Sunday, September 13, 2015

New Southern Cooking Comes To Punta Gorda

Leroy's Manhattan with a moonshine soaked cherry
LeRoy's Southern Kitchen is the newest restaurant to grace the dining scene of Punta Gorda's quaint downtown. The brainchild of two longtime Southwest Florida restauranteurs, Lee Richardson and Bob Mulroy, the two scooped up a former chef from the highly acclaimed Mereday's in Naples--Richard Howze.

Howze also spent time in the New Orleans culinary scene. He brings a big dose of NOLA inspiration to Leroy's southern menu, then adds a modern twist.

Located in what used to be Opus, the somewhat chic decor has been replaced with lots of repurposed looking materials for a casual ambiance.

On the surface, it's a place where you might expect to find shrimp and grits, and pork and pancakes, and you do. However, the menu also has foodies salivating with dishes that include foie gras, truffle and bone marrow.

I was so excited to find the above items that I didn't know where to start. Thankfully Mulroy made the decision for me and sent out a tasting board that included two types of sausage, pork rillette, chicken pate, cheeses and more.

Tasting board
He also advised trying the fried green tomatoes which to be honest, didn't excite me as more often than not, I find this dish to be marginally prepared. I should've known better. Chef Howse cut the tomatoes in wedges not slices so we could actually taste them. The crisp batter, the salty blue cheese and tasso fondue, the juicy tomatoes in the middle, created a wonderful trifecta.

Fried green tomatoes
I couldn't pass up something with foie gras. It came on Po Boys, on top of burgers but I had it on it's own, blackened and with a bit of blueberry jam and balsamic. A must try.

Blackened foie gras
I really wanted to try the brussels spouts in a truffled goat cheese with bacon or the crawfish beignets, all small plates. But my dining partner had a small appetite so we had to scale back, this time.

Roasted mushroom pilau, egg, truffle and pork rinds
We did manage to put a dent in the roasted mushroom pilau; the truffle flavors were distinct and delicious. It was topped with a fried egg and served with crunchy pork rinds.

Leroy's has one of the largest (if not THE largest) selections of bourbons and whiskeys in Southwest Florida according to Mulroy, with even more to come. The happy hour includes $4 drafts, wines and wells; only a dollar more for the premiums.

Congratulations on your opening and more exciting things to come!

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