|Photo by Sharon Arnold|
While I wouldn't call Flippers On The Bay "barefoot beach food", it is a crazy combination of fine dining in a casual atmosphere. On Estero Bay, the al fresco establishment is all undercover, except for a small deck on the beach; perfect for those who come by boat. You can come in your shorts and T-shirt but people DO dress for the deck; at night it is even quite romantic.
10Best, a division of USA TODAY, and fell in love with Chef Juan Cruz; not just his food but his infectious laugh and inviting smile. Cruz has worked with famous chef's like Wolfgang Puck and Thomas Keller and has quietly been building a loyal following at Flipper's.
Chef brought out a bunch of small plates for us to sample so don't judge the portion sizes in the slide show below. Our appetizers included tender calamari prepared Mediterranean-style, with Kalamata olives and tomato; Yellow Fin Tuna Ceviche ($11.90) with a ginger avocado cucumber relish that was so fresh and had a nice little kick; a flavorful Spanish-style shrimp cocktail called Campechana that also had lump crab and avocado; and a glass of crisp Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc. Each was unique, well balanced and I would order again.
We switched to a Krug Chardonnay for the next round which included the Shrimp Sunset ($22.90); papadale pasta with shrimp in a creamy and delicious red curry, tomato basil and parmesan sauce. The popular Asian Chicken Salad was sweet and spicy, with a fresh crunchy texture. Two more hits!
About this time the breeze picked up, the sun started to set and the dolphins came out to play. Not only can you see the sunset from this dining deck, you can also see it rise in the east. Flippers serves breakfast and I'm dying to try the Lobster Eggs Benedict!
After pausing to honor Mother Nature it was on to red wine, Erath Pinot Noir, and one of my favorite dishes of the night; Chilean Seabass ($32.90) in a citrus miso sauce. It melted in my mouth. The Bohemian Grouper was also quite good; served over mashed plantains, topped with a citrus pineapple relish then drizzled with a lemon beurre blanc. There are selections for land lubbers too, although not many.
Flipper's On The Bay is one of the best hidden gems in Southwest Florida. It is not well marked and not in the middle of the craziness of the beach. If you are visiting Southwest Florida you've got to seek it out, at the southern end of Fort Myers Beach, almost in Bonita Springs, across from Lovers Key State Park. If you live here, why aren't you there now!