The Alchemist, named Wilton Manors’ “Best Kept Secret” in our recent “Best of” issue, is certainly that. It can be found in Eucalyptus Gardens, a garden of earthly delights tucked along a side street in Wilton Manors. The Alchemist may be the city’s best kept secret, but its neighboring restaurants, Voo La Voo Café and La Frutera Garden Bar, are equally rare gems waiting to be discovered.
In typical South Florida fashion, St. Patrick’s Day in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and West Palm was an early bird special, with parades and festivals held nearly a week before the actual date of the Irish celebration. Fear not, even though a number of South Florida Irish spots recently closed; Slainte in Boyton Beach and The Tiled Kilt and Maguire’s Hill 16 in Fort Lauderdale (I swear my review of the place wasn’t that bad!), and your options for celebrating the patron saint of the Emerald Isle are a bit slimmer this year, there are still a number of spots where you can get your fill of green beer and Irish fare.
All right, I may be mixing up my islands with that headline; poke is Hawaiian, not Jamaican, but with poke being the latest food fad, I just couldn’t resist. I should amend that to say it’s trending on the mainland, because in Hawaii, it’s long been a standard dish, as ubiquitous at parties as spinach artichoke dip or potato salad. Poke (pronounced poh-keh) is a raw fish salad, usually served as an appetizer or over rice for a light lunch.
As Manhattan Transfer warbled in the song by Ben Oakland and Milton Drake,
“I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup (boy!)”
Most of us don’t associate fine dining with the airport; usually we grab a quick pre-packaged sandwich to hold us over on a long flight (see sidebar for your best options at three area airports). At Fort Lauderdale’s Executive Airport, they’ve taken that concept and flipped it around. The tiny airport’s Runway Café is a dining destination, drawing folks as much for its unique location and view as for its upscale and well-prepared breakfast and lunch service. It also serves as a private event space in the evening.
We’d already planned an overnight trip to Key West to visit friends vacationing there when we discovered two happy coincidences. As soon as we decided to head to Key West, we found out that one of our idols, Ed White, one of the godfathers of the post-Stonewall gay literary movement, was available to meet us for lunch.
Let’s face it; the Hard Rock Casino is not exactly known as a dining destination. Your options there include snack food chains (Ben & Jerry’s, Wetzel’s Pretzels, Kilwin’s) or the Hard Rock Café, where the best thing on the menu is the apps combo (wings, rings, chicken tenders, spring rolls and bruschetta) which are just there to soak up the alcohol. And the less said about the limited menu available poolside, at The Beach Club (a few apps, salads and a trio of sandwiches) the better. That’s okay, you go to Hard Rock to gamble or see a show, right?
Whether your mom was more like June Cleaver or Peg Bundy you no doubt have a special place in your heart for her. If you’re lucky enough to have her around here are some places you can take her to celebrate her special day, Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 14.
Is there anything more comforting than Italian food? There’s something for everyone in Italian cuisine; vegetarians, vegans, paleo, low-carb (okay so that one’s harder, but just because there are so many tempting pasta-based dishes). There’s also something for every budget from meals less than $10 to the sky’s the limit. No wonder it’s the preferred ethnic food in America. A long-established Wilton Manors favorite and a newcomer to the area both specialize in Italian-American fare that’s certain to satisfy. Mangia!
In the ever-changing culinary landscape that is Wilton Manors, a food writer always has something to consider and mull over. Recently I’ve been thinking about the strengths and weaknesses of the WilMa dining scene.
A couple of popular restaurants have added new items to their menus and there are a there are some special events coming up, so let’s whip out our phones and add these events to our calendars. For those of you who like to go old-school and use actual datebooks, we’ll wait while you get them out, find a pen and open to the right date.
We’ve all had to adapt since the coronavirus outbreak. Restaurants are struggling to stay afloat and adapting as well. Even such upscale places as The Ocean Grill at the Setai in Miami Beach has adapted.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a column suggesting some alternative ideas for Thanksgiving, both places to dine out and restaurants that were offering entire meals to go. If you prefer not to cook, there’s another option; prepared holiday meals from grocery stores. Most chains now offer entire Thanksgiving meals which can be picked up fully-cooked and merely heated up before serving. Here’s a run-down on what’s available locally. Most require little more than 24-hours-notice. If you snoozed and didn’t order in time for Thanksgiving, they’re also available for Christmas or New Year’s Day. The prices indicated are for packages that serve 6-8, unless otherwise noted.
For a while there, Wilton Manors was inundated with sushi places. Now it seems Mediterranean spots are popping up everywhere. First, there was Ethos, then Sea & Olive and now Mini Pita. It’s not like they’re all the same, though.
If your memory of ramen is limited to those cups of instant noodle soup you ate in college, you are behind the times. Those salt bombs are a thing of the past. Ramen is the latest food to be adopted by the hipster crowd and artisanal noodles and gourmet ingredients have elevated this once-pedestrian dish to haute cuisine.
As far as I’m concerned, Asian food must be shared; the bigger your party, the better the selection. That’s the great thing about an Asian buffet; you don’t have to have a big party to be able to sample a variety of dishes. I must not be the only one who thinks that way because South Florida has plenty of buffets serving a variety of Asian cuisines. You can sample Korean, Thai, Japanese and Chinese food at just about any Asian buffet in town.
Whoever is in charge of the kitchen knows a thing or two about cooking. Each of the dishes we sampled was delish. Friends who have visited the new spot report similar experiences. Where Sea & Olive fails is in the front-of-the-house operation. Upon entering, we were practically pounced upon by a server. We were dining early before a movie and were the first customers, so we had our choice of seats in the attractive dining room or equally beautiful patio. As our server handed us the menu she informed us that Sea & Olive is a Turkish restaurant. The menu options are mostly Turkish dishes, some with influences from neighboring Mediterranean countries.
Usually one doesn’t want to see the words soft and opening together (there’s a pill for that), but in the restaurant biz, that means opening the door without much fanfare in the way of press or promotions. A “soft opening” is meant to give the staff time to establish a routine, find out what works and what doesn’t and to tweak the menu and schedules as needed.
Mojo, 4140 N. Federal, Fort Lauderdale, will host a La Crema Pinot Noir five-course wine dinner on March 14. The meal, priced at $95 per person, includes carpaccio, gnocchi, duck breast, braised pork and flourless chocolate cake, each course paired with wine. To make a reservation or for more information, call 954-568-4443 or go to Mojofl.com.
To say that Stork’s is a Wilton Manors landmark is an understatement. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary the bakery/café has been a popular meeting spot since Jim Stork opened it in 1997. Those who think of it as “just a coffee shop” couldn’t be more wrong. While it does serve eight different styles of brew, as well as an array of teas, smoothies, cappuccinos and lattes, iced or hot; folks can also grab a pastry to go along with their cup of Joe, or sit and enjoy a full breakfast, lunch or dinner.
With the temperature on the rise, prices on menus across town lower as folks try to lure us year-rounders out of our air-conditioned homes and into area restaurants. Between reduced prices, special events and other enticements it makes dining out more and more tempting.
As my late mother once said, “You gay boys may not have invented brunch, but you sure have perfected it!”
“Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels / Door bells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles”
The best restaurants in South Florida are often to be found tucked into the corner of a grocery store.
While I agree with many of the dining selections in last week’s “Best of” listings there were a few categories that were missing. One of those was one of my favorite kind of place; the bakery/café. In order to balance out the indulgences of being a restaurant critic, I sometimes go carb-free for extended periods. Then, I walk past a bakery café, and I’m a goner. There’s something about the European tradition of sitting in a bakery, sipping a cup of freshly brewed coffee and enjoying some fresh, baked bread or pastries (or both!) that is soul-comforting. The next time you need to unwind and chill, try stopping in at one of these delightful bakery cafes, anyone of which could be a contender for your “Best of” list.
It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. Weren’t we just discussing the menus for our Labor Day barbecue? If you’d prefer to let someone else do all the work, dine out or cater in, but remember to make your reservations early. Here are a few spots offering you a chance to take it easy on Thanksgiving. You won’t have the turkey carcass to pick over, but you also won’t have pots and pans to wash.
If you’re like me, you might have driven past Bulegreen Café, located on Dixie just north of Oakland Park Blvd., dozens of times and said, “I should check that out.”
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.
In a past review, I waxed rhapsodic after dining at the original location of Even Keel on Federal. And, although it was too pricey for me to enjoy on a regular basis, it was a wonderful spot for special occasions.
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