The restaurant isn't even a week old, yet I stopped in for a dinner on Saturday night and was kind of floored at how impressive the food and service were, even that early on. The decor is sleek, with grays and blacks and woods in clean lines. The menu is made of long-ago stars that have been reimagined them with modern-day enhancements.
It's no shocker that Luke's takes on American classics are done well. The folks behind Luke's Kitchen and Bar, Park Lights Hospitality Group, also run Luma on Park and Prato, two of nearby Winter Park's very best restaurants. Chef-partner Brandon McGlamery oversees all the kitchens, while Executive Chef Derek Perez, a long-standing figure in the Luma kitchen, is at the helm of this new enterprise. Super-GM/partner Tim Noelke keeps the dining rooms running smoothly.
We're talking about buying foods from thoughtful producers and preparing each dish using these exceptional ingredients from scratch. That's just the Park Lights way.
In the photos and captions interspersed throughout this blog post, you'll get a quick peek of what three of us ate for our first Luke's dinner.
Three of us couldn't take on the whole menu, so please know that hand-crafted cocktails, raw bar items, soups, salads, "smokebox" seafood options and sandwiches supplement the menu categories you see represented here.
For a sweet ending, try one of pastry chef Brian Cernell's desserts. Our server was pushing the skillet cookie, and that did sound fab, but we went '60s with a slice of German chocolate cake, above left, and a Key lime tart, above right. Again, quality. I laughed while eating this frothy yet substantive Key lime tart, remembering the insipid bakery versions from my Long Island youth. Thank you, Luke's, for making the classics good again.