Sunday, June 21, 2015

Mereday's Brasserie at Bayfront -492 Bayfront Place, Naples, Florida

The Green Tea Terrarium Dessert

Mereday's Brasserie has now materialized in Naples at the former site of Chef Charles Mereday's Alto Live Jazz Kitchen. Yes, while the Alto concept is no more, this newest iteration of Mereday's eponymous restaurants Rocks!  The "A" team culinary family cooks from scratch, with Chef Mereday, Executive Chef Joseph Pittman, Chef David Lee Russell, Chef Kimberly Bechtel and Chef January Nutial, to name a few. The Mereday's Brasserie in Estero is now a separate entity, no longer owned by Chef Mereday. 

Chef Charles Mereday and Chef Joseph Pittman
 Confusing? Not so! The menu  at the Naples restaurant is completely new (vs the Alto menu)  and very wallet friendly , with some favorites brought south from the Estero Mereday's  Brasserie menu.  Relax with artisan cocktails and a broad selection of craft beers-be sure to ask Bartender Eli for suggestions! 
 Locals know that summer is the "off season" and Naples population shrinks waay down.  The almost nightly jazz that was at Alto will morph into having live musicians on weekends. My guess is that jazz  nights will alternate with of Blues, Latino/Flamenco , and other styles. Feel free to recommend your favorite musicians to Chef Joseph! 

The fourteen "small plates" outnumber the seven  "entrees."  This is to facilitate more of a "tapas" style of dining with friends. There's crispy frogs legs, Baked brie with pear and red pepper jelly; Moroccan beef rolls with cucumber dill creme fraiche; duck poutine; seared scallops and roasted beets salad. 

My group of friends/foodies started with the spicy smoke duck wings ($14) , with a Habanero, orange and Thai-style dipping sauce accentuating the trio of Frenched wings, cooked to a crisply tender perfection.  

 The sultry heat raises this to a uniquely rich culinary level.  This is my all-time favorite- Highly Recommended! 

Order the wild mushroom risotto ($14), and be seduced by the earthy Cremini mushrooms, cream and Parmesan cheese.  Highly recommended. 
A similar special is the aphrodisiacal  Chef's Garden Asparagus and  "to die for" gnocchi with a rich earthy mushroom-cream base. 
Like lamb? The Moroccan-influenced  lamb slider trio ($18)  feature braised and smoked lamb with tzatziki sauce on a brioche bun, topped with roasted red pepper, feta, arugula and red onion. Recommended. 
 The mussels  ($15) are flavorful, bathed in an aromatic  broth of  coconut milk, spicy Thai green curry and cilantro. We made "all gone" by dipping the delectable broth with warm cheese biscuits.  Highly recommended. 
Seared scallops (19) are among the best you'll ever have, with diver fresh U10 sized babies seared to perfection,and unctuously tender within. The roasted red peppers and sweet corn puree just add wonderfully complementary layers of flavor.
Want an awesome burger? Start with the best-Jimmy P's juicy Wagyu beef ($16) , served with caramelized onion bleu cheese and red onion jam on a brioche bun, with crisp fries on the side.  Highly recommended. 

There's four pizzas to try, from the traditional Margherita, to the Napolese with choice of sausage or pepperoni; or the roasted cremini mushroom with mozzarella, red sauce and grape tomatoes.  We ordered the unique olive tapenade pizza ($13) , with diced black and green olives, feta cheese, grape tomatoes and a generous topping of tangy arugula. The crispy crust and salty olive goodness is not your typical bland Naples, Fla. pizza.  

Save room for dessert.  Sous chef Kimberly B has crafted  a beckoning  banana walnut bread pudding with crème Anglaise; deconstructed chocolate trifle, and a vanilla bean crème brûlée.

The Green Tea Terrarium dessert  by Sous Chef Kimberly Bechtel is the BOMB! ($9) . 
This must-have dessert  knocks it out of the Bay with a stunning terrarium presentation, balancing a unique medley of textures and flavors.   Bite into a white "mushroom"this piped French meringue dusted with nutmeg, cinnamon and cocoa powder  tastes like hot chocolate with all the right spices!! 
   There's a "stream"  of charred orange pastry cream, bordered by a chocolate-graham cracker "soil."  Boulders of toasted pine nuts and fresh berries dwell among the green tea sponge cake foliage.  there's more- a formed quenelle of charred vanilla and cardamon ice cream sits off to the side.  My dieting friend took one look and said "I think I'll slide off the diet for a few minutes!" Highly Recommended.     
The portions are more than generous at these wallet friendly prices. These prices are set at the price point that other restaurants set only with Happy Hour discounts.  So whenever you arrive,  you get Happy Hour pricing all the time. 

Competition? None really, this is a unique niche. Nearby Stoney's Steakhouse,  and Roy's Restaurant  have their respective big steak and Asian-styled cuisines down pat.  Mereday's Brasserie is warm and welcoming with a warm European accent, featuring rich wood walls, black tablecloths, fresh flowers and French art. 

Mereday's Brasserie, 492 Bayfront Place, Naples, Fl  261-2586

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