OK, this is going to be a very difficult review to write. Actually, it will be easy to write. What will be hard is to do so without sounding like I am the PR company for these two sister restaurants, because, on two recent trips, the experiences were about as close to perfect as possible.
Now that my aunt and uncle have been vaccinated, we were able to meet for lunch after not seeing each other for more than a year. We chose to meet in Delray because it is close to their house. I’d been to City Oyster a few years earlier for dinner and it was quite nice, so it seemed a natural for lunch; plenty of outdoor dining and nicely distanced tables.
My uncle began his meal with a half dozen oysters on the half shell and wisely chose the smaller and sweeter Simon oysters, which were fresh and briny, and needed nothing more than a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of mignonette sauce. I started with an order of perfectly prepared tuna tataki and a grapefruit martini, which on a hot day proved quite refreshing. The only thing that would have made this combo better was if the plate with the tataki had been chilled. It felt like it was fresh out of the dishwasher. Warm plates and raw fish are not a good combo. But that was the only thing wrong during the entire meal, so I can’t complain too much.
I had a pair of rolls for lunch, the Spokyo and an Iron Chef roll, both executed flawlessly. Everyone else was called by the siren that is the lobster roll, and rightfully so. Plenty of fresh lobster claw and tail meat with just the right amount of dressing on a nicely toasted roll. Crisp fries accompanied each sandwich.
Although we were all sated, we had to check out at least one dessert so we split the Key lime pie and, it too was prepared exactly as it should be; luscious and creamy with a tangy bite and a crumbly graham cracker crust. Service was impeccable and attentive (and masked). Even the dogs that walked by were cute. As I said difficult to critique in any way.
A week later we met friends for lunch at City Tavern on Las Olas. Again, recently vaccinated friends, we hadn’t seen since the pandemic began. We chose City Tavern because of its large patio. I’m not ready for indoor dining yet. This time we got straight to our entrees, and again, everything was perfect; from the attentive masked service, to the perfectly prepared food.
I opted for the 10-ounce house burger, quite a deal at $12.50 (I added cheese for a buck more). One of our friends selected the smoked turkey Rachel on rye, served topped with coleslaw and swiss. The hand-sliced breast meat turkey was juicy and plentiful. It was quite the robust sandwich. Our other friend enjoyed a Margherita pizza (or I should say enjoyed one-quarter of it, it was such a large portion, he took the rest home). My husband decided to be adventurous and tried the shrimp pad Thai, not something I would usually recommend at a non-Asian restaurant. But damn, if it wasn’t as good as I’ve had anywhere else in town. Another flawless meal! And the eye candy of the many shirtless men out for a mid-day run didn’t hurt either.
A burger at the Big City Tavern. Credit: Rick Karlin.
Big City Tavern
609 E. Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale
213 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach