One of the joys, and pitfalls, of being a restaurant reviewer is that everyone has an opinion about places that you should review.
I often take these suggestions and file them in my brain for future consideration. This week I will cover two places recommended by friends. The first is courtesy of my friend Al Miller and the second was a place my friend Herb Parker wanted me to try. Herb suggested his place right before the pandemic hit and we planned to go as soon as we could, but unfortunately, Herb passed away before things reopened so this review is in his memory.
Nauti Dawg Marina Café
2841 Marina Circle, Lighthouse Point
Nauti Dawg, recommended by Al, is not easy to find; you head east off Federal and follow a winding road through Lighthouse Point until you hit the Marina and there it is, right on the water. Boaters can sail right up to the dock. There’s nothing special about the décor; it’s your typical casual, waterfront dining spot but the food and friendly service make it outstanding. And judging by the number of diners who appeared to be regulars, it’s like “Cheers” on the ocean.
Nauti Dawg serves meals all day. The lunch menu is mostly burgers, sandwiches, and salads, with a few platters thrown in for good measure, the dinner menu offers a few more entrees. Both menus feature an extensive list of appetizers ranging from Bavarian pretzels to calamari, chicken wings, and what now seems ubiquitous, fried Brussels sprouts. There are also usually a couple of soups available. On the night of our visit, it was an especially delightful seafood chowder. Thick and rich, brimming with tons of seafood, all it needed was a little pepper to bring it to life.
Looking at the dinner menu, I was struck by the disparity in prices. While most of the menu is quite reasonably priced (burgers and sandwiches are in the $10-$18 range and include a healthy portion of a choice of sides) the entrees were about double that price and the lobster roll was $36, a bit expensive for a casual dining spot. We opted for burgers and were pleasantly surprised to discover that Wednesdays were “Men’s Night,” which meant burgers were $5 off. I ordered the black and blue burger and my hubby the veggie burger. My burger arrived cooked perfectly to order and my side choice, onion rings, was crispy and made from real onion slices. My husband’s fries were perfectly prepared as was his burger. However, when our bill came his burger was full price. We were informed afterward that the discount didn’t apply to the veggie burger. The way they offer the discount is their prerogative, of course, but don’t state all burgers are $5 off if not ALL burgers are reduced in price. That was my only complaint though. Our server was delightful and seemed to know every customer who walked by.
There are only two dessert offerings and while we should have declined, Key lime parfait sounded too good to pass up. The serving was way more than the two of us could split and we ended up taking half of it home.
Krakatoa Indonesian Cuisine
1910 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood
To thank Al for his recommendation of Nauti Dawg, I invited him and his friend Tim to join us in our next culinary adventure, Indonesian food! Just as Vietnamese cuisine is a blend of French and Asian influences, Indonesian takes Asian fare and gives it a Dutch spin, but with a much spicier back note. For those looking for a comparison, Thai food would come the closest.
One visit to the cozy Pop & Pop dining establishment and you’ll be planning a trip back before you even get back to your car. The tiny storefront features a friendly, helpful staff, and beautifully prepared exotic food, in a tiny storefront that makes you feel as if you are going home for dinner. (Although if my mother cooked this well, I would never have left home.)
Abdul Saleh, the genius in the kitchen, cooks all of his favorite dishes from growing up in Indonesia, while his husband John Anthony runs the front of the house. We began our meal with Bala-Bala, crispy vegetable (onion, celery, corn, and cabbage) fritters served drizzled with Indonesian soy sauce and chili sauce. The order easily served four of us as an appetizer or could make a light meal. And the sauce! I want bottles of it in my pantry.
I opted for Mie Seafood, a judiciously seasoned (I ordered medium heat) mix of seafood and sautéed vegetables with fresh Indonesian-style noodles. It reminded me a bit of fideua, the noodle paella dish. My vegetarian husband was thrilled with the number of choices available and thoroughly enjoyed his Rendang with sautéed tofu and mushrooms simmered in our spicy sauce. It was served with a side of Indonesian fried rice.
Al was quite pleased with his selection, Opor Sapi, which he ordered medium, although judging by the sweat on his brow, mild might have been a better choice. Nonetheless, he finished the bowl of shredded beef and potatoes simmered with turmeric, galangal, coriander, lemongrass, and coconut milk. Tim tried one of the house specialties; Singang, a favorite from the owner’s childhood. Sautéed shrimp and cod were bathed in a mouth-watering broth of tamarind, turmeric, basil, and candlenut.
Krakatoa isn’t cheap, most of the entrees are in the $25-$30 range, but the food is of exceptional quality and the experience so charming that it is worth every penny. There are some desserts offered, including something that looks like a potted plant, but I doubt you’ll have room after such a filling meal. There is an extensive wine and beer list.