Big for Its Britches

Big City Tavern should eventually break free from its chains

Also at issue is the price of this dish. For the record, despite the $38 price tag, the scrambled-egg dish has always been my favorite Big City item. But in other locations, the eggs were garnished with Sevruga (and still are, according to the website). I always expect to pay for that particular comestible, whether the delicacy is sourced from Russia or Iran. I certainly don't anticipate paying the same price, however, when the Sevruga is replaced, as it is in Fort Lauderdale, with the American equivalent. Last time I checked -- which was about two minutes before writing this -- an ounce of paddlefish caviar was going for about $12, as compared to $35 an ounce for the cheapest Russian Sevruga. And that's retail.

I would be equally not as thrilled to shell out $28 for a New York 12-ounce sirloin whose tough texture does not convince me that it's prime as billed, or $26 for a filet ordered medium and served the hue of tartare. These complaints notwithstanding, I can still enjoy Big City Tavern as long as I take it for what it is (as suggested by its moniker): a good place to drink black and tans with friends, do some sidewalk café people-watching, and put away some spirited bistro fare.

In fact, many items remain deeply satisfying and filling despite the location. Seafood ranks especially high. A richly imbued lobster-carrot bisque is an excellent launch to a meal, as is a bowl of littleneck clams in roasted garlic-white wine nage. A crab cake, perched on a puffy corn-scallion fritter and dressed with an herb salad, offered complementary flavors and good counterpoint of textures, not to mention a large amount of food for something that is considered a starter.

The bigger, the better? Sometimes.
Colby Katz
The bigger, the better? Sometimes.

Location Info

Map

Big City Tavern

609 E. Las Olas Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Fort Lauderdale

Details

Call 954-727-0307. Lunch and dinner daily from 11:30 a.m. till 11 p.m.; late-night pizzas available Thursday through Sunday till 1 a.m.
609 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale

I can always be happy with a thick Big City burger or the popular upgrade: Ten ounces of sirloin burger served open-faced and topped, like James Beard preferred, with pungent Gorgonzola cheese. But I appreciate a properly prepared chicken even more, I think, and Big City can consistently fill this need with its pressed and grilled half-chicken. Crisp at the skin, juicy in the interior, the chicken was amply scented with anise and accompanied by eggplant couscous, a ratatouille-reminiscent tomato salad, a mélange of squashes, and a handful of petite French green beans.

Servings in general are indeed value-for-money; you could almost complain that there are too many global influences and too much plate-filling going on. Veal scaloppini probably presented the most confusion: The toothsome, lemon-enhanced veal was overwhelmed by a plethora of sides, including both mashed white potatoes and creamed sweet potatoes, braised red cabbage, an assortment of freshly sautéed vegetables, and a pile of the ubiquitous string beans.

But when it comes to the family-size dessert sampler, too much is never enough. This collection includes every sweet the house has baked: molten-center chocolate cake, blueberry pie, crème brûlée, apple strudel, even profiteroles. And, of course, New York-style cheesecake, which may not yet rival the 20-odd, over-the-top versions available at the competition across the boulevard. But you can bet Big City is working on it.

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