Like many people from Kentucky and Ohio, my family and friends make frequent trips to Naples, Florida.
This past August, a group of my close friends decided it would be good idea to do a beach trip to stay at my parents condo. Who doesn't like roasting in 100+ temperatures? Sign me up.
For our last night, Saturday, we wanted to go to a nice upscale dinner on 5th Avenue in Naples. If you haven't been to the area before, although beautiful, it's not exactly known for being a young and vibrant destination. However, a fairly new restaurant hit the 5th Avenue scene with exceptional decor and mouthwatering cuisine: Cafe Lurcat.
I had the opportunity to eat at Cafe Lurcat back in May to celebrate my 30th birthday with my family. We were seated at a wonderful corner table on the front porch patio. The service was excellent and we were offered appetizers of thai meatballs with cucumber and yogurt sauce, compliments of the chef.
Having a larger group of eight people, we went to OpenTable.com to make our reservations. The only available spot was at 9:30 -- very late for the Naples demographic but perfect for our fashionably late crowd.
When we arrived at the cafe, it was noticeably uncrowded, a surprise to us since we could not get a reservation until then. We talked to the hostess and informed her that was the earliest reservation we were able to obtain. She said it must have been a glitch in OpenTable and said there were several reservations available before then. However, she said it wasn't a problem at all and led us to our large table on the second floor of the dining area.
This glitch in OpenTable actually worked to our advantage. Since most of the crowd was clearing out, we received over-the-top personal service. The servers were friendly, fun and didn't mind that we were in no hurry to dine and leave. Everyone was in a great mood from the week of fun we'd already had and dinner was meant to be a feast, celebrating good friends. Everyone tried something different and decided to partake in the large sides meant for sharing. Jill and Josh have not stopped talking about their Sea Bass marinated in Miso, it's now become legendary in their personal book of best meals ever. Josh actually refers to it as "Liquid Gold" I am not even sure what that really means! I enjoyed a lighter meal of Yellowtail Snapper with Parsley, Lemon and Butter. Other memorable dishes included Fresh Pasta Squares with Lobster, Tomato and Fresh Herbs and the 12-ounce Kobe New York Strip Steak with Beurre Gascogne. We all shared sides of the Roasted Cauliflower and Potato Gratin with Comte and Thyme and good old-fashioned French Fries. For dessert, they served up a simple but irresistible plate of Warm Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnuts to celebrate my brother-in-law Nick's 29th birthday.
As the night wore on, we realized we were the only people left in the restaurant, but the staff didn't seem to care. They acted like they were enjoying themselves as much as we were. One of the managers informed us they had an iPod hookup in the office, and if we wanted to, we could connect our own music and play it over the speakers of the entire restaurant. Talk about adding a personal touch! Never known to pass up a dance party, Josh took control of the situation and headed back to the control room to set up the music. Our last dinner together ended in an unforgettable night with laughing and partying it up in a cleared-out restaurant. The most memorable dining experience of my life so far.
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