When Avenue 5 first opened on Fifth Avenue South in downtown Naples in February 2014, it replaced the well-loved McCabe's Irish Pub and Grill at the Inn on Fifth. Residents grumbled at first, but now they hail the light, airy space with its walls made out of glass and wine bottles.
It was time for something brighter and more sophisticated, said owner Phil McCabe. He had the original pub fabricated and shipped from Dublin to ensure authenticity 16 years ago. In traditional Irish pub style, it was built of dark woods with a prominent bar, stage and small, intimate spaces. It spilled out onto a plaza that fronted fashionable Fifth Avenue and, eventually, the elegant Sugden Community Theatre that opened next door.
Conviviality and fine food paired with wine at Avenue 5's chef's table — Photo courtesy of Inn on Fifth
When McCabe expanded his inn to the opposite side of the street with concierge-style club suites, the upscale trend demand became more forceful. And, voila! Avenue 5 was born: a vision of sleek, ultra-contemporary style with only a prominent bar to remind mourners of yesteryear’s pub.
The menu matches the contemporary setting with imaginative platings, such as black grouper with spring vegetable ratatouille and sweet basil stew and Maine lobster sliders with fried green tomatoes and parsnip cole slaw. Guests can pair fine cuts of beef and lamb with seafood for custom surf-and-turf.
The lunch menu features a burger bar selection, plus sandwiches such as the Fork and Knife BLTC with Jonah crab and fried green tomato. The restaurant also serves Sunday brunch with a select menu of five entrees, including crab cake Benedict and brioche French toast. Mimosas are bottomless and bloody Marys half-price from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
To boost the restaurant’s reputation upscale another notch, Executive Chef John Welch recently conceived a chef’s table experience.
“One thing unique about the chef’s table is to be able to bring in ingredients we wouldn’t be able to bring in for the regular menu because of the perishability,” says Welch. “So everything is the freshest possible. For example, we bring in king crab, and we serve it immediately.”
The king crab opening course makes a tough act to follow. Besides a meaty, easy-to-eat segment of leg, the plate comes with a tempura-style zucchini blossom stuffed with sizeable chunks of crab meat. Fresh creamed corn, slices of house-pickled Kirby cucumber and toothpick-julienned watermelon radish complete the multi-faceted presentation. A summer-light Oregon pinot gris accompanies.
For three hours, Welch teases and tickles palates, as staff pours and describes impressive vintages of mostly California wines that dazzles and delights. The offering is designed for eight to 26 people. Groups of eight or 16 are seated at community tables in the bar area of the spacious restaurant.
“We decided to do it out in the bar because the kitchen is too small, and we wanted our guests to integrate with the social experience,” says Welch, an accomplished Boston chef in his former life.
He makes the experience personal with an appearance at the onset of each course and a description of its preparation. He stays to answer questions, pose for pictures and joke with guests.
Welch has designed a menu with set pairings that is the template for customized tasting experiences. Interested parties should call ahead at least a week in advance to make arrangements, including any modifications to the menu.
Base price for the chef's table is $1,526 for a party of eight, including all tax and gratuities. Prices may be adjusted according to modifications. Price for 16 is $3,053 and for 26 (which would be seated in the restaurant’s chic, private, tangerine-hued dining room) is $5,000.