Photo credit to Mereday’s Brasserie.

Following in the brasserie tradition of France, Mereday’s Brasserie at Coconut Point offers casual upscale dining in a relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere with white linens, candlelight, and soft music. In European vocabulary, a brasserie is a step above bistro and a step below fine dining, offering classic cuisine, artfully served and carefully sourced. Brasserie also translates as “brewery,” with Mereday’s offering an extensive selection of craft beers, wines and mixed drinks.

Chef/Owner Charles Mereday is a newcomer to the Southwest Florida restaurant scene but is making his mark fast. The Brasserie is his third area eatery to open in less than two years. His Naples flagship restaurant, Mereday’s Fine Dining, opened in July 2013, followed by Alto Live Jazz Kitchen in March 2014.

Mereday opened the Brasserie just six months later, with Executive Chef Joe Pittman handling things in the kitchen. Pittman has worked alongside Mereday for five years, gleaning culinary acumen from the seasoned chef, who studied at Johnson & Wales University and has worked in kitchens across the globe, including Philadelphia, France and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Eager to try brasserie style dining, we came to Mereday’s with big appetites and expectations.

The Brasserie did not disappoint. Enjoying the warm, open feel of the restaurant and friendly welcome of the staff, we started with some Champagne Krug as we perused the simple menu. Mereday’s obviously believes in doing a few things well, rather than many things mediocrely. The menu delights with proteins not commonly used elsewhere, such as duck breast, foie gras (liver), frog legs and escargot. True to brasserie style, everything is a la carte, with entrees including vegetable sides, but salads or classic French Onion Soup ordered separately.

Many customers prefer to make a meal from the varied Hors D’Oeuvres menu, including Mussels, Baked Brie, Spicy Smoked Duck Wings and Roasted Marrow Bones. Nice starters for the table are the Grand Seafood Tower — raw oysters, jumbo shrimp, jumbo lump crab and lobster — or the classic French Charcuterie Platter of assorted salumi and pickled vegetables. With curved, banquette-style seating and a nice outdoor patio area, Mereday’s Brasserie offers a relaxed dining experience with European and French Canadian flavors to excite the palate. Chef Pittman encourages guests not to hurry through dinner but enjoy the experience.

“To do things the right way takes a little bit of time,” says the chef, who likes to source from local farmers and prepares everything from scratch. “I want people to understand the quality and time that goes into the dishes.”

OUR FAVORITES

01. CHARCUTERIE PLATTER

This “Pour La Table” platter is served on a beautifully rustic slab of wood and features three types of salumi: duck prosciutto, speck-smoked prosciutto and Sopressa salami. Served with house-made pickles and crostini with French- grain mustard, this salty spread makes a succulent starter.

02. SEARED SCALLOPS & SWEET CORN PUREE

These sea scallops are flavorful and tender in this beautiful dish accented with roasted red peppers and set atop a sweet corn puree. Also try Mereday’s fresh seafood entrees, including Snapper en Papillote, with the red snapper soaking up flavors as it’s baked in paper with fragrant herbs, heirloom tomatoes, shallots and peppers.

03. ROASTED MARROW BONES

An unusual treat, this is a must-try for foodies. Veal bones are roasted and split for gingerly scooping out the nutrient- rich marrow, beautifully garnished and served with fluer de sel, a French sea salt traditionally hand-harvested off the coast of Brittany.

04. SPICY SMOKED DUCK WINGS

Duck drumsticks are covered in habanero sweet-and- spicy sauce for a tangy taste which will leave you wanting more. Also try Pekin duck as an entree, done in classic French style for Duck Breast L’Orange.

05. BRAISED LAMB SHANK MOROCCAN STYLE

Lamb shank is roasted all day until “fall off the bone” tender and seasoned with Moroccan spices like cinnamon, curry and cayenne. Served with mint couscous, this traditional dish is done right.

06. VANILLA BEAN CREME BRULEE

The Brasserie offers several tasty treats to cap the meal in sweetness, including this classic Creme Brulee topped with house-made whipped cream and fresh berries. If you’re in the mood for something sinfully rich, try the Chocolate Mousse Napoleon.

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