Instead of the sea bass, my guest and I opted for the cedar plank salmon ($26). A thin, well-cooked fillet of Atlantic salmon had a bright-orange hue with a flaky and juicy texture. A coating of whole grain mustard butter was a perfect, vinegary foil to the rich fish. The accompanying kale salad, with greens cooked just until tender, was tossed with a fresh lemon vinaigrette flecked with Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes that helped make the salad rich and spicy.

Osaka-style pressed sushi, however, left us wondering why a New American restaurant would try its hand at Japanese. A hefty $16 bought us four two-bite rectangles of rice, avocado, and tuna. The rice was ice-cold and underseasoned, and there was simply too much of it, making each bite unpleasantly chewy. Instead of the expected ruby-red strips of tuna, each rice-and-avocado rectangle was topped with pale, translucent slices of fish that tasted a bit oily and past their prime.

The Rainmaker team has long experience in the corporate food industry, and it shows. Blair spent much of his career with PepsiCo and worked with California Pizza Kitchen franchisees. His partner, Jeffrey Anderson, worked on the real estate side of the restaurant business, scouting locations for the Wendy's fast-food chain and Chi-Chis, a Mexican chain that operated in the U.S. until it filed bankruptcy in 1994.

This chopped and tossed chicken salad gives salads a bad rap.
This chopped and tossed chicken salad gives salads a bad rap.

Location Info

Map

Grille 401

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

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Fort Lauderdale

Details

Grille 401, 401 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-767-0222. Open Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to midnight, Friday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., and Saturday and Sunday 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Osaka-style pressed sushi $16

Chilled jumbo shrimp spring rolls $11

Chopped and tossed chicken salad $14

Cedar plank salmon $26

12-ounce prime rib $24

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As at any corporate restaurant, managers prowl Grille 401, and it's obvious that servers have been trained to answer questions about the menu. On one visit, our server forgot to replace silverware after clearing appetizers, but that was the only slip-up. Staff were also kind enough to provide a dish of water for my small dog on the patio one early evening.

Although businesslike efficiency has its upside, it came through on the menu. Dishes seemed soulless, no different from any massive corporate chain. Some plates had Asian themes but little connection to any authentic flavors. The locavore mumbo-jumbo seemed like marketing BS, rather than a true, guiding philosophy. Prices were just as high as you'd find at a true farm-to-table joint, though the product didn't taste special. We left wondering whether we paid for the restaurant's redecoration or its high-priced location, because we know we could have found similar food, with better execution, at a cheaper price, at any Darden-owned eatery.

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2 comments
Carmine
Carmine

Since it's obvious that you don't know anything about the previous restaurants at this location, why mention it at all? You just sound foolish.

saegrsowu
saegrsowu

Chilean sea bass probably isnt that fresh once it makes its way here and its irresponsible to eat sea bass, flounder and other fish that were practically extinct. There are much better, local options.....pompano are running locally......try out local caught swordfish or atlantic sea bass....

 
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