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SW Florida (Lee County/Collier County) 2013 "season" news

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There isn't much restaurant discussion here any more. I think people use Open Table, Yelp, Trip Advisor much more. I prefer Chowhound as it is discussion based and besides, I find some of the hyperbole about some of the top "rated" places very suspicious, especially on Trip Advisor.

Let's start a new thread for our area:

I'll start....

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  1. Pincher's, a small Florida chain, has been mentioned here a lot lately. I have no interest in Fried shrimp so I won't comment. Here is some great information for Fort Myers though:

    Restaurateurs sail into yacht club
    By: Business Observer

    October 16, 2013

    FORT MYERS — Investors that include the owners of Pinchers Crab Shack restaurants acquired the former Royal Palm Yacht Club for their 10th restaurant. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    The two-story building near downtown Fort Myers on the Caloosahatchee River will include a Pinchers Crab Shack seafood restaurant on the second floor and space for private events on the first floor. Diners will be able to dock their boats for free at the property’s 45-slip marina when they visit.

    The property will be renamed the Marina at Edison Ford because of its proximity to the Edison & Ford Winter Estates and is expected to open in February. It is located at 2360 W. First St. in Fort Myers, or Marker 54 on the river.

    “We are extremely excited about this project,” says Grant Phelan, co-owner of Pinchers, in a statement. “Not only will this be the 10th location for Pinchers and an exciting collaboration with the Winter Estates, but we will have an entire floor dedicated to catering and events and operate the marina below for group boat-ins and yacht clubs — a true waterfront dining experience.”

    In operation for more than six decades, the yacht club was once considered a hub of social life of affluent residents of Fort Myers. In recent years its membership has dwindled as development moved further south and east and it was forced to sell the property.

    1. I have always preferred discussions to "ratings" and since this is primarily a food site I harbor hopes that reviews and comments will reflect some actual thought. I'm looking forward to trying some of the places recommended here while on my little mini-vacation this weekend.

      1. Meredays. Just south of the river at Naples Bay Resort. It just opened in summer and has shot to the top on Open Table and Trip Advisor. We had lunch yesterday and it was exceptional. I seldom use that word.

        It was a dreary day or we would have sat outside looking at the marina. The interior is white and contemporary. The food has traditional dishes with modern touches. For instance, my husband had very traditional choices for the 3 course prix fixe lunch. French onion soup but the cheese had a depth of flavor not normally associated with most fatty U.S. presentations. Steak Frites was his entree. A small filet cooked medium rare towards the rare end in a delicious sauce. Frites might have been crispier. I thought they perhaps did not have the two trips in the fryer as is traditional in France. I had melon with crispy prosciutto with a balsamic reduction. Shrimp and grits was my appetizer choice. Three course prix Fixe much include dessert...not usually something I would do but the napoleon presentation was light and wonderful. There was also panna cotta, a lighter dessert I wish was offered more often.

        Excellent wine selections. We had a white blend from Argentina. A local Naples man owns the winery. It was a light easy selection and more appropriate for our lunch than a typical selection of a malbec or carmeniere.

        People have complained about the pricing, but at least for our lunch, at $25 pp and $45 for the bottle of wine, it was quite reasonable. We have paid more for a mediocre lunch at Pinchers or Doc Ford's.

        Service was efficient and friendly with no attitude. Mereday's is already up to speed for the Naples crush that is to come.

        1 Reply
        1. re: LilMsFoodie

          Mereday's Fine Dining rocketed to the top of my list as well for superb service, casually elegant setting and delicious food. This is comparable to a Michelin one star rated restaurant. (For those not in the know, that's an honor that few chefs/restaurants achieve, and is well worth a "detour" to dine there) It's a bonus that it's on the water overlooking the marina's boats.
          Only minor drawback of sorts is that it' located off the beaten path for tourists, with parking a little challenging in the Season.

          I've savored the 5 course meal, drinks and echo LittleMsFoodie's "exceptional" rating. Start with chef's Garden heirloom tomatoes and cheese, seared foie gras with grilled peach and go to super fresh grouper or salmon- wonderfully sauced, tender duck breast, to luscious lamb chop with yogurt mint sauce, it's hard to pick a favorite.

          My favorite desserts include the chocolate banana and other strudels, cheese plate and "home made" sorbets, served with Port, Chef Mereday and Chef Pittman craft some of the finest dishes in the US of A.

        2. New gastro lounge coming to Bell Tower Shops from Miami.

          I look at the website and think "really?".

          Organic small plates, sexy drinks...quite sophisticated when compared to current retail and restos.

          http://havenlounge.com/

          1. I agree LilMs that this is the preferable food site.

            I've been back for the season for about a month and have given a test drive to all my favorites. They pass with flying colors and are as good as ever including Omei with very good Chinese and outstanding Peking Duck, Pinchers, Tuscan Grill, Tulia(1st time but loved it), Tarpon Bay at the Hyatt, Tierney's Tavern at the Bay House, and of course Inca Kitchen, which claims to be working on a 2nd location in the Pavilion across from Mercato next season. That would be great. Angelina's was sold by the original owner and has suffered a bit in quality, imho.

            1 Reply
            1. re: RevrendAndy

              Thank you for the heads up on Angelina's change of ownership. Agreed, these are great spots.

              Try "The Local" in Naples at Bed Bath and Beyond shopping Center on Pine Ridge-even the vegetarian offerings can please this carnivore's palate.

              Flava has Old European cuisine with a modern twist, and tops in service.

              Veranda E is in a tropical romantic setting, just off 3rd Street and 5th Ave South in the lovely Hotel Escalante.

            2. I'll be coming for two weeklong stays in early Feb and late March to visit family, who will be coming and staying soon in south Ft. Myers. So I will be tracking this thread. My longtime favorites are Wyld's Cafe (Bpnita) and Sasse's (though there has been a change of ownership again, some of the staff remains, and food still good though huge servings are mostly a thing of the past). While a chain, we don't have Bonefish where I live and service, crab-corn chowder, and simple grilled fish are always more than solid. Last Spring we went to a French/med new place on the outskirts of Bell Towers that had just a few tables and a simple menu but very good salads and entrees and huge flatbreads -- i don't recall the name... New champ for big portions was an Italian restaurant I think on Gladiolus that was big and popular, where I liked the spaghetti and meat sauce but not so much a chicken dish (not pounded, difficult to eat) and a convoluted pasta and sausage and cheese and other stuff dish. When I find the dishes to order there, it will be a value winner.

              1 Reply
              1. re: nosh

                Blue Windows Bistro is South of Gladiolus, on 41 in Fort Myers and is my favorite French spot in Lee County. I'm not sure of the place you mention by Bell Towers...

                Sasse's is said to be better than ever...I'll try it out in the next fw months.