Gayle and I are fairly new to town and have been looking for the local hot spots. For us, a "hot spot"means someplace we feel comfortable, has some music and food and we don't want to leave when the check comes.
It can be rustic or fine dining, just depends on our mood. Lately we've found a lot of great rustic places, but we were really missing the fine dining experience. Turns out, we just didn't know where to look.
Last week at the Port Charlotte Chamber's Business Expo we met Joe LeClair, manager of JD's Bistro and Grille. He was obviously passionate about his place and told us about his new chef and the featured jazz music. Sounded good to us - we made a reservation on the spot.
Last night we went to check it out. We miscalculated the traffic and got there about 20 minutes early - but no problem. We were greeted warmly at the door and offered a glass of wine at the bar. The place was completely full and I could tell that everyone was busy. But like a good host, Joe and his staff never seemed to be rushed. They took extra time to chat with us, and we felt more like honored guests at a private dinner party than patrons at a restaurant. When our table was ready, they showed us to a comfortable seat near the band - exactly where we wanted to be.
The band was fantastic. Patricia Dean on drums, Jeff Phillips on piano and Dave Trefethen on upright bass. I'm told they have live jazz Tuesday through Saturday, and this lineup plays every Thursday night. It was perfect - they were lively, playful and obviously had great chops.
Now the food. Oh. My. Word.
It was fantastic.
I had my heart set on a good steak, and they had a fillet at the top of the menu. Perfect. Other featured items were the scallops and a rack of lamb. I was nearly swayed by the scallops I saw at the next table, but I stuck to my guns.
Oh wait, I forgot the appetizer! Simply the best Oysters Rockefeller I've ever had. Earthy, rich, nice afterglow. At that point I knew we had something special.
Anyway, back to the steak. Cooked perfectly, but with a killer surprise - the side dish was a total mind blower. Hard to describe, so bear with me. Imagine a perfect risotto, formed, rolled in some sort of awesome panko style crust and fried. Flavor, texture, incredible. The plating sauce and bitter greens just cut the richness and balanced it perfectly. Paired with a nice Cabernet, it was exactly what I needed.
Dessert was also great, light, not too sweet and well balanced.
If I had to describe JDs food overall, I'd call it Jazz on a plate. Lots of notes in harmony.
The chef, Royce (hope I got his name right), stopped by our table and was very gracious and seemed genuinely happy to meet us. I understand he is putting together a new menu and we were previewing some of the elements. I'm excited to come back soon.
Gayle and I give it 4 thumbs up.