Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

Matt and I have decided to start blogging date night ideas. We already blog restaurant reviews – when we have the chance to try out a new place. So we thought we would start by writing a restaurant review AND a date night – in the same piece. This isn’t actually our first date idea – we have a road trip date coming up in the blog later this week or next. But I thought it would be fun to post these two together.

DaRuMa is a Japanese Steak and Seafood restaurant that offers traditional Japanese food as well as Teppan-style dining. There are two restaurants – one in Sarasota, and one in Naples. The Naples restaurant is located at Vanderbilt Beach Road across from the Ritz Carlton.

DaRuMa comes highly recommended. The food is amazing and the Teppan-style preparation is entertaining. I ordered the vegetarian meal (I love veggies) and Matt ordered the seared Tuna, both of which were fantastic.  I have ordered the scallops as well, and they were simply amazing. Teppan-style dining is where you sit around a large flattop grill where your food is prepared by a master chef. You start with hot soup and a salad with ginger dressing. The chef appears and prepares the veggies and shrimp while you finish your salad. Your food is cooked to order right in front of you, and the chefs put on a show of sorts. I highly recommend DaRuMa for family outings and date nights. The food is served in courses, which gives you more time to connect with each other. I was thrilled that Matt suggested DaRuMa and we were not disappointed. If are in Naples (or Sarasota) and have the opportunity, don’t miss a chance to eat here.

Restaurant Review: Roy's

March 26, 2009

I’m not one for reviewing well-known chain restaurants (you won’t find me reviewing Ruby Tuesday’s even if Matt and I go there every once in a while), but after a trip to Roy’s on Monday, I had to write a review.


Roy’s is an upscale Hawaiian fusion cuisine restaurant owned by the same company that owns the Outback Steakhouse. I had the pleasure of spending an evening at Roy’s with Shari Bare, a local photographer who I periodically work with. It was a wonderful evening of catching up on recent work, Shari’s wedding plans, and some new techniques we are both working on.


Roy’s was an excellent choice for a dinner meeting because the servers give you plenty of time between courses. We had time to decide on our meal, and even more time to talk.  We couldn’t have chosen better.


Roy’s cuisine is described as Hawaiian fusion – it’s a mix of pacific surf and exotic turf. I’ve been there three times before with Matt, so I’ve had plenty of opportunities to try a few dishes. Every appetizer, entree, and dessert I have tried has been nothing short of phenomenal.


Shari ordered the Butter Fish with bok choy and sweet rice. I had the blackened shrimp with sauteed veggies (a special request) and polenta. We split our entrees and both were wonderful. I ordered from the prix fixe menu and had a panko crusted chicken salad to start and the molten chocolate lava cake as dessert (which we split). The salad was a wonderful starter and the dessert – well, the dessert was simply to die for.  I would go back just for the dessert.  On alternate trips Matt and I have ordered scallops, ahi tuna, pork chops, specialty appetizers, and multiple desserts. Roy’s is a wonderful place to try new dishes every time you go. I always have a hard time making up my mind.


If you ever get a gift card for Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, or Bonefish Grill, consider using it at Roy’s. Sign up for the email and mailing list – they send information on cooking classes, special dinner nights, and gift cards. Matt and I have two $20 gift cards from Roy’s that we plan to use soon. The food is on the higher end (over $25 an entree, $35 for prix fixe menu), but it is worth the price – Roy’s is one of the best restaurants in the area. There are two in Southwest Florida – at the Promenade in Bonita Springs and at Bayfront in Naples.


Take a special night out and enjoy some of the best food in the area.  Don’t forget to make reservations. You won’t regret it.

A blog with restaurant reviews would not be the same without my all time most favorite restaurant ever: Doc Ford’s Sanibel Rum Bar & Grille. 


Doc Ford’s is THE place to go if you are looking for amazing down-home Floribbean (Caribbean/Floridian) cooking with a unique atmosphere. Doc Ford’s is based on the marine biologist Doc Ford in Randy Wayne White’s bestselling historical fiction and is located on Sanibel Island at the intersection of Sanibel-Captiva Road and Rabbit Road (just before you get to the JN Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge).  The interior has an Old Florida decor with stuffed fish decorating the walls and dark wood panelling along the ceiling. Across from the Restaurant is the Oyster Bar – the PERFECT location for your rehearsal dinner or even a small reception. Trust me, I know – we had our reception there after Matt and I were married.


The best part of Doc Ford’s is the people. Marty, the owner, and his wife are often at the restaurant, relaxing with the locals and watching the game on TV. Chef Greg makes his rounds to see if food is up to par, and Dan helps you plan your event from start to finish.  When Matt and I were married, all I had to do was drop off the table decorations, menus, table names, and a vague drawing of where we wanted everyone to sit.  Doc Ford’s took over.  We showed up the next day post-nuptials and everything had been done for us! 


And of course, I can’t forget the food.  The food at Doc Ford’s is simply amazing.  I’ve tried so many items on their menu that it would take a while to describe just how good each dish was.  Having a buffet at our wedding was the best decision I made.  I’ll give you a few hints on what you simply must order when you go out there (you may need to make several trips):  Bayamo Black Bean Dip, Tomlinson’s Taquitos, Captiva Style Crab Cakes, Conch Chowder, Achoate Grilled Grouper (amazing), Banana Leaf Snapper (best dish on the menu, by far), Campeche Fish Tacos (I think I order this every other time I go – and I substitute veggies for the black beans and rice – amazing!), Panko Fried Shrimp, and Polynesian Chicken.  Their salads and sandwiches aren’t too bad, either!


Once you’ve experienced Doc Ford’s for yourself, I guarantee you’ll want to make another trip out there.  The atmosphere and food make it the best bar and grill in southwest Florida.  And here’s a hint:  I’ve heard they are opening one up on Ft Myers Beach.  Can’t wait! (

Mmmmm. Matt and I have found the most amazing “fast food” Mexican restaurant in the world. We simply can’t get enough of Bajio Mexican Grill.

Bajio has a similar waiting and ordering line as Moe’s, Tijuana Flats, and others. You stand in line and look at the menu, then step up to the counter. The interior decor is Mexican themed and they paid close attention to the details. Warm earth tone walls, broken mexican pottery, humorous cartoonish paintings, and magnificent metal lanterns make this restaurant seem like something you would find in Disney World. They offer a wide variety of options – many of which I haven’t seen at other restaurants of the same type. I ordered the full Ensalada Bajio with mequite grilled lime chicken and the Tortilla Soup. Matt has ordered the Stuffed Quesidillas with honey glazed chicken and Chicken Enchiladas on separate occasions. They give you many options for topping your meal – including corn, caramelized onions, guacamole, sour cream, cilantro, and many more traditional options.

So if you’re in Naples and you are getting a bit tired of Moe’s, stop by Bajio Mexican Grill – it’s in the new shopping plaza at Livingston and Pine Ridge Road, next to the casino (no joke).

Ok, I admit it.   Matt and I are foodies.  When we can, we love to go out to eat.  Which isn’t very often, admittedly.  Or we end up at that gastronomic palace “Cici’s”  for all-you-can-eat pizza cheapness.  But we decided a long time ago to track some of the local Naples and Fort Myers restaurants that we love  Starting this week I hope to keep a weekly update on restaurants in this area.  Today we start with Miss Saigon.


Miss Saigon is Vietnamese at its finest.  This hole-in-the-wall restaurant seats fewer than 30 people at a time (although they will fit you in where they can), but the food is phenomenal.  If you haven’t tried Vietnamese food, Miss Saigon will make you a believer.  They have everything from traditional pho to sauteed vegetable and meat dishes and bowls.  My personal favorite is to start with the spring rolls, which come with a peanut sauce.  Then I get the sauteed veggies and tofu with yellow noodles.  Matt gets the pork bowl, which comes with lettuce, cabbage, pork, white noodles, and a really special sauce.  The best part is the price.  Two of us can eat there for under $30, and that includes an appetizer and a tip.  It’s located on the east side of US 41 between Golden Gate Parkway and Pine Ridge Road.  Make it a date and try it out.  Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.