Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Veranda E at Happy Hour!

Happy Hour is a special time to have drinks and dine early. One of the prettiest spots in SW Florida is Veranda E, just off the West end of Naples' 5th Ave. South, with the "hidden" entrance on 3rd Street South. The pergola and the view of the pool can't be beat-that's why it's also been a popular wedding spot for years.

Since not many weddings take place at Happy Hour, AKA Social Hour, 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, this is your time to sample some delicious specials, as well as $7 wines by the glass. Dining after 6 pm can be romantic. The prices for entrees run from $38 to $84-don't gasp, this is Naples!

Many of the herbs come from the on-site garden. 

 My two favorites are the Veranda E Calamari  ($11), with a delicious kung pao-style sauce, mixed nuts,
Shaoxing wine, and optional red chilis for heat. Highly Recommended.

The  other is the Octopus ($21)  from the non-Happy Hour menu-it's THAT delicious! It's slow cooked, grilled, and served atop diced Asian pear with a touch of pineapple, yellow and red bell peppers, Macadamia nuts and mixed greens.
With the Romescu dipping sauce, this is Highly Recommended.

The Hot-N-Crunchy Grouper Sliders and House-made Potato Chips are a generous portion ($13), it's not local grouper because of the Feb. to April grouper fishing ban;  this is flown in from Brasil. This is not the Basa or Swai from Asia that's often posing as "grouper." the sauce is the same as the fish taco below.  
It may be  worth the splurge to order the regular dinner  Hot-n-Crunchy Grouper ($45) with  sautéd almonds, sesame Seeds, ginger, mango chutney sauce, and tropical rice. Bryan Sutton crafted this dish almost 20 years ago, and it's been a Naples staple wherever he has been.

Blackened Fish Taco with Cabbage Slaw and Avocado Cilantro Salsa is a great dish with an Asian fusion mango-chutney and sambal oelek aioli-type sauce listed for $8-on the check it was charged as $10... oh well.
This single taco is one of the better fish tacos around-the potion of fish is enough to make a second taco.

Brisket and Short Rib Burger with Blue Cheese and Veranda E Chips ($ 17) is a juicy good burger, I just wish the price was a little lower for Happy Hour. You do pay for the ambiance. After all, one may pay less and be in a crowded setting, or pay $17 and be in a tropical paradise-your choice. 
It has a very good fat:meat ration of 40:60 for optimal flavor.

Carne Asada Soft Tacos ($10) are gonna be popular, the beef is cooked medium-rare as I like, and it's a decent cut of beef. It
 comes with fresh guacamole, and some very, very good chips!

A happy hour plate, or plate and a shared half make a meal for most people. If you have room, try a dessert like the ginger-lemon ice cream ($10), tiramisu ($12, or a chocolate walnut brownie with ice cream and caramel sauce ($12).

My group of five had drinks and shared the specials for $120 plus tax and tip, we'd come back again in a heartbeat!

Curiously, the check has former Exec. Chef Bryan Sutton's name (who now heads The Rooster in Naples.)
 Now, it's hats off to  Executive  Chef Mounir Loqman, whose artfully- crafted cuisine I've dined on for almost ten years, while he was chef at his former restaurant-USS Nemo.

What's the competition? With this lovely tropical setting, perhaps the Garden of Eden!
Pricing? While they won't take business away from 5th Ave. South and Mercato places that offer almost 50% off apps at happy hour, the novelty and beauty of the setting and the quality of the food is the draw.

Veranda E at Hotel Escalante
 290 5th Ave South,
Naples, FL 34102.

(239) 659-3466

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