Food + Dining Main

Dining Review: Fathoms Restaurant & Bar

A reimagined Cape Coral waterfront spot delivers tasty upscale dishes at very reasonable prices.

BY February 2, 2015


Fathoms Restaurant, which opened late last year in Cape Harbour, manages the near-impossible: combining a sophisticated menu with an unpretentious atmosphere at prices that won’t put a dent in your wallet.

This is a place where Harley motorcycles gather every Tuesday night, where the waitstaff wears shorts (no matter what time of day) and where Dave Matthews Band plays over the sound system. Yet the menu features beef tenderloin and seared scallops, pork cheeks and cedar-plank salmon, each of them done not just well but exceptionally well. The restaurant itself has a sleek nautical vibe, decorated in blues and whites with glass accents. Coastal photography hangs on the walls. The outside seating areas, including a bar, front the marina, and on cool nights the staff light flaming heaters that give the space a warm, intimate vibe.

My dining companion and I started our evening by reaching for the cocktail menu, contrary to our usual oenophile habits. Though Fathoms’ wine list has a solid selection of the standards you would expect in a restaurant at this price point—an Argentinian malbec, a Napa pinot noir, a Sonoma chardonnay, a rosé from Provence—the cocktail menu felt more fun, more inspired. My companion ordered a Pink Bubbles ($8.25), a mix of pomegranate vodka (a current favorite among mixologists), peach schnapps, cranberry juice and champagne, served in a flute with a long-stemmed maraschino cherry sunk to the bottom.

“This,” my friend said, trying to fish out the cherry, “is the kind of drink that will kick your butt without you even realizing it.”

Kiwi spritzer


I opted for the kiwi spritzer ($8),
a dressed-up version of the gin fizz, with gin, lime juice, simple syrup and soda, along with muddled kiwi and tarragon leaves. It was also refreshing and delicately balanced, but unlike the champagne cocktail, it was the sort of drink that lets you know immediately it’s kicking you in the rear.

Fathoms debuted last September, although the chefs and waitstaff remained from its earlier incarnation, a hamburger- and sandwich-focused establishment called The Joint. The restaurant offers live music on Tues- day and Friday nights, plus Sundays in the late afternoon, usually rock ’n’ roll or the blues. Aside from the name change, the interior got a facelift and so, too, did the menu. There’s no mistaking that in this new version, the food is decidedly more elegant.

Chicken liver mousse pâté 


To begin, I selected the chicken liver mousse pâté ($9), which arrived on a wooden cutting board with slices of toast, an artful smear of Dijon mustard and a dish of red onion marmalade. The presentation was so large and extravagant I ended up being shamed into sharing, although I could easily have finished the entire board on my own. My companion’s appetizer was equally impressive, a glass goblet of mahi-mahi ceviche ($12) flavored with lime and passion fruit juices and accented with yellow peppers, cilantro and pleasantly surprising red teardrop peppers from Peru. The white fish was firm and fresh, enhanced by the sweet zing of the peppers.

With exactly the right pacing, our waiter removed the appetizer dishes and, a short while later, delivered the main courses. My companion ordered the skirt steak ($20), one of the evening’s specials, served with sautéed fall vegetables that included a mix of squash, broccoli rabe and oyster mushrooms. She asked for the steak rare—“As rare as you can make it”—and the steak arrived exactly as she re- quested with a fine sear on the outside and a still-pink interior. A red wine demi-glace and a round of béarnaise butter accompanied the meat.

I had the pork cheeks served in a rosemary jus ($18), and as the waiter set the dish in front of me he said, “Prepare to be wowed.” Boastful, perhaps, but as I put the first bite in my mouth I involuntarily found myself saying, “Wow.” The pork was tender enough to cut with a fork, and the light sauce brought out the subtle flavor of the meat. Served with polenta mixed with black truffle oil and fresh basil, the dish was refined, well-balanced and revealed a deft touch from the kitchen.

True to its origins—and possibly the Harley riders at the bar out front (and the moms with small children who often stop by for lunches)—Fathoms offers other options that are less high- brow. The menu, which refreshingly stays the same for both lunch and dinner, has a selection of sandwiches, including a burger, plus salads and a specialty pizza menu. Most of these fall in the $10-15 price range, and they’re perfect for sharing.

Chocolate tart


To complete the meal, the desserts trend upscale. There’s a passion fruit cheesecake and gelato du jour, as well as crème brûlée and that Southwest Florida restaurant staple, Key lime pie. All desserts are made in-house, something we were happy to find out. I opted for a slice of the chocolate tart served with a scoop of pumpkin gelato (technically whipped up at the neighboring The French Press, a charming ice cream and coffee shop that’s under the same ownership). The tart was rich and bittersweet, a nice complement to the sugared and spiced gelato. My companion’s crème brûlée was perhaps a touch sweet and a bit closer to pudding than custard in its consistency, but this was a very minor note in a dinner that managed to be otherwise flawless.


Fathoms Restaurant & Bar

5785 Cape Harbour Drive, Cape Coral; (239) 542-0123, Open every day 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., later depending on business. Wheelchair accessible. Does not take reservations. 


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