Review: SpeakEasy offers new takes on familiar dishes

Will Watts

The SpeakEasy, offering waterfront dining, was the perfect location for my next dining adventure.

Before we get started with the food, let’s talk about seating and temperature, as the summer months approach. Most of the seating is outdoor at the SpeakEasy, both covered and uncovered. There is limited inside seating that’s akin to bar seating in most restaurants. Nothing to worry about for night dining or cooler days, but as 90-degree days descend, keep that in mind.

More:Review: Joey’s delivers on those rainy days

More:Review: Meaty perfection awaits at Mango's Dockside Bistro

The SpeakEasy's sweet chili shrimp.

Our dining experience got underway with the Asian calamari, which the menu says is deep-fried calamari with stir fried vegetables in a sweet chili sauce. The vegetables were mostly, if not all, cabbage; but it was a sweet and spicy delight. I would rate this among the top three calamari dishes I’ve had, and as regular readers know, I try the calamari just about everywhere I go. It’s about time that someone put a new spin on this appetizer, instead of the regular old fried and served with marinara – which they do have, if you must.

The Asian calamari appetizer at the SpeakEasy, Marco Island.

For my main dish, I got the blackened salmon. It came topped with a lemon butter beurre banc sauce and sautéed spinach. You get your choice of potato, masked or baked. I substituted for rice, as I prefer it with the sauce – a culinary delight of shallots, bay leaf peppercorns, vinegar and wine. So yummy. It’s like they were giving this salmon the same treatment as a fine cut of beef. And as a limited beef eater, I approve. It was nice to welcome all these ingredients on the same plate.

More:Review: Snook Inn has me hooked

More:Review: Thai Thai Sushi Bowl welcome addition to South Naples

The SpeakEasy's blackened salmon, topped with a lemon butter beurre banc sauce and sautéed spinach.

On the heels of the successful appetizer, my partner in dine decided to order the sweet chili shrimp, featuring the same sauce as the calamari. So, this time, breaded coconut butterflied shrimp sat atop a bowl full of linguini, with peppers, onions and the sweet chili sauce.

My dining bud seemed a little overwhelmed with all that pasta. And perhaps it was his experience with the appetizer, but he was ultimately not sold on this dish. A little too sweet and not enough savory; along with pasta he described as rubbery.

Sometimes a dish and the diner don’t match. Personally, I would have used grilled shrimp, kept the sweet chili sauce, but used the veggies from the appetizer and put it over a bed of rice or leafy greens.  

More:Review: Thai Sushi by KJ awakens the senses

More:Review: Capri's Island Gypsy is full of fairy-tale surprise

The house salad at The SpeakEasy, Marco Island.

Speaking of which, I should also mention we had a house salad, featuring a spring mix, tomato slice and vinaigrette. Fresh and delicious.

This was a solid effort. Friendly staff and great service.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the name, from their website: “A speakeasy was an establishment which illegally sold alcoholic beverages during Prohibition, from 1920-1932. The term comes from a patron’s manner of ordering an alcoholic drink without raising suspicion. Bartenders would tell patrons to be quiet and ‘speak easy.’ ”

More:Review: Pinchers will do, in a pinch

More:Review: Doreen's elevates breakfast, lunch

If you go

The SpeakEasy

1106 North Collier Boulevard, Marco Island