Once in a Blue Moon

Main-course portions are sturdy -- and pricey -- enough to make starting with a salad incidental. But greenery is often as important as an ocean view, and besides, the kitchen was willing to split the salads for us. The caesar was a rich, cheesy version, the fresh romaine and snappy garlic croutons generously coated with Wisconsin Parmesan. We preferred the other two offerings. Simple mixed greens, sprinkled with a white balsamic vinaigrette, were earthy and lively, as if just picked. Crostini spread with herbed Boursin cheese added creaminess to the abundant lettuces, as did the spiced balls of goat cheese, rolled in crushed pecans, in the baby spinach salad. Housed in pale green endive spears, the three goat-cheese "fritters" contrasted with a topping of caramelized onions and an only slightly nutty walnut-oil vinaigrette.

The Blue Moon staff was excellent from soup (a brick-red lobster bisque) to nuts (the "icky sticky caramel tart" filled with Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream, which is stocked with walnuts and bananas). Our server was professional in her demeanor and right on the money with her recommendations, which included the signature souffle dessert. She timed it perfectly, bringing the fluffy sweet directly from oven to table, where she poured a Godiva chocolate liqueur into the center. It's the kind of sinful sweet that made me want to swim, rather than drive, home. In fact, the $19 price tag had all of us wanting to jump in the drink.

The entire meal was a dive into both decadence and pocketbooks -- just as the dressed-up clientele expects it to be. Parties, big or small, should expect to pay top dollar, an almost-fair trade for the all-around primo experience. But, aside from one that books a table, that's about the only reservation I had about Blue Moon Fish Co.

Blue Moon Fish Co., 4405 W. Tradewinds Ave., Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, 954-267-9888. Open for lunch and dinner daily from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m; Friday and Saturday until 2 a.m.

Tuna "poki"
$10.00

Dungeness crab and Louisiana crawfish cake
$11.00

Pan-seared snapper
$25.00

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