Le Dîner en Blanc, the secret dinner global phenomenon held it’s first Fort Lauderdale-based event, taking over Esplanade Park as nearly 750 guests, who started guessing of the clandestine location when they met at departure points throughout the Miami-Dade and Broward County, boarded buses, which all converged at the beautiful location just before dusk for the sole purpose of sharing a gourmet meal with good friends. 

Guests were greeted upon arrival by hosts Susan Rakita, Ken McCormack, and Richy Miranda-Cortese. Toting stylish picnic baskets filled to the brim with gourmet treats, they set up their tables and chairs and created unique all-white table-scape designs, including elegant chandeliers and miniature lit Eiffel Towers.  

As soon as all table settings were perfected, the beginning of dinner was signaled by the traditional waving of white linen serviettes. Music by DJ Tony the Tiger filled the air throughout dinner, while participants dined and enjoyed the company of friends. After dinner, guests twirled glow sticks that lit up the night sky and signaled the opening of the dance floor. 

Attendees included hosts from other international Le Diner en Blanc events that take place in Ecuador, Cuba, and Trinidad. At the end of the evening, guests packed up their belongings as well as all their rubbish and left the site as if the night had never happened but with a head full of unforgettable moments and new friendships.

I was out of town when this event took place but asked my friend Robin Alexander to cover it for me. 

Here are her impressions: 

“This is the gayest thing you could possibly do without being gay. That being said, I was surprised that I didn’t see more gay people. I had no idea what to expect, other than lots of people all in white with white picnic tables, chairs and dishes. Turns out it was a feast of creativity: masks, wigs, feathers, fedoras, gloves, lace, tulle, bows and beads and headpieces echoing Lady Gaga, flappers, hippies, 1940s church ladies, South Asian Hindu dancers - and a boat captain - along with centerpieces of flowers, lights, and other modernistic imaginative constructions that somehow came out of a picnic basket to be resurrected in the middle of a small table. One minute it was a sparsely filled park area by the water with some lights strung here and there among the trees in nearby groves, a lone DJ, and a media area, and the next thing I knew there were five buses and 660 people all in white who came, constructed, and conquered. The DJ played everything from Latin to classic rock to soul to rap to progressive jazz to hip hop to the Electric Slide and everything in between. And the crowd was dancing up a storm! You had the option of bringing your own picnic or purchasing the DEB picnic. The food was diverse, tasty, light, elegant, colorful and beautiful presented, and fit perfectly with the atmosphere. Here’s an example of just one of the five menus: tomato salad and feta cheese, selection of cheeses & green grapes, smoked salmon dip, shrimp salad on roasted peppers, pecan pie and crunchy chocolate mousse & peanut butter.”


St. Patrick’s Day is coming upon us, and since it falls smack in the middle of a weekend, you know there’s going to be a lot of wearin’ of the green (and puking of the green beer.) The Grille on the Drive should prove to be classier than that with its special menu, available Friday and Saturday. Among the traditional dishes being offered are potato-leek soup, fish and chips, Irish stew, shepherd’s pie and, of course, corned beef and cabbage.  BTW, the Grille’s Garden room is now serving lunch Mondays through Saturdays. 

Toss me those gold, green and purple beads! If the sudden appearance of commercials for fish sandwiches at fast food restaurants (really, fish at Arby’s?) weren’t enough of a sign, here’s the official news, Lent is almost upon us and that also means Mardi Gras celebrations. Where better to celebrate than at Las Olas’ The Balcony, a chic two-story New Orleans-style restaurant? From Tuesday, March 5 through Sunday, March 10, The Balcony will feature menu specials ($3 Abita beer, $5 Hurricanes with souvenir cup, $5 jambalaya, gumbo, and beignets and $8 shrimp or oyster po’boys). On Tuesday, March 5; Friday, March 8; and Saturday, March 9; it will host Mardi Gras-themed parties, so guests can celebrate in true “N’awlins” style (does that mean free beads if you show your titties?) For more information visit thebalconylasolas.com.

The folks that run Bokamper’s, near Oakland Park Blvd. and the Intracoastal, are opening another restaurant just a few blocks to the east. Bo’s Beach, which may be open by the time you read this. Former Miami Dolphins Player Kim Bokamper and the PDKN Restaurant Group presents a two-story, casual restaurant and bar with a wood-fired oven featuring cocktails and ocean-inspired classics with direct ocean views. The restaurant features indoor and outdoor seating and is located at 600 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale.

Speaking of new places, the long-awaited Gulf Stream Brewing Company is the newest place to open on the 13thStreet Corridor. It’s a true brewery, whipping up suds on the premises and while it doesn’t serve food, it often partners up with local food trucks and allows you to order in while sampling their brews. The first and third Tuesday of each month features bingo and every Wednesday is trivia night. 

Green Kaffe has taken over the space formerly occupied by Maria’s Cantina, with an address of 2401 Wilton Dr., even though the actual restaurant is around the corner on the side street. They’re not great about marketing or presenting themselves (seriously its website is just the menu and its Facebook page isn’t much better), but the food is damn good. There is a large selection of smoothies, four different kinds of veggie burgers. While I don’t think it will win over any converts, it is a great place to stop if you’re looking for a healthy alternative. It’s a local business that can use some support.

Finally, if you’ve ever driven south along Federal and wondered what’s inside The Gallery of Incredible Things, here’s your chance to do so, while raising funds for a worthy cause. The 6th Annual “Cheers to B!” fundraiser to aid those affected by neurofibromatosis event takes place at the Gallery of Amazing Things (481 S. Federal Hwy, Dania Beach) on Saturday, March 30.  Enjoy a cocktail reception, explore the ins and outs of the museum, bid in a silent auction, enjoy bites and strike a pose in an interactive photo experience. The evening will continue with a seated buffet dinner, and a live auction. General Admission tickets are available for $200 per person. Adults 21 – 30 can select a special discounted ticket price of $75/person.