The menu consists of just 11 "firsts" and 11 "seconds," and here's my singular complaint about the Grateful Palate: menu prices that seem both reasonable and extravagant. On the reasonable end: $26 for the chicken supreme and $28 for a roasted duck breast. But other dishes seem outrageously priced, like the $14 house salad, the $17 Caprese, and the $18 Wagyu burger. It's the high level of ingredients, explains Irvin. He defends the burger, an item that originally appeared only on the lunch menu until enough people requested it at dinner. "We've tried to take it off the menu, but people begged us to put it back. It's that good."

I order the salad, expecting to scoff at the double-digit cost. But it's a generous and artfully created salad, full of arugula, micro herbs, bits of yellow beets, sour orange segments, and blue cheese. It's served in a pasta bowl and could've fed two. It'd be better, though, with a portion half the size — and half the price.

What's well worth the $14 price tag is the Peking duck appetizer. It's disassembled, with wontons in a bamboo steamer, plum sauce, cilantro, and green onions. The duck's flesh is tender and the skin as crisp as candy coating.

South African lobster tail and fillet of basso with white wine broth, tomatoes, and capers.
Candace West
South African lobster tail and fillet of basso with white wine broth, tomatoes, and capers.

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The Grateful Palate

817 SE 17th St.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

Category: Restaurant > Contemporary

Region: Fort Lauderdale

Details

The Grateful Palate, 817 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale. Open for lunch 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and dinner 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Cooking demonstrations and wine classes Saturday afternoons.

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Our entrées are equally perfect. My fish special ($32) is served bouillabaisse style; from bottom to top: white wine broth, buttered crostini, peppers, capers, tomatoes, fillet of basso, South African lobster tail. If you got out of the Mediterranean Sea right now, walked up to the nearest fine restaurant, and asked for the best dish, it should taste like this.

My wife's bone-in short rib ($22) melts over goat cheese potatoes, the meat so tender it seems to have been simmering since the restaurant's conversion — last year. The ribs taste as if flavored with nothing more than salt and pepper. Dip them into the reduction — veal stock, perhaps — and you taste why they need nothing more.

As our lava cake arrives, so does the entertainment. Not the band, which starts late and after we left, but a table full of what we could guess was the yachting crowd that has always frequented the place. At the head of the table, a man in a $500 shirt picks out a bottle of champagne and then a few bottles of red for his five friends. Abel pours the champagne and decants the reds tableside, offers him a taste, and takes one herself. They swirl. They nod. "Oh, that's good," $500 Shirt says.

It occurs to us, at about the point that the lava cake's chocolate center is oozing over to the blackberry sorbet, that maybe it's OK the crowds haven't found the Grateful Palate. $500 Shirt and his friends aren't exactly ordering the $15 wine flight and calling it done. Besides, if the crowds start coming, they might start charging for the waiters' winetastings.

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