I guess it really shouldn’t be too difficult to determine whether Fredster’s, a new venue in Maitland wants to be known as an entertainment spot that serves food or a restaurant with entertainment. It says right there in the logo under the name Fredster’s (in smaller letters), “featuring Adrian Mann’s Bar & Grill.”
You’d think that Mann would warrant higher billing. If truth were to be known, the small chain of restaurants (that also had entertainment) that were known as Dexter’s really probably should have been called Adrian’s. Mann was Dexter Richardson’s partner for many years and in the time that led to the recent breakup and selling of the brand it was Mann who was pretty much running things.
And I was a fan of Dexter’s and its food, which satisfied but didn’t overreach, didn’t try to be more than it needed to be. Unfortunately, the food at Fredster’s needs to be more than it is.
I’ve never hidden the guilty pleasure I got from the dish that was known as Chicken Tortilla Pie from the classic Dexter’s menu. It featured fried four tortillas layered with chunks of chicken, melted cheese and a sauce with a bit of pique, topped with a generous dollop of sour cream. Wonderfully gloppy.
So I was excited to see an item called Chicken Tortilla Stack on the menu at Fredster’s. I assumed there was some sort of intellectual property issue that prevented calling it by its Dexter’s name (there is a remaining Dexter’s in Lake Mary). But the description sounded right, so I eagerly ordered it.
It looked right, too, with the components I just described. But it seemed haphazrdly dashed together, it was served tepid – the cheese had hardened – and there was little distinguishable flavor.
Leek & Poblano “Latkes” is an appetizer not often seen on menus so my guest and I ordered one. (I don’t know why latkes was in quotes.) It was fashioned out of mostly shredded leek and potatoes with a bit of mild pepper thrown in. There were two of the cakes, hefty and with the appropriate amount of oiliness. And with some herbed goat cheese that generously accompanied dolloped on top, each bite was good and creamy. These also could have been warmer.
So, too, the Grilled Lamb Sliders, but the meat, cooked a little beyond medium, was tender and displayed the mild gaminess you expect with lamb, which was tempered with a chunky tzatziki. The two sliders (a bit dear for $15) were served on small buns, the grilled tops of which were speared with tomato and pickled cucumber.
Most of the staff seemed to be new to hospitality. Kudos to management for hiring novices but they could benefit from some guidance and training.
The space is big and warehousey with two bars on one side and several unadorned wooden tables and chairs in front of a large stage just beyond a dance floor. We were treated mostly to that night’s band tuning up but the music started just before we finished and filled the capacious room.
Fredster’s will find its audience in the many locals who crave a place to dine and dance – I’m frequently asked if there is such a place. The music, obviously, will change with the rotation of bands. It would be nice for the food and service to find their own consistent level.