We recently had the great pleasure of attending a wonderful evening called Dinner With Artists, which is put on by the Naples Art Association. It was a mixture of entertainment, learning and delicious food, which was a perfect equation for fun.

If you find yourself with the opportunity to attend one of these events, we highly recommend you do so! In fact, you may want to check out the next event, coming up in May at Coast in Edgewater Beach Hotel.

Dinner with Artists Veranda E

Dinner with Artists at Veranda E

On January 27th, glass artist Conrad Williams and Chef Bryan Sutton joined their talents in the restaurant Veranda E at Hotel Escalante. These events allow culinary and visual artists to combine their talents to create a unique evening to remember. Before these evenings take place, the chef and artist visit each other’s working spaces to learn from their surroundings. And with a location like Veranda E and the expertise of Mr. Williams, a magical evening was created.


Local Naples glass blower, Conrad Williams, has been creating glass masterpieces since 1998. His creations range from figures to beautiful glass bowls, vases and more, utilizing vibrant colors, patterns and shapes.

If you’ve never seen a mobile glass blowing studio, you’re in for a real treat when you see him in action. Those interested in learning more about his trade can even take workshops at his studio, or have him come to your own event.


Aimee Schlehr & Chef Bryan Sutton

The Naples Art Association, led by Aimee Schlehr, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, founded in 1954 by local artists. Its mission is to educate and promote visual arts in Southwest Florida. Through its programs, the Naples Art Association is dedicated to serving individual artists of all ages and skill levels, along their creative journeys.

The Association hosts many events at the Von Liebig Art Center which displays the talented works of local, national and international artists on a daily basis. Their events are immaculately assembled to create unforgettable moments with wonderfully skillful artists.


The Food

The menu created by Chef Bryan Sutton for the evening featured some of the favorites of the Veranda E menu — but threw in additional exciting elements inspired by the glass blowing demonstration.

veranda-e-naples-5One of the flying finger foods was Kung Pao Calamari, a well-known specialty of the restaurant. Unlike any calamari you’ve ever eaten, calamari steaks are lightly fried and then coated with Kung Pao sauce to create a delicious treat.
Another big hit were the flying lamb lollipops, a brazen choice of finger foods for any chef. Prepared to perfection, the lamb was tender and flavorful…and succulent enough to make you want to chew the bone until the last shred of lamb was gone.
veranda-e-naples-2The seated dinner began with a roasted baby beet salad with aged balsalmic and drunken goat cheese, with a fried wonton “chip” on the side. Perfectly complimenting flavors. veranda-e-naples-9

The next course was a Maine diver scallop and shrimp tower over bamboo rice aji amarillo and tropical fruit chow chow. The shrimp and scallop were cooked perfectly and the rice was full of flavor. A delicious stop in the evening’s culinary adventure.


The last course: grass fed Angus filet mignon served with Asian purple sweet potatoes, sauteed spinach, and fried shallots over a Cabernet Demi-Glace. The filet was extremely tender and expertly prepared. The flavors were a dream — and the purple sweet potatoes a major talking point around the table!


To top it all off, we enjoyed a duo of lavender and blueberry sorbets with glass sugar shards, and all filled into a homemade chocolate ramekin. The sorbet was creamy and a great pallet cleanser…and wonderfully light after so much great food.


That night, Veranda E became one of my favorite restaurants! Not only was the food delicious and beautifully plated, while being served in a magical ambiance, but it was also perfectly-sized portions. Even though it seemed that the food just kept coming, the timing was well placed so that we could always enjoy more — and virtually nothing was left on the plates.

One of the truly unique things about Veranda E is its 3,000 square foot organic garden. Chef Bryan was kind enough to take a some time out of his busy schedule to show us around the space, and it was really impressive to see all they’ve done despite the fact that the garden has really just gotten started. All of the edible flowers we were served came from the garden, and many of the herbs as well.

If you’d like to sample the food for yourself, be sure to make a reservation for lunch of dinner. And here’s a preview of what you could be eating: the regular Veranda E menu (which does change frequently based on seasonal availability of ingredients)!

For a special lunch or dinner with real wow factor on the plate and beautiful ambiance, I highly recommend you check out Veranda E in Hotel Escalante.

Veranda E
290 5th Ave S,
Naples, FL 34102
Happy Hour Under the Pergola served Mon - Sat 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm
Lunch served Mon – Sat 11:30 am to 2:30 pm
Dinner served seven days  5:00 -10:00 pm

Reservations: 239-325-3474 or 239-659-3466

Note: This article first appeared on FoodieNaples.com in 2014 and has been republished with permission.