This restaurant is a jewel and gets better and better all of the time. It’s been on our list of the best restaurants in the Naples area – right up there in the top one or two spots with Campiello. Until now, it’s been a seasonal restaurant but that has changed and we’ll get to enjoy this well-hidden place all year around now.The Bay House Restaurant remodeled during the summer to increase the tavern and lounge side of the restaurant, include a raw bar and introduce an additional menu featuring some unique preparations for the tavern.
The tavern side of the establishment is known as Tierney’s Tavern & Claw Bar which, by the way, has live music every night. Best of all, they will be open twelve months of the year and they are adding an outdoor dining deck on the water.
Most recently, we had yet another wonderful evening in the dining room sitting at a table overlooking a scenic bend of the Cocohatchee River. Especially during the busy season, I would definitely recommend making reservations and your experience will be enhanced by requesting a waterside table if there is still some daylight to enjoy the view.
Do yourself another huge favor when you make a reservation – make a special request to have Courtney as your server. I’ve never done a review in which I’ve encouraged visitors to seek out one server, in particular. However, in this case, Courtney will make your whole evening better because of her bright personality, commitment to making it a great evening for you and her knowledge of the menu and ingredients is surpassed only by the kitchen.
Here are some menu highlights from our most recent visit to The Bay House Restaurant:
Appetizers – Fried oysters were superb (the executive chef, Andrew Hunter, has some New Orleans blood running through his veins). It would seem that almost every restaurant nowadays serves a Caesar salad but most are totally ordinary and lack the true spirit of the original. An indication of how the rest of your meal is going to go may lie with how it begins if you start with a restaurant’s Caesar salad.
In this case, the salad is “spot on” with flavorful homemade dressing, hearts of romaine cut to avoid any struggling with eating, an actual white anchovie fish on the side to mix into the salad at your own discretion and the “crouton” is a toasted parmesan custard. Admittedly, I’m very critical about Caesar salads…….try this one – it’s exceptional. A very health-conscious member of our group raved about the roasted beet salad as his appetizer. The she crab soup was creamy and first rate – it’s a “must-do.”
Entrees – All of the food served at The Bay House Restaurant is presented artfully and the entrees are no exception. Each entree that we enjoyed had its own plate shape to complement the food. The best news here is that the food is all about the flavors and not just the pretty picture on the plate. Their interpretation of a seafood bouillabaisse keeps me coming back to that entree – I love it. The seared sea scallops were done perfectly and we can recommend that dish from several outings. Grouper is a very popular fish in our area but all too often overcooked or over-prepared.
The Bay House Restaurant treats all fish and seafood with respect and brings out the best in their preparations. The fourth entree was a grilled strip steak. Bear in mind, this is coming from a person who eats red meat only a few times in a year – I’m ordering a steak next time we visit The Bay House. The texture, the flavor, and the moisture was better than any steak I have had in any of the dedicated steak houses.
The Bay House Restaurant deserves several visits to get the most out of everything that it has to offer. Don’t try to do it all in one visit. Go on one occasion to Tierney’s Tavern to catch the vibe in that part of the establishment with the live lounge music, raw bar, selections from the “kettle menu” and the relaxed yet sophisticated Florida atmosphere.
When you pay the dining room a visit, order different items all of the way around the table – go with friends so that everybody gets to taste everything. On the next visit, agree ahead of time to have the whole table order the fixed price, multiple-course tasting menu on the right hand panel of the menu. By this time, you’ll be a regular patron of The Bay House and then you’re on your own. Enjoy. Then enjoy again.
Chef Andrew Hunter is creative but sticks to his roots and, obviously, he himself loves food and flavor. The presentations are well done without being “artsy” just for the sake of being “artsy.” We’ve encountered Sous Chef Jamie Knapp previously and he adds his wealth of experience to the mix and he and the Chef work very well together – I’m very happy that Jamie and The Bay House found each other. Expect to see specials and seasonal menu changes from the kitchen to constantly peak your culinary interests.
You should check out the website for the restaurant for the menu, a gallery of food presentation photographs, a bit of history and information as well as pictures of the interior to give you an idea of the beautiful decor featuring restored wooden boats hung from the ceiling.
Unless someone else has told you about The Bay House Restaurant or you’ve just read about it, you would never find this location on your own. Trust me, you’ve never just driven by the place in passing. Walkerbilt Road is a side street that intersects Route 41 (Tamiami Trail) just south of Naples Marina & Excursions (the boat tour and kayak rental place) – just a bit north and on the opposite side of the road from the Germain BMW dealership. Best bet … put the address below into your navigation on your phone or in your car.
The Bay House Restaurant
799 Walkerbilt Road
Naples, Florida 34110