Restaurants & Bars 2

Wyld's and Crust -- Bonita Springs

nosh | Mar 14, 200807:06 PM

Enjoyed two dinners during my stay this past week in the Ft. Myers area at Wyld's Cafe and Crust Bistro, both on Bonita Beach Rd. on opposite sides west of 41. Both were good values, tasty, and demonstrated a management that cares about their patrons.

Sunday night was our group of seven at Wyld's. We were seated at a comfortable table in the main room as you enter across from the bar. Most started with salads, which were discounted when ordered with an entree, and one thought highly of her creamy mushroom soup. For mains, three chose the short ribs, which were nicely presented with mashed potatoes and asparagus, and the tastes I received were very good, though not as sublime as those I've had at Roy's not far away. Two ordered the special, a ground tenderloin meatloaf that came in a huge serving. Very tasty, with a meaty texture and some obvious chunks of carrots and other veggies baked in under a tomato-sauce crust. Leftovers held up well for a cold dinner a couple nights later on the flight home. I split a nicely-sauteed sole and a crispy potato-crusted spinach-wrapped salmon. The sole was great, with a hint of a coating and a nice complementary sauce, and the salmon remained moist and well-textured while the potato crust was very crispy. Our very helpful server was assisted by the manager/bartender when bringing out the dishes so we were all served quickly and our requests were met. All of the mains we ordered were priced in the very low $20s -- I'm curious to try the Kurobuta pork chop which is among the steak choices offered close to $30 and about which the menu warns that it is very well-marbled. I will join Revrend Andy and others in their praise of this restaurant -- very relaxing, professional, and an upscale experience for very reasonable prices. I look forward to returning.

Tuesday evening was our more casual dinner at Crust. When our group of five arrived for our 7:30 reservation, every table was full. We were informed that the party at our table was paying their check, and they lingered and chatted for awhile. As the two couples with me chatted, I took a vantage point looking into the kitchen -- I enjoy watching the action of the line. As I observed, I lusted for this huge, glistening, golden-brown hunk of meat emerging from the oven and was informed it was the pork osso buco. When we were finally seated, some were famished, so we asked our server to put in an order for the carne flatbread for the table as she took drink orders. The flatbread came pretty quickly, and was much appreciated -- crackery crust, lots of meat and tomato sauce under a thick layer of cheese, in an oblong shape with six large pieces. Unfortunately, it was repeatedly difficult to get the attention of our server, who was constantly busy closing out neighboring tables, seating new ones, or running here and there. I liked my "wedgie" salad, which came with lots of chopped bacon, tomato, and fried onion strings, though I couldn't detect the corn that was listed as part of the dressing. Those who shared them raved about the mussels, especially the very garlicky, bread-crumb infused broth -- but we could never get our server's attention to get any bread to sop it up. Two entree fishes, a perch and a flounder, were both nicely cooked and generous servings, and a simple chicken on focaccia was fine. But the two pork osso bucos, while amazingly huge, were a bit disappointing, at least to me. The flavor was fine, but the meat was not meltingly tender and succulent -- it needed more time in a slower oven. The accompanying mushroom and spinach dressing was good, but a bit dry, and I finally needed to ask a manager for needed additional gravy for the meat and the stuffing. Crust has great promise -- it is barely a month old and had just received a glowing newspaper review -- it appears to be a place where you find and order its strengths (the flatbreads, salads, mussels) and learn to avoid its weaknesses (insipid crinkle cut fries out of a school cafeteria).

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