‘Watts for Dinner’: Auditioning Ben Allen's Backyard Grill & Pub

Will Watts
Correspondent

Our next dining destination is the newly opened Ben Allen's Backyard Grill & Pub in Freedom Square, Naples (formerly Brook’s Burgers and still with a vast burger menu).

The restaurant was renamed for the Estero musician who competed on NBC’s “The Voice” last year and is a partnership with Todd Brooks of the Naples-based Brooks Burgers chain. Allen has performed multiple times over the years on Marco Island and in Everglades City. He also performed at the restaurant’s recent two-day grand opening.  

On to the food. Things got off to an appetizing start with the “Cowboy Nachos” ($13.99) and the “Shrimp and Lobster Fritters” ($10.99).

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The nachos come with chopped barbecue beef, candied jalapenos, grilled corn, black beans, green onions, tomatoes and “Nashville Ranch.” It comes with a side of melted gouda. We made one small change, we swapped out the chopped beef for shrimp for a slight upcharge ($6).

I liked the chips a lot. The barbecue and Nashville ranch were both yummy. The melted gouda tasted a lot like Southern gravy. But oddly, I liked the combination. I give them extra points for originality.

The fritters are soft and fluffy and bread-like. And the dipping sauce, “Ben's Famous Remoulade,” worked well with it.

For my main dish, I had the blackened grouper, grilled, with lemon ($29.99). It comes with vegetables and saffron rice. I also asked for a side of the “Smoked Gouda Macaroni” ($5).  The blacked grouper was a good size and I liked the flavor. The veggies were a mix of roasted baby tomatoes, squash and zucchini. Different. Tasty. In asking for the macaroni, it must’ve cancelled the rice, as I had none. I really enjoyed that side dish. Very flavorful.

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My dining companion had the beer-battered Atlantic cod fish and chips ($18.99). It’s supposed to come with steak fries and slaw. But there was no slaw to be had. It did have lemon and tartar, and three giant pieces of fish and lots of fries with big pieces of salt and pepper. This dish delights. You won’t be disappointed; unless you really like slaw.

“We want to have a great Florida tropical feel to it and people know it feels vacationy — fun and relaxing when you come in,” Allen told the Naples Daily News. “Just to have an experience.”

And an experience it was. We wish the popular mumian success in his latest endeavor. And we’ll check back in for more. Happy eating!

More:Hey Marco Island, looking for a place to eat?

This newspaper pays for all meals related to dining reviews. We do not solicit or accept free food. Not all dishes are featured in print, but you can find a gallery of all reviewed dishes online at marconews.com.

If you go

Ben Allen's Backyard Grill & Pub

  • 12655 Tamiami Trail E, Naples
  • 239-304-9552
  • benallensbackyard.com