Veranda E (VE) is a restaurant in downtown Naples, FL and is a part of the Hotel Escalante (HE) There is interesting local History behind the name Escalante that involves the Calusa Indians and the canal that is now a road (5th Avenue S.) that connected Naples Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
VE recently introduced a “social” or happy hour that runs from 4-6 PM daily. I had sampled some of their fare a while back. It was excellent then, and I was curious to check out what they were offering now.
Social hour is not in the main dining area but held in the pergola adjacent to the hotel overlooking the pool. This is a great seating area as not only does it have good views of the courtyard but it is very private.
I had arrived here a bit early and had the opportunity to get a tour of part of the restaurant by Chef de Cuisine, Mounir Loqmana. He was recently brought on board and has achieved recognition as the Chef de Cuisine at USS Nemo. Chef Mounir has been an integral part of putting Asian fusion on the map in this area.
Besides the traditional garden, they grow a number of herbs, micro greens and vegetables hydroponically; enough to sustain the needs of the restaurant.I think this is very appealing and definitively adds to the je ne sais quoi of VE.
My dining companions and I tried a number of items from their social hour Menu and one from the regular menu that was highly recommended.
The octopus was an appetizer from the regular menu. A “secretly” spiced and cooked octopus was served atop a mix of Asian pear, green, red and poblano peppers and accented with garlic and macadamia nuts. Romesco sauce and a fermented black garlic puree finished the dish. I had a bite of this, and it was one of the best cooked octopus dishes I have ever had. Chef would not come clean with its preparation but apparently it was an old family recipe.
Another dining companion ordered the carne asada soft taco. It was served with guacamole. At the restaurant, lime and lemon juice are infused with chopped habenero peppers and mixed with avocado, tomato, cilantro, onion and tomato. My dining companion thought the steak in the carne asada was tough, though liked the flavors and the dish overall.
Another dining companion ordered the hot-n-crunchy grouper sliders with house made potato chips. This was another dish that was garnished with a mango chutney, which I thought very tasty. Dining companion did not care for it but I thought it was good.
The blackened fish taco was a similar dish, and this dining companion really enjoyed it. It was served also with in house made chips, guacamole and cabbage slaw with avocado cilantro salsa.
I tried a couple of things to more fully evaluate the menu, the first of which was the Veranda E calamari. This was calamari that was given the General Tso’s treatment, and was very good.
I had to laugh as the server told me as he brought this plate to the table, “the chili peppers will leave you alone if you leave them alone.” A culinary non-alignment pact.
I finished with the brisket and short rib burger with blue cheese and chips. I am not a burger aficionado but wanted to try this anyway. I have been concerned about the price points of hamburgers in the area lately but at $17.00 for social hour, it was worth every penny.
There were mixed reviews from some of our dining companions but in my opinion Veranda E has a lovely happy hour; one of the best around. The setting is beautiful, the food really good, and it does not get much better than this locally. Highly recommended.
It’s a wrap for another post on Forks.
Veranda E at the Hotel Escalante
290 5th Ave. S.
Naples, FL 34102
Social hour 4-6 PM daily; Valet parking available; All major credit cards acccepted.