A couple of popular restaurants have added new items to their menus and there are a there are some special events coming up, so let’s whip out our phones and add these events to our calendars. For those of you who like to go old-school and use actual datebooks, we’ll wait while you get them out, find a pen and open to the right date.
If you’re looking for a last-minute Valentine’s Day gift, JP’s Chocolate Shoppe, 2410 Wilton Dr., offers up heart-shaped chocolates, and chocolate roses as well as special boxes for JP’s yummy treats, 954-368-5533, jpschocolateshoppe.com. If you’ve got a bear that you want to impress, think about this “Beary Cuddly” plush teddy bear holding a three-pack of chocolate-covered pretzels from Hoffman's Chocolates, 920 E. Las Olas. While they may be available at the store, it’s always better to order ahead; 954-368-4320, Hoffmans.com.
To The Max
Still going strong after 20 years, Max’s Grille in Boca Raton’s Mizner Park was packed on a recent Wednesday night when I stopped by to check out some new menu options. For those who haven’t been, Max’s Grille emphasizes simple preparations highlighting clean flavors, inventive combinations and the use of local products. Our server Sandy made our experience on the patio as pleasant as it could be, given the cigar smoke and drunken shrieks from a table of obnoxious folks seated not five feet from us.
We checked out the grilled octopus, one of my favorites. When cooked correctly octopus has a light flavor and a texture not unlike a tender shrimp. While our octopus was cooked correctly, it had not been skinned, so the first bite felt like I was chewing a rubber band. A few simple slices and I skinned it myself. I was rewarded for my efforts with a delicious piece of seafood served on charred escarole with a wonderful horseradish gremolata. My husband’s lobster Louie salad featured copious amount of perfectly poached lobster, baby iceberg, heirloom tomatoes and avocado. Crab crusted snapper paired a fried filet topped with plenty of crabmeat, served with Lyonnaise potatoes, leeks and braised greens atop a pool of red pepper vinegar sauce. Yum! A perfectly cooked, juicy and tender skirt steak arrived topped with chimichurri and sautéed wild mushrooms redolent with garlic and thyme. We ended our meal with a perfectly fine, but unremarkable Key lime pie and warm flourless chocolate cake that was more of a volcano cake.
Although we wanted to sample some dishes that weren’t offered as part of a popular special, it is certainly worth trying out. With the “Three Course Experience”, available from 5-6 p.m., you order from one of five options for apps and desserts, along with an entrée from the seafood, wood-fired, grilled or classic sections of the menu, and for the price of a regular entrée, you’ll get all three courses. To make the deal even more enticing, if two from the table order the special, they add a free bottle of wine. If you’re the only one at the table to order the special, you’re not left out; you can order a glass of house wine or a cocktail for $5. There’s also a happy hour special available Sunday through Friday from 4 – 6 p.m. drinks under $15 and selected appetizers are all half-priced. 561-368-0080, MaxsGrille.com
There may be a chill in the air, but you can warm up with some newer dishes at Louie Bossi, 1032 E Las Olas Blvd., one of the city’s most popular spots. New antipasti include: perfectly steamed clams atop a pool of spicy spreadable salami broth. OMG! A bowl of this and some fresh bread and I’m a happy camper. Another newcomer is the calamari a la plancha, topped with sautéed garlic, cherry tomatoes, arugula, and spicy Fresno peppers. There are two new pizza offerings; one featuring arugula and peppadew and another sporting rapini, stracciatella and the same spicy spreadable salami sauce as the clam dish. If you’re looking for a pasta dish to heat you up, check out the new angel hair topped with calamari, and a red sauce flecked with Calabrian chili peppers. There’s even a new cocktail; a take on a Pimm’s Cup that features the addition of strawberries. Check it out during happy hour, 4 – 7 p.m. every day, when it’s $2 off drinks and pizzas are half-price (at the bar only). 954-356-6699,
How to Get Lei’d
Oakland Park hosts a Polynesian cultural festival Feb. 25 and 26, at Jaco Pastorius Park, 4000 N. Dixie. The annual event features entertainment and Polynesian food. Get an eyeful while enjoying hula lessons, fire and knife dancers and ukulele exhibitions from scantily clad hotties. The event runs from noon - 7 p.m. both days, admission is $10 per person. PolynesianCultureAssociation.com