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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dinner and Happy Hour at Inca's Kitchen

is a restaurant serving Peruvian Cuisine in Naples, FL.  They have 2 locations, one of which recently opened in the Pavilion shopping center in North Naples.

As you walk into the restaurant they have a beautiful bar and raw bar area. The raw bar serves Tiraditos, sort of a Peruvian sashimi in addition to Sushi-Inspired Rolls. This is exemplary of the multicultural influences over the years on Peruvian food.

 There are also equally beautiful dining areas

in addition to a very nice private dining room should you desire.

Before dinner, Cancha

or roasted corn kernels, a traditional Peruvian snack, were brought to the table with a trio of mild Peruvian chili Sauces, a nice way to start off the meal.

My dining companion (DC) and I then tried a few things off the menu.

I apologize for quality of the menu, but you get the idea. Barring menu aesthetics, the food DC and I sampled was excellent.

The first thing tried was the octopus salad al Rafeal's.

This was absolutely delicious. Octopus was mixed with a dressing of Red Vinegar, olive oil, cilantro and Capers, with a bit of Peruvian corn, avocado and mango "Chimichurri".

After management found out why I was manically taking pictures of the food, they graciously brought a dish of Charipita Ceviche gratis, charipita being a spicy South American pepper.

This was some of the best ceviche I have ever eaten. Not at all too hot, fish (Corvina), shrimp, scallops and mussels were served in a Tiger's Milk, Passion Fruit juice with onions, sweet potato, mango salsa and Tostones, or fried plantain slices. On a second visit I urged the owner to put it on the menu. I hope he does, it was that good!

DC and I moved on to the Wahoo ceviche.

This dish as with the other two were a "flavor explosion" once eaten and beautifully plated out.

Wahoo was marinated in lime juice, Aji Limo pepper, and served with a shot glass of wahoo tiger's milk.

We finished with an order of Lomo Saltado. This is a Peruvian dish with an Asian influence. It is a stir-fry of beef, onions, tomatoes, peppers, cilantro and Soy Sauce (hopefully not that kind). This dish was served with rice and fried potatoes. Unfortunately, it did not photograph well but it was really good.

After I found out they had a happy hour I decided to go back unaccompanied. Inca's only started this about a month ago and they are still perfecting it. There are no wine specials as of yet, but discounts on beer and cocktails. Happy hour runs at the bar from 4:30-6 P.M. and 8-9 P.M. Tuesday-Sunday.

After my first dining experience there I really wanted to try the happy hour food offerings. These are priced at $5.00 each.

Again, cancha was brought out before my order. Guess there's no escapin' this at a Peruvian restaurant.

The first thing I ordered was a ceviche trio.

Swai, an Asian fish, was served 3 ways, with yellow pepper/lime juice, lime juice and Rocoto pepper/lime juice. Onions and sweet potato served as garnishes. I have really never tried swai, but it was very well flavored so much so that I had 2 orders. Additionally, as all dishes here are,  it was beautifully presented.

I moved onto the bacon-wrapped shrimp.

These were good and served with a mango/pepper/onion Sweet and Sour Sauce.

I am a big fan of Chicharron, or fried pork belly, so I wanted to try the restaurant's take on it.

It too was nicely presented, served atop a rocoto pepper Coulis and sweet potatoes. It was very nicely flavored and unusual in that most of the fat was cut off the pork belly. I am still deciding if I like my chicharron this way and will have to order this again when I go back. Again, their happy hour has only been running for about a month and they are still working out the "kinks". They will be expanding both their food and beverage item offerings during happy hour in the near future, and I cannot wait to go back.

Inca's Kitchen has great food and is easily one of the top 10 restaurants in Naples. The interior of the restaurant is beautiful, the service excellent and the food, for the most part, incredibly delicious.

That's that for another post on Forks.

Inca's Kitchen
8955 Tamiami Trail N.
Naples, FL 34108

Inca's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 10, 2015

Happy Hour at Brio Tuscan Grille

Brio/Bravo restaurant group is a chain of 90 restaurants nationwide. I revisited Brio Tuscan Grille

in Naples, FL after doing a blog post at this location a Couple Of Years Ago.

One thing I noticed was that they installed a lot of fans around the open air bar since I had been there last. Not only did this keep the temperature right, but kept the insects at bay, which were a nuisance at my last visit.

Their happy hour runs from 3:30-6:30 P.M Monday-Friday and Monday-Thursday 9 P.M-Close.

Their happy hour is held at the bar

or at the adjacent seating just outside of it.

They have a number of food, wine, beer and cocktail specials during happy hour.

Sorry for the quality of the menus but you get the idea.

Before our food my dining companion (DC) and I were brought a bread basket.

It was really good with Sourdough and Lavash bread, the latter seasoned with rosemary, black pepper, sesame and flax seed.

DC and I then sampled a few things from their happy hour food menu.

The beef Carpaccio was first.

Paper thin slices of beef Tenderloin were topped with Capers, Parmesan cheese, Olive Oil, a mustard Aioli and greens topped with a Balsamic Vinaigrette. Awesome for $3.95.

DC ordered the Sausage, Pepperoni and Riccota Flatbread.

I thought it was good but a bit too peppery for DC's palate. DC then ordered the tomato margherita flatbread

with tomato, basil and Mozzarella cheese. A bit bland I thought, but ok for DC.

I finished up with a couple of items. First was the Brio burger.

I rarely eat hamburgers, but this was really good. One half pound hamburger with Provolone cheese, tomato aioli and chips.

The black pepper shrimp were next.

This dish was ok but unremarkable. I thought the fried Romano encrusted eggplant were really heavy and the pepper cream sauce did little to save it. The shrimp were not bad though.

Should you want to dine here, get here early if you can. Here is a 5 P.M. picture of the dining area, and this was towards the end of April!

There you have it, a revisit to Brio happy hour Naples, FL. That's that for another post on Forks.

Brio Tuscan Grille
5505 Tamiami Tr. N.
Naples, FL 34108

Brio Tuscan Grille on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 6, 2015

Dinner at 7th Avenue Social

is a recently opened restaurant in Naples, FL.  They opened in early March, 2015.

There have been many restaurants in this location over the years. In addition to their outdoor dining area, this iteration has done a wonderful job on their interior remodel.

True to their "social" theme, there are a variety of environments inside the restaurant which really make 7th Avenue Social unique in the area.

As you walk in the front door there is a lounge/television area,

a small "club-like" section with a couch and table and chairs,

a more traditional dining space

and a very nice bar.

My dining companion (DC) and I sampled a number of things from the Menu.

We split some of the Chicharrones.

They were not bad but were more an "Americanized" version. I had really hoped for This, which is basically fried Pork Belly that can be had at many Latin American markets.

Apart from the starter, the food here is wonderful.

DC ordered the loaded yucca fries.

Perfectly cooked strips of Yucca were topped with Barbacoa Beef and Pimento Fondue, sort of a Rotel Dip. The cheese topping made this dish very southern-inspired.

DC also ordered the fried chicken and waffles, another southern-inspired dish.

The fried chicken was some of the best I have had in the area. Marinated in buttermilk, coated in a flour/corn flake mixture and deep fried, delicious. The buttermilk really shined in these chicken thighs. The waffles were also really good, buttressed with real maple syrup.

I ordered the kale salad.

Absolutely delicious, with kale, bacon, pecans, pickled onions, blue cheese and cider dressing.

Having lived in Mississippi and tasted the best, I ordered the Collard Greens.

These were the best I have had in many moons, seasoned with Fatback, onions, vinegar and Mustard Seed.

I asked the owner what the southern "thang" was all about in the food. He told us that he thought it was probably the most definitive American cuisine to him and wanted to highlight it. That they have.

The interior of the restaurant is beautiful, the exterior dining area very pleasant and the food is excellent.This is one of the top 10 local restaurants so far that I have eaten at. I will definitely go back, especially to sample the upcoming happy hour menu that should be online in about a week or two. 7th Avenue Social stands out both culinarily and aesthetically, and should be a very welcome addition to the Naples restaurant scene.

It's a wrap for another post on Forks.

7th Avenue Social
849 7th Avenue South
Naples, FL 34102