Food + Dining Main

Dining Review: The Office Restaurant and Lounge

A French chef brings classic cooking to The Office in Cape Coral.

BY July 6, 2016


I had been hearing the buzz around town about The Office, and word was that this sleek restaurant in Cape Coral was showcasing cosmopolitan French food from a chef who had earned Michelin stars. Although the Cape can often be overlooked by those not living in the surrounding neighborhoods, to skip The Office just because it’s on the far side of the Caloosahatchee would be to miss out. The restaurant provides some of the finest dining in Lee County.

On the night of my dinner, my companion and I took our time perusing the menu. The Office’s original chef, Christian Caillaba, headed the kitchen at La Table Saint Crescent in Narbonne, France, when the restaurant earned two Michelin stars in both 1999 and 2000. He brought that level of sophistication to the menu here, which features a mix of classic French dishes with a strong Mediterranean influence. His contract has since ended, but owner Thierry Cros, a Gallic chef himself, is continuing where Caillaba left off.

While my friend ran through her options, I stumbled upon a note at the bottom of the page: “Chef’s Surprise Menu Five Courses $95.”

I hesitated. As a rule, surprises make me nervous. But this seemed like a different approach to dining, one that could be fun.

“I’ll take it,” I told the waiter.

My first course arrived before my friend’s. It was the scallop carpaccio, thin slices of raw scallop lined up beside sections of grapefruit and oranges. My face must have lost all its color, because when the waiter left my friend said under her breath, “Surprise.”

I don’t love scallops, and the carpaccio would not have been my first choice, but then I took a bite. The scallop was sweet, fresh, with a buttery consistency that paired well with the sharp citrus notes. It was delightful.

My companion’s ceviche ($14, left) arrived and it, too, was fresh and flavorful with a mix of octopus, shrimp, fish, red peppers, sliced onions and bites of melon. While she worked on her dish, my second course appeared. This time, it was grilled octopus over ratatouille with slices of chorizo. Much like scallops, octopus is a dish I rarely order for myself. I took a tentative bite. Then I tackled it in earnest. All these years, I realized, I’d been missing out.

As my friend finished her ceviche, my third course arrived. It was, easily, the richest dish I’ve ever come across: a brioche roll hollowed out and filled with heavy cream and chives with an egg poached inside. On top sat a round of seared foie gras. The waiter handed my companion a small plate and said, “That’s to encourage your friend to share.”

I gave a sheepish smile. How’d he know I didn’t want to share this  one?

By the time our main courses arrived, I was too stuffed to muster energy for what was next: rounds of chicken and foie gras that had been layered together, breaded and fried. It was inventive and compelling. My companion had the lamb confit ($34), a slow-roasted shank that was exceptionally tender and flavorful.

By the time the dessert course came around, I considered surrender. Surely, I thought, the chef would go easy on me. Our waiter arrived and set a long plate on the table. He waved his hands in a dramatic flourish. “Surprise!”

The dish held four desserts—a nougat ice cream, a crepe with Grand Marnier mousse, a square of Key lime pie and a slice of chocolate praline tart. The spread looked enormous. I feared I couldn’t tackle it, but I refused to pass. The chef had delivered an incomparably good menu, and I had a responsibility to eat it.

The Office Restaurant and Lounge

4721 Vincennes Blvd., Cape Coral, 239-542-1790, Open Wednesday through Sunday, 4-9 p.m.; club (limited menu) open Thursday through Saturday, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Wheelchair-accessible. Reservations encouraged.


The Chocolate Sublime layers crispy chocolate praline and chocolate cream with notes of citrus and caramel.


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