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Naples Report

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Restaurants & Bars 4

Naples Report

Ari | Jul 9, 2004 10:17 AM

Thanks for all the suggestions. We had a great weekend in Naples. Here is run down of our dinners. (I am not writing about lunches or breakfasts because they were mostly at the hotel and were not particularly interesting…though I did have a great burger at Tommy Bahamas.) Friday night we had dinner at Baleen. We started of with some oysters (malpeques) and an order of tuna tartare. The oysters were flavorful but a bit dry (maybe that’s what we get for ordering them in July….but we do love them so). The Tuna tartare was seasoned with sesame oil and chili and was served with pickled ginger, seaweed and an onion and carrot slaw. It was well balanced: spicy, sweet, cool…really good. As main course we shared a grilled whole snapper, which was a over cooked and thus dry, a serious let down. (Not to rant, but I really do not like when slits are cut into the sides of whole fish. This is not only pointless but makes it easier to over cook the fish.) We also got a side of spinach with olive oil and lemon…WOW…this was easily the best thing I ate all weekend. It had just the right amount of lemon to lift up the spinach without overpowering it. For dessert we had something called Monkey in the Middle, a chocolate cake filled with a banana filling and served with caramelized bananas & banana ice cream. All the banana components were great, but the cake itself was dry and a bit chewy. I realize that it was a holiday weekend and the kitchen was probably busier that usual, but it seems that they have a tendency to over cook things. Overall the meal was not great, but good; The service was good, or at least competent, and it would be worth going back if only for the spinach.

Saturday we went to Café Lurcat. The first thing I must report is that service was terrible. Our waiter was very slow. He never came back to refill our wine. Eventually we reached over to pour it ourselves. When he saw us he came over and said something like “oh good, you got it.” He also brought our coffee without spoons. A full 5 minutes later he passed by and I said “could we have some spoons.” At first he did not hear me, so I repeated myself, he then responded, “oh…I though you said can I have a smoke.” He did eventually bring spoons but never apologized for the delay or for making me drink luke warm espresso. As for the food, it was pretty good. We started with a raw platter (oysters, salmon tartare and tuna tartare). The oysters were plumper and juicer than the ones we had the night before and the salmon tartare was excellent. We also had a shrimp, mango and avocado salad. The mango and the shrimp were great together, as were the shrimp and the avocado, but somehow the whole thing didn’t really mesh well into one dish. Finally we had the bass in miso which was easily the highlight of the meal…so flavorful and soft as butter…yum!

Sunday we ate at Campiello. It is a beautiful restaurant, wonderfully perfumed by the scent of the wood burning oven. We started with fried baby artichokes, which were crispy and not at all oily. Then we had linguine with crab and tomato…good but a bit under seasoned…the pasta and the sauce also never really came together. Finally we had pan roasted grouper with mashed potatoes and artichokes (yes, I know…more artichokes), which was very well cooked. All in all the meal was good BUT once again the service was so bad…even worse than at Café Lurcat …that it almost ruined the meal. While the service at Lurcat was annoyingly neglectful, at Campiello it was almost offensive. To start with, I order a Chiarlo Gavi which was listed at something like $34. The waiter then, with a straight face, told me he recommended the Contratto Gavi di Gavi…he said he thought it was much better. Well, I very well hope so, since it was $22 dollars more than the bottle I was ordering. Now, I have worked in restaurants for many years and am fully aware that some selling is a normal part of the business, but this was just rude. Had I been on a first date I would have been SO embarrassed. (Not to mention the fact that with such an artichoke heavy meal it would have been a real waste of money to order a more expensive wine.) He persisted in making blatant attempts to sell us things we didn’t want, occasionally asking a silly question about how our vacation was going, though it was painfully obvious that he didn’t really care. Anyway, all that said, the food was pretty solid and the whole evening would have been enjoyable had we been seated in a different waiter’s section. I also liked the fact that they arrange their specials regionally, though the night we were there they were focusing on Lazio, and there was nothing too exciting on the specials list. One final thought, although we didn’t try it, the pizza looked really good. If I have the chance to go back, I will give it a try.

Anyway, sorry for the long report. I look forward to making it back to Naples to try some more places.

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