I suppose I caught Kingfish Bistro on a bad night, which is to say a good night for the restaurant. It was quite full, although it doesn’t take many people to fill up the small space on College Park’s Edgewater Drive. Only two tables were empty, but they had signs that said they were reserved. So my guest and I accepted the offer to sit at the bar overlooking the kitchen.
I wouldn’t exactly call it a show kitchen because that suggests a facility designed to be part cooking arena and part stage. Kingfish’s is a working kitchen, and a hard-working one at that. Probably harder than it needs to work, but more about that in a moment.
Much has been made in other reviews of the fact that Kingfish is an Italian restaurant with Vietnamese owners, but I don’t find anything relevant about that. Well, except for the curious addition of spring rolls and egg rolls to the otherwise typically Italian menu.
We started with appetizers of fried calamari and meatballs. Nothing extraordinary about the squid, just your basic battered rings served with a dish of marinara. But they were nicely fried and not chewy.
The three meatballs were served puddled in the same marinara, densely formed and topped with grated cheese. Nice m-balls.
For my entree I chose the risotto gorgonzola, which had shrimp, artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes in a cream-tinged sauce loaded with blue cheese. Not a classically prepared risotto, but a decent enough rice dish.
My friend had the mahi mahi, which was topped with a lemon sauce and loads of capers. It was a nice topping even though it wasn’t the one ordered. Still, the fish was perfectly grilled and delicious.
The husband and wife team that owns Kingfish divides the duties -- she runs the dining room while he handles the cooking. She has an able staff of servers and assistants to help out front; he has too few to aid in the kitchen. Whether he prefers to do it all himself, they’re not able to hire any more help or someone didn’t show up that night, he seemed to be overwhelmed, and needlessly. At one point, he called the dishwasher -- whose sink is also part of the “show kitchen” area -- over to the prep station to peel shrimp. The young fellow handled them as though it not only was the first time he’d peeled one but also the first time he’d laid eyes on one.
The evening might have been an unfortunate experience if everyone hadn’t been so nice and sincere. They seemed to recognize that things weren’t running as smoothly as they normally do, and they didn’t make any excuses for it. They simply did what they could to make certain we were relatively happy. And, for the most part, we were.
Kingfish Bistro is at 2124 Edgewater Drive, Orlando. It’s open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Here’s a link to kingfishbistro.com. The phone number is 407-367-7992.