September 1, 2014

Jun 4, 201402:33 PMAlong the Gulfshore

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Big Splurge: A $1,526 tab at Avenue5 in Naples

Big Splurge: A $1,526 tab at Avenue5 in Naples

Blueberry potato cake with blueberry caramel, berries and white-chocolate mousse.

Looking for a fun, if costly, way to celebrate a big occasion with seven of your closest friends? Avenue5, the sleek new restaurant in the spot once occupied by McCabe's Irish Pub, is offering up a new Chef’s Table experience that pairs seven courses from Executive Chef John Welch with wine from the restaurant’s enormous cellar.

A party of eight can partake for $1,526, inclusive of tax and gratuity. It’s $3,053 for 16 and for a cool $5,000 you and 25 others can enjoy. The menu and the wines change with every experience. And you get personal service from the chef who comes to discuss each course.

Here’s a sampling of a recent menu:

  1. New England seafood stew with mussels, oysters, purple potato and crème fraiche spuma paired with King Estate Domaine Pinot Gris.
  2. King salmon gravlax (cured in house) with rock shrimp, lemongrass, ginger, micro greens and a tamarind vinaigrette paired with St. Suppery Dollarhide Ranch Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc.
  3. Muscovy duck and “Naked Bird” chicken with potato, leek, orange, yellow tomato and a tango salad with truffle emulsion paired with Muton Noir Oregogne Pinot Noir.
  4. Aged goat’s milk cheese soaked in wine and smoked bleu cheese with chutney, compressed melon and crostini paired with Tablas Creek Patelin Blanc.
  5. Blue diamond shrimp with Florida corn two ways, cotija cheese, ancho chili sauce and cilantro reduction paired with Frank Family Chardonnay.
  6. Masami skirt steak with roasted cauliflower, salt-cured potatoes, enoki mushroom salad and Italian gravy paired with Numanthia Toro.
  7. Blueberry potato cake with blueberry caramel, berries and white-chocolate mousse paired with Taylor Fladgate 20-year Tawny Port.

While not a true chef’s table—you aren’t in the kitchen rather at high-top communal tables in a secluded space off the bar—there is the sense that you are going inside the chef’s process as he discusses the dishes. And for those looking for exclusivity, you are getting something that no one else is going to try on the menu.

That’s not to say it’s a perfect experience, my meal included a skirt steak that wasn’t cut properly—leaving it overly chewy—and a couple of dishes were a bit underseasoned. But in a town big on restaurants, this is one of the few offering a more intimate evening with the chef and nice way to treat yourself.

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