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When first-time guests arrive to The Real Macaw in Naples, you would be forgiven for thinking it’s an open air, sports-bar-like place. But first impressions can be deceiving.

Given the option of air-conditioned seating on this 90-degree-plus Sunday afternoon, we jumped at the chance. We were lead to this exquisite dining room in the back that looked like it was straight out of 1960s Key West.

“Dessert before dinner” is somewhat of a motto around this place; and spoiler alert! We had dessert after dinner too.

The pre-dinner dessert was little biscuit-like Johnny cakes served gratis with strawberry butter. These little treats opened my appetite and left me wanting more. They were served hot; and tasted like a churro. Even if the rest of the meal had missed the mark (and it didn’t), these cakes would have brought us back for more.   

We also ordered an appetizer, the Portobello Tower, a grilled mushroom, with tomato, blue cheese served atop edamame and spinach compote and whipped potatoes ($14).

As I was devouring my share, my mind couldn’t decide between decadent and healthy; which means it was likely a good mix of naughty and nice. The thyme was a nice and unexpected flavor addition; the tomato felt a little out of place; but we didn’t mind.

For my entrée, the vegetarian bowl, which included marinated mushrooms and stir-fried vegetables served over orange cranberry black rice ($18). If you suspect I’m not a vegetarian, and just ordered this dish to sample the amazing rice, you’d be correct. You know me so well.

This dish did not disappoint. Yes, you taste the orange and the cranberry – every single item was cooked to perfection and retained its true nature and flavor. My compliments to the chef.

My partner in dine ordered the Down Island Chicken, seared chicken breast finished in a red wine cream reduction, kielbasa, a large shrimp, whipped potatoes and vegetables ($22). Doesn’t it sound good just reading that?!

The kielbasa was caramelized to perfection; the dish felt organic, minimalistic, well proportioned; nothing was exaggerated. Like my dish, the vegetables were grilled to perfection and a side of whipped beets were a nice touch.  

Finishing our entrees, we were happy campers. No need for dessert. Except, there was one small problem. They had bread pudding. I can never say no to bread pudding. And this bread pudding had rum in the mix. The devil you say! I do! And guava. Guava! It was also drizzled in condensed milk and topped with a scoop of ice cream. This was the best bread pudding we’ve had in Naples thus far.

The Real McCaw delights the eyes and the mouth as it whisks you away on a great food adventure with inspiration from around the world.

More: ‘Watts for Dinner’: Treat your taste buds to Thai

More: ‘Watts for Dinner’:  Authentic Mexican, with a twist

This newspaper pays for all meals related to dining reviews. We do not solicit or accept free food.

If you go

  • The Real Macaw
  • 3275 Bayshore Drive, Naples
  • 239-732-1188
  • therealmacawnaples.com
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