Florida Report - Roy's (Bonita Springs), Campiello's (Naples)

After an excellent Thanksgiving spent at my cousin Ken and Carolyn's house in NJ, Danna and I took a quick trip to my family's place in Bonita Springs. A great getaway from the city (i.e., pollution, people, "urban wildlife", work) and a chance to just chill out...and eat.
Bonita Springs, Florida
Our first night in town, Danna wanted to go to the movies...I wanted to go to dinner. So we did both. We live a 2 minute bicycle ride from Roy Yamaguchi's Bonita Springs Florida. So close, I don't even have to leave our "community". Fantastic.
The thing about Roy's that I like - and I guess what is the whole idea behind chain restaurants of any quality - is that it is predictable. I can count on getting good service. I can count on getting decent, tasty food, and I can count on getting asked if I want the chocolate souffle before I even put my napkin on my lap.
Some may scoff at such predictability and I would have to agree that it does seem a bit formulaic, but if it works - who cares. So with that, we ordered mostly signature Roy's dishes including:
Wood Grilled Szechuan Spiced Baby Back Pork Ribs (meaty, very flavorful and good enough to take home the leftovers to include in a salad for lunch at home the next day) and the Classic Trio, which was:
Hawaiian Style Misoyaki Butterfish (cod) in a soy vinaigrette, Ahi Tuna with a sauce I forget and Hibachi style grilled salmon with japanese vegetables and citrus ponzu sauce. All of which was cooked just right, had great differences in flavor and was presented nicely. The japanese vegetables had a nice kick to it too. The butterfish was particularly good - and I'm not really a fan of cod-style fish.
Not necessarily "Roy's Classics", but we also ordered a dragon roll as a starter and lobster potstickers with a cognac cream sauce. All very good, though the dragon roll was just okay. Nothing surprised us. Nothing blew us off of our seat. But everything was good or better
I'd be remiss to mention neglect how good the service was. Luis was our waiter - and if every dining experience included a cloned version of Luis, I think its fair to say we'd always tip 20% or more. He was fantastic as was his supporting staff.
There is some fine dining in be continued




Finally got a chance to have brunch at Prune.

A previous dinner there was very good and we had hopes for a great brunch. We got a very good brunch, but nothing spectactular.

The star of the morning was the Southwest Bloody Mary - made with a nice anejo instead of vodka, and kicked up to the perfect heat/temp. Best bloody mary I've had since I was in Flagstaff (Flagstaff Brewing Company - believe it or not. Ask Mike to make it for you). Though the one I had at Great Jones Cafe was something special too.

For food, Danna got the dutch pancake which was very tasty. The mini Canadian bacon looked average. I ordered the Huevos Rancheros which by all accounts were good, but nothing to wax poetic about. The rest of the menu looked simply okay.

Service was good though...the guy with the curly blond hair was nice and the smiley hostess is pleasant.

Note: the licorice you get is pretty good. The Scotty is traditional black licorice, the "coin" is more like "Fisherman's friend". Both nice. Oh and the wait was about 40 minutes at 11:10am despite being told it'd be an hour or more. The little coffee hut a few doors down serves good coffee too.




Had another great trip out there. Tried the crispy catfish salad, which I didn't really enjoy. Also had the crispy watercress salad which was great, but not as good as it's been in the past. The penang curry = as good as ever. Delicious. And I also tried the drunken sauteed noodles with beef for the first time. Excellent.

Note: Takeout orders of the Penang curry are smaller (I think) than the regular orders. I happened to order some more penang to go and noticed this the following morning. If doing so, I'd suggest ordering it at the table...and having them give you the packaging for to go.

Tabla Bread Bar

Tabla Bread Bar
11 Madison Ave.

I get the same thing each time I eat here: the lamb naanini sandwich.

It is an excellent dish though I confess it lacked the luster of the first and second visits. Still delicious. Add a Lagunitas Brewing (Petaluma, CA) "Censored" beer and you are good to go.


Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave.

Eleven Madison ParkHad lunch yesterday with dad. Service was, I hate to say it, confused. Actually - the hostess was confused. Polite though. Also, I ordered the halibut, but was served the salmon. I was hungry and time was of the essence, so I just kept it. The food was delicious. Dad and I got the same dishes and being that I was in a rush, we stuck to the a la carte menu.

We started with the Terrine of "Elevage Perigord" Foie Gras with Port Wine Gelee, Golden Raisins and Hazelnuts ($24). This was beautiful...though small. Served with toasted brioche, the flavor was great though I think the foie gras flavor may have been slightly crushed by the port wine gelee. This, fortunately was served with a small bowl of foie gras creme brulee that I loved the last time I was here for dinner (then it was served in a porcelan spoon).

For entrees, we went with the Scottish Salmon "Mi-Cuit" with Fennel-Saffron Consomme ($27). Also excellent...though a bit high priced for what you really get. And yet, this was the second least expensive item on the menu.For dessert, I went with the Black Mission Fig (tart with toasted almond cake, fresh chevre and red wine ice cream). Solid dessert. No doubt. Dad went with the Chocolate-Peanut (tart w/peanut butter caramel and brandied cherry-chip ice cream). It looked better and more substanitial. I think these were $12 each. Overpriced, in my opinion.


Les Halles

Les Halles
411 Park Ave. South

The wife suggested we go for brunch just because it was close and she'd yet to try it. After years of avoiding having a meal there with her (I'd been to the John Street locale previously myself), I'd caved in, knowing that I'd get an "I told you so" opportunity.Sure enough, service was atrocious (empty plates/no sign of our waiter for 20 minutes) and the food was mediocre at best. I had the frisee salad, which was good, but the ham and cheese crepes were inedible. AVOID like the plague.


Ennio & Michael

Ennio & Michael
539 LaGuardia Place

I was invited to dinner at Ennio & Michael last week and am embarrassed to say I'd never heard of it before. When I found out its location, I was surprised at the dozens of times I've walked by it without knowing it/giving it a chance.

The room is rather boring. A tacky mirror here, some boring artwork there - it basically has no heart when it comes to decor. Though they did put up some drapes to cover the elementary school ceiling tiles.

The service, however, is very good without being overbearing, i.e., laid on thick...though the servers congeniality (and accents) were no doubt legit.

Food, most importantly, was in most cases very good though there are certain areas it needs to know what its strengths and weaknesses are. I think we discovered them both.

We were given a complimentary order of zucchini fritti which were fine, not too greasy, not too tasty either. I'd never recommend paying the $7.50 for them, but as a complimentary starter...fine.

Sue Anne ordered the Asparagi alla parmigiana ($9.50) - an out of season dish that was prepared simply (baked, not sauteed) and well. The grated parmagiano had a nice crispiness to it. It also added a good amount of saltiness to the dish - a good thing.

Doug ordered the Cozze alla Posillipo ($12.50). These were mussels in red wine and garlic sauce. They were served with hot peppers that made the dish come alive. Otherwise, the sauce itself was a bit boring though the mussels were fine. Good value overall though. Nice portions and fairly priced.

I ordered the Spiedini alla Romana ($9.75). This is the first restaurant I've seen prepare Spiedini the way (or at least similar in the way) that Aldo's in Wyckoff, NJ does it. Frankly, Aldo's does it a little better but that might be just because it's the version that the bar was set to for me. This version was really good though. Mozzarella breaded and covered in an anchovy and caper sauce. Yum. The version at Aldo's (for those keeping score) is more like a bechamel, but also with anchovy/caper flavor.

Sue Anne had the house made lasagne - a special in the traditional style. It was delicious. Doug had mentioned before we sat down that he'd heard that if there was a lasagne on the menu, to order it. Holy cow was this good. Definitely recommended.

Doug had the Costolette di Agnello al Rosmarino (rack of lamb, rosemary) ($29.75). This was a healthy serving of lamb - 6 ribs, but it was slightly overcooked. The potato wedges it was served with were bland and boring and not even salted well. Pretty sad. This dish is the most expensive item on the menu and though it was good/passable and the portion size was better than average, I'd pass on it next time and order something else from the lengthy main course menu or stick with the reasonally priced pastas.

I opted to do just that. I chose the Rigatoni all Ennio - chopped sausage, onion, peas and mushroom in creamy pink sauce ($16.50). Is it Babbo good. No, but it's also not $18.00 or more. And the serving sizes (if that's your gauge) is hefty. Very tasty, not cloying and well cooked. I couldn't finish the portion only because I'd eaten so much already.

The cannolis were huge and unbelievable. Right up there with the best I've had. The other desserts (tiramisu, raspberry torte, etc.) are not worth your while.

It's not on the menu but ask for the Tostoni(sp?) with espresso. Goodness. This was EXCELLENT. The layer of espresso on top just seals the deal and really brought an end to a good meal.

Last thing to note...this place is perfect for an easy going alternative to anything in Little Italy (much more civilized and better tasting) or many of the options on the nearby strip of Bleecker. College kids looking for a date place or even a place to bring your parents (they are paying enough already for NYU tuition) might do well here. It's not trying too hard (note: decor) but offers good food and good service in a quiet, often underused part of downtown.