Two restaurants opened in Wilton Manors in the past couple of months.
While we don’t do a full-fledged review until a restaurant has had a chance to smooth things out (at least two months) there’s been so much interest in these two places that we had to take a sneak peek.
Hamburger Mary’s has opened a location in Wilton Manors, taking over the space formerly occupied by Rumors and Sidelines. While there have been a lot of rumors and a shaky start (see my interview with Ruben Lopez, one of the franchise’s owners, in the Aug. 12 edition of SFGN), the place is starting to get its footing. One of the first moves was hiring Chef Howie from The Pub to run the kitchen. Food now comes out properly prepared and promptly. The burgers are tasty and the apps we sampled (potstickers and fried mac and cheese) were yummy. The servers I’ve encountered have been friendly and eager to please if a bit overwhelmed and under-trained.
During a recent visit, six folks checked on us after we finished our apps and were waiting for our burgers. They asked if we needed drinks refilled, but not one removed the empty appetizer plates. They even left the empty appetizer plates after delivering the burgers. I finally had to ask to have the plates removed. Good help is hard to find, but it seems that Hamburger Mary’s has found the help and just needs to train its workers better — they all seem to want to do a good job but lack the finesse. If the restaurant’s management addresses these issues Mary will settle into those heels and be a fine addition to Wilton Drive’s dining options.
On the other end of the spectrum is Union Kitchen and Bar. We stopped in for its “soft” opening and while we thoroughly enjoyed every single bite we took, it was the impeccable service that impressed us. Not that the food was disappointing. From the yummy seafood tower to the pasta with mushrooms, every dish was perfectly prepared. Even the grilled octopus, a notoriously difficult dish to prepare correctly, was sheer perfection. But, as my Aunt Sylvie used to say, “I die for good service!” And, on that end Union is head and shoulders above every other place in Wilton Manors. The service is polished, attentive, and personable. The only problem seems to be with gaps between courses coming from the kitchen, an issue I’m certain will be ironed out shortly.
You can’t compare the two restaurants; Mary’s is much more casual and at a much lower price point. But both show how important service can be.
The Brazilian-based steakhouse chain, Fogo de Chão, is opening its fifth Florida location in Fort Lauderdale early next year. It will be located at The Main Las Olas. Offerings will include Wagyu New York strip and 42-day aged tomahawk ribeye along with seafood and Brazilian-inspired cocktails. 201 E Las Olas Blvd; fogo.com.
Also coming to Las Olas is Asbury Ale House, Matt Gullace’s New Jersey-based gastropub. It will open its second location next month on the ground floor of Society Las Olas, 300 SW First Ave and will feature coal-fired pizzas, burgers and a signature dish called the Drunken Bite (breaded pasta that is deep-fried and dipped in vodka sauce). The 10,000 square-foot restaurant also will have 50 beers on tap, sports on dozens of TVs, and an outdoor patio filled with Jenga and cornhole — all very hot. Check out the website at AsburyAleHouse.com.
Chef Thuan Lam, best known for creating Phat Boy Sushi & Kitchen, will open his newest venture, Miso Japanese Tapas, in December in a recently remodeled building on Progresso Drive and NE Second Ave. Miso will feature Japanese and Latin fusion cuisine in small plates. There will also be a sushi bar and a monthly omakase series.
If you liked the “Where’s Waldo?” books as a kid, check out “Savor the Flavors Tamarac” an interactive restaurant scavenger hunt, showcasing Tamarac’s international mix of family-owned eateries. The city boasts eateries serving Jamaican, Haitian, Dominican, Aruban, Argentinian, Peruvian, Colombian, Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and American cuisine. The idea is to decipher clues that introduce you to 54 restaurants divided into four geographical areas spread over the city’s 12 square miles. Each answer you decipher increases your chances of winning raffles.
“It’s a never-been-done-before-on-this-kind-of-scale event,” says Lori Funderwhite, Tamarac’s economic development manager. “We think we figured out a fun way to showcase our restaurants and have some fun prizes. Participants pick a route and then start deciphering clues. You match clues to the restaurant on the route. Participants can also play virtually online or can spread out the routes and timing to visit restaurants ... and still play on their own time through the entire month.”
There will be four sets of clues, with each set covering a different part of Tamarac. There are about 15 restaurants per route. Players can add points to their entry by taking food shots and selfies and posting on social media using the #FlavorsOfTamarac hashtag.
“You can double and triple or quadruple your entries in the raffle,” Funderwhite says. “Or you can simply compete … and submit online.”
The more points a player accumulates, the more entries they get in the raffle for $1,000 in prizes. Among the prizes are restaurant gift certificates and an in-home wine tasting experience for 16 people. Sign up at FlavorsOfTamarac.com.