Lukes kitchen dining room

Luke’s Kitchen and Bar has opened in the Maitland building that most recently, and ever so briefly, was occupied by Blackfin, though its provenance was a Steak & Ale. This opening has been anxiously anticipated — not that any restaurant opening that isn’t a Steak & Ale wouldn’t be — primarily because of the pedigree of the people involved.

That would be the team from Luma on Park and Prato, especially the duo of chef Brandon McGlamery and general manager Tim Noelke who have made their Park Avenue posts so popular.

This is their first off-Avenue project. (Slate, the Sand Lake Road restaurant, is often mistaken as a sister restaurant, but while it shares some ownership, it is not related.)

If you had managed to visit Blackfin during the five weeks of its existence, you’ll be surprised at the transformation of the space. The redesign, by the Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry, an Atlanta firm, has opened the first floor up so expansively that it causes one to wonder what’s holding the second floor up. The ceiling over the main dining area is made to feel lower with the addition of slatted beams. It is dark, with the exception of the glare from the open kitchen. And on that subject, it’s curious that the dishwashing station should be so easily seen as part of the show kitchen.

Paddelfish upper deck

Paddlefish, the redesigned former Fulton's Crab House (nee Empress Lily) has opened at Disney Springs. I attended a preopening party on Friday ahead of the Saturday debut.

It's a pretty cool space -- big, too, with mulitple decks and options for dining or imbibing. I predict the top deck with its great view of the Springs will be a favorite gathering place. Don't tell anybody about it.

The crew put out lots of food for the guests Friday, but this is not a review. I'll visit later and give a proper accounting, but I thought you'd like to see some of what the place looks like.

Gourmet Breakfasts CoverFaiyaz Kara, the restaurant critic for the Orlando Weekly, has a new book out called “Gourmet Breakfasts for the Genius” (290 pages; For the Genius Press; $29.97). You’ll be happy to know that membership in Mensa is not a prerequisite.

It’s part of a series of titles under the For the Genius banner that includes “Fundraising for the Genius,” “European Travel for the Genius,” and “Cats for the Genius,” although I happen to believe dog owners are smarter.

Kara adds his breakfast brilliance to the other culinary categories, such as “Fast & Fearless Cooking,” “Baking Bread,” and “Beer,” all, of course, for intellectuals.

But genius is not the operative word in the book’s title, it’s gourmet. Well, the word breakfast is important, too. But the first thing you need to know is that Kara has not compiled a collection of quick and easy, or even fast and fearless, morning meals.

No, this is a collection of involved, multistep, do-some-chopping, make-a-mess and clatter-enough-pans-to-wake-the-rest-of-the-house recipes. So, yes, fearless if not fast.

Kara didn’t go solo. He drew help, recipes and advice from the likes of Kevin Fonzo (K), Greg Richie (Baoery and Soco), Kevin Dundon (Raglan Road), John Rivers (4 Rivers Smokehouse), Hemant Pathak and Aarthi Sampath (Junoon), Pam Brandon and Anne-Marie Hodges (Divas of Dish), Hari Pulapaka (Cress) and Norman Van Aken, who also wrote the book’s forward.

The book doesn’t stick strictly to traditional breakfast fare. Sure, you’ll find plenty of recipes for eggs, pancakes and waffles. But Kara also makes the argument to introduce into your morning regimen items more closely associated with evening meals, such as soups. Hey, avgolemono has egg in it. I’ve already dog-eared the “Boozy Breakfasts” chapter.

Kara, who has been the critic at the Weekly since 2006, intersperses the clever writing and good humor that have made his reviews required reading.

“Gourmet Breakfasts for the Genius” is available at Amazon and wherever smartypants shop for books.

Chroma sign

We had a terrific time recently at our Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen Supper Club, the very last of our Supper Clubs (but more on that in a moment).

Chroma, of course, is the hot new restaurant in Lake Nona from the folks at Tavistock. It’s a small-plate restaurant where sharing is the style, and that’s how our dinner was served up. Except the plates were large.

CFRA logoThere’s a new restaurant association for Central Florida. It's called Central Florida Restaurant Association.

Al Gardner, president of A & L Associates, a hospitality management consulting firm, and restaurant and bar owner Jesse Newton and co-founded Central Florida Restaurant Association. According to the CFRA’s website, the organization’s vision is “To provide Central Florida's leading restaurants, bars and related allied businesses with the most dynamic forum to establish and nurture relationships with which to energetically lead the area's dining culture for the ultimate benefit of increasing profitability within member foodservice venues and to positively influence the overall economic growth of the foodservice industry in the great Central Florida area.”

At a kickoff reception at Earls Kitchen + Bar last month, Gardner explained that CFRA will provide a different service from other associations, such as the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) or National Restaurant Association (the other NRA), which he says are primarily focused on lobbying issues.

CFRA, which will have monthly meetings for members, will hold its inaugural dinner meeting on Wednesday, February 8, at Funky Monkey. Nonmembers may attend, so if you’re a restaurateur who’s interested in a new organization focused on local issues, you might want to look into it. Details at the Central Florida Restaurant Association’s website.