When my husband Meakin’s birthday rolled around this year, we wanted to do something extra special because it was one of those “milestone” years that calls for a celebration. We tossed a lot of ideas around, but finally decided to throw an intimate little birthday dinner party at one of our favorite restaurants in Florida – Bistro 41.
Bistro 41 is an upscale yet casually elegant bistro-style restaurant located in the Bell Tower Shoppes in Fort Myers, Florida, and was established in 1997. We’ve dined there on numerous occasions and have always had an excellent meal and excellent service. I particularly like the relaxing atmosphere of the dining room and the colorful artwork displayed throughout the room.
We’ve also gotten to know the chef a little. So for this special occasion, we made an appointment with Chef Reiner Drygaka and sat down one afternoon to discuss our ideas for the menu. Chef Reiner is the kind of chef that’s easy to visit with, very easy going, and, best of all, full of great ideas. We explained that this was a very special birthday, there would be four of us, we would like to dine in their small private dining area, and we wanted something a bit out of the ordinary. Meakin added that his brother would be flying down from New York for the occasion and was accustomed to dining in gourmet restaurants and we wanted the chef to impress him. Here’s the wine birthday Surf & Turf dinner Chef Reiner suggested and it was a real success.
To begin the meal, we all toasted the birthday boy with flutes of dry Louis Perdier Brut champagne and dined on a spring salad of baby field greens with fresh mixed berries, topped with Chevre goat cheese and candied pecans, drizzled with a light, slightly tangy raspberry vinaigrette.
At first I was a bit concerned that the butter poached lobster would be too rich as the main course, but since the chef served the lobsters and tournedos of beef over a creamy herbed risotto and accompanied them with sautéed Swiss chard and Belgium endive finished in a citrus beurre blanc sauce, it was a perfect balance of flavors and textures. The wine was a McMannis Pinot Noir from California, a rich deep Pinot with a slight hint of fruit and Asian flavors.
One of our desires was to finish the meal with a light dessert and emphasized no birthday cake with candles or anything heavy. Chef Reiner suggested a cheese plate of Maytag blue accompanied with fresh strawberries served with a swirl of chocolate ganache. The St. Supery Napa Cabernet Sauvignon was a luxurious young wine with hints of black berries and Cassis and also happens to be one of the chef’s personal favorite wines.
I always consider a dinner party a success when everyone goes home happy, smiling, and well fed. Here we are thanking Chef Reiner and our server at Bistro 41 for custom designing a wine dinner just for us. Happy birthday Meakin. May you have many, many more.