florida favorites.

Each of these innovative restaurants has its own feel and focus. Upscale Luma serves American cuisine with a seasonal emphasis and Prato focuses on rustic Italian dishes.

Just 10 minutes away from its sister restaurants, Luke’s Kitchen offers more classic American fare “that everyone loves,” said Noelke.

“We’re looking to bring good, quality, approachable food seven days a week,” he said. “And just to be a great place for people to come for a cocktail and socialize with their friends and family.”

While they love Winter Park, McGlamery and his team were definitely looking for a different spot for Luke’s, Noelke said.

The location, former home of several restaurants including Steak and Ale and Blackfin, was attractive with its corner lot facing busy Orlando Avenue. The contemporary, two-story renovated space has an indoor-outdoor bar, outdoor seating and an open kitchen.

It felt like the right time to expand to Maitland, which is undergoing an evolution with new restaurants, retail and a food hall in the works. That development plus Noelke’s connection to the area as a resident created further appeal.

“We wanted to bring what we did in Winter Park to our own community,” Noelke said.

McGlamery and executive chef Derek Perez will be familiar faces in the open kitchen, Noelke said.

Expect to recognize a lot of items on the menu including French onion soup, French dip, crab cakes, shrimp cocktail and barbecue spareribs. Similar to Luma and Prato, the offerings range in price from a burger ($16) to steak ($30).

Noelke predicted that the spit-fired chicken ($23), already a fast favorite, would become a signature dish.

He has good reason: It’s delicious. A fork-coating mushroom sauce accompanies half of a juicy chicken and a baked potato puree.

A server talked me into a Key lime tart ($8), which gave a light, not-so-tart end to a filling meal.

Luke’s side dishes — Brussels sprouts, charred broccoli, cauliflower gratin, rosemary fries and fingerling potatoes — will feature seasonal offerings. There is also a raw bar full of oysters, ceviches and crudos.

The restaurant will add lunch service in the next few weeks.

A happy hour will be added soon. The bar menu includes classic and original cocktails (try the Gatsby), champagne, wines by the glass and bottle, along with standard draft and bottle beer.

As for future restaurants, Noelke simply said that some brainstorming is going on — but nothing is even in the early stages. Yet.

“Our goal is to continue to open great quality restaurants in the area,” Noelke said.

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