By David Minsky
By Nicole Danna
By Sara Ventiera
By Candace West
By Emily Dabau
By Doug Fairall
By Candace West
By Laine Doss
Though the prices of many of the main courses hover in the upper teens, dishes like the Alaskan king crab legs cost as much as $32.95. Granted, they were the biggest legs I've ever seen, muscular with a luscious, lobsterlike texture. But I prefer to stick with the Caribbean fare for the more reasonable price tags and authentic preparations. The complete conch dinner, for example, was actually a bargain at $18.95. The first of four courses was a chunky conch chowder served with sherry on the side. Built on a tomato base, the piquant soup was followed by conch salad, featuring onion-accented nuggets of shellfish that were firm but not tough. Fluffy conch fritters and battered, deep-fried strips of cracked conch appeared in rapid succession, and both were excellent.
The Bahamas is one of the more cosmopolitan island groups, and many restaurants there tend to draw on world influences. At Seafood World, I was impressed by a button-mushroom sauce rich with Marsala-like flavor but disappointed by the arid, pan-fried wahoo steaks it dressed. Wahoo may be known as the fastest fish in the ocean, but overcooking brought these specimens to a crawl.
Jerk chicken is Jamaican in origin but rather ubiquitous throughout the Caribbean. Seafood World offered moist, boneless poultry, coated in thyme and pepper, over Bahamian peas and rice (kidney beans and white rice mixed with peppers). Though the chicken strips were just fine on their own, the kitchen couldn't resist adding a handful of sweet grilled shrimp, which were spread over the top.
As for the appetizers, smoked fish dip made with minced marlin was tasty but needed a kick from a Trinidadian hot sauce served on the side. Blackened swordfish bites were juicy inside but way too black on the outside, tasting more like charcoal than spices. Main-course portion sizes and the complimentary house salads preceding them not only compensate but render that other bookend -- dessert -- obsolete.
As different as they are, Carib Palace and Seafood World are run in a friendly, efficient manner with an eye toward customer satisfaction. Regarding execution the newer, more reasonably priced Carib Palace has the edge, but Seafood World, where some dishes could be improved, has the long-standing support of the community. And, of course, neither restaurant lives by the shabbier-is-better creed. They prove, instead, that authentic Caribbean cuisine is best served without too many surprises.
Carib Palace. 3414 S. University Dr., Davie, 954-382-5990. Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m; Friday and Saturday until 2 a.m.
Seafood World. 4602 N. Federal Hwy., Lighthouse Point, 954-942-0740. Open for lunch and dinner daily from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m.; Sunday noon until 9 p.m.