There are evenings when I want a quiet dinner out, and there are nights when I crave something more. When that yearning for something more—more glitz, more revelry—strikes me, I have a new go-to place: the Bell Tower Shops hot spot Society.
The long-awaited restaurant and lounge is situated inside a big, bold space, all hard surfaces and modern design, with everything—even its diners—sleek and stylish. As my companion and I stepped into the open-air restaurant for our recent dinner and heard a faint techno pulse, he leaned over and whispered appreciatively in my ear, “Feels like a Las Vegas restaurant.”
Society brings culinary rock star Todd Erickson to Southwest Florida. Erickson has appeared on the Food Network and helmed restaurants in Dallas and Miami, landing himself and his eateries on a number of best-of lists, and his visionary and creative touch is everywhere at Society.
Before we made it to the dinner menu, my friend and I found ourselves ordering cocktails. We had the No. 29 ($12), a blend of vodka, St. Germain and green apple honey, and the Real Housewives of McGregor ($12), made from pear vodka, lychee juice, pear purée, lime, jalapeño and Prosecco. Both drinks were smooth and delicious, and our glasses were half-empty before we even considered food.
To start, we split a dish called Cuban Cigars ($12), a delicious take on the Cuban sandwich made with cured ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and Dijon aioli rolled in rice paper and lightly fried like an egg roll. We also ordered off the small but inventive selection of sushi rolls, choosing the Crackle-Pop Roll ($11) with spicy tuna, pickled daikon, crisped rice and cilantro. It was the freshest and most unique approach to maki I’ve tasted in a while.
Society has made a name for its wood-fired steaks, so I ordered the 8-ounce filet mignon ($34) with wasabi-horseradish butter. It arrived on a spread of mashed potatoes, and I ordered a side of asparagus ($8) to accompany it. The steak was excellent, very tender, with a perfect sear on the outside. My friend chose the pan-seared red snapper ($29) served with hazelnut romesco. The red pepper sauce and surprising crunch of the hazelnuts were truly remarkable, an exemplary pairing with the snapper.
Throughout our meal, the tempo of the restaurant had been rising. The dining room filled with laughter and the kind of music that makes you want to get up and dance. We should have ordered dessert—Society has an excellent selection of house-made choices, like a caramel apple shortcake and a bread pudding made with doughnuts from Bennett’s Fresh Roast—but we were having so much fun that we opted for more cocktails instead. My companion laughed as I tried to take notes.
“Your assignment for tonight should be to let loose and enjoy yourself,” he said.
It’s true. I had let loose. And I was unmistakably enjoying myself. I didn’t expect to love the striking, over-the-top, uber-cool restaurant and lounge as much as I did, but now I’m already craving my next visit.
13499 Bell Tower Drive, Fort Myers, (239) 334-0900, societyfortmyers.com. Open Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wheelchair-accessible. Reservations recommended.