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Dining Review: MidTown Kitchen + Bar

This very cool new Naples spot knows just the right added ingredient or touch to make its offerings very special delights.



Vanessa Rogers

 

After I made dinner reservations at MidTown Kitchen + Bar, I checked out the restaurant’s website and was instantly perplexed. What do you wear to a place this on-trend? Take me to The Ritz or The Veranda, and I have just the right dress. But MidTown feels more like the best SoHo eateries—upscale-cool, not staid. This is the kind of place, I decided, for good jeans and red lipstick.

As it turns out, I wasn’t wrong. The interior of MidTown is all exposed ductwork, hanging utility lights, and graphic murals in black and white. More hip than fancy, the menu features classic Americana with a twist—deviled eggs served with tomato jam and candied bacon (carried over from the owner’s popular HobNob downtown); cheese fries made with truffle salt, blue cheese and smoked bacon—as well as internationally influenced dishes like lamb gyro meatballs and chicken thighs in kung pao sauce. The menu is wide, each item accented by some unique ingredient or touch, and the choices can be overwhelming.

“Let me give it to you straight,” our waiter told us. “For the ‘social plates’”—what MidTown calls its appetizers—”you’re going to want to go with the calamari, the steamed buns or the chicken thighs. Flatbreads, it’s the wild mushroom. Pasta? The lump crab linguini. Main courses, my money’s on the snapper or the hanger steak.”

I glanced at my friend, and she nodded her agreement. We decided to follow his advice.

The calamari ($15) arrived lightly fried, served in a sweet-spicy sauce offset by slices of papaya and mango. The flavor was bold, modern and complex. I’m not used to calamari covered in sauce, but this felt like the right approach. The steamed buns ($15) featured Korean beef and sesame cabbage folded into two soft, slightly sweet buns. The meat had a piquant kick complemented by sprigs of fresh cilantro.

For my main course, still following the waiter’s suggestions, I chose the snapper, pan-fried and served in a saffron-tomato sauce over

The spicy calamari

lemon risotto ($32). The sauce had a sweet, smoky flavor that paired well with the mild snapper. My friend opted for the hanger steak ($28), which arrived exactly as she had requested—very rare. The meat was both tender and flavorful, and it went well with the hand-cut fries.

At the end of our meal, we decided to again trust our waiter.

“What should we have?” I asked him.

“The Key lime pie,” he said. “Best thing on the dessert menu. The chef makes all of it in-house.”

“Even the crust?” I asked.

“Even the crust.”

The Key lime pie ($7) was exceptional—creamy and slightly tart with (as promised) a homemade graham cracker crust.

When a place is as studiedly cool as MidTown Kitchen + Bar, it can be tempting to look for off-notes. But on the night of my visit, there weren’t any. Even my cocktail—a mango margarita with a rim of black lava salt—struck just the right balance. I expect this restaurant to become a prime spot in the Gulfshore scene.

I’ll need more red lipstick.


MidTown Kitchen + Bar

2110 Ninth St. N., Naples, 239-908-6558, midtownkitchenandbar.net.
Open daily, 3:30-10 p.m. Wheelchair-accessible. Reservations highly recommended.

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