Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Table Apart - Global Cuisine Bonita Springs - Naples Restaurant Review

Jeffrey and Jessica Acol’s new restaurant on Bonita Beach Road, between US 41 and the Gulf of Mexico, has set the mark for others in the area to follow. A Table Apart specializes in “rustic global cuisine”, building upon Jessica’s French roots and Jeff’s Hawaiian background. The emphasis on fresh seafood, exotic and traditional fruits and vegetables, with a style that brings out the best of each item. Easy to say…can they do it? Yes! Barely open a week, my hungry quartet had met it’s match! The menu offers Asian, French, Italian, Hawaiian and traditional American styles. Cordon Bleu trained Executive Chef Jeff has worked with the great tasting Hawaiian styles of Amy Ferguson, Alan Wong, Roy Yamaguchi and Jean-Marie Josselin. You often find tamarind, lychees, five-spice sauce, lemongrass, papaya, lime, passion fruit and curries in their dishes.

Chef Jeff and Jessica Acol
That’s a refreshingly great background to bring to SW Florida. Jeff has also cooked at Naples’ Registry’s “Lafite”, and “Tanglewood” at Hyatt Coconut Point. Jessica, from Paris, has a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel/Restaurant Management, was manager at Duval Street Seafood, and met Jeff at the “Registry” (now Naples Grande).
The décor is between casual and upscale, with a beautiful warm orange-gold faux finish on the walls, a long, tastefully designed bar, and booths and wooden tables with gold cloth napkins. Lighting is subtle, principally by a single slender gold stained-glass fixture above each booth. The restaurant is perfect for a nice lunch (they open at 11 am) as well as for a relaxing dinner with family and friends. It looked like a birthday or anniversary was celebrated by a nearby couple. This is a romantic setting-- and they couldn’t have appeared happier! The gentle jazz music is pleasantly low key, and the selections are well chosen.

Our server, Dan, was superb. Formerly at the Ritz-Carleton, his knowledge, friendliness sense of humor, and suggestions of foods and wine pairings was tops. He looks like a tall GQ model.

Dan, Bartender, and Guest at Part of Bar
The wine selection is good, with familiar faces and new finds. Prices are reasonable (7$-12$/glass, bottles kindly start at $18), with a generous pour by the glass. The selection is fine, and growing. We often get wine by the glass, Dan pointed out that, it would save us about 25%, by getting a bottle for four. Nice.

We started our dinner with the Pear Salad (6),
with organic mixed greens, sliced li hing mui lightly poached pears, barely spiced pecans, Oregon’s Rogue Valley blue cheese crumbles, and white balsamic dressing. The light dressing lets the exquisite crisp sweetness of the pears shine. Li hing mui is a Chinese and Hawaiian favorite, adding a subtle nuance of dried plums. The soft and buttery blue cheese is distinct, with a wonderful taste and texture, chosen to let the pears steal the show. This salad is well worth it.
I wanted a little more spice, and got my match with the Chorizo Mejillones (9) Sautéed Mussels with Mexican chorizo, tomatoes, garlic, white wine and cilantro pesto. The mussels are fresh, and the mild heat or bite comes from the bits of chorizo. The cilantro pesto ties it all together. The white wine, tomato and garlic sauce had us dipping it up with toast, and every drop was gone!

The entrees came next, with Pan Roasted Cornish Game Hen (19).

This de-boned, good sized Cornish game hen is slow pan roasted with an herb basting, and every morsel is oh-s0 tender. This is great “comfort food”! One said “This is so tasty and juicy, and the mild spicing is just right!” Served with garlic mashed potato, crisp haricot vert (slender green beans) and the natural pan jus, it’s a good sized portion at a great price.

My favorite is the Herb Marinated Filet Mignon (26), a perfectly spiced, char-grilled Angus Filet, topped with crisp slow caramelized onions, and served with olive oil poached fingerling potatoes, beautifully grilled asparagus, and a Pinot Noir demi glace. It is incredibly good! It’s also a good sized portion, and is priced well below similar filets at local steakhouses. It was cooked medium rare- as ordered. We passed around forkfuls for sampling, and each person's taste was followed with a big smile. One diner said “This chef sure can cook!” Highly recommended. Jeff later said, “I have a passion for food and cooking,” and it shows.

Time for surf with the turf, and the Pan Seared Scallops (24) had four large Day Boat U10 Scallops, perfectly seared (photo above), with a separate, savory roasted corn, richly smoked bacon, and sliced Portobello mushroom “hash” that is a great balance for the scallops. With a sweet chili drizzle and a cluster of corn sprouts nicely tied on top, and a long dash of curry corn sauce on the plate, we found another great keeper.

One my party loves lamb, and the four plump lollipops of Asian Glazed Whole Lamb Rack (32) were cooked just right. The tropical fruit jus lié, can have a bold presence on the lamb, countered with the tart sweetness of the exotic fruit namasu’s caramelized star fruit (carambola). Chef Jeff’s creativity brings different fruits and spices together. Served with mashed potatoes and haricot vert, it’s a man sized portion!

Also offered are a Macadamian Nut Mahi Mahi, Organic Salmon Two Ways (19) served both blackened and as a citrus ceviche, and Honey Bourbon Glazed Pork Chop (19). For Italian, there’s Rigatoni alla Bolognese, Shrimp Fettucine Alfredo (15), and a Three Cheese Vegetarian Lasagna (15).

Ah, dessert! Jessica’s Parisienne mom makes a superb Apple Tarte Tatin, “to die for” in its “melt in your mouth” pefection. We shared an elegantly presented chocolate mousse in its martini glass. Perfectly fluffy, with a rich chocolate taste, and served with real whipped cream, a sprig of mint, and a French Pirouline cookie-a rolled toasted wafer filled with a pencil’s thickness of dark chocolate. These desserts are the perfect way to cap a magical evening at A Table Apart.

4295 Bonita Beach Road Bonita Springs, 239-221-8540


Anonymous said...

Hi Jessica!
Good luck for this new challenge.
Wishing you all the very best!

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to check it out!

Anonymous said...

Hey Brah,

Looking good. Some nice press you guys are getting. Miss you all back here on the big island. Got an opening for a chef? LOL Good luck. Only one way to go!


Anonymous said...

hey u two well i hope all is well for u guys. soon i shall be back form the sandbox.