Saturday, April 2, 2011


I had the pleasure of dining at Finesse for my first time the other night. Based on that experience, it will not be my last!

First, the setting. Finesse is in a space that (to my knowledge) was originally an Italian restaurant, Silvestro's. That place had barely been reviewed by the Orlando Sentinel food critic (favorably, too) when it closed suddenly. Then it was a Greek restaurant. That did not last very long. Now it has been remodelled to some extent and is Finesse. It is gorgeous.

They have done a great job of remodelling this space. It feels very modern, chic, up-to-date, luxurious, and trendy, yet sophisticated and elegant. Kudos who whoever was in charge of that remodel. I believe they left a lot of the previous element there, but enhanced them all with touches of modernity--a job well done.

I was unsure of how busy they'd be, so I made a reservation. They were not that busy at 7:30 PM, though were fairly busy by the time we left. The first thing that struck me, outside of the wonderful decor, was the service. We were promptly greeted and shown to our table by the hostess, and our waitress, Diane, promptly appeared. Through the course of the meal, I found that Diane sure knew her stuff--she was very familiar with the menu and its ingredients. Well-trained staff is great.

We started off with some appetizers. I was disappointed that Fried Green Tomatoes, though listed on the online menu, were not on the menu. But I can udnerstand, they can be hard to get a hold of. Diane did check on their availability. They are reason for me to call ahead and come back one day. We did order the Lump Crabcakes and they were about the best I'd ever had! They were extremely flavorful with chunks of tender crab and a roasted pepper and panko filling  that (barely) held them together. They were cooked perfectly and served on a light layer of chipotle aioli with a bit of seasoned greens on the side (I could have gone for a bit more of the chipotle aioli though). They were excellent. Now, they were very fagile and fell apart easily, but that's a testament to the great ingredients with no overabundance of fillers and binders. They were awesome. And, the chipotle aiole was excellent, as were the dressed greens. We left nothing on that plate!

We also had the Sugar Cane Chicken, two sugar cane skewers that were each threaded with cilantro-lime-marinaded chicken breast meat that was chargrilled with a tamarind and cane sugar glaze, and finished with a bit of sesame seed. They were awesome as well. The chargrilling gave them a nice grilled flavor, and the glaze and marinade served to compliment, not hide, the great flavor of the chicken. This was a great appetizer, very successful.
We could not help but notice the soups on the menu, and we each ordered a soup. I ordered the Black Bean Soup. It was outstanding. Black bean and chorizo with a tomato based, chili-spiced soup, topped with a bit of avocado crema--it was among the best soups I've had. It had a nice, deep, rich, chili flavor, but not overpowering. The chorizo added to the spicyness, the chunks of tomato serverd to cut it down a bit, and the black beans were cooked well but not mushy. This was a great soup, and I'd certainly order it again.   

My friend Tommy had the Lobster Crab Soup and pronounced it excellent. I'd agree, I had a taste too. It was indeed excellent. Maine lobster, Maryland crabmeat, and a brandied cream stock made the base for this excellent soup. I've had some pretty good crab soups in my life, and this was definitely among the best. A job well done.
I must also comment on Diane's service--it was excellent. She took great care to time our appetizers, soup, and entrees, to make sure nothing overlapped. She did a great job in that and all respects.

It was in our entrees that we found what I'd consider the only real mis-step of the meal, and that was in the overuse of salt. Yep, salt. Both of us thought our entrees could have used less of it. I ordered the Chimi Skirt Steak, medium-rare. I believe it came out closer to medium, a small point. This was a skirt steak grilled, served with "melted" cabernet onions and shoe fries (shoestring potato fries). My first bite of the steak seemed like pure salt. I think chef must have been interrupted when salting this or something. Now, the other end of the steak was not oversalted, but one end was way oversalted.  The caramelized onions were OK, and the fries were good but nothing too out of the ordinary. This was served with a chimi sauce that was pretty good, too. Overall, if you overlook the oversalting and cooking a bit beyond medium-rare, it was a good dish. i have some leftover that I brought home, I will have it again soon.

My friend Tommy had the Pork Tenderloin. He also commented that it was too salty--it may have been over-brined a bit. I found it salty, but not overly salty, but he found it overly salty. Outside of that, it was cooked well and very tender. It was served with glazed sweet carrots that were excellent, and bacon scalloped potatoes, also very good.  Outside of the "extra" salt, it was a very good meal. 
We talked about the food there afterward and are both in agreement--we'd love to go there again, and will. There are a number of other items we'd like to try, and the desserts looked pretty darned good as well. We may just go there sometime for only appetizers and desserts, there was certainly enough food and we each brought some of our main course home for another time.

Finesse is a new restaurant in Lake Mary. I believe it's locally owned and operated, and a welcome additon to the restaurant scene in Lake Mary. I enjoyed my visit there, I hope you will give it a try and let me know what you think of it!Finesse on Urbanspoon

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