When I hear the word "Opus" the first thing that comes to mind is wine; Opus One, a high-end Bordeaux style blend by Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi. The name alone conjours various adjectives from wine-lovers; perfection, over-rated, pretentious, delicious, status symbol, but almost always quality. So naturally my expectations were high when I visited a new restaurant in Punta Gorda, FL by the name of Opus.
The word "Opus" actually means an artistic composition, especially music. I'll say the food at Opus was music all right....music to my mouth.
We started with the Opus Pate' (bacon-onion marmalade, pear conserve, marinated olives, cibatta toasts) and a glass of sparkling wine. The pate' was creamy, the olives fresh and salty and bacon makes everything better! So does bubbly! Great way to kick things off.
I ordered the Grilled Endive salad, expecting it to be sliced lengthwise then grilled. Instead it was cut into chunks, mixed with: pancetta, fresh pears, dried cherries, blue cheese and tossed with a lemon and basil vinaigrette. It was a great balance of flavor and texture.
The entrees we tried included a delicious, fatty but meaty, Roast Duck Breast (mango chili glaze, sweet corn griddle cakes, grilled asparagus, soy basil caramel). And a fresh, flavorful Pan Roasted Grouper with a mango butter sauce. Both dishes were keepers, but the art hanging on the walls was not. It's a new place so of course we gave it the once over while waiting for our food. The decor was on the trendy side but the paintings were of Florida sunsets and landscapes; perhaps more suited for the walls of a seafood joint. The art was beautiful, it just didn't seem to fit. That being said, we went to Opus for good food, not artwork.
Our night out at Opus was the same night as the June "Gallery Walk", so the otherwise sleepy downtown was full of energy. Gallery Walk is an evening of music, art and food; held the third Thursday of every month by the Punta Gorda Downtown Merchants Association. Try something new this month. Make dinner reservations at Opus and check out the next Gallery Walk (July 21st)!