Restaurants near Edison Estates Fort Myers

Inventive and American cuisine complement Edison and Ford

Visiting friends and family provide the perfect excuse to visit the new renovations and historic wonder of the Edison & Ford Winter Estates near downtown Fort Myers. And a walk around the riverfront property provides an excuse (if you need one) to try out a nearby new-for-you restaurant for lunch or dinner.

Steak gorgonzola with onion rings and mac 'n' cheese at The Edison

What could be more fitting than a sit-down at the Edison Restaurant, a few miles away at the Fort Myers Country Club?  Amid walls plastered with vintage photos of the namesake and his good neighbor Henry, American comfort fare warms the soul.

A special $6.95 menu makes lunch ultra-affordable, or choose from the all-day menu, where Yankee pot roast and chicken pot pie deserve the reputation they’ve earned. The pot roast nachos add a tasty new spin to the former.

Something more refined? I recommend the ahi tuna appetizer, herb-coated and seared rare, and Edison’s Gorgonzola Sirloin. (We asked for the sauce on the filet mignon instead with happy results).

Known equally for its nightlife, The Edison has burrowed its way into Fort Myers dining tradition.

“[We have] a lot of different facets,” co-owner Daniel Kearns explained the restaurant’s success. “We’re a big banquets center…. Second, our menu is conducive to a lot of people eating here often: The prices are reasonable. The key to a big building like this is keeping it busy. And of course we have our world-famous ladies night and lots of special events.”

So successful have Kearns and his partner fared at The Edison, they’ve co-opped the concept for another in-the-works restaurant downtown named Ford’s Garage, scheduled to open February 2012; Firestone’s will follow.

Another older downtown dining tradition, The Veranda occupies its own historic circa-1902 homes in a cozy setting of fireplace and bay windows looking out onto the garden courtyard, where there’s also seating.

Historic Fort Myers photos and well-stocked wine cases line the dark-wood bar.

For lunch, you’ll get a good sampling of the place’s Southern accent with grit cakes wrapped in pepper jack cheese and served with a grilled andouille sausage and red sauce.

Grit cakes at The Veranda

It’s also well-known for its fried green tomato salad with ham and bleu cheese, and Carpetbagger sandwich, stacked with beef, turkey, bacon, and tomato.

On our recent visit, we tried the crab cakes for the first time – generally unimpressive with overbreading and deep-frying. The day’s fish special however, blackened swai, was a real keeper.

If you stay for dinner, try the filet medallions with a rich, smoky sour-mash whiskey sauce. Rosemary merlot sauce complements the rack of New Zealand lamb. Tender crawfish top pan-seared yellowtail snapper.

All entrees come with a house salad, bread, muffins, and a wonderful pepper jelly. For dessert, I’d recommend the peanut butter fudge pie over the chocolate pate with raspberry coulis, which arrived frozen rock-hard to our table.

A new pretty face in the neighborhood, Cristof’s on McGregor opened in October 2011. It keeps with the historic theme, having converted a string of dilapidated Cracker-shacks into a spiffy Old-Florida-style structure with a wrap-around porch and front-yard tables.

But, beware, looks can be deceiving, as I will explain shortly.

Inside, a series of intimate but uncrowded dining rooms lead to the inviting, and sometimes noisy bar in back.  Affordable prices recommend it to both the lunch and dinner crowd.

The food is good enough; on our two visits, we especially liked the blackened scallops with key lime risotto, the Cajun chicken fettuccine, double chocolate

Double chocolate cake at Cristof's

cake, and key lime-passionfruit pie.

On our first visit, the service was slow to the boundary of making us feel ignored. Our Stella Artois draft was warm, and there were other small annoyances.

Since it was during the holidays, we overlooked them for a recent return trip. Again, the food was hit or miss, and after finding two of the five mussels on my son’s seafood pasta plate tasting off, we told our server (this time we lucked out with a good one).

She asked if we wanted something else instead, and we told her “no” and resumed with our family visit. UNTIL… the owner/chef showed up at our table and proceeded to question our judgment on the scallops in a very insulting way.

Finally I had to tell him that we didn’t want to argue about it, we weren’t asking for any compensation.

Nor did we receive any. After that confrontation, one would think a round of drinks or at least a comp on the key lime pie would be in order. To her credit, our server apologized for having told him. It wasn’t her fault. He was WAY out of line, and we shall never return.

Mistakes happen in the restaurant business. All three of us at the table that night have worked in the business, and know better than anyone. We don’t believe the customer is ALWAYS right, but rarely does he deserve to be berated and shamed.

So, my advice after the first visit would have been to give Cristof’s a try. Now I can only tell you: Stick with The Edison or Veranda instead.

Cristof’s on McGregor

Where: 10231 McGregor Blvd.

Prices: Lunch salads and sandwiches $7-10; dinner starters $3.50-$10, entrees $12- $23.

Information: 239-791-8473

The Edison

Where: 3581 McGregor Blvd.

Prices: Starters $4-$11; pizza, sandwiches, and entrees $9-$28.

Information: 239-936-9348, www.edisonfl.com

The Veranda

Where: 2122 Second St.

Prices: Lunch starters $4.25-$12, sandwiches and entrees $9-$14; dinner starters $7-$12, entrees $29-$39..

Information: 239-332-2065, www.verandarestaurant.com

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