Kres Chophouse has been holding its own in downtown Orlando, good times and bad, for a good number of years now. Downtowners like its "adult" mien, a classy spot amid the myriad kids' hangouts.
As with any chophouse, meat is the main event. On my first visit I went right to the top and ordered the veal rib chop ($32). It was a beautiful hunk of meat and seemingly larger than its advertised 12 ounces. And once I sent it back to be cooked, it proved to be just as tasty as it looked.
My guest had the mixed grill ($29), which combined garlic shrimp, filet mignon and double lamb chops, and all were properly cooked and delicious.
On another visit I sampled the twin filet mignon Oscar ($28), two aptly named tenderloins, seared to the requested medium-rare -- first time -- and topped with a smidgen of king crab meat and a bearnaise. The sauce wasn’t quite what it should have been, but it was a nice entree, especially with the included blue cheese au gratin potatoes.
One of my guests had the beef Wellington ($32), a filet mignon topped with a sliver of foie gras and wrapped in puffed pastry. While the meat was properly cooked, the pastry was a bit doughy. But a mushroom ragout, asparagus and more of the blue cheese potatoes made everything better. By the way, with most dishes coming with side items, I was curious why there was an a la carte list of vegetables and potatoes, each $5. Based on the creamed spinach I sampled, which wasn’t quite creamed, I’d stick with what they give you on the plate.
Another guest had pompano en parchment ($27), which had a fillet and scallops with hearts of palm inside a parchment wrapper. Unfortunately the steaming overcooked the fish and it came out mushy.
I was happy to see steak tartare ($15) on the appetizer menu, but was disappointed with the runny, over seasoned glop. Grilled lemon garlic shrimp ($12) were tasty if a tad overpriced. The simple beefsteak tomato with buffalo mozzarella ($9) was a more satisfying starter, especially with a sprinkle of salt to offset the sweetness of the balsamic vinaigrette.
For dessert there was a rather odd Key lime concoction ($6) served in a glass, and a sweet and piquant apple tart ($6).
Service was good, nonintrusive. The wine list has several appropriate selections, a number of them by the glass.
The layout of the space is long and narrow with 22-foot ceilings and a bar and dining area on multi levels – but it has been reimagined by the same designer who did Hue. Hue was a new construction while Kres occupies a decades-old room, so some of the modern designer touches seem strange next to the original architecture. There are splashes of red -- extremely high booth backs in particular -- against brown walls. A wide wood-slat basket-weave banister separates the bar from the dining area.
A diaphanous curtain drapes off a private dining area at the rear of the room. The curtain is a robin’s egg blue and matches the color of the painted ceiling panels. Imposing light boxes hang from the ceiling. They replace the Bali-esque flying ladies that were the holdover from a restaurant that opened in 1989.
That place was called Bailey’s Cityside, a version of a then-popular Winter Park eatery. The owners had thought downtown Orlando was about to take off. They were about 15 years ahead of their time.
Kres is at