When you feel like HobNobbing but don’t want to schlep down to Fifth Avenue South, Michael Hernandez has an answer for you opening any day now.
The owner of The New York Times-featured eatery and watering hole (and original proprietor of classics like Bistro 821 and Bistro 41) says of his latest project, MidTown Kitchen + Bar, “We hope to be open within the next two weeks.”
The sprawling space in the same plaza as Food & Thought just north of Golden Gate Parkway has his signature zeitgeist stamp. This time it translates to shiny red bar stools, newsprint collages, whitewashed brick walls and, of course, a New American menu. Many of the “social plates,” “boards + buns,” “grains + greens,” etcetera are best ordered en masse and shared. An early perusal of the list had me salivating over a double-stack grass-fed burger with a jalapeño-and-bacon onion marmalade and a flatbread with spicy hummus, spinach, artichokes and feta. There are also several HobNobbian dishes to keep loyal Hernandez fans happy, including deviled eggs (a sweet-savory combo of tomato jam and candied bacon) and various land and sea entrées like short rib pot roast and local snapper in a saffron broth.
Knowing his track record with hits and chef Tony Biagetti’s reputation, I’d be surprised by anything less than high notes once the kitchen is in full swing.

MidTown Kitchen + Bar, 2110 Ninth St. N., Naples, (239) 908-6558
Naples: Small Town, Big Appetite

A national survey puts Naples in the top 10 small town food scenes, reinforcing what we already know.
Tastes Like Chicken (Wings)

Got a craving for wings of all shapes and sauces? Local restaurants are spicing things up with green curry, bacon, garlic, lemon and more.

A New Trail

I found a lot to love about the reincarnation of Trail Café and Grill, a North Naples country kitchen serving better-than-ever scrambles and egg bennys.
Sacré Bleu

Christian Vivet’s bistro on Sanibel just celebrated its first anniversary. Read why it’s worth crossing the causeway for. (Plus, for summer, there are $20 petite prix dishes.)

    • Whiskey Park: People have been patiently waiting for this next venture from the owner of the former Grumpy’s Ale House. Just slightly off Airport-Pulling Road on the edge of the Trade Center’s maze, you’ll find an unpretentious tavern with a specialty cocktail list and N’awlins-inspired menu featuring jambalaya, po’boys and fried green tomatoes.
    • Shea’s at Lansdowne Street: A dark, wood-paneled hideaway off Fifth Avenue South across from Vergina feels like an escape to Beantown through each pint of Sam Adams (or craft brew) and bowl of clam chowda. With TVs and booths galore, it’s a cozy place to catch a game, preferably one that the Red Sox are winning.
    • The Fish & Vine: Raise your hand if you like Merrick Seafood’s Fish Tale Grill in Cape Coral. Chef Richard Montoya, who was influential in launching it, is now helping to launch this upscale seafood spot in South Fort Myers. He’s heading the kitchen; the restaurant also has a full bar and wine list with boutique selections. 

Do you agree the best things in life are free? Good news: Today (May 10) Häagen-Dazs locations nationwide are hosting their annual “Free Cone Day” from 4-8 p.m.

Another bit o’ news for discount lovers: The revival of Restaurant Week in Naples is going on now until May 15 with $35 three-course menus available at eateries around town.

The Dock at Crayton Cove has been a fixture in Naples for 40 years and so, too, has the annual Great Dock Canoe Race. This year’s playful competition this Saturday, May 14, is the 40th and sadly the last ever (but, as they say, all good things must come to an end). If you find yourself there—or at The Dock or Barnes & Noble in the coming months—do check out the cookbook its owners have recently published: The Dock at Crayton Cove, Everybody’s Kitchen. If you purchase the collection of recipes and trove of local history, proceeds from the $20 cost will be donated to the scholarship fund at the Culinary Institute of America (Harvard for chefs) honoring David Christian DePasquale, the owners’ late son. 

Rosy Tomorrows Heritage Farm, one of our area’s best, has started throwing jazz brunches on its beautiful North Fort Myers grounds. The next “Hundred Acre Jazz Brunch” (I don’t know about you, but I love the Winnie the Pooh reference) is Sunday, May 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are $59 per person for the luscious spread of farm-fresh gourmet dishes (and they include gratuity)—but, in my opinion, it’s priceless to eat under the trees with happy piglets roaming by your feet.
In the May issue of Gulfshore Life ... I select where you need to be dining right now in this year's Best of the Gulfshore. Pick up a copy on newsstands today!

  My dinner with Art Smith at his new 1500 South
  Artis Henderson pays a visit to Azure in Fort Myers
  Coffee that will start your day off right

It's upon us ... the Best of the Gulfshore is on newsstands now! See both our full critic's picks and reader poll results for what and where you need to be eating, drinking, shopping, sporting and more.

If you have dining news to share for Hot Dish, email Dorothea Hunter Sönne,
Gulfshore Life’s food and wine editor, at dsonne@gulfshorelife.com. If you are interested  advertising in Hot Dish, contact Diane LeBreck at dlebreck@gulfshorelife.com.

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