Strip Stake

Boca leaders go on a hunger strike, so we eat for them

Expressing their distaste for adult entertainment, Boca Raton's City Council members last month took a bold stand against strip joints in their town.

By banning food.

Sure, the council also outlawed lap dances and restricted skin shops to the crappiest part of town -- a warehouse district. But those sorts of knee-jerk reactions to topless entertainment are time-honored traditions in uptight communities around the country.

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But making it a no-no to serve steak during a striptease?

The confused City Council was apparently under the impression that it's the cuisine that attracts horny truck drivers to flesh palaces like moths to a flame. Still, the boneheaded ordinance did get us thinking -- what sorts of dishes are on the menu at boob shows in other towns?

We set out to sample the fare at several of the area's most famous gent clubs and -- to our utter surprise -- found that, in fact, the grub's not bad at all.

Scarlett's was first on our list. One of Broward's biggest tit clubs, the place is draped in neon and sits between railroad tracks and I-95. On a recent Friday night, the packed parking lot spoke volumes about the delicacies we would find within.

The space itself is huge, with 30-foot ceilings and dozens of seats. Dark-purple lighting and thick fog from a smoke machine combine to give this vast area an intimate feel. Laser lights in assorted colors play on the other diners, but if anyone else was eating, they seemed to have finished their plates before we arrived.

The buffet table was a tasty value at $8. Shrimp scampi is served over a bed of linguine with a side of chilled pasta salad and a roll. Serving pasta as a side dish to linguine struck us as a bold, unorthodox move, but somehow it worked.

The spiral pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and was surrounded by olives, tomatoes, and chopped salami and was smothered in tangy vinaigrette.

Dining right next to the stage, just inches from a woman whose knees were pinned behind her ears, we couldn't help thinking: That's damned good scampi!

Nearly a dozen medium-sized shrimp were nestled beside huge chunks of fresh garlic. Often when garlic sits on a steam table for hours and hours and hours, it loses its consistency and turns to mush. Not so here. These chunks were firm and flavorful.

The linguine hadn't fared as well under the heatlamps, but it comforted us nonetheless.

We next headed for Cheetah of Hallandale Beach, which had a smaller, cozier feel. It's like eating in your living room, if your living room has flat-screen televisions on the walls and friendly and half-naked waitresses to replenish your drinks. We also dug the comfy, cheetah-print armchairs that swivel so you don't miss any action.

It was a weekday, so waitress service was available as well as a full menu. Although the "pasta-bilities" were tempting, the flank steak for $7.50 was irresistible.

While waiting for the chow to arrive, we soaked in classic metal hits by Sabbath and Stryper, and a naked young woman slid upside down on a metal pole. The DJ at Cheetah clearly knew what he was doing.

The flank steak itself was a long, formidable hunk of beef liberally seasoned with ground chili powder. Flank steak can be tough or stringy, but at Cheetah's, it was cooked to perfection, thick without overwhelming the fork, and extremely tender. It was presented regally on a large silver platter, accompanied by a nice-sized garden salad and a baked potato.

Taste. Value. It was sensational.

For selection and quality, the après work scene at Solid Gold is a must. Decorated in an Arabian nights theme, the décor of the main dining room (er, performance space) is a refreshing and imaginative departure. Exposed wood beams support a large cloth canopy that covers the rectangular bar. Solid gold palm trees dot the vast landscape of the main room as well as faux pianos with flat, reflective tops, where the dancers perform.

There is a free buffet available on weekdays from 4 to 7 p.m., and during our visit, it was quite a spread. For starters, there were decoratively shaped melon and orange slices, as well as grapes and a large plate of crudités with ranch dip. The finest appetizer by far, however, was the bruchetta with a twist. Instead of using crusty Italian bread, the diced tomatoes, onions, and black olives rested on a square of melba toast. The result was scrumptious.

For a main dish, the chef featured roast beef on a hearty sesame roll with au jus for dipping. Also available were large rounds of personal pizza, graced with chunks of hot sausage the size of a stripper's head.

Thus weighed down, we still soldiered on by next visiting Scores. This nationwide institution has a reputation for a superb lunch menu that we discovered was well-deserved.

The atmosphere at Scores was redolent with class. There were comfortable black chairs and couches and a long, brass-accented bar. The place had a rich and convivial feel, even at lunch hour.

The turkey club for $7.95 was a delicious behemoth. Served on thick slices of toasted white bread, stuffed with fat slabs of bacon and sharp provolone, this sandwich was transcendent. The turkey meat was moist and juicy, requiring neither mayonnaise nor mustard. The side salad with fresh dressing was a nice touch too.

As we ate, a bombshell of a woman sprawled languidly on a couch nearby. She wore a miniature cocktail dress that made her long legs look neverending. She held a small Crock-Pot before her, spooning its contents into her precious, lipsticked mouth.

As she enjoyed this repast against a backdrop of undulating nudity and the blaring horns of Jay-Z's "Money Ain't a Thang," it was tough not feel as though the people of Boca are missing out. And hey, even half-starved dancers need to eat sometime.

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