Hot Dish: June 10, 2009
By Ivan Seligman
Inside the Gulfshore’s Dining Scene.
French Bakery Gets New Owners—and Rave Review
I can only rave about the French Bread Oven! Baker/co-owner Andre Gratesol and co-owners Eric and Tomasina Truglas bought the bakery two months ago, and the difference is amazing. I’m not usually a dessert person, but after a few tastes, I went home with a dozen different breads and pastries to, ahem, share with friends. Really! One French friend’s eyes lit up as she named some of the goodies. “There’s a Tropezienne, and that’s an éclair vanille like they make in Paris. This is a claufouti—a sort of custard with fruit, and that Mille feuille [Napoleon] is now mine—so there!”
French Bread Oven Sales Manger Paul McDermott with co-owners
Tomasina and Eric Truglas.
The presentations are beautiful, and the tastes of fresh fruit are unbelievably scrumptious. The prices make it easy to take an assortment home. Eleven tartlettes include strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, pear and peach, for $3.50 each. The luscious éclairs are $3.50, and the citrus brioche is $3.50. Full size tarts range from $16 to $20.
The variety of pastries at French Bread Oven in Naples.
The pastries and artisanal breads are the best I’ve had outside of Paris, and several French friends concur. Plus, all the baked goods have no added chemicals or preservatives. French Bread Oven, 8793 Tamiami Trail E., Naples (in the St. Andrews Square, near Eurasia), 732-7774.
Freshest Catch On This Menu
Blue Fish Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar in Naples brings in fresh fish daily from Miami to serve at booths, the sushi bar or hibachi tables, where cooks prepare food with a great flourish, sizzle and brief flames while you watch. Whether it’s an elegantly served Japanese-style steak, sushi and sashimi, or vegetarian delights, the food is very good. I had the full hibachi dinner with filet mignon and lobster, which comes with miso soup, salad and shrimp appetizer for $31—it’s enough for two!
Fillet and lobster at Blue Fish Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar in Naples.
My friends had tempura shrimp and veggies ($6), and various beautifully displayed sushi rolls. We only have compliments for the chef and server. Blue Fish Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar, 5425 Airport Pulling Rd N. (in the former Ridgeport Pub site, at the Bed Bath & Beyond Plaza), Naples, 596-6688.
Comings and Goings...
—The Pewter Mug has closed after 39 years. The landmark North Naples site now has a prominent “for lease” sign on U.S. 41. I was surprised that “The Mug” didn’t own the property after so many years, but a drawback of the location is the shortage of parking during Season. If there are no takers on the lease, it could reopen in fall, or possibly at another site.
—Naples’ Blu Sushi has closed in The Plaza in Olde Naples. While a sign says it is “closed for the summer,” the restaurant is being dismantled. Many visitors are not even aware of the shops that remain in The Plaza, where empty spaces and “for lease” signs just about equal open stores. The Good Life moved a couple years ago. Ristorante Gaja is closed for part of the summer. However, Sea Salt, with its prime location, is doing well.
—Stephen Fleischer’s Trilogy, on Naples’ Fifth Avenue South, closed just days ago. Its name has been stripped from the building, and windows have been papered over.
Trilogy in Naples has closed.
An answering machine message states: “Trilogy has closed, this is a sign of the times. We’d like to thank all of our previous patrons and your support.” Trilogy’s entrees, except for two, were all $30 to $40, a range that seems to have been unpopular with Fifth Avenue patrons, who instead are opting for more wallet-friendly places nearby—Bistro 821, Chops City Grill and McCabe’s Irish Pub.
—Mr. G’s Italian Restaurant closed on Tamiami Trail North after almost three years. This site previously was Heidelberg, replacing Café in the Park. I feel the prices were too high for its Naples Park location, competing with Randy’s Fishmarket, P.F. Chang’s and Sushi Thai.
—Dino’s Restaurant in Naples’ Mission Plaza off Pine Ridge Road has closed after two years due to the economy. Despite offering tasty food at reasonable prices, and at least 30 wines for less than $30, the Season was off, and owner Dino Redzic chose not to renew the lease. Dino has generously raised money for local charity events and has made a wonderful difference in the community. He still owns and shall oversee two New York City restaurants.
—Bonita Springs’ Crust remains closed on Bonita Beach Road after sustaining some damage from a fire. It may reopen in the fall.
Let's broaden our choices of great Southwest Florida restaurants together. Post your hints and experiences below or e-mail me at Diningscene@live.com.