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Garden Whisperers

Secret garden serves diners in Naples’ most romantic hotel By Kelly Merritt Buzzwords abound in the restaurant industry: hyperlocal, farm to table, field to table, seed to table.One local hotel is walking the walk by creating its own sustainable organic garden on the premises for its in-house dining program. The Veranda E in the Hotel Escalante’s garden still is in the beginning stages, but the charming little green space, which Hotel EscalanteownerMary Brandt and Executive Chef Bryan Sutton have called “Jardin E,” is poised to set new standards for fresh ingredients in Naples. (Jardin is French for garden.) There is a gourmet culinary component to the garden of course, but Brandt said it’s exciting to see those first signs of life spring forth fromtheambitious project because they […]

Hungry for SWFL: Valentine’s Day ideas

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I know it seems like a long time away, but if you’re hoping to take your sweetheart out for dinner at one of Naples’ most romantic restaurants, you have to start planning now. Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest restaurant days of the year. Of course everyone’s idea of romance is different, but a quiet atmosphere, an attractive view, soft music and candlelight are all elements I look for when recommending a romantic restaurant. For me it also means a professional attentive serving staff, no big boisterous parties at the next table and no children running around underfoot. Here are a few smaller restaurants with romantic atmosphere that you may not have heard of yet. Mereday’s Fine Dining opened at Naples Bay Resort this summer. This […]

May’s Best Bite

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Vanessa Rogers Diver Scallops with Foie Gras and truffle Risotto at Veranda E. Naples’ top new romantic dining spot is Verande E’s secluded courtyard garden hideaway in the Hotel Escalante. And Chef Michael Kang is up to the task of creating food worthy of the setting. Feast on succulent seared diver scallops with a generous portion of Hudson Valley foie gras, with reduced Port wine and truffle sauce. Listen to the relaxing fountains as you sample the luxuriously smooth risotto’s classic Carnaroli rice laced with wild mushrooms, truffles, organic English peas, minced shallots and fresh thyme. 290 Fifth Ave. S., Naples, 659-3466,

Veranda E is downtown dining aphrodisiac

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Courtyard dining extends from the building outward and past the pool at the Hotel Escalante’s restaurant Veranda E in Naples. You’ve likely seen the saying “eat dessert first” on Facebook, on a coffee shop sign or stitched on a pillow somewhere. Usually I shirk this premise: my salty palate drives me to the savory and only occasionally do I find bliss in the sweeter side of dining. And while Veranda E at the Hotel Escalante has some amazing savory dishes, Executive Chef Michael Kang’s homemade ice cream dictates beginning this story with dessert. At dinner at Veranda E last week, one of my favorite dining partners said, “I know we’re stuffed but let’s just try chef Kang’s ice cream ($8). It sounds refreshing.” Huh? Ice cream? That’s […]