711 5th Avenue South, Naples
Last Thursday was a beautiful evening, so my wife and I headed down to Fifth Avenue South to enjoy the outdoor music and a good dinner. First, we went to Corks for the obligatory $3 happy hour martini.
Trying to decide which restaurant we’d go to, almost required a refill. There are so many wonderful restaurants catering to virtually every taste along the avenue.
Barabra and I resisted though, and decided to do a little window shopping as we contemplated the many tempting dining choices. We paused to listen to other music being played on each corner and browsed in a couple of galleries along the way. We did some people watching, too.
Fifth Avenue South is a vision for those of you who haven’t been there recently. With twinkling white lights in every tree and throngs of travelers from every corner of the earth enjoying the streetscape this night in June, Fifth Avenue today is completely different from its earlier incarnation.
We were wandering toward the sound of music in the Sugden Theater commons, when I suggested we eat at Yabba Island Grill provided, of course, we could find just the right outdoor table. Luck was with us as there was actually one available where we could comfortably enjoy the music during dinner.
We hadn’t eaten at Yabba’s since earlier in the winter when we took a couple of our grandchildren to savor the laid-back atmosphere and drinking punch out of a coconut shell.
Our waitress, Taylor, arrived promptly to take our drink order. Despite the wide array of island-style cocktails--Yabba claims to have one of the best rum lists in the country-- we each ordered a glass of the house Chardonnay reasonably priced at $6.75.
Taylor indicated there were a few changes to the menu and reviewed two or three of her favorites. However, I was delighted to see that some of their most popular mainstays were still there like the finger-lickin’ good Jamaican Classic Jerk Half Chicken ($17.90) on the bone marinated in a mixture of secret spices and served with smashed new potatoes and jolly mon gravy and another favorite, the sautéed Plantain Black Grouper ($27.90), encrusted with Macadamia nuts and Appleton rum butter sauce, accompanied by tropical fruit chutney, Island rice sautéed spinach and a seasoned loaf of cornbread.
I decided on Grilled Swordfish ($18.20). The generous portion of firm, yet succulent fish was accompanied by an assortment of fresh julienne mixed vegetables. I was pleased. Very pleased.
Barbara selected a giant creation of spinach, breast of chicken, hearts of palm, blue cheese, mushrooms, candied pecans, mandarin oranges and tomato tossed in a warm bacon-berry vinaigrette and topped with rasta-fried onions called Monsoon Salad ($15.90). More than a monsoon, the salad resembled a volcano.
Yabba means everything’s cool, according to the management. Yabba’s island atmosphere seems to be made for a beachfront resort like, well, Naples. But you might expect it to be closer to the shore rather than on trendy Fifth Avenue South.
With its casual dining room décor, its outside-inside thatched-roof bar, and Caribbean-style menu, Yabba’s offers a refreshing alternative amidst the other more classic establishments in the neighborhood.
Our meal, including three glasses of wine totaled $56.84 without gratuity. Although we opted not to order any, there is also a plentiful selection of appetizers, soups and salads, as well as tempting desserts.
All in all, it was a lovely evening and we didn’t even have to board a cruise ship to experience a touch of the Caribbean.