Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Office in Cape Coral, Florida

"Honey, I'm working late at the office...I'll be home later!"

Well, in this case, The Office happens to be the quite nice French restaurant that opened a few months ago. Peter Young of  "Wine Tasters of Cape Coral" sponsored a delicious five course meal, paired with five wines at The Office. Outside of perhpas 30 or so guests, no one was the wiser! I learned of this through Wanda Lopez of "SWFL Foodies" on Facebook, and made the trek through snow and ice, crossing the recently polluted  river Styx (thanks to the US Army Corps of Engineers)  to Cape Coral.

The restaurant is in a white building, perched on a corner at Vincennes, just a block  north of the Cape Coral Parkway East.  While it's been other spots in the past (Table 209, etc.) , I'd like to see The Office be supported by the community and have staying power.

The décor is smart, with white walls, white chairs, a few grey comfy sofas and  black ceiling and floor. The far wall has a 20 foot long photograph of the Paris skyline, and a full bar is to the left as you enter.  Chef Christian Caillaba is comfortable serving 4 or in our case, 30 at once, with a good pacing. The items we had are not all on the standard menu, and may appear as specials.  Jerome chose the wines, hailing  from France and  Germany to Argentina and California.
First course featured two  exquisitely creamy Roquefort quenelles, topped with a baked or sautéed  Parmesan crisp, and a arm slice of bread with a proper firm crust.
Chef Caillaba's preparation of this blue sheep's cheese is one of the best I've had. What a way to start!  Recommended.

This was paired with an Agua de Piedra Malbec, that hit the spot. Produced by Argentina's  oldest winery this Mendozan Malbec delight also pairs well with beef, cuy or spicy foods.
Note:  there are no salt and pepper shakers on the tables.  With so many on low-salt diets chefs may under- salt food, as one can always add seasoning to taste.  Easy solution- I should just carry a vial of salt (salt cellar) with me!

A pair of  "ravioli" escargot followed. Two large pasta shells  filled with chopped escargot, and bechamel sauce rested on a red pepper  purée.  Alas, this was the only "meh" item of the dinner. While the concept is quite good, the pasta was too firm, and the filling needed a bit more seasoning.
A French Chardonnay, the 2014 Grand Moulin was a good match.

Round three threw a few folks, as diced pheasant heart in a rich brown sauce was  paired with
a nicely fruity 2014 Chateau Montaud Cotes-de-Provence Rosé.
The wine's melon and citrus notes were a good counterpoint to the sauce's earthiness and the meat's chewy texture. I definitely liked this offering-other people were clearly divided on this one.  

To me, the Heart of France is the rich comfort food casserole dish known as cassoulet, traditionally served in an earthenware cassole, made near the village of Castelnaudary.  (BTW, the currently favored  haricot beans of the cassoulet are thought to have been  imported  from the tropical  Americas!) This  dish often takes two days to simmer, as the flavors and textures of  cubed pork,  pork sausage and confit duck legs interact with  wine, tomatoes,garlic and slow cooked white navy beans . .  Chef Christian Caillaba's cassoulet would make a Frenchman smile!  This dish is highly recommended.
Jerome paired the cassoulet masterfully with the 2014 Domaine Pere Caboche Cotes-du Rhone, which is 80% Granache, 10% Mouvedre, and 10% Syrah grapes.  This property is a close neighbor to Chateauneuf-du-Pape, (between Lyon and Avignon), and is half the price of such other wines! It retails for ~ $62, and is well worth it. I bought a bottle to take home.  I won't wait till my next cassoulet to try it!

The frozen nougatine dessert was wonderful! Two quenelles of Italian meringue with chunks of candied almond were lapped by a rich raspberry coulis.
I wish I could buy this luscious dessert by the quart. Highly Recommended!   This was accentuated by the Ruby Red Rosé with Grapefruit, a wine I'd not have normally tried. This wine didn't overdo it-it'd be a delight to sip in summer, too. Drat, in retrospect, I with I'd bought a bottle of this, too...
By the way, regular diners at the table told me to come back to try the dessert sampler, which features a quartet of different desserts with espresso, for $14. 

Negatives-Minimal-parking is limited, however after 5 pm, local businesses should not mind diners parking in their lots. Prices are absent from the online menu.  I'd come back here whenever I'm in the Cape Coral area.

Positives- Many. This is a great spot to have dinner, drinks or dessert in Cape Coral with a top chef and friendly staff. 

Competition? None in Cape Coral, and the nearest French restaurant is on Sanibel.

4721 Vincennes FL 33904, Cape Coral St, Cape Coral, (239) 542-1790,  www.theofficeresto.com

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