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Dining Review: Blanc in Fort Myers

A high-concept menu of sous-vide this and robata-grilled that (all at an affordable price) is impressing locals.



The lamb lollipops are flavored by roasted garlic and a rosemary reduction.

Vanessa Rogers

 

When an exceptional new restaurant opens in the area, people start asking me in conspiratorial tones if I’ve been. This is how it was with Blanc, the chic French-inspired spot created by the owners of the original uber-cool Fort Myers destination, Blu Sushi. I couldn’t mention fine dining in Lee County without someone taking me aside and whispering, “Have you been to Blanc?” The whisper, I think, is because people want to keep their restaurant discoveries to themselves. But me? I’m not selfish when it comes to that.

Grilled octopus with sweet habanero sauce.

The moment I stepped into Blanc, I could see why it was high on everyone’s conversation list. The interior is done all in white with brushed silver accents, and tiny air plants decorate the tables. The effect is sleek and sophisticated in an effortless way. Because much of the restaurant is dedicated to an open kitchen, the dining space can feel tight. But on this night it made for a convivial experience, and my dining companions and I swapped opinions on appetizers and cocktails with the couple next to us.

At their suggestion, we began our meal with the charcuterie plate ($14), a mix of sliced prosciutto and salami plus two types of house-made pâtés. One pâté was in the classic campagne style and the other—a “faux-gras” as the server explained—was made with chicken livers and brandy instead of the traditional goose or duck. Both were notably good, and I was relieved to see that the French inspiration behind Blanc is solid. We also had the artichoke fritters ($8) served with a sundried tomato remoulade. These were delicious, with a light batter and lemony interior, and the sauce offered a bright counterpoint.

When it came to the main courses, the couple next to us—our dining companions by proximity—were again helpful.

“They’re tapas-style plates,” the woman told us. “Smaller than a main course. Meant for sharing.”

We opted for three main plates, or “almost entrées” as they’re called on the menu—the pork belly, lamb and octopus—but we didn’t end up doing much sharing. I offered my friends a token bite of the pork belly ($12), a five-spice marinated Duroc pork cooked by sous vide for 12 hours. In return I received my own tastes of the miniature rack of lamb ($15) and the octopus ($14). The lamb was served with a rosemary reduction and had notes of garlic, but the octopus was the true star of the table. Cooked slowly over a robata grill, it was tender and savory and paired well with the sweet habanero sauce that accompanied it.

Because the portions of the appetizers and “almost entrées” were manageable, we happily had room for dessert. We split the traditional chocolate mousse ($7), a creamy version served in a champagne flute, and an iced Key lime soufflé ($7). The soufflé was a miniature tower of light Key lime ice cream jutting out of a narrow ramekin. The flavor was fresh, equally tart and sweet, and it made for a satisfying end to an already noteworthy meal.

 

Blanc

13451 McGregor Blvd., 887-3139, blancentertainment.com. Open Monday through Saturday, 5-10 p.m. Wheelchair-accessible. Reservations encouraged.

 

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