For restaurant wine dinners, Hemingway’s Island Grill has the best deal around on both price and quality. Its $37 dinner is offered the last Wednesday of the month. Talented chef Justin Fleming has offered venison with balsamic sauce, braised wild boar with Mexican molé sauce, lamb chops and seared filet mignon. His pairings with Robert Mondavi, Kim Crawford, Jackson-Triggs Icewine and other wines give top value. Don’t spend twice the money elsewhere and miss out on Chef Justin’s special blend of foods and wines. 8001 Plaza Del Lago Drive, Suite 113, Coconut Point, Estero. Reservations at 495-7240, www.hemingwaysislandgrill.com.
I’ve had some of the best breakfasts and lunches in Southwest Florida over the past 10 years at Naples’ Trail Café and Grill, and it’s even better now. Trish (the manager for three years) and husband/chef Christopher Jubinville, Johnson & Wales Culinary graduates, recently took it over, refreshing the Naples landmark. Its made-from-scratch cuisine satisfies even picky eaters. My breakfast favorites include the razzleberry-stuffed French toast with glazed pecans and cognac razzleberry compote, grilled peach croissant French toast, and eggs Benedict. Lunch is a magnet with Brittany crepes lingonberry, mandarin orange and mascarpone; pecan chicken salad; and the D’anjou pear and turkey croissant. Prices run from $7–12. Bonus: look for great microbrews. 12820 Tamiami Trail N., 598-2480, www.trailcafenaples.com.
Naples’ French American Bistro has been open barely three months and already tables are filled at lunch and dinner, seven days a week. The attraction is that it's inexpensive, with very good food in a casual bistro setting—and I’m hooked. Dine on the front porch or inside with a lunchtime $9 Croque Madame, warm brie and honey salad or Nicoise salad for $10, sandwiches on French baguettes (baked on premises), or choose from creative hamburgers served with fat-free, baked french fries. Dinner is my bistro time, with $13–15 entrées such as boeuf bourguignon, steak frites, veal blanquette or salmon beurre blanc. Leashed pets can sit on the porch. 1201 Piper Blvd. (at Immokalee Road), Naples, 514-1800, www.frenchamericanbistro.com.