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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Dinner at Zen Asian BBQ

 Zen Asian BBQ

is a restaurant in Naples, Fl serving a mixture of Japanese Cuisine and Korean BBQ.There used to be another restaurant in this space, but they have done a really nice job of renovating it for diners in their restaurant space,

and sushi bar.

I invited a few dining companions (DC's) out that evening, and we agreed to sample a variety of things among ourselves from Zen Asian BBQ Menu. Actually, most of them were recommended by the manager who I chatted with before DC's showed up.

The first was a tuna pizza.

Please forgive the photograph as my auto focus is having issues and I need to send my camera back to Canon for a fix.

Tuna was on a grilled tortilla with red onion, cilantro, tomato and Gochuang aioli. I thought this was just o.k.. It was Asian styled but definitely No Great Shakes.

I love roasted vegetables so the crispy brussles sprout were next.

These were excellent, with candied walnuts, bacon, sage and Saba Yuzu Miso. Absolutely delicious!

Grilled octopus was next.

This was excellent. Tender, very carbon tasting and served with a Karashi miso, grilled cherry peppers and kale. Highly recommended.

One DC loves Unagi, so there was an order of that.

 Another killer dish.

Management recommended the pad Thai. 

The presentation as remarked by management was remarkable but the pad Thai was not. Just another pad Thai in a sea of pad Thais.

DC's and I finished up with the lamb Massaman curry.

It was killer. Lamb rib chops were cooked in a very rich massaman curry sauce heavily peppered with cinnamon so it tasted like candy, Really, really good.

There were some hits and misses at Zen Asian BBQ. The hits were so good that I cannot wait to go back to sample more. What was good was spectacular. There is no restaurant with cuisine like this in town that comes close. I will definitely be back for a second visit.

Zen Asian BBQ
10823 Tamiami Tr. N.
Naples, FL. 34108

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Happy Hour at Bravo

is a restaurant in the Mercato, in Naples, FL. Mercato is a mixed used residential/commercial development. Brio Bravo Restaurant Group is a chain of almost 120 Italian-themed restaurants in the U.S. In Naples, Bravo has a happy hour from 3:30-6:30 Monday-Friday and 9-10 P.M. Monday-Thursday. They have great specials on their Bar Menu during happy hour, and $5.00 wines on Thursdays.

As you walk into Bravo,

happy hour is served either at the bar

or on the outside patio.

My dining companion (DC) and I decided to try a number of things from their happy hour menu.

The first thing we tried was a classic, the Caprese salad.

I never gravitated toward this dish. I am glad DC ordered this as at Bravo, it was very good. All the flavors seemed to meld perfectly.

Crispy shrimp Napoli was next.

Shrimp were dusted in rice flour, fried and served with scallions and a buttery charred tomato sauce. If you like shrimp, you will like this,

We then sampled the chicken, bacon and spinach flatbread. It also was very good.

The Bravo burger was next.

This is a 6 oz. burger with white American cheese, horseradish aioli and seasoned fries. I am not much of a hamburger person in part trying to be calorie conscious but it was really good. The french fries, a rare treat for me, were even better.

This is a very nice happy hour especially on Thursdays with their wine specials. DC and I ordered all of this, an extra shrimp dish and 2 beverages for $20.00 each.

I think you will find Bravo's happy hour a great value and something you will want to come back to. This is not fine dining but decent food at a price that is a welcome relief to the local dining scene here. For me, the patio area provided a welcoming and pleasant area to enjoy happy hour.

It's a wrap for another post on Forks. Merry Christmas everyone!

9110 Strada Place
Naples, FL 34108

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Man of La Mancha

Another installment from local master sommelier (retired) Barrie Larvin's blog, Windows On Wine. This is a bit from a recent trip to the La Mancha region in Spain.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Dinner at KC American Bistro

KC American Bistro (KC) is a restaurant in Naples, FL serving interpretations of American Regional Cuisines.  KC are the initials of the chef and owner Keith Casey. He is a really, really good cook.

They are located in the Pavillion Shopping Plaza which at present is undergoing a serious makeover so I do not have any photos of the front of the restaurant. When renovations are completed, this plaza will have a much needed, and very aesthetically pleasing patina.

(KC) has been around since 2009, and I wrote about them in 2013. I loved their food then, and since then they have expanded. What a great excuse for a second visit!

As you approach the entrance there is plenty of outdoor seating,

which is nice in the winter months.

The interior of the restaurant has been significantly expanded,

is very nice and also has a full bar.

My dining companion (DC) and I tried a few things off KC menus. I remembered a few stalwarts from my last visit, but there were quite a few new items.

I love pork belly, so that is what I tried.

This was heaven, and was a very nice slab of apple cider braised pork belly plopped atop a carrot/cumin puree and carmelized apples.

For an entree, I ordered the nori and sesame seared Hawaiian ahi tuna.

It too was really good, served with Sushi Rice, Wasabi, Gari, baby bok choy and Ponzu sauce. Not bad.

DC ordered the Ritz cracker seared seared grouper.

Although this photo does not do the dish justice, it was the best dish of the night. Ritz cracker breaded grouper, atop thyme roaster fingerling potatoes and fresh corn and napa cabbage slaw. Really really great!

I was not disappointed over 2 years ago and was not disappointed now. The food at KC American Bistro is great, this is one of the best restaurants in town. You will never get a bad meal here. The restaurant for a Tuesday night in the beginning of December was packed, both a telling and very good sign. I would go back again as there are so many good looking items on the menu to try.

That's that for another post on Forks.

KC American Bistro
885 Vanderbilt Beach Rd,
Naples, FL 34108

Friday, December 11, 2015

Porker BBQ

is for the moment, primarily a catering business in Naples, FL. Some Fridays, and every Saturday from noon to sellout, they serve at Naples Beach Brewery for some great food/beer pairings.

The proprietor, Chris Jones, is an accomplished chef and has been known in town for more sophisticated cooking methods such as Molecular Gastronomy. With Porker BBQ, he wanted to go back to more culinary roots. Make no mistake, this project was close to 3 years in the making, and it shows.
Partially prompted by a visit to Kansas City, his style reflects Kansas City-Style BBQ, which centers on slowly smoked meats. 
To do this he uses a Lang BBQ smoker. There are not many companies that make "stick-burners" such as these but they cost as much as a half way decent motorcycle.


The last picture is the firebox of the smoker. Any BBQ aficionado will tell you, "no wood, no good".  Chris's meats are smoked for 12-14 hours, and are really good.

On Saturdays at Naples Beach Brewery, he sets up sort of a quasi food truck

that the plates are served out of,

and here were the menus that day.

That day they were doing some test runs with some chicken and acorn squash on the smoker,

and it was fun watching them put my dish together in their food truck.

Unfortunately, I did not have my thinking cap on that day and got there around 2 P.M. when there were not that many diners.

Their best seller is the meat fest, a plate for two.

Meat fest includes brisket, pork belly, pork shoulder, short rib and sausage made in house from short rib/brisket. There is also home made slaw, pickles, breads and tortillas among other treats should you want to make a few tacos with your meal. Their beans are phenomenal, with roasted and smoked tomatoes, jalapeƱos, black beans, pinto beans and meat fest meats such as pork shoulder, pork belly and brisket. Heaven!

On other visits, I have had tacos and burritos and they are exceptional as well, though the offerings change weekly.

This is BBQ at it's best. It's certainly the best in the Naples area and probably some of the best in the state. The man really knows what he is doing. This food, paired with the artisinal beers at Naples Beach Brewery, is one of the better Saturday scenes going on in Naples on a weekly basis.

Chris has a commissary in the same location as Naples Beach Brewery and come early next year, will be selling his wonderful BBQ by the pound as take out. I cannot wait. Come and try some of the food here on Saturdays and I cannot see how you would not agree with me.

It's a wrap for another post on Forks.

Porker BBQ
4110 Enterprise Ave. STE 102
Naples, FL 34104