At first glance, you might think that Kraft Bistro Deli is a branch of the popular Wilton Drive hangout, Tropics.

Many of the staff members who worked at Tropics and much of the clientele are the same. But take a second look and you’ll see a younger hipper crowd, at least during our recent visit for dinner. We arrived relatively early, around 6:30, and were shown to a table with a lovely view of the kitchen and restrooms. The lights in the dining room were quite bright, but, as the sky dimmed, so did the lights in the dining room, giving it a much more intimate feel.

My suggestion is to ask for one of the tables serviced by the older, more experienced waiters; they handled their tables with humor and aplomb and knew their stuff. Our attractive young waiter was not as familiar with the menu as you would expect, but was amiable and trotted off to the kitchen to get the answer to our question about one of the dishes. I began my meal with a refreshing Moscow Mule.

I ordered my appetizer of grilled octopus as a test of the kitchen prowess. The dish is notoriously difficult to cook correctly, a minute too long on the grill and it turns to rubber, Kraft’s version was close to perfect, tender, and flavorful. It was served with slices of fingerling potatoes and micro greens and a delightfully creamy sauce. My husband enjoyed the vegetarian preparation of cream of tomato soup, served with a small grilled cheese sandwich. Between the generous portion of rich and creamy soup and the grilled cheese, the appetizer could have served as a light meal.

I wanted to try the Kraft feast (a selection of house-smoked meats), priced at $24.75 per person, as my entrée, but there is a two-person minimum and my pescatarian hubby wasn’t going to go for that. I toyed with the idea of ordering a portion for two and taking most of it home, but that just seemed too decadent. I don’t understand why it has to be for two, serve half the amount of meat, fries, and corn, and let a single order suffice. Perhaps I’ll go back with a carnivorous friend, as the platter I did see going to another table looked delish. Instead, I ordered the pastrami burger, the restaurant’s signature sandwich. It consists of a large, juicy patty, cooked to order, topped with pastrami, onion jam, and fontina cheese, piled high on a brioche bun. I added a few onion strings which gave the hand-held delight a pleasing crunch. The pastrami acts like the bacon on a cheeseburger, giving just the right amount of smoke and grease to take it over the top. My husband opted for the fish sandwich, one of the few options listed on the menu that he could have. We later discovered that any of the burgers can be ordered with a veggie burger, but our waiter didn’t inform us of this.

We both brought home leftovers so that we would have room for dessert. My hubby chose the Key Lime pie, while I went for the carrot cake. The waiter told us that all the desserts were made in-house, but the Key Lime pie, while tasty, had that mass-produced quality. My carrot cake, on the other hand, was certainly made on the premises. It was more of a light and fluffy spice cake with a few carrots grated into it than the traditional denser carrot cake. It arrived smothered in cream cheese icing. How you feel about this depends a lot upon how much icing you want on your cake. It was a bit too much for me. I took two bites and left the rest. My husband felt the same way about his Key Lime pie.

Our waiter removed the barely touched plates and made no inquiries about our satisfaction level. However, a more experienced waiter, taking care of the next table, did notice and mentioned it to the manager, who apologized and removed it from our bill. That’s the eye for detail that comes with years of experience.

We’ll definitely be returning to Kraft and next time I’ll bring a fellow carnivore. I also now know that there’s plenty of parking in the lot behind the restaurant.

Kraft Bistro Deli

2701 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale

954-669-1000

kraftbistrodeli.com


Rick Karlin is SFGN's food editor. Visit SFGN.com/Food to read his previous reviews. Have a culinary tip to share? Email Rick at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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