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Is Naples’ best value truly discovered at a fancy steakhouse, priced at $28?

Considered one of JLB’s highest priorities when recommending restaurants is the worth factor. Does a restaurant’s pricing correlate with the general experience and quality? In Naples, spending $300 on disappointing mediocre dinners for 2 is, sadly, way too frequent. But when a well-respected downtown restaurant owner says the very best deal on the town is Capital Grille’s lunch, my interest is piqued and warrants investigating.

My companion du jour was longtime resident Valerie Miller, whose name may ring a bell because, for the past 17 years, she’s been the writer/publisher of the annual Naples Restaurant Guide, our local Zagat-like directory sans the sarcastic quotes. Shameless plug: The brand new edition arrives at Paper Merchant and Bruno’s on Third Street South (probably the most fun, super high-end store on the town when you’ve never been) in November. She’s dined in every single place on the town but seldom visits Capital Grille. It was JLB’s first visit to the Naples location. I’ve not been inclined to go despite having fun with the Darden-owned chain’s sisters in Recent York City and Washington, D.C., seen because the backdrop for scenes in “Special Ops: Lioness” ― a must-watch ― and “Jason Bourne” (2016).

If JLB opened a hospitality college in Southwest Florida, certainly one of her first hires as a distinguished professor could be Aldo Mazreku, Capital’s captain of gracious service who lends skilled polish and old-school panache to a straightforward lunch outing between friends. Aldo doesn’t hover. As a substitute, with a way of anticipation and intuition, he miraculously appears seconds before we even consider summoning him with various requests. Since Friday was my break day, why not bask in cocktails, request primary? Aldo made my icy martini an experience, allowing me to video his masterful shaking and spill-proof pouring technique from the comfort of our spacious booth. The Bloody Mary was mixed the way in which I prefer it ― transparent. JLB is a sucker for classics and isn’t a fan of extraneous garnishes like shrimp when a wedge of lemon and olives (not blue cheese) or celery suffice.

What is the deal? The restaurant’s lunch “Plates” menu offers three selections of appetizers and entrees and runs Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s currently $28. I feel it’s the very best value on the town. We each chosen Caesar salads, mine with anchovies (request number two) layered on top. Other options include a fluffy field greens salad which looked beautifully vivid and colourful when delivered to a different table and a cup of clam chowder. When Aldo asked how madame would really like her beef tenderloin prepared, he subtly suggested an extended cooking time than my “pink, but no blood” reply. I should’ve heeded his spidey sense advice.

Considered one of JLB’s continual gripes about Naples restaurants is servers who drop your order on the table and either don’t return until it is time to pay ― or worse, and maybe more commonly ― return immediately to ask how things are before anyone has even taken a bite. That shouldn’t be Aldo: considering he spotted me diving into the rosemary-flecked fries following the primary few bites from the meat’s end slice, which was too red in the middle for my taste. Request number three: He whisked away my plate for an additional go within the kitchen, allowing me to nibble Valerie’s roasted chicken with mushroom atop Parmesan risotto. Her homerun of a dish as prepared by Executive Chef Partner Jeremy Houston was so satisfying that I questioned my order.

When Aldo returned with round two of the meat, it was plated in another way with somewhat less sauce and still hot fries now in a shiny stainless-steel cup. The tenderloin was now perfect. I cleaned my plate. The fries, too. As for dessert? We skipped it not since it incurs spending one other $12 or $13, but we were full. Portions are substantial enough that I also passed on dinner.

More on the following Capital Grille: Recent fine-dining steak, seafood restaurant coming to Bell Tower in Fort Myers in 2024

Related: Restaurants: 5 deals, 1 concept change, foodie events & celebrations

What to know when you go – and it’s best to Where: 9005 Mercato Drive, North Naples Call: 239-254-0640 Website: thecapitalgrille.com Price: 4 additional lunch entrees under $28 encompass handhelds and salads. Specialty cocktails are $15 to $18. The Bloody Mary was $12. Wines by the glass: $11 for prosecco to $33 for an Orin Swift Napa Cab. Dress code: From its website, “no athletic shorts, uncovered sports bras or other bra-style tops, excessively revealing clothing or exposed undergarments, or any clothing with offensive language or images. Men’s shirts should have sleeves. Athletic leggings, joggers or sweatpants are welcome within the lounge,” where a lady was wearing a pickleball skirt that was longer than several barely there minis spotted at The Ritz-Carlton during JLB’s Dusk review. Reservations: Not required for September’s lunch, however it is all the time prudent to make one when you don’t need to attend. Valet: That section of Mercato is a PITA for parking and busy year-round. The service is free if parking proves difficult. Tip accordingly. Etc.: The quiet dining room (at lunch anyway) is sweet for conversation, ladies who lunch, business lunches, first dates. The bar was doing a brisk business early afternoon. A second Southwest Florida location is scheduled to open in late summer 2024 at Bell Tower in south Fort Myers.

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