Friday, October 20, 2017

Survey Café: Bonita’s Well-Kept Secret

tropical salad at survey cafe

“naplesAnyone who has driven down the stretch of Old 41 south of Bonita Beach Road can imagine what Bonita Springs’ downtown area must have been like in its heyday.

With redevelopment in the area well underway, passersby can begin to see the resurgence of Bonita’s charm.  And in the midst of the revitalization, tucked away behind Benson’s Grocery, is a small piece of Bonita’s history.  Settled in a historic 1940s home on Wilson Street is Survey Café, a quaint restaurant that is just a short walk from the rejuvenated Riverside Park.

Boasting Bonita’s original name, Survey, the Café is surrounded by a spacious wrap around porch and lush tropical plantings that complement its old Florida home setting.  With wide and brightly colored umbrellas overhead, the ample outdoor seating makes for a tranquil shaded dining space even on warm sunny days.  But those who find themselves driven inside by the Florida humidity will find cozy seating within the home’s closed porch.

Survey Café caters to breakfast and lunch diners, although all menu items can be ordered at any time.  Breakfast biscuits, sandwiches and salads are available as are various breakfast sides including breakfast potatoes, bacon, sausage, and grits.  If you are in need of a morning pick me up, you can find espressos and mimosas on the menu as well.

Nearly all items are reasonably priced, with the most expensive item being the $12.95 “Tropical Salad”, a very generous bowl of mixed greens, adorned with cucumber, pineapple, sweet pepper rings, avocado and chopped red onion, topped with chilled and peeled pink shrimp, and served with a side of coriander, orange, lemon and olive oil dressing.  This salad is so fresh and colorful that it barely needs the dressing.

The natural fruit and vegetable flavors carry themselves on their own.  In fact, during my visit to the Café, I learned that before making my salad the chef ran right over to Benson’s Grocery to make sure my avocado was as a fresh as it could be.  Even so, my salad arrived to my table in very good time.

It’s easy to feel at home at Survey Café.   It is, after all, situated in a home.  But the “old home” feeling doesn’t just come from the Café’s cozy surroundings.  Everywhere you turn are clues that the owners of this place really care about their patrons.  Tucked between planters on the porch is a pet’s water bowl, ready to sate the thirst of accompanying pets.  On an étagère near the entrance are short neat stacks of newspapers and magazines for diners to peruse while passing the time or soaking up the morning sun.

Atop them all is a copy of a book from my daughter’s childhood, Dr. Seuss’ The Cat’s Quizzer.  I can’t help but feel warm and fuzzy knowing that young children are welcome here.

If you’re curious to see how Bonita’s downtown redevelopment is going, take a jaunt down Old 41, turn east onto Wilson Street and pull into the Survey Café.  The Café is open Tuesdays through Fridays, 8:30 am to 2:00 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays, 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  On Sundays, enjoy brunch all day.

Survey Café

10530 Wilson Street, Bonita Springs

(239) 992-CAFÉ (2233)

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