Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mereday's Fine Dining - The Tops in Naples, Florida

Chef/Owner Charles Mereday has earned success in Naples. In less than a year even, his first restaurant, Mereday's Fine Dining, was selected as Gulfshore Life Magazine's Best 2014 New Restaurant.
 His friendly, strong visage is on the cover of Gulfshore Life's July issue, too! The teaser asks, "Can this hot chef cut it here?" The answer, of course, is a resounding "Yes!"
His second restaurant, Alto-Live Jazz, Kitchen, has been just as successful for both its cuisine and its high quality of Jazz that entices people to linger long after dinner, especially when  Lew Del Gatto and Dan Miller are on stage. (And, there's no cover charge.)  As Cheryl7677 on Tripadvisor says "Alto is the ultimate Jazz Dining Experience in Southwest Florida! Our food was elegantly prepared and served while listening to an equally matched musical experience by expert jazz artists! The menu offers a variety of selections at prices for your budget! The music is top shelf!"
I stopped by for drinks with friends the other day, and we stayed at the bar to try some dishes before going to Alto. Before we knew it, hours had gone past unnoticed and we had experienced one of those magical evenings in Naples with superb food and company... and we never got to Alto!

The bar looks out on part of the Bay, with some diners arriving by boat. The other side of the restaurant also has a water view.  You can take the water taxi to the restaurant, and enjoy the ride and the view along the way. Then continue gazing on the water and passing boats from inside Mereday's  or while dining out on the waterfront terrace.  How many restaurants offer these beautiful perks?
We had a flight of  delicious wines through the evening...each stands on its own merits. I'd enjoy it even when not paired with food; the food only elevates it. There's also daily wine flights for $10 as well.  Cocktail? Try "Thyme after Thyme", "The Sazerac", and the "Green Goose".  Draft beers are on tap from Naples Beach Brewery; Pale Ale, Rye Stout and Weizen.

The menu changes daily.  We started with  pan-seared hog snapper, with  a lusciously creamy parsnip purée, truly fresh peas and micro greens. 
The combination of the crispy hot tender fish and parsnips in each bite is like ambrosia.  

 The 2013  Origine Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc was perfection. One of my dining partners paused between bites and sips to exclaim, "This is ridiculously delicious!"

Next was cheese-filled  squash blossoms atop blood oranges and beets, with edible nasturtium, and two different sauces.
The hot oozing cheese, crisply fried blossom and the cool sweetness of the blood orange slices is over the top. My other dining companion said " If I can eat here every day it would make me happy forever!"

We cleaned our plates in no time!

Pizza at Mereday's is also over the top,  with real Wagyu (Kobe) beef  and oodles of Maytag blue cheese,  caramelized onions, basil and  micro greens sprinkled on just before serving. 
The crust is crisp and hot. The savory combination of the blue cheese and seared rare beef is a must have.  

I went to the completely open kitchen to see the chefs working their magic.
Next was long flat pappardelle pasta with earthy fresh brown mushrooms, basil, cherry tomatoes and pancetta in a creamy sauce. 

 Pappardelle derives from the word to "gobble up, " and you'll do just that. Pasta never smelled as wonderful or tasted this good outside of Italy till now!

Do try one of the wines we enjoyed...the Domaine Nicolas Girard  "Menetou-Salon" 2011 Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire River Valley, the Domaine Jean Guiton Savigny Les Beaune, or the medium bodied La Tribu Bodegas el Angosto Mourvedre blend.  The sommelier has already figured a pairing for each new dish, and wines change with availability. These may come from small allotments-the sommelier has his buying connections.  The Yountville  Liparita "V Block" Cab goes fast!

Every afternoon in SW Florida it rains for a glorious half hour, and we got the catbird's seat view of the rain and clouds coming and going. 
Nice show. If only we thought to bring our dishes onto a nearby yacht's  covered deck, I could not imagine a meal being more enjoyable.

We stayed after the rain for the spicy spirited mussels in red Thai curry sauce with coconut milk, topped with cilantro. It was paired with my favorite Hoopes Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley.
 I like boldly spiced food-it's infrequently found in Naples. If you like some heat, this dish  will also be one of your favorites.

  The ambiance at Mereday's is one of simply casual elegance. The servers are amazing. Tell them your preferences, and they are ready to suggest a dish or wine that will suit you.
    Stay for dessert-the pastry chef crafts unique dishes- some with Caribbean origins, others with twists on classical desserts.  Currently, there is mocha pots de cream with flourless chocolate cake and white chocolate ice cream; sticky toffee pudding with brown butter ice cream, strawberry lemonade sorbet with fresh fruit, and artisan cheese selections.

1500 5th Ave S, Naples,  732-0784,


Anonymous said...

Lew DelGatto

Ivan Seligman said...

His website spells it Lew Del Gatto, with a space between all 3 words. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.