Johnny on the Spot

Johnny V and his cuisine never suffer from an identity crisis: He is an American chef

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to have a local seafood version of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner in Fort Lauderdale during February, try the splendid sage-scented Florida dolphin. It's moistly grilled and served with rock shrimp-flecked plantain stuffing, sherry-tinted lobster pan gravy, and a zesty clump of cranberry-mango chutney. Non-meat-eaters might consider this dolphin dish come holiday time, while I suppose hard-core vegetarians will have to go with the usual tofu-shaped turkey. Vegetarians have it tough year 'round, as even finer restaurants tend to treat their fare with less-than-full respect. It was therefore encouraging to see "vegetable paella" alluringly described as containing "tomato saffron rice and roasted corn broth." Unfortunately, the grains of rice were so few as to be countable, so it was impossible to detect any saffron or roast corn flavors. With its baby carrots and patty pan squash, portobello mushrooms, pearl onions, peas, spinach, and haricot vert, all prepared with aplomb, this makes a fine and filling medley of vegetables. But it's not spectacular enough to warrant the $19 cost. Overall, prices are competitive for Las Olas, starters running from $9 to $14 and main courses from $19 to $32.

Johnny V will soon feature a selection of up to 30 exotic domestic and international cheeses, but for the moment, this is still in the development stage -- understandable for a restaurant less than two months old. In the meanwhile, a sturdy dessert option would be a tall wedge of dark, dense chocolate cake layered with bananas, caramel, and peanut butter mousse and including a scoop of malted milk ball ice cream on the side. Pretty good, as was a single-serving round of walnut- and graham-crusted dulce de leche cheesecake that was not too heavy, not too sweet, and whimsically topped with dulce de leche candied popcorn -- Latin Cracker Jack.

Overseeing the restaurant's extensive wine list is General Manager Steffen Rau, a certified sommelier who previously provided advice and consent at Jean-George's Vong restaurants; both his service and selection of bottles are first-class. The entire front-of-house staff is commendable, working the room in effective tag-team fashion, picking up for one another, and paying close attention to the diners in caring and polite fashion. The attitude here is just right.

You call it appetizers. They call it tapas.
Colby Katz
You call it appetizers. They call it tapas.

Location Info

Map

Johnny V Restaurant

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

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Fort Lauderdale

Details

Call 954-761-7920. Lunch daily from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5:30 to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to midnight.
625 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale

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With weekend crowds already cramming the place, I hope and expect Johnny V will remain on Las Olas for a long time to come. Still, my suggestion is that while the elusive Mr. V is in the vicinity, you'd better catch him when you can.

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