I used their web page to make a reservation on Friday afternoon for that evening. Within about an hour they called and offered a time a half hour later than requested, which was fine with me--as a matter of fact, it turned out to be a much better time for me!
Cress is located just a few doors off the main street in Deland, which is a very picturesque old Florida main street. We arrived just a few minutes late and were promptly seated at a nice table right by the window. We were quickly provided menus and a drink order places. I was glad to see an assortments on "craft" beers and had one of my favorites, Red Hook's Longhammer IPA. My friend Tommy was not sure which of two wines he wanted and our waitress, Stephanie, suggested a sample of each, which she quickly provided. That was very nice.
We were quickly presented with an amuse-bouche, a bite of what I believe was a chutney of some sort with mango. I forgot what Stephanie said it was. It was OK though nothing too out of the ordinary. We also were served a few pieces of bread, perhaps a foccacia--the bread was very good, full of flavor. It was a nice start and prelude to the meal.
For appetizers, we settled on two items that really sounded good. The first was the Margaret's Jumbo Lump Crab Cake. It was a very delicious crab cake, light and flavorful and was sitting on some remoulade, also quite tasty. It was accompanied by a bit of buttercup lettuce that was dressed with some balsamic, and that was outstanding. The port of the crabcake seemed a bit small (perhaps it was the plating that made it look that way, too), but the flavors were definitely quite good. The second appetizer was the Ashley Farms Chicken Tikka Grilled Flat Bread. It was very, very good and a nice portion. The tomato based sauce had a ton of flavor in it. This would make a nice meal, I think too. The chicken was tender and flavorful, but the star really was the sauce. The whole dish as a nice tikka-like flavor. This dish was outstanding.
For his main course, Tommy had the Glazed Breast of Ashley Farms Chicken. A tender chicken breast was glazed and grilled, then served on a bed of seasonal vegetables and grits, accompanied by a pineapple pico de gallo, and surrounded by a pineapple habanero reduction. Tommy was concerned about the heat of the habanero reduction, but Stephanie assured him it was actually not too hot and was served so that you could take what you wanted. Well, Stephanie was right. First, the chicken was delicious, as were all the accompaniments. But I thought the pineapple habenero reduction to be truly outstanding. It had a nice sweet taste on the front, and then a bit of heat in the back of the mouth--not too much, just right, and nicely balanced. The whole dish was actually very good.
For my main course I chose a favorite, the Creole Shrimp N' Grits. It was a good choice as it was excellent! About a half dozen large domestic shrimp were perfectly cooked, servcie wtih a creole sauce with Andouille sausage and roasted vegetables all on a bed of grits. It was just divine. The shrimp were so good and had such a nice flavor from the creole, they were perfect. The vegetables with andouille were wonderful and the grits were able to soak up there somewhat spicy and very full bodied flavor. Sometimes when I've had shrimp n' grits, the sauce is more of an afterthought, but here it was a well thought out and well executed dish. Every element served to accentuate the others. I really though the dish most excellent.
Cress is not an inexpensive restaurant, but you get what you pay for. And we got our money's worth here with an excellent meal and great, attentive service. At one point the co-owner and wife of the Chef stopped by to check on us as well, that was nice. It's a nice atmosphere, not a huge place, and has outdoor seating. They had live music as well which was a nice touch. We enjoyed our meal a lot and I'd recommend Cress to anyone in search of a fine dining experience. It was grand!