The Bay House Restaurant
I'm really lucky because I got to escape what is hopefully the worst of this Chicago winter yet again by spending my time in Naples, Florida. One of my favorite restaurants so far is The Bay House Restaurant, which is hidden away in the mangroves on the Cocohatchee River. We started out sitting outside, where you have a sweeping view of the river and the birds catching fish from the river.
As we sat waiting for our lunch, our server brought over their famous fluffy bread with a dish of soft butter. We slathered that butter onto those warm buns and were immediately content. By the time our appetizer arrived, we had to ask for more (good thing we were blind to how many calories each of these buns actually were).
The steamed mussels were by far the best I've ever had, not because of how fresh they tasted or how perfectly they were cooked but because of that rich pork broth. That broth had the perfect amount of sweetness, saltiness, and acidity. The flavors of the smoked ham really came through, and that pork debris, which was really pulled pork, added amazing texture. After we finished the mussels, I couldn't help but finish every last drop of that broth! Better yet, make sure you dip that fluffy bread they serve into the savory broth!
I personally ordered the Sea BLT, which I thought was going to be a sandwich. Instead, out came a giant stack of arugula, fried green tomatoes, and seafood salad! I was pleasantly surprised, especially by the quality of the seafood salad, which had giant chunks of lobster and crab along with whole shrimp. The fried green tomatoes were a nice Southern complement clean and light seafood flavors up top. This will certainly satisfy any seafood craving you have.
And finally, there is the pan seared snapper, which our server said was her favorite on the lunch and dinner menus. It looks so simple, but one bite of this will demonstrate just how complex the flavors are. The snapper was absolutely phenomenal with its crispy sear, and I adored the sweet green tomato jam and sweet potatoes. I didn't think sweet flavors really went with fish until we were presented with this dish.
By this point, we really couldn't eat anything else, but I cannot stress how difficult it was to say "no" to their famous beignets!
- Sit outdoors if the weather is cooperating.
- You can go in just for dessert, and looking at their dessert menu, I highly suggest giving that a try!
- If you go in winter, make sure you make a reservation!