Southern Comfort

Speaking of moist, the juicy rack of lamb was so reasonably priced, we couldn't pass it up. The medium-rare, herb-crusted double chops were beautifully done, with a fruity pear relish giving them unmistakable Southern flair. Garlic mashed potatoes and a pungent red-wine sauce were almost identical accompaniments to those served with the more unusual entree of pan-fried alligator medallions. In the wrong hands, alligator meat comes out as leathery as its hide, but at Reed's it was pliant and layered over horseradish mashed potatoes and soaking up a black butter-pecan sauce that had been reduced with wine.

Moving beyond Low Country, the menu meanders down the Florida coast. The Everglades frog legs, in particular, were wonderful, the tiny bones sporting a wealth of mild flesh. The legs were pan-fried in garlicky butter with mushrooms and a twist of key lime. I don't endorse exploring the tropics further, though. An entree of grouper fillet was topped with macadamia nuts and black pepper, an odd combination, and baked until tough. A coconut-rum broth did little to relieve the fish of its aridity. Nor did a host of tropical fruits -- plantain, mango, kiwi, and papaya -- despite being as pretty as parrotfish swarming a reef.

The same fruits reappeared as dessert, garnishing two slices of sponge cake. An incredibly tart sauce destroyed their natural sweetness, though. The kitchen should look into some more Low Country goodies, like pecan pie or peach cobbler. While Southern-style cooking may not be common in this area, it certainly suits the restaurant's New River setting, which is reminiscent of both Georgia and South Carolina.

Reed's River House. 301 SW 3rd Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 954-525-7661. Lunch Monday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m; dinner from 5:30 to 11:30 p.m. Sunday brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Butternut squash soup
$4.50

Stone-ground grits
$7.50

Farm-range chicken
$15.75

Pan-fried alligator
$17.50

Herb-crusted rack of lamb
$18.75

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