203 Capri Boulevard, Naples, FL
Where can you paddle a canoe or take a swim, then savor a superb seafood spread while seated in a chickee hut bar on the shores of Johnson Bay?
It’s all about the Sunday Buffet and family fun fest at the Capri Fish House on Isles of Capri. The bountiful all-you-can-eat buffet is set up in the air-conditioned ambiance of the unique dining room. And, of course, there’s ample seating indoors where diners can also enjoy views of Johnson Bay.
The lovely screened-in chickee hut — where, incidentally, the small, but amply-stocked bar is located — is several steps downhill from the restaurant building by the shores of Gitchee Gumee, and buffet customers can opt to enjoy the fabulous Sunday Buffet there.
It’s a toss-up though:
-You can decide to enjoy the buffet seated in the dining room, where the bar waiter will bring the drinks you order to your table or...
-You can sit in the chickee hut and go get and carry back the buffet goodies yourself (not that it’s such a bad idea because you can work off the calories) and the bar waiter will bring the drinks you order to your table.
Either way, the Sunday Buffet usually costs $14.95 but no more than $17.95, depending on market price for seafood (beverages extra) and it’s served from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The buffet stretches from right to left on a long table along the wall, across from the dining room entrance. Beginning on the right end, on a separate table, a platter is piled high with an assortment of fresh fruits, melons and fresh berries as well as with that day’s dessert — a large chocolate cake embellished with whipped cream rosettes and fresh strawberries.
That end of the long buffet table is set with plates, forks, knives along with a napkin-lined basket filled with warm and crusty, fresh (really) sliced baguettes and assorted dinner rolls along with a bowl of individual, foil-wrapped real butter patties.
A nice touch, small cards placed in front of each buffet item identify the contents within.
The salad selections include a huge bowl of Greek salad, crisp torn romaine, sliced radishes, cucumbers, onions and more bathed in a piquant and creamy cheese dressing. Alongside, an ample oval platter’s perimeter is circled with an artfully arranged Insalata Caprese with fresh mozzarella cheese slices alternating with slices of rosy garden tomatoes, while the platter’s center is filled with a mound of mixed antipasto salad surrounded by halved Roma tomatoes resembling brilliant red flower petals. Laid out in front are individual bowls filled with condiments: homemade tartar sauce, grated horseradish, cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.
Warmth and savory aromas, emanating from a line chafing dishes set on stands, signal that serious hot food is forthcoming, and the first place card reads “fried calamari,” and “fried grouper fingers.” Blackened grouper pieces and a creamy seafood chowder flecked with green bits of herbs and teeny squares of carrots and celery and pieces of seafood, share space in the second chafing dish. Chef Jean W. Louis remarked that this was one of his most popular dishes. “A lot of people come back for seconds.”
He added, “This is very healthy. I especially prepare it with extra virgin olive oil because some of our customers prefer it for its healthful benefits.”
While pointing at the next chafing dish filled with lovely plump mahi-mahi filets, Chef Louis explained, “But I like it also for the rich taste because mahi is not an oily fish and tends to be dry. Then I add color and garnish it with fresh diced tomatoes and onions.”
Theresa Castellano, Capri Fish House co-owner with husband Michael, greeted Maureen Sanders, who eats there often.
“I come down from North Naples, just about once a week on Sunday or a weekday — I kayak, then I come in and eat lunch or dinner or the Sunday buffet,” Sanders explained. “Mike and Theresa are phenomenal — they have the best grouper I’ve ever had anywhere — fried, blackened on the buffet. Then, they had salmon Florentine that would knock you out, and what I’ve found here is, no matter if I have a salad or dinner, everything is always fresh and exceptional quality!”
Coincidentally, the adjoining chafing dish contained a luscious-looking grouper Florentine, lovely little fillets glazed with white wine butter sauce on a bed of verdant spinach. Equally exquisite, the chicken Marsala’s white meat ovals were visible rosy brown sauce dotted with mushroom slices. Another Capri Fish House special was the jambalaya, a spicy, fragrant mélange of Cajun sausage-flavored rice, with chicken, shrimp, scallops, mussels and clams.
Last but certainly not least, the carving station boasted a resplendent, golden-brown skinned roasted turkey tarted up with an ascot of sage dressing and giblet gravy on the side. Standing by with carving knife, Chef Louis was ready to cut slices from a spice and herb-rubbed roast pork butt or charred, grilled flank steak that showed a bright pink center where it had been sliced open. Sharing the huge roasting pan was a mound of grilled onion and peppers, along with a pile of golden-hued roasted russet potatoes.
To top it all, Rod McKenzie and Frank Carroll, take turns playing in the afternoon or evening, keeping customers entertained and happy on Sunday from 2 to 9:30 p.m. in the chickee hut.