Address: 821 Fifth Ave. S., Naples, (239) 430-6555
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. breakfast and lunch, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday
Cuisine: American and European
Beverages: Fresh squeezed juices, sodas, iced tea, espresso drinks, beer and wine
Prices: Breakfasts range from $2.50 for a muffin or $2.75 for an English scone to $8.95 for a Belgian waffle or pancakes. Lunch entrees range from $6.25 for quiche to $10.95 for a cafe gourmet salad. Dinner entrees range from $15.95 for grilled chicken pasta pesto to $24.95 for roasted duck, grilled lamb tenderloin or sliced, pan-seared tuna.
Atmosphere: Light and bright cafe with indoor and outdoor seating that looks out over the corner of Eighth Street South and Fifth Avenue South.
821 5th Ave S.
NAPLES — If I were strolling down Fifth Avenue South on a weekend afternoon and wanted to grab a good, healthful and reasonably priced lunch, I’d keep The Cafe in mind — especially if I wanted to dine in a tables-on-the-sidewalk kind of location.
But I wouldn’t drive across town to go there for lunch.
The lunch options at The Cafe were made with good, fresh ingredients and some items were spot-on, such as the spinach- and-feta quiche and two grilled offerings: the cafe panini and the smoked-chicken havarti sandwiches. Prices are moderate, and there’s a good variety of lunch items.
Other items we tried, however, were just too bland or a little off: In particular, the Mexican wrap lacked flavor and the shrimp salad’s shrimp was overpowered by mayonnaise.
On our first trip, we sat inside the cute cafe and the doors were open for a nice breeze. There are big windows all along one wall of the restaurant, looking out onto Eighth Street South and creating a nice, airy atmosphere. A display case with delicious-looking homemade baked goods tempted me from the start, and there were about a dozen or so circular tables inside and about a half dozen tables outside.
My friend started with white bean chili soup ($4.95), which she enjoyed. It had white beans, ground beef and shredded cheese sprinkled on top, in a thin red broth. It wasn’t too salty and had a savory flavor with a hint of spice.
For her entree, she had the Mexican wrap with grilled chicken ($9.95), which came with tortilla chips and salsa. The wrap had quality, fresh ingredients inside, but it lacked flavor. There was avocado, black beans, cheese, tomato, pepper and onion, and the tomatoes and onions were the dominant tastes, while the avocado didn’t stand out at all. The non-chicken version of the wrap came with lettuce and spicy mayo, and my friend decided that if there had been spicy mayo on hers it would have made a big difference.
Having heard that the quiches were good at The Cafe, I ordered the spinach-and-feta quiche with a side salad ($9.50, and you can choose fruit or salad on the side). The quiche helping was generous — about a quarter of a pie dish — and it was delicious. The savory filling was firm and creamy, with the feta melted and evenly distributed throughout, along with pieces of spinach. The crust was sweet, flaky and very thin. Because I love pie crust, it could have been a little thicker for me, but that depends on your taste. The salad had good, fresh veggies, including mixed greens and romaine lettuce, red onion, carrots and green peppers.
For dessert, we checked out the homemade baked goods in the display case and chose to have a latte ($3.20) and almond biscotti ($3) and a chocolate chip cookie with cranberries ($2). The biscotti had perfect flavor, but was softer and more cakelike than I was expecting, and the cookie was a little dry but generously packed with chips and cranberries.
Our server was attentive at first and took our orders promptly but then seemed to forget about us, which was strange because there were only two other lunch parties on this occasion. We had to ask for water refills and to order dessert.
On a second lunch trip, we decided to sit outside. The fresh-squeezed juices on the menu caught our eye, and we tried cranberry orange juice and strawberry orange juice ($2.65). Both were fresh and sweet, with the orange juice as the dominant flavor.
For my entree, I asked if any of their sandwiches were available in half sizes and the waitress pointed out a few that were. I chose the grilled smoked chicken havarti ($7.95 whole, $4.95 half) and also ordered a shrimp salad ($8.95). The sandwich came on hearty wheat bread with lettuce, tomato and mayo, along with grilled chicken that was thinly sliced and moist and havarti that was deliciously creamy. It had potato chips on the side. I’d order it again in a heartbeat.
The shrimp salad, on the other hand, I would not order again. On the menu it said the shrimp came with a “mayo and celery blend,” so I knew there was mayo involved, but there was much more than I expected. The salad was the same good salad I had had the last time, but the shrimp on top of it was drowned in mayonnaise with some sliced celery mixed in. I like mayonnaise, but there was just too much of it, and I ended up only eating the mayo-free salad around the pile of shrimp in the center.
My friend ordered a grilled cafe panini with turkey ($9.95), which also came with chips. Her sandwich came on a homemade ciabatta roll with a generous amount of fresh mozzarella, avocado, tomato and pesto. It also had mayo, which wasn’t listed on the menu. The turkey was moist and smoky and the pesto gave the sandwich good flavor. She said she’d order it again.
For dessert, she tried a chocolate chip cookie ($2), which was big, moist and delicious, and I tried rugelach with dried fruit, which had a sweet filling and a decadent, buttery and flaky dough.
The service was OK again on this trip, but again not great. Our server was friendly and took our order quickly, but seemed to forget to fill our water glasses or to offer us dessert or the check.
Overall, The Cafe is a good option if you’re downtown and want a leisurely lunch in a pretty location for about $10 per person before tax and tip. It also offers breakfast and dinner menus, and a reader wrote to me recommending them as an often-overlooked dinner option.