4295 Bonita Beach Road , Bonita Springs, FL
BONITA SPRINGS — In the last seven years, the building at 4295 Bonita Beach Road has been many things -- an Italian deli; sport bar (twice) and breakfast joint – but since October, it has become something different, something that might actually last.
The name of the new restaurant, open daily for lunch and dinner, is A Table Apart, and it stays true to its name by serving a balanced mix of French tradition and Hawaiian innovation, a welcome and much needed surprise in the area restaurant scene.
If you have ever been to the building before owner/manager Jessica Acol took over you’ll be pleasantly impressed by the way the dining room was redone. Gone are the big, impersonal flat screen TVs, and in are potted plants and warm mustard colored walls. With its dim lights and soft music, A Table Apart feels like a small neighborhood brasserie, with the professional and friendly service that goes with it. The menu is also the one of a brasserie: Traditional for the most part, but with some interesting ideas and renditions of classic European and Asian dishes.
A Table Apart may be serving only five appetizers, but all of them are noteworthy. A nice combination of French, Italian and Asian dishes, these starters are the right size to stimulate your appetite without ruining it. On one occasion we ordered the Thai style fried calamari ($9) and shortly afterward we found out we were in for a treat. An interesting spin on the beloved Italian classic these calamari were marinated in nam pla – a fermented fish Thai sauce -- then deep fried to golden perfection and served with a sweet and sour dipping dressing, a refreshing twist from the classic marinara sauce. The squid was tender, the batter crunchy, the sauce tangy and sweet in the right proportion, and before we knew it, the dish was empty, every little crumb of batter and every last drop of sauce gone.
The chorizo mejillones ($11) also turned out to be a great seafood appetizer. Usually I’m not a fan of mussels, but these won me over. They were tender, delicate, with a subtle hint of briny saltiness – everything mussels should be, I was told by my mussel-loving friend. Cooked with spicy Mexican chorizo, fresh tomatoes, garlic and a white wine sauce, they were sprinkled with chopped cilantro and served with freshly toasted bread – a classic French brasserie specialty with the welcome addition of savory chorizo. I was surprised by the mussels’ delicate flavor, a flavor that went extremely well with the spiciness of the sausage and the tanginess of the garlic. The toasted bread was a nice addition and the perfect way to mop up and enjoy every last bit of the broth like sauce.
The bistro pommes frites ($6) are also a great appetizer, although in my case I ended up eating way too many of them, and almost ruined my appetite. But it was worth it. Handmade fries were tossed with mixed herbs, parmesan cheese and drizzled with white truffle oil – a decadent and addictive combination of flavors perfect to satisfy any fried food craving.
The list of entrees includes innovative takes on both meat and seafood dishes.
Pork lovers will love the honey bourbon glazed pork chop ($19), a char grilled thick chop served with a sweet potato brulee and bacon basted haricots vert. Mine arrived at the table nicely cooked and juicy, with dark grill marks contrasting with the pink inside. The honey and bourbon glaze added a round, smooth flavor to the meat and the bacon on the green beans infused the dish with just the right amount of saltiness.
If you are more in the mood for seafood, the organic salmon two ways ($24) is an original dish that will impress those who are bored with the same-old, same-old grilled salmon entrée. A blackened fillet of organic salmon and a generous spoonful of citrus salmon ceviche were piled over rice and braised bok choy, dressed with beurre blanc. The blackened salmon was well executed, buttery and pleasantly spiced, but what really shone was the ceviche. The tartness of the citrus marinade paired up with the fatty salmon creating a contrast that was great both in flavor and texture.
The freshness of the ingredients, the beautifully plated food and the innovative yet not-over-the-top items on the menu make A Table Apart a great addition to the local restaurant scene. After being a deli, a sports bar and a breakfast joint, it’s nice to see this old building finally turning into A Table Apart.
If you go
A Table Apart
4295 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs
Hours: Open daily for lunch 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and dinner 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Cuisine: Global, with strong French and Hawaiian influences
Atmosphere: Cozy, warm and welcoming with dim lights and soft music
Service: Competent and friendly.
Prices: Sandwiches and lunches $9 to $13, dinners $13 to $32
Beverages: Beer and wine. The wine list isn’t very long, but it’s very reasonably priced.
Recommended dishes: Bistro pommes frites ($6), chorizo mussels ($9) and pan seared scallops ($24)
Verdict: High quality ingredients and a very talented chef make this small restaurant a great place to try.