Dining Out: Bistro 821 ...
a class act featuring innovative food
Friday, October 25, 2002 By L.G. GORDON
- Naples Daily News
1, Bistro 821 at 821 Fifth Ave. S. changed hands. Chip Shumway sold
the business to Billy Holcomb, former owner of Zoe's across the street
at No. 720, and Jesse Housman, the original chef at both Bistro 821
on two recent dining experiences, it's evident that Housman is very
much at home in his former kitchen, where he's turning out some
of the most innovative cuisine found anywhere in Naples. For example:
Our sugar cane
skewered jumbo prawns came with jasmine rice redolent with coconut
ginger. The shrimp were bathed in a Thai sweet and spicy butter
sauce, then garnished with crushed peanuts.
A grilled Florida
lobster tail was equally sublime, the plump, sweet lobster meat
doused with an addictive spiced rum brown butter sauce and perfectly
partnered with artichoke and asparagus risotto.
In the wrong
hands, cuisine such as this could be "over-ingrediented,"
but Housman knows how to avoid fusion confusion. And here's more
good news. It doesn't take big bucks to enjoy his food.
Yes, the aforementioned
entrees both house specialties run $29 and $27. But
on our initial visit, when we took advantage of the specially priced
salad, pasta and risotto choices, our dinner tab totaled a modest
$35, including a couple bottles of Coors.
their waistline or the bottom line can choose either appetizer or
full-size portions. The price difference between the two is about
40 percent. My guest and I found the smaller versions quite acceptable,
and the food was wonderful.
we sampled a surprisingly hearty nut and berry salad that included
blue cheese and was dressed with an excellent raspberry maple vinaigrette
($6.25 or $10). The salad was notable for its interesting mix of
tastes and textures.
The soup du
jour, a spicy red Caribbean seafood chowder ($4 or $5), also earned
two thumbs up.
went well with the chewy house bread which was accompanied by an
artfully arranged trio of dipping sauces: aged balsamic vinegar,
freshly grated parmesan and olive oil with red pepper flakes. (I
do wish they'd warm up the bread, though. Ours was stone cold.)
grilled chicken breast sliced over angel hair pasta tossed
with fresh and sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, oregano, basil, olives
and roasted red peppers ($9 or $17) was a flavor-packed (and
And I liked
my artichoke and asparagus risotto ($11 or $20) so much that I deliberately
ordered the lobster tail on my second visit because it came with
the same creamy, rich risotto.
It should be
noted that people who select entrees from the regular bill of fare
are also offered a variety of price points, however. The homemade
chicken pot pie, for instance, is $11, and the chef's unique daily
specials are often priced in the $20 range.
recent menus include a porcini dusted lamb tenderloin with goat
cheese mashed potatoes and asparagus in a Pinot Noir demi glace
and shellfish paella baked in a saffron flavored rice garnished
with pearl onions and grilled vegetables.
always been a worthwhile splurge at Bistro 821. Our luxurious creme
brulee ($5), with its perfectly caramelized brittle sugar topping,
was no exception.
A tip of the
toque to Holcomb and Housman as well as chef de cuisine Martyn Freeman
and sous chef Amelius Magestrate. Florida Trend magazine called
Bistro 821 one of the top 200 Florida restaurants. My guests and