Rick's Reviews — Ragin' Cajun

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Photo courtesy of The Balcony's Facebook page

The Balcony, is an upscale, two-story restaurant serving New Orleans inspired cuisine, including tapas-style small plates and craft cocktails. The restaurant boasts an enormous open-air rooftop and balcony overlooking Las Olas and features live music daily. The Balcony showcases the dynamic tastes of New Orleans, which blends French, Spanish, West African and Amerindian influences and ingredients.  Executive Chef Simon Porter also brings in the flavors of German, Italian, Irish and Vietnamese cooking. It is the latest offering by the PDKN Restaurant Group, best known for Bokampers.

Dinner offerings start with smoked gumbo or sweet corn bisque. Or, you may opt for selections from the raw bar; colossal shrimp cocktail, oysters on the half shell, ceviche or jumbo lump blue crab salad (which provides plenty for a light entrée or enough to be split by four as an appetizer). Of course, if you can’t decide which raw bar items you prefer, you can order the Mandeville seafood platter. It’s $89 but provides a sufficient amount for four to six as an appetizer, or to serve as dinner for two. Salad selections are large enough to serve as an entrée. The Cajun Caesar with house-made biscuit croutons and a spicy bayou dressing; and a Southern Cobb with bleu cheese, bacon, avocado, hard-boiled egg and duck confit over romaine lettuce.

Much of the menu is devoted to regionally-inspired tapas: a cheese and charcuterie platter; Cajun beef sliders; pulled pork; sausage gravy on a biscuit; bourbon-barbecue chicken skewers andouille sausage braised collard greens; fried green tomatoes; Cajun buttered Brussels sprouts and, of course, red beans & rice. For those preferring a more traditional entrée, the possibilities range from the familiar to the exotic. Chicken and dumplings tops two flaky biscuits with pulled chicken bathed with a coating of sage and onion sausage gravy. Alligator & shrimp jambalaya combines andouille sausage, smoked chicken, red beans and tomato, with the main players and is served with cornbread. Crawfish étouffée is another familiar dish. On the more unusual end of the spectrum is a Cajun version of chicken schnitzel, served with Lyonnaise potatoes, collard greens and sausage gravy.

The Balcony also serves a terrific weekend brunch on both Saturday and Sunday. Our community needs to take over this place on Sundays. Between the $5 Bloody Mary and Mimosa specials, the live jazz and the hot bartenders, it’s a perfect fit. As an added bonus, the brunch menu is wide-ranging offering a burger, chicken and dumplings and a shrimp po’boy from the lunch menu in addition to some wonderful brunch only items such as; a crêpe with tropical fruit, coconut crusted French toast, gumbo, Southern BBQ jerk chicken Cobb salad, crab cakes and Cajun pulled pork on a biscuit topped with poached eggs. More traditional breakfast fare includes steak and eggs, a variety of Benedict dishes (including one over fried green tomatoes) and the Gallier House breakfast; two eggs any style with applewood smoked bacon, Irish breakfast sausage, Lyonnaise potatoes and tropical fruit, with a choice of baguette or English muffin.

Those with a sweet tooth won’t be disappointed. Of course, there are beignets (served with three dipping sauces), banana bread pudding with bourbon caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream, bananas Foster (although the flambé tableside preparation is only available after 5 p.m.) and crepe Suzette. The latter two are available as a single portion or may be ordered as a group, which serves up to six.  There’s a full bar, extensive wine list and lots of bubbly selections. It truly is a brunch fit for a queen (or dozens of us)!

The Cajun Corner

While a few places in the area offer a Cajun-inspired item or two on their menu, there are limited options for Cajun food (unless you count Lulu’s Crab Shack and Popeye’s-which I don’t unless I’m drunk). 

Shuck ‘N Dive 

650 N. Federal, Fort Lauderdale

954-462-0088

shuck-n-dive.com

As authentic as you can get without being in NOLA. Check out the shrimp and grits, available only on weekends.

SpiceSea Seafood & Thai

3811 N Federal, Fort Lauderdale

954-564-4422

This new spot claims to be a Thai-Cajun fusion, but so far there’s only one Cajun recipe on the menu. Gotta love the name though.


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