Saturday, November 1, 2008

M Waterfront Grill

M Waterfront Grille’s successful first month speaks well for a solid season. Maxwell’s on the Bay was previously at the site for 20 years, and had a dated look. Now, with owners Peter and Chris Sereno completely revamping the décor and updating the food, it’s good to go for another 20 years! The setting, right on the bay, is one of the nicest in the area. The interior stylish décor uses warmly relaxing earth tones. All the seats have a wide view of the bay. There’s welcome touches of elegance- tasteful fixtures, and linen tablecloths and napkins.Look around, and spot more ideas that left a keen-eyed interior designer smiling. Patrons dress nice casual and up, with some gents in sport coats. The diner's ages, on our visit, ranged from 3o's and up. This is finer dining, at midlevel prices for Naples.

Chef Brian Roland, previously reknowned as Fort Myers’ Cru’s innovative chef, has kept some old Maxwell's favorites with a modern twist, and introduced many new dishes. His cuisine is "cutting edge Continental cuisine", which means beautifully plated, innovatively paired, and properly cooked foods from the freshest sources-the fresh taste is the proof. Chef de cuisine Ed Marchese shares the vision. When my small party visited, other satisfied patrons told us, “We’ll be back!”
The bar area is open and warm, a great spot to meet friends. There’s a smaller, separate glass enclosed room on the bay that can seat 40, for special events.

We started with the complimentary amuse bouche, a delicious little cup of chilled Cinnamon Apple and Rosemary soup. Delicately spiced, this should be on the regular seasonal menu! Next, the Duet of Florida favorites- a large, cracked Stone Crab claw, and Seared Diver Scallop, over a Papaya, Pineapple, Toasted Pistachio & Wakame Salad, with a light Cane Sugar-Mustard & Citrus Dipping Sauce ($16). Seafood doesn't get better than this, and the exotic fruit salad could stand alone, and get great reviews! We ordered an extra claw.

Service is tops, and nearby servers will assist. This welcome team approach gives you the best experience, unlike at other restaurants. The Chilled Corn & Cauliflower Soup (8) is an appetizer hit, so rich and creamy with puréed roasted corn, and a touch of cream! A crisped Lobster-Grilled Corn Cake is placed in the bowl, then the chilled soup is poured. You get the contrast in textures and temperatures, with a superb soup! A must have! This has great "WOW" factor as it is served in the sombrero-esque bowl.
I'm more than fond of escargot, and the rich, yet mild tasting Not Your Traditional Escargot (12) is a good blend of wild mushrooms, wilted spinach, Boursin cream garlic sauce and escargot, served on butter brushed French baguette slices.
The Ahi Tuna is rolled in cornmeal and sesame seeds for a unique taste and texture, then seared just right. It is served with fried rice noodles, over fresh cucumber, Napa cabbage and other vegetables, with a carambola and ponzu sauce. A soy dipping sauce is on the side. Like stained glass, there's a triangular hard sugar and soy semi-translucent chip on top, for added delight. Tasty!
We enjoyed the Wente Pinot Noir and the Wyndham Shiraz, by the glass.

The Local Watermelon Salad (8) features both red and sweet yellow watermelon, shaved fennel & red onion, creamy goat cheese crumbles, candied pine nuts and baby arugula, with micro greens and aged balsamic. Worth it to just try the nuances of the yellow watermelon.

M's Organic Fall Salad (10) is a multicolored delight of mixed organic greens, toasted butternut squash, dried cranberries, granny smith apples, marinated wild mushrooms, toasted pumpkin seeds, brioche croutons, and a "root and shoot" 5 spiced walnut vinaigrette.

My favorite was the Seared Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast (26), served with wonderful crispy goat cheese gnocchi, wild mushrooms & foie gras, with a port wine reduction sauce, and creamy baby arugula coulis. The duck was cooked to order, and so flavorful, without the other components overpowering. The gnocchi are a crunchy delight-I could have them as
a side order! For the superb taste and price, this can't be beat.

Speaking of sides, we savored the truly comfort food-quality of the Butternut Squash, Apple, and Foie Gras Ragout (10). This had hints of Brandy, Shallots, Garlic, Brown Sugar and Woody Herbs.
The Grilled Salmon is tender, with a topping of "waterside" 6 herb salad, lightly dressed with lemon and olive oil. The salmon is served over crisped yukon gold fritters and topped with almond brittle.
The Chervil Pesto Roasted Sea Bass (31), is melt in your mouth tender,served over grilled cornmeal flatbread, and Jerusalem artichokes, topped with chervil pesto, plated on a warm Serrano ham-tomato vinaigrette.
What about dessert? The Key Lime Pie is light and fluffy, not heavy as some variants. It is beautifully plated, with fresh whipped cream and white chocolate and lime shavings. It leaves you wanting more!
Crème brûlée is served with a twist, a different version every night. Ours had a touch of chocolate, and was served in a crunchy square pastry shell-with fresh mint and whipped cream-an elegant presentation!
A cheese plate is traditional to some, and we like the trio of Cheddar - Reggiano like Gouda from Holland called Saenkanter (Chef Brian's Favorite Cheese), a Brie-like soft Spanish Robiolo topped with quince paste, and a French St. Agur heavenly bold blue cheese, with seasonal fruit. Chef Brian continues to build his relationship with renowned Cheese Guru, Caroline Hostettler, from 55 Degrees Cool Wine and Cheese. He purchases all of his cheeses and accutrements from her international collection.
For nicer casual to upscale dining, M Waterfront Grille's bayfront location, atmosphere and beautifully presented delights can't be beat. This is a very welcomed addition to Naples dining, and is on a par with spots in NYC, Chicago, and LA. Other smiling diners said "We'll be back", and we'll return, too!
4300 Gulf Shore Blvd N, Venetian Village, Naples 239-263-4421


Anonymous said...

Hi Ivan,

You've piqued my interest in the chilled apple, cinnamon, and rosemary soup you were served at the M Waterfront Grill. Unfortunately, I don't live in Naples and it is unlikely that I'll ever have the opportunity to visit the restaurant or taste the soup for myself. I do however, enjoy experimenting and attempting to create, or duplicate, interesting dishes. Would you mind describing the soup in more detail? Was it a clear, broth-like soup? Thick? Creamy? If the latter, did it derive it's texture or creaminess from pumpkin, acorn squash, or dairy? Did any other flavors stand out? Any info would be appreciated.

Ivan Seligman said...


Executive Chef Brian Roland generously shares his recipe for this refreshingly delicious, medium thick chilled soup:

"Red delicious apples were cooked in simple syrup, then cooled and pureed into an apple sauce. Then I took raw red delicious apples, chardonnay, cinnamon, rosemary and the homemade apple sauce and pureed it smooth in the Vita prep 3 (a 3 horsepower blender). The textures were smooth and not too thick, as I balanced it out with the liquid from the wine. Hope this helps!"

Chef Brian Roland
M Waterfront Grille

PS: I've a Vita Mix blender at home-it's a blender on steroids, that purees lobster shells in a couple minutes to a smooth texture, and, on high, can boil a soup in 5 minutes!


Anonymous said...

Goodness Ivan, both you and Chef Brian Roland have gone above and beyond to provide much more detail that I had hoped for. Thanks to each of you for your time and generosity! My attempt to approximate the soup will now be less of a 'shot in the dark' and instead, will be more about enjoyment in the kitchen - experimenting to find my own pleasing balance of the ingredients Chef Roland has kindly provided.

The Vita Mix sounds like a dream!

Off to the kitchen now...