Sunday, September 19, 2010

"Table Talk" - Seven Course Fine Dining and Great Pricing at Roy's Restaurant Bonita Springs

This month in SW Florida, the Executive Chef-Partners at Roy’s; Chef Eric Delano (from the late Trilogy on Naples Fifth Ave) at Naples’ Roy’s, and Bonita Spring’s Jason Grasty separately hosted “Table Talk” for groups of up to sixteen food lovers. I attended Chef Grasty’s Bonita Springs’ $55 dinner (excluding alcohol, tax and tip.) I enjoy and seek out tasting dinners at different restaurants, in which four to 8 tapas-sized courses are showcased with or without paired wines, at prices that usually range from $65 to $125 in season. Roy’s cuisine is “Hawaiian Fusion”- artfully blending French style sauces and exotic Asian spices- and the taste is bold, satisfying and highly recommended.

Roy’s “Table Talk” dinners are unique in that the price for seven courses is a bargain, food quality is tops, and the executive chef sits with you, explaining what’s unique about each dish. It gets better. Chefs may talk about their career paths, share fun stories and cooking technique “secrets” and answer your questions about sourcing products, cooking techniques and food presentation. We’re talking sharing real pearls, priceless nuggets of very useful information, while enjoying some of the best cuisine in the U.S. of A.!
Sous Chef David Speegle,  Exec. Chef Jason Grasty
Kevin Skukalek with Cocktails
Sous Chef David Speegle ably supervised the meal preparation as Chef Grasty sat with us. Both recently transferred to Bonita Spring’s Roy’s. Server Kevin Skukalek presented the dishes, and offered an optional quartet of fine wines ($32 additional-I recommend ordering it).

The meal started with the Lakanilau Roll- true richly marbled Wagyu Beef wrapped around snow crab, tempura asparagus, avocado, drizzled with sesame miso and laced with truffled greens.

Remarkably, each of the roll's element‘s taste can be individually discerned, yet the marriage of varied tastes and textures is balanced. This was wonderfully paired with Caymus Conundrum White Blend, ’08, for a perfect crisp, light counterpart.
Guests ordered their favorite drinks. I’m fond of the “1988.” Martini.
 Named after Roy’s opening year in Honolulu, it blends tart grapefruit and tangy pomegranate juices with Absolut Ruby Red Vodka, Soho Lychee Liqueur and Patrón Citrónge Liqueur.

   We went wild for the grilled Szechuan spiced pork ribs, smoked & glazed in Roy’s original Mongolian sauce. These are top quality real BBQ ribs, kicked up a notch!
Grilled Szechuan Spiced Pork Ribs
 The tender meat has just the right touch of chewiness, not overcooked to a too common “fall of the bone” state. The heavenly tender ribs are first braised in mirepoix, rubbed in sauce, smoked, cooled, grilled, and sauced till the sauce lightly caramelizes. The Oregon Erath Pinot Noir ’08, bold enough on its own, is a great match for the ribs’ sweet heat and spices. This is a “must have” at Roy’s!

Want to cook some of Roy’s dishes at home? Roy has three cookbooks. Some recipes are easy for home cooks, others are more complex. The recipes are for what has been served in the restaurant, not a dumbed-down version with dumbed-down taste. The recipes are well worth following; the individual techniques will enhance the taste of your home cooking of fish or meats. The sauces can be used separately on your own home creations.

The mixed baby greens & fresh tomato salad course with Dean Okimoto's herb infused dressing pays homage to supplier/farmer Dean Okimoto's Nalo Farms on Oahu.
This was paired with naturally dry, herbaceous New Zealand Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc ‘08’s offsetting crisp acidity.
A refreshing raspberry sorbet intermezzo was a sweet fourth course, with a balancing tart touch of lemon juice.
Roy’s macadamia nut mahi mahi has a brilliantly light oven-crisped  macadamia nut and panko crust. The fish is roasted and served over grilled asparagus, sliced new potatoes and a rich lobster beurre blanc- it’s a treat! The sauce’s blend of shellfish stock, bacon, brandy, mirepoix and rich cream is to be savored.
 The whole recipe is online- or you can quickly and easily make just the tasty crusted fish at home.

Chef Grasty gave great suggestions on cooking the dishes we were served, as well as on sautéing fish and meats-not everyone knows just when the pan, then the oil, are at the right temperature. Oh does it really makes a difference-your foods will sear beautifully  and not stick! I really enjoyed the rapport and participation with my new table mates. Lori is gifted with a great husband who loves to cook. Joe, and Jim enjoy cooking at their respective homes. Afterwards we emailed each other about cook books and cooking videos.

Roy’s Hawaiian Kai-style braised short ribs with creamy mashed potatoes & natural braising reduction and mustard demi-glace is another must-have dish. More traditional and savory than the spiced pork ribs with less of an Asian seasoning, it’s a toss up as to which I preferred, so I’ll have both at my table when I return!
Hawaiian Kai-style Braised Short Ribs
Pairing them with Joel Gott Red Zinfandel ’08 just can’t be beat. The heavenly tender beef has such layers of rich taste from the slow cooking-you could cut it with a glance.

Roy’s melting hot chocolate soufflé is a flourless chocolate cake with a molten hot center, served à la mode. The dessert’s name is a little misleading, as it’s certainly not a soufflé- the cornstarch can keep it standing tall for hours.
It is a delicious mini cake with a great gooey chocolate center. This signature dessert is portioned just right.

The nicely paced dinner was superb, and the price a “steal” for the setting, beautiful tasty food, and being able to sit for hours with Chef Grasty. He hosted and guided diners through the evening’s seven courses, invited and fielded great questions, and shared his insights into various aspects of the cooking world. I usually post other items on the menu, however this summer menu and the prix fixe items shall soon give way to fall selections.

While some restaurants cut corners on happy hour items, Roy’s $5 happy hour appetizers do not flinch on quality-check it out. Also, every 2nd Tuesday are cooking classes-call to reserve your spot. I personally guarantee an educational and fun time with Chef Grasty or Chef Speegel. Wine tastings are held the third Wednesday of each month from 5:00-6:30 pm and include a sampling of Roy’s appetizers. Each tasting is $15 per person for members and $20 for non-members.

There are over 25 Roy's around the globe. Surprisingly, while some of Roy’s classic dishes are at every restaurant, the local chef-partner may create some 70% of his restaurant’s dishes with his/her own dishes (with Roy’s approval), making each individual Roy’s far more individualistic than at any other “chain.” Roy’s restaurants pay more than lip service to sustainability, using local farmers produce, local fish, and using sustainable methods. Chef Grasty, only here for 3 months, has created seared scallop, seared monchong and a pork rillette dish  that I’ll soon try.

26831 South Bay Drive, Bonita Springs, 498-7697, roysrestaurant.com

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