Dining In the 239: Cafe Chic charms its way into Naples

The French press sandwich at Cafe Chic in Naples is large enough for sharing.

Photo by Kelly Merritt/Special to the Daily News

The French press sandwich at Cafe Chic in Naples is large enough for sharing.

At 8 a.m. these days, I spring from my bed, ready to greet the day. Actually, it takes me about an hour just to become conscious, but something new in town has me running for the door. It’s Cafe Chic, a coffee shop in Naples’ Venetian Village that boasts the rare trifecta of having good coffee, a creative cafe atmosphere and really good food.

Jean-Christophe and Elise Hemon, a French husband-and-wife team, are behind the two Cafe Chic properties and an upcoming store called Buy Provence along Neapolitan Way in Naples.

The couple opened the first Cafe Chic in Venetian Village two months ago and are slated to open another location across from Cambier Park in October. The Buy Provence store will feature thousands of products from France in stock, including 200 different soaps.

At Cafe Chic, in addition to the food and coffee, several edible products are already available for sale, fine grocery items such as gourmet olive oils, mustards and vinegars.

The Hemons embody what we all love most about France — a passion for all things culinary, a darn good cup of coffee and a relaxed vibe. For example, one morning, the espresso machine steaming and coffee flowing, soon the self-serve sugar bottle was empty. A regular signaled to Mr. Hemon.

“No sugar,” said the customer, holding up the container.

“No sugar? Red alert — red alert!” Hemon exclaimed in his French accent, smiling, and everyone laughed.

Open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., the cafe serves several breakfast and lunch items, including salads and sandwiches. Soup, quiche, wraps and, of course, LavAzza coffee, make up the remainder of the menu. Cafe Chic baristas prepare cappuccinos, lattes, iced and hot coffees and teas, including Chai tea lattes among other beverages. Customers with a sweet tooth should ask for a latte doused with chocolate syrup and pair it with a chocolate croissant.

If you go

Cafe Chic: Venetian Village, 4350 Gulf Shore Blvd., Naples. Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. 239-643-0004

Cafe Chic Old Naples: 635 Eighth St. S., Naples. Opening in October. 239-529-2195

Online:TheCafeChic.com

Crepes on demand also grace the menu but are available sporadically when Hemon is on site, as the staff is training to make crepes. Breakfast notables include the egg and avocado croissant and morning crepe — a French crepe with ham, bacon or turkey sausage, spinach or mushrooms or tomatoes, onions and cheese. The sweet crepes include Nutella, brown sugar, French jam or French honey. The bacon, egg and cheese sandwich is also very good (all breakfast items are $8).

Throughout the day, sandwiches and salads dot the menu. The salade de chèvre chaud is a refreshing frisee salad with vinaigrette, jambon de Bayonne (ham), tomatoes, pine nuts, French goat cheese and croutons ($10). A tuna Nicoise salad is prepared with capers, olives, anchovies, boiled egg and tomato ($12). The salade compose is served with lettuce, spinach, walnuts, vinaigrette, blue cheese, croutons and boiled egg ($9). Guests can add tuna, chicken or egg to the salads.

One of the more interesting salads, the salade Jean-Christophe, will be available at both locations once the Cambier Park site is open. It is prepared with tri-color pasta, lobster meat, Nicoise olives, herbes of Provence, mayonnaise, boiled eggs and avocado ($10).

Sandwiches include traditional French items such as Croque Monsieur ($8) with ham, Gruyere cheese and béchamel sauce and its sister sandwich, the Croque Madame, of the same ingredients but with egg ($9). The Normandie sandwich is prepared on a French baguette with Camembert cheese, butter, lettuce and tomato ($10). The Savioe fondue sandwich, features prosciutto, gherkins, roasted potatoes and cheese ($13).

The French Riviera sandwich is made with bread, Gruyère, bacon, avocado and lettuce and tomatoes ($9). But the most popular sandwich is the French press a grilled monster of a sandwich made with ham, Brie, mustard, mayonnaise, apples, lettuce, bacon and tomatoes ($13).

Macaroons for dessert, tarts, chocolate croissants and plain croissants are available now, and several other sweet options are being added as the Cambier location opens.

The only negative — the choice of music was somewhat confusing. On one visit, Charlie Daniels’ “ The Devil Went Down to Georgia” was playing. It’s not exactly what one would choose when relaxing in a French cafe.

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