“Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels / Door bells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles”
While I may not agree with Julie Andrews (or Mary Martin, or Carrie Underwood, depending on your generation) about door bells and sleigh bells, she’s correct about crisp apple strudel and schnitzel with noodles – they are a few of my favorite things. As I write this on the day following the presidential election, clutching my Hillary T-shirt to my chest and rocking back and forth while weeping, I need something to lift my spirits and, as a foodie, my thoughts go to my favorite things; comfort foods and memories of great dining experiences. Since this is our annual “Best Of…” issue, I thought it might be appropriate (and comforting) to look back on my favorite dining experiences of 2016.
1 Seminole Way, Hollywood
Kuro in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino complex provided two of the best dishes I’ve eaten all year. The first featured high-grade tuna tartare, piled high on a square of light-as-air puffed rice. The second, while not authentically Japanese, proved equally delightful; Kakiage, a giant fritter studded with chunks of sweet corn was crunchy and creamy, all at once.
Hot & Soul
3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale
The “Vegan Yum Bowl” at Hot & Soul was just one of a trio of memorable dishes. The filling combination of coconut polenta topped with mushroom gravy, crispy onions and sprouts is evidence of why this little “hole in a mall” restaurant is listed among the city’s top restaurants every year. I was equally blown away by two of the desserts; dulce de leche custard showcased candied cashews, coconut cream, caramel toast and banana jam. The dark chocolate-pistachio bark provided more than enough for even the most addicted chocoholic, with a platter of salty sweet deliciousness drizzled with a sprinkle of sea salt and evoo.
Kitchen Four Twenty
420 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale
Kitchen Four Twenty’s slogan is “highly addictive” and the brisket sandwich, featuring a healthy portion of tender, melt in your mouth, beef certainly is. I said of the jus, served on the side for dipping, “… if the bowl had been larger, I would have been tempted to bathe in it.” All the more reason to ask for it to be served on a po’ boy roll, instead of the standard sour dough bread; it better supports the abundant sandwich and provides more bread to absorb the wonderful sauce.
Temple Street Eatery
416 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale
Right next door to Kitchen Four-Twenty is Temple Street Eatery where I worship the edamame falafel. Ground soy beans replace chickpeas in the classic recipe as the orbs of crispy goodness are fried to order for your appetizer, side dish or sandwich, where they’re served in a pita. The soft interior bursting with flavor and curry aioli accompaniment combine to create sheer perfection, no matter how you choose to enjoy them.
Greek Pastries & Deli
4701 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale
Don’t let the small size of Greek Pastries & Deli fool you. There are big flavors (and large portions) here. Sure you can get the absolutely delish pastries, made fresh in house throughout the day, but don’t miss out on the savory fare; lamb shank, real gyros and souvlaki. It’s all delish and mostly priced less than $10 for a huge portion!
1602 S. Federal Highway, Boynton Beach
Josie’s Calamari is a signature dish at Josie’s Ristorante in Boynton Beach and rightfully so. The heaping platter of lightly crusted shrimp and calamari are tossed with thinly sliced hot cherry peppers, lightly topped with garlic scampi sauce and served with a side of roasted garlic aioli. The generous portion could easily serve four to six as an appetizer or serve as a filling meal.
5th Element Indian Grill
1325 S. Powerline Road, Pompano Beach
The mango soft serve ice cream at 5th Element Indian Grill is the stuff of dreams, and the perfect ending to a meal of spicy food. Nothing more need be said.
NaBu American Fusion Buffet
3485 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale
Kyojin was looking tired for a while and the food and service were sagging. Then it became Nabu and was revitalized. The new management gave the up-scale Asian buffet a sorely needed makeover. The buffet area has been freshened up with white china serving dishes that look less like steam table pans. The dining areas have been refreshed as well with new partitions and tabletops. Most importantly, the food has been kicked up a notch and is replaced and refreshed constantly.