By David Minsky
By Nicole Danna
By Sara Ventiera
By Candace West
By Emily Dabau
By Doug Fairall
By Candace West
By Laine Doss
I wish the band we were meanwhile watching on the flat screen Roger George & Legacy had been as yummy. They appear to be the totally unthreatening Saturday fill-in house band, and they play mostly R&B greatest hits, the musical equivalent of a concept restaurant serving pan-Asian-American finger food. The bistro has brought in the occasional smooth jazz icon Spyro Gyra, Gato Barbieri but mostly serves up South Florida fare like Valerie Tyson, Pangea, and Iko Iko, with national acts once a month. Acoustic Alchemy and Pieces of a Dream are on the schedule for this summer. Pardon me while I stifle a shrimp-scented yawn.
So far, so mellow. Our experience had been as not-unpleasant as a cover of "It's De-Lovely" sung by Lea Delaria. Problems surfaced with the arrival of the entrées and yet another hapless food runner confused about who got what. I bit into my partner's mahi, expecting salmon. She took a woof of my salmon and decided she preferred it to the mahi. Conflict ensued. I managed to wrest back my toga salmon ($22.95), but that left her disappointed on many fronts with the "Florida Thanksgiving" mahi ($25.95), for which she was clearly not giving thanks. This festive dish had been described on the menu as grilled mahi with "rock shrimp stuffing," pineapple salsa, and beurre blanc. What arrived was grilled mahi with a single, naked rock shrimp huddled on top like a stranded castaway on a desert island, surrounded by an ocean of kidney beans and corn. I hate when that happens.
Partner stubbornly set down her fork and craned around looking for the waiter while I happily plugged through my salmon. It was delicious. Silky, moist, stretched out like a maja on a divan of crispy sticky-rice cake with a big bunch of wilted spinach, oversalted but not inedibly so. I honestly loved it. Partner was fuming. Partner had expected, she hissed furiously, some kind of wonderful, warm, mushed-up shrimp stuffing, like it said on the menu. With the nice grilled fish on top of it. And absolutely no beans.
I sympathized a little while she spent long minutes trying to flag down our waiter, but to be honest, I didn't really care that much. My emotional intelligence plummets significantly when food is involved. As long as I'm not the one with the bum entrée. Eventually, though, our server brought over an extra dish of sautéed rock shrimp ("The word stuffing is a little misleading," he allowed. "And that was supposed to be six ounces of shrimp."). But by that time the fish was cold, the beans were congealing, and partner had spontaneously combusted.
Thinking auto da fe, I ordered a Bananas Foster ice cream cake ($8), with "flambéed bananas" for dessert. What arrived was clearly meant to be a practical joke on the order of a whoopee cushion, because there was no flambé anywhere in evidence, unless those hard little nuggets of "banana" (Were they canned? Or merely "preserved"?) had been set alight sometime during the previous century, evidently with rocket fuel. We scraped them away and ate up all the scrumptious banana ice cream and the sort-of-stale cake, deciding it was just as well our clueless waiter hadn't tried to set anything on fire tableside, anyway; we valued our hair and eyebrows.
Did I say we'd had fun? We had!
Back through the smoky casino, the poker players looking thinner and grayer, and into the jammed, late-night queue at the valet station, and finally back on the turnpike. Believe it: That dark, quiet, empty road home looked mighty inviting.