Tuna tostadas with peppers and ponzu

Food


Liberty – Culinary Workshop

Taking liberties with dining convention

Gnocchi with gouda, mushrooms and almonds

Who didn’t sob a little when Cru and its chef-owner Bob Boye exited Bell Tower Shops?

Well, now it’s time to cheer, because he’s just across the street with a fresh concept that smartly showcases his flair for small plates and rule-bending. In the former Mad Bistro space, Liberty – Culinary Workshop invents its own genre of eatery in a sliver of space with full view of kitchen goings-on.

You can sit at the gleaming stainless counter for full-on interaction with those preparing your food. Because we were three, we opted for one of its handful of booths.

Counter seating with kitchen view

It calls itself a “wine parlor,” but its menu of craft beers is equally impressive, so we started with a Talley Chardonnay (California Central Coast) and a couple of new-to-us IPAs – Captain Lawrence Hop Commander from New York State and Crooked Stave from Colorado.

Then we proceeded to narrow down the ever-changing 12-item plates menu for a well-rounded sampling. We tasted New York strip tartare with pureed deviled egg, tuna tostadas, potato-less gnocchi gouda, baby potatoes sautéed in truffle oil, short ribs mole-style with pickled shallots, scallops with caramel. And when we thought we couldn’t eat another bite, we easily and happily enough fell victim to goat cheesecake.

For now, I’m just going to say “WOW!” Watch the January issue of Gulfshore Life for more as we cover 2019’s best new Lee County restaurants.