First Look: Maddey's Craft & Cru

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Maddeys interior

By my calculation, Maddey’s Craft & Cru has been in the planning stage for about two years. Thursday, June 30, it finally opens officially in the former Church Street Station.

It is the project of Jason Schofield, who we last saw overseeing White Wolf Cafe and the opening of sister restaurant PizzaMia. At PizzaMia, Schofield showed a talent for lifting everyday dishes out of mundanity. He’s doing the same thing at Maddey’s.

I stopped in on one of the nights the restaurant was holding dress rehearsal. There were still plenty of kinks to work out, chiefly among the servers, but I’ll not pounce on that at this time.

Maddeys arancini

I liked my appetizer of Arancini, the Italian rice balls here made special with the addition of pork confit and peas in the mix. The frittered balls sat in a puddle of pea puree and were topped with red peppers and a dapple of parmesan cheese.

Maddeys short rib

I was intrigued by the entree of Corned Beef Short Rib. Just about everyone is doing short ribs, but serving it as salted beef is inventive. And, by the way, delicious. With a bit of sauerkraut on top and a plouf of potato puree below, surrounded by a moat of demiglace, it was a stylish presentation as well.

I am confused by some things, however. First of all, who the heck is Maddey? There are many, many words on the restaurant’s About page on its website, but I could find no mention of Maddey.

By the way, Schofield serves as the executive chef and co-owns the restaurant with Jeremy Pepin. If Jeremy is any relation to Jacques, the restaurant might be better branded as Pepin’s Craft & Cru. Just a suggestion.

Another mystery: Why is there a New York City theme throughout the restaurant and the menu? There’s a separate “5 Boroughs” section on the website with the promise of monthly borough specials.

Why? One wonders if the large replica of the Statue of Liberty came with the space and somebody thought they should just go with a New York theme.

I’d much rather they aspire to be Orlando themed. What does that mean? It means an inventive chef doing creative dishes in a unique and historical space in downtown Orlando.

Maddey’s Craft & Cru is at 116 W. Church St., Orlando. It is open for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner Monday through Saturday. The phone number is 407-601-2692.