Every month, Orlando Eats highlights a sampling of top tastes in Central Florida; three random nibbles that delighted, surprised, or befuddled with their brilliance.
It’s 2020. No, we’ve yet to employ chimpanzee chauffeurs or build a strip mall on Mars, but a similarly radical prediction has come to be – two of our monthly best bites are from Luke’s Kitchen + Bar in Maitland.
We’re entering February with an eye on less animal protein (we’re going temporarily vegan), which meant a January Bloodfeast. So, punch your vampiric dance cards – it’s time to do the meaty Best Bite boogie.
Beef Carpaccio @ Luke’s Kitchen + Bar ~ $12
A series of recent visits to Luke’s Kitchen + Bar resulted in some memorably good meals, highlighted by dishes like this excellent riff on beef carpaccio – draped over scratch pickled veg we’d best describe as a mellowed giardiniera and topped with aged cheddar. We were on the verge of a vegan February when we inhaled this and as far as carnivorous send-offs? What a way to go. Like funneling martinis on the way to rehab.
Pork Shoulder @ Lukes Kitchen + Bar ~ $26
Shitty picture. Wonderful dish. Chef Jason Campbell considers Luke’s wood fired grill the heart of the restaurant. Based on a pork shoulder main, it’s a heart of pure joy. The plate emerged with maple, turnips, pecans and orange and is as good as any meat dish we’ve had in Orlando in recent memory. I write this confidently. Its lovely outer char gave way to forkfuls of tender with just enough fat to have it exploding with flavor.
Luke’s Kitchen + Bar
640 South Orlando Ave
Maitland, FL 32751
Cod à la nage @ The Strand ~ $28
A riff on poisson à la nage at The Strand – normally featuring fish sorta steamed and sorta poached in a simple white wine broth – was gorgeous. Although the cod was seared and the traditional broth was a saffron-shrimp stock, we didn’t care. We weren’t eating words. Topped with crisped pancetta and accompanied by pickled zucchini and potato gratin they could have called it Nemo à la mode and we would’ve devoured it. Perfectly cooked. Deliciously inauthentic.