Friday, January 7, 2011

Naples NewsStand CAFE and Catering - Life is a Delicious Journey

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The NewsStand Café opened December 2010, across from NCH North Campus off Immokalee Road at 11121 Health Park Blvd # 900, Former tenants here included La Villa Pizzeria & Café, and Grouper & Chips.

NewsStand Café is a “Mom and Pop” style restaurant with able Executive Chef Julius Minarik at the helm, and his wife assisting at busy times. It’s open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. With reasonable prices, good portions and very tasty food, it’s no wonder that it’s popular with nurses and other staff from nearby NCH Hospital –North Collier Campus, and folks from Colliers Reserve and other neighborhoods.

Chef Julius easily served a gourmet four course dinner for 35 people for New Years Eve of 2011, and heard only compliments. Not a surprise for the former Executive Chef of Naples’ Bamboo Café, who routinely served several hundred people in a day, on peak days! The cuisine is eclectic, with an emphasis on Eastern European styles- Chef Julius hails from Bratislava, Slovakia. Think rich, savory comfort foods, and you’ll be happily on target. Catering is available for your personalized events.

The restaurant is on the corner of a nice tree-shaded plaza, and somewhat hidden by the tall trees. Walk in and you’re quickly greeted. There’s seating for about 35 inside and on the patio. Décor is simple and welcoming. Tables look like a rich granite, and chairs are simple and comfortable. Music is unobtrusive. At night, lights dim, and it's a neighborhood bistro, complete with wine (House brands are Coastal Vines and Lolonis) and a variety of beers.

It’s a popular spot for lunch, with three healthy fresh salads. The $5.50 Front Page salad has mixed bay greens, tomatoes, marinade red beets, garbanzo beans and a blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. The Southwest salad is distinguished by corn, black beans, avocado, peppers, tortilla chips and Santa Fe chili vinaigrette for $6.50. The $6.50 Baby spinach salad has sliced mushrooms, hard boiled egg, red onion, caramelized chili pecans and a warm bacon vinaigrette. On the go, or in a hurry? Call in an order! On the Go lunch specials have a wide choice of soups, sandwiches and salads-get two of the three for $6.50, or get three of the three for $8.50.

Popular lunch and dinner entrees include Oven roasted rosemary chicken with creamy mashed potatoes and sautéed seasonal vegetables ($8.50), Beef Bourguignon- the traditional French stew with beef braised in red wine, cooked with garlic, onions, mushrooms, bacon, carrots, celery and onion, and served over egg noodles (13.50).  Vegetarians have choices, with the $8.50 Garden burger's grilled balsamic marinated portobello mushroom with lettuce, onion, tomato and basil mayonnaise served with French fries or house salad. Or, Garden Vegetable Lasagna for  $9.50, with eggplant, zuchini, roasted tomato, mushroom lasagna with roasted garlic sauce.

The kids menu includes pasta with butter and cheese (3.50), popcorn shrimp with fries (5.50), Alex schnitzel, a breaded chicken breast with fries or pasta (5.50), and Crepe Vanessa, villed with Nutella hazlenut spread, topped with whipped cream (4.50).

The soups are warming for the belly and soul and easy on the wallet; each  is only $4.00 for a good sized bowlful. It was a chilly night, so we tried four of them!

The tomato crab bisque is made from Maryland Blue crab, cream and tomato, with a bonus topping of crab.It's silky-smooth and warming on a cool day or evening!
The potato leek is a Vichyssoise without chicken stock, with creamy potatoes and leeks blended and lightly spiced, perfect for vegetarians.
 A pleasant surprise is the sauerkraut soup, simmered with ham hocks for ten hours, then combined with mushrooms and chunks of potato wedges. It has the right, not overdone, acidic tartness.
My favorite is the Minnesota wild rice soup with smoked ham. Its creamy base has chunks of hickory smoked ham, caramelized onion, celery and wild rice-a bold blend of flavors and textures.
The Duck ($22) is as good as it gets!  The half duck is cooked to perfection, tender inside, lean not fatty, and  served not too hot, with a crisp skin. That's four out of four-a delight!
 It’s traditionally  paired with red cabbage and the unique dumpling, these are sliced from a roll formed with chunks of white bread, egg white, and spices, that is then steamed. It’s more like a sliced stuffing, than a pierogie or haluskie type dumpling. I was kinda expecting a flour or potato based looking dumpling, even though I was told in advance that it was different. This stuffing/dumpling is light textured, like a fluffy white bread, and works great for sopping up the duck and the red cabbage juices. This dinner portion is filling, I had half one night, and the rest for a lunch!

The Pan-seared sole is a generous bargain at $10.50. It’s a lighter dish, attractively served, with the egg-batter dipped sole lightly pan-seared, then served with thyme scented rice, seasonal vegetables and homemade tartar sauce.

Save room for dessert! All are a steal at only $4.50.

I love the rich cappuccino crème brulée with the perfect crisp crust of caramelized sugar, served in a round ramekin. It’s luscious, and bold with coffee’s earthy taste.
The Berry cobbler with sweet vanilla ice cream is a natural delight. It doesn’t have added sugar, as many cobblers tend to have in excess, and the sweet and tart fruit taste of the blackberries leaps out.
There’s also Italian flourless chocolate cake and a raspberry cheesecake.

This is easy to become one's favorite little spot. Brand new, it's undiscovered for now, so one can pop in some nights and not need a reservation-a rarity in Naples in the Season at almonst any restaurant. Yes, in a few months time, that too will change.

NewsStand C.A.F.E. and Catering, 1121 Health Park Blvd, (on the tree-covered corner of Goodlette-Frank Road and Immokalee Rd. across NCH Hospital),  Naples  598-4552, http://newsstandcafenaples.com/Home_Page.html

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