Saturday, January 29, 2022

They’re Baaaack and We’re Soooo Glaaaad!

Photos by Jory Westberry | The Blue Heron offers fine dining on Isles of Capri.

For those of us who live and work in Southwest Florida and are not snowbirds, even though we may take a brief intermission to escape the scalding summer, we yearn for the local restaurants that close during the heatwave for various reasons. Some of our favs on Isles of Capri close for deep cleaning, painting, renovations or well-deserved time for staff to relax, fish, travel, visit family, read, catch up on home chores, etc.

The good news is that all three that were closed are back open, serving their legendary fine food with accompanying beverages to the faithful patrons that throng through the thresholds when the word spreads that they’ve reopened.

Pelican Bend, aka The Bend, installed stunning carpet, put a fresh coat of paint in the dining room, that looks like undulating waves supporting the many trophy fish mounted on the walls. They’ve also installed a navy blue awning that stretches from the restaurant to the chicki bar, outside bar and dock-front seating where you can watch the fishermen/women clean their “catch” to the delight of the patrons and the local pelicans.

They’ve also expanded the outside seating area with a beautiful partition and new tables and chairs close to the outside bar for lunch. On Fridays soon, they will have their Lite Menu for outside dining, starting at 4ish. The next project is a new façade on the front of the building, which will replicate the roof angle of the fish-cleaning station by the dock. The good news is that they won’t be closed for that renovation, so their sautéed fish, hush puppies and delicious food will still be available.

The Island Gypsy Café, aka Gypsy, was also closed for renovations for a short time. The patio was repainted and part of it smoothed out to accommodate more patrons at the expanded bar. The well-used wooden bar was removed and a concrete bar was built on site and expanded under an additional roof extension for more seating and server access. The stages of the new bar were fascinating to watch, and thanks to the patience of the builder, Chuck Thurner of Thurner Construction, my questions were answered about forming the concrete, dyeing it and sealing it. The bar is now a stunning blue color and will (fingers crossed) withstand the outside forces of nature for years to come. Corrugated steel was used as facing under the bar, which “will age beautifully to a rustic patina, thanks to the humidity,” according to Chuck.

New stools and cushions complete the bar area renovation and, judging by the crowd, I think the changes have been met with appreciation and additional patronage. The full bar and selection of beers doesn’t hurt, not to mention Happy Hour, so you’d be wise to make reservations if you have a large party when the part-timers return or even now. The grouper, onion rings, shrimp po’ boys, salads are great and I could go on! There’s only outside dining there so watch the weather, although they have umbrellas and a roof over the bar area.

The expanded concrete bar and metal “siding” at the Island Gypsy.

The Blue Heron opened its doors again this month. The Heron is the only fine dining restaurant on Isles of Capri and is the first restaurant you’ll see when you drive through the mangroves onto the Isles. Since they’re only open for dinner and request reservations, this is a good time of year to dine, as it is high demand during “season.” They even have a golf cart parking area for the “open-air vehicles.”

Like Pelican Bend and The Island Gypsy Cafe, The Blue Heron is also waterside and faces boats and a large expanse of water and gorgeous sunsets. Sip champagne or wine from their impressive and varied wine list with your Roast Rack of Lamb, Crispy Duck, Veal Tenderloin, many seafood specialties and additional meat specialties. You may choose to partake of a port or sherry with your Profiterole, or another special dessert, at the conclusion of your dinner.

We are fortunate to have these three restaurants back open for “the season.” A fourth restaurant, The Capri Fish House, stays open year-round and offers a breakfast buffet on Sunday in addition to their regular lunch and dinner menus. That might be something else you want to try when you journey to the Isles of Capri!

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