July 23, 2014

Hot Dish: Hot summer lunches and cool evening wine tastings

Delicious  Summer Lunch Specials at The Capital Grille

The Capital Grille’s summer lunch special is a summertime hit, offering white tablecloth service and a variety of light three-course combos for only $18.  Each can be promptly served within 15 minutes—perfect timing for those who can’t afford to spend two hours on lunch. Friends and I ordered some combos and found each portion is enough for two. It’s easy—choose a soup or salad, a sandwich main course and a large side. The roasted corn bisque and the clam chowder vie for my favorite comfort food, each rich with taste and creamy warmth. The mini tenderloin’s two generous portions of tasty filet mignon with a Boursin mushroom blend and herbed cream cheese on brioche buns is my favorite. The lobster roll’s abundance of lobster overflows its crisped brioche bun.

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Fish lovers savor the fresh lime juice-drizzled annatto-rubbed mahi, wrapped in daily baked-on-premises corn tortillas. I’m addicted to the best truffle fries in town, richly drizzled in truffle oil and served crisp and hot. A refreshingly cool summer treat is the watermelon, tomato and crumbled feta salad.

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The attractive, cleverly deconstructed Cobb salad bursts with flavor from beef tenderloin, flavor-filled lardoons, and a Gorgonzola wedge.

I like the bold seared salmon with its contrasting avocado, mango and tomato salad

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Try fresh squeezed mint lemonade, housemade grapefruit soda, or the chameleon-like Selbach-Oster Mosel Riesling 2008.

9005 Mercato Drive, Naples,  254-0640, thecapitalgrille.com

 

Sweet Melissa’s: Worth the Drive to Sanibel

 

Sweet Melissa’s Cafe has a refreshing summer selection, and the lovely setting is warm and welcoming. Many dishes are so tasty and creative that it’s well worth a drive to Sanibel to savor them. Start with the $15 snapper sashimi with compressed watermelon, olives, fennel, chives and light champagne vinaigrette. Vary each forkful’s components to bring out different nuances. The $13 grilled prosciutto-wrapped asparagus is amazing with its spiced pecans, malt-molasses vinaigrette, and crispy soft-boiled egg.

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 Most entries are also offered as half portions for tapas-style dining. The oven-roasted cobia ($28) is a hit with its oven-roasted Jerusalem artichokes, cipollini onions and contrasting sauces—yellow tomato puree and salsa verde. Another favorite is a sous vide masterpiece: Mushroom and foie gras stuffed duck roulade. The perfectly cooked duck’s crisp skin, is accented by creamy Anson Mills grits, Swiss chard, and a rhubarb gastrique.

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Your meal is not complete without a silky smooth coconut panna cotta. It’s served with homemade avocado ice cream, strawberry sorbet and a plump fried strawberry. 

1625 Periwinkle Way Sanibel, 472-1956, sweetmelissascafe.net

 

South African Wine Dinner at McCormick & Schmick’s

 

McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant features a wine dinner offering a variety of South African wines from the Indaba Winery on June 27. The dinner pairs six wines with:  mussels in a coconut curry broth, grilled summer vegetables, cashew-crusted soft shell crab, slow braised pork roast, and grilled Georgia peach gallette. The $75 dinner is at 6 pm; call for reservations.

9114 Strada Place, Suite 12110, Naples, 591-2299, mccormickandschmicks.com

 

Argentinean Wines at Tony’s Off  Third

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Tony’s Off Third presents the Argentinean wines of Paul Hobbs on June 10 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Admission is $15, with a $10 coupon good toward a bottle of wine. This is a great opportunity to sample wines not often found in Southwest Florida.

1300 Third Street South, Naples, 262-7999, tonysoffthird.com

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