Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fort Myers' Review - Delicious Things Offers Just That!

Delicious Things lives up to its name. They have been successful in Fort Myers’ river district for 2 years, somehow surviving the River District Management’s 2 years of bungled construction and lack of parking. While these problems are now solved, this caused 4 or 5 places like Patio 33 and Harold’s to unnecessarily wither and die. A lot of folks supported Delicious Things during those two years.

The lovely location features outdoor seating, across from the restored Arcade Theatre. It’s homey inside, with wooden tables and chairs, and wood floors. The walls are attractive -light yellow with orange sponge-speckling.The walls sport local artist’s prints and paintings for sale. The wine bar has a tan and brown granite counter, and attractive tall pine cabinets with glass doors. I’d heard about Chef Susi Koch’s (rhymes with “cook”) cooking and presentation artistry. Her training involved cooking various cuisines across Europe.

Saturday, I sat at outside at one of the linen covered tables at the start of lunch. The silverware setups are linen wrapped. A nice breeze and the overhand keeps it cooler; there’s plenty of seating indoors in the cool A/C. Outside, families with kids, couples, an international group of photographers, and some of their regular diners walked by and say hi. This is a friendly spot. Passer bys chat if you so much as make eye contact. I like this spot! A couple walked by with two panting dogs. Server Damian jumped up with bottled water and a Styrofoam takeout container, and poured water for them for free. Spontaneous, caring things like this show the warmth of Damian and its newest owners, Ines and Torsten Josupeit, originally from East Germany. Ines smiled as the dogs slaked their thirst, and then walked on. She told me of the German dinners served Mondays, she personally cooks them!

Damian is friendly and knowledgeable about the food and wines. Any lunch item on the menu comes with Soup of the Day, and Bread and Butter. The most popular lunch item is the downtown Doener’s Open Pita with red cabbage, mixed greens, onions and a Turkish herb or garlic sauce. With chicken for $7, or Roast Beef for $8, it also comes with choice of salad, potato salad, or fruits. The sandwich is large-it’s a great price. Other favorites- Panini style hot sandwiches and salads, range from $ 7-9. Salads offer choice of large shrimps, salmon, Ahi tuna and greens.

The soup this day is a creative Creamy Onion Soup, with hint of mango and a touch of orange juice in a white vegetable stock base. The soup is hot. Bits of onion give a nice crunchy texture. The seasoning is deftly, lightly done. The slices of dark, and a lighter sliced bread, are oven fresh. The $8.99 special, Fresh Grouper Sandwich, arrives nicely timed as I’ve finished the soup, on a squared homemade ciabatta roll, with fresh mixed greens, tomato, cucumber and a wonderful basil pesto sauce. The fish portion is a generous, perhaps 8 oz, perfectly cooked, juicy and tender, and attractively plated. It’s one of the best groupers I’ve had-just flaking apart, with.a touch of salt and pepper on top. Grouper is rarely this fresh, tender and juicy. For lunch, I prefer the lightness of a fish meal to meat. The grouper's basil pesto mayo sauce is just enough of a delicious accent to make you want to take a next bite. It lets the fish be the dominant taste and texture. The mixed greens are the height of freshness, and not a leaf is less than picture-perfect. The cucumber is crisp, and perfectly cut. The squared ciabatta roll is fresh, far better than the usual hamburger bun. The whole is synergistically more delightful than its fresh, perfectly prepared parts. Chef Koch cooks with love. Highly recommended.

For dessert, Chef Koch’s orange-rosemary ice cream ($3) is tops. I’ve never had a more delicious or beautiful dessert at this price. Elsewhere, it would cost perhaps triple that. It is a delicious creamy, yet light tasting ice cream, far better than at Ben and Jerry’s or Publix. It is served atop fresh whipped cream, with sliced sweet strawberries, a squiggle of chocolate, and sweet-tart kiwi-lime sauce. A bunch of miniature, sweet grapes is on the side. Excellent, and a steal at $3.

For dinner, the food has an Italian influence, with items such as Spinach and Ricotta Cheese Stuffed Ravioli with garlic and tomatoes (21), Pork tenderloin Medallions with gorgonzola sauce and spaghetti (23), Sea Bass topped with grape tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil (29), and Salmon filet sautéed in olive oil, with rosotto and fresh veggies (23). The portions are large, and quality is tops. Savor Ines’ Monday’s German dinner cuisines, too.

Chef Susi Koch is an artist who clearly cooks with love. I usually try more than just two items when reviewing.. My pleasure with these two items, and praise by other friends (regulars for dinner) makes me secure in giving a high recommendation. Chef Koch’s lunch and dinners feature generous portions of nicely priced, high quality delights.

Delicious Things, 2262 First Street, 332-7797.

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