I stopped by Chroma Modern Kitchen + Bar in Lake Nona the other day in advance of its Sept. 21 official opening. Chroma is the latest concept from Orlando based Tavistock Restaurant Collection and a sister restaurant (or brother, I could never figure out how to tell) of nearby Canvas Restaurant & Market. Clearly, TRC is dedicated to improving the dining scene in Lake Nona, not surprising considering that the Tavistock Development Company is one of the major developers in that part of town.
The restaurant was in the throes of training when I visited, both in the front of the house with the serving staff and in the back with the small army of cooks. I also got to sit in while executive chef Jason Bergeron led the servers through a tasting of several of the dishes that will be on the small-plates menu. I was encouraged by what I saw -- and tasted -- and can't wait to visit it once it's up and running.
Here is some of what I saw:
The kitchen is shiny and spacious -- even with too many cooks, as there were during training. On a regular busy night, about seven chefs will be behind the line, said Bergeron.
A special coal-fired oven is one of the centerpieces of the kitchen, as is a plancha grill.
A four-sided bar dominates the front part of the restaurant and sits opposite the large plate-glass window that looks into the ktichen.
There are a couple of outdoor dining spaces but the main dining room, separated from the bar by a service island, is in the back of the restaurant. It features comfy booths as well as free-standing tables and a decorative woodblock sculpture along one wall.
Patatas Bravas is one of the items under the Veggies heading of the menu. The crisped potatoes sit on a platform of San Marzano tomato sauce and are decorated with aioli.
The Yuca and Quail Egg Croquettes are quite inventive. Mashed yuca is fashioned into golf ball sized fritters with a quail egg inside. Bergeron said that the key to cooking the croquettes was to get the outside good and crispy while keeping the quail egg oozy. The one I sampled was perfect.
Crab cakes are served a la eggrolls.
Lamb Burgers can be orderd cooked to your preferred temperature.
Pulled pork is smoked in house. And Chroma makes all its own charcuterie. Bergeron uses Red Wattle pigs, which he gets whole and breaks down for sausage and such.
Seared Foie Gras is served like an extravagant sandwich with relishes of tangerine and beets.
When it debuts on Wednesday, Chroma will be open for lunch and dinner. It is at 6967 Lake Nona Blvd, Orlando, next to the Marriott hotel. (Don't go by Google Maps -- it will send you to the wrong side of the street.) The phone number is 407-955-4340.