It All Comes Together at Ends Meat in Hollywood

It's a good play on words — ends meet, Ends Meat — a clever reference to a tight household budget.

For Ends Meat chef-owner Kevin Dreifuss, making ends meet has an even more poignant meaning. A good portion of his professional culinary career has been spent working day and night, first to support himself and most recently his growing family. When he purchased the Ends Meat domain name in 2009, the name seemed fitting, he says.

It would be four years before Dreifuss found a vacant space in downtown Hollywood to build his first restaurant and another year of renovations before he would unveil Ends Meat. Today, the modern-American eatery is earning rave reviews with locals and foodies alike, drawing crowds from as far as Dreifuss' former stomping grounds in Miami for a taste of his creative, quirky dishes.

"This menu is a mix of flavors I love to work with, things that taste good together, what's in season, and — of course — where we are," says Dreifuss. "A lot of the menu will change so often that nothing here will ever really stay the same. It's just a hodgepodge of all good shit."

Dreifuss has cooked a bit of everything over the course of his 22-year career. He met his wife, Georgianna, while working at the Caneel Bay Resort in Saint John. The couple left the island shortly after they married, completing stints in several cities (including four years spent in Scotts-dale, Arizona). They made a last-minute move that would change their lives.

"We won a pair of first-class tickets to anywhere in the world," says Georgianna, who — rather than plan a vacation or explore a new area of the world — suggested they trade them in for a one-way trip to Miami.

"It was either the best or worst decision of our life," says Dreifuss with a tired grin. "I can't decide which."

Co-owners Georgianna and Kevin Dreifuss with Georgianna's homemade Strawberry Pie.
Co-owners Georgianna and Kevin Dreifuss with Georgianna's homemade Strawberry Pie.
Photo by CandaceWest.com

In 2011, just a few months after relocating to Kendall, Dreifuss opened Pescados Unidos, a Miami-based food truck that later became known as the "Home of Miami's Original Fish Sausage." The truck's name, a playful nod to the area's dominant Hispanic population, offered an incredible variety of seafood dishes with a Latin-Caribbean flair.

Today, many of Dreifuss' best Pescados Unidos creations — including mahi-mahi fish sausages and lump crab taquitos — can also be found on the Ends Meat menu.

Although it's meant to change with the seasons, much of it is funky food, creative food, fun food. But it's also approachable food.

"Our goal is to make simple food, but to make simple food well," says Dreifuss. "We want to give South Florida a taste of something it just doesn't have, and we have the opportunity to do that here in Hollywood."

When Ends Meat opened in March in downtown Hollywood, no one quite knew what to think, not even Dreifuss. Tucked between Ginger Bay Cafe and a pawn shop, the space has been — for as long as anyone can remember — a string of unsuccessful eateries. First it was Megabite Chillout Lounge. Most recently, the Hollywood Creperie.

Luckily, Dreifuss and his team appear poised to break that trend. While some restaurants are comfortable and some are delectable, a small number — like Ends Meat — are able to strike a balance between the two.

With its near-hidden location off Hollywood Boulevard, it's easy to miss Ends Meat on the first pass. The entrance, removed from the street beneath a long overhang, is recognizable only by the packed outdoor patio seating and large, fork-shaped sign above.

Inside, the narrow passage beside the front bar offers just enough room that if you and a server should pass the ten-seat counter at the same time, elbows will brush.

Reuben egg rolls
Reuben egg rolls
Photo by CandaceWest.com

Toward the back, additional table and booth seating accommodates 20 more, and — if you are the alfresco type — another 15 or so tables outside. The space, adorned with mismatched artwork, light fixtures, and furniture, shows the Dreifusses' combined creative talents in a different light.

Open for both lunch and dinner, the restaurant's two menus open with similar items. Day and night you'll find close to a dozen starters and a raw bar that includes ceviche, smoked prawns, and an assortment of East or West Coast oysters served with the chef's own apple mignonette and a housemade smoked red pepper cocktail sauce that's good enough to eat on its own.

Out of close to a dozen appetizers, only one — the lemon-scented smoked trout fish dip — could be avoided. It's a touch too creamy for my taste, a heaping pile of cream cheese and sour cream flecked with slivers of house-smoked trout that's so pasty thick I almost mistake it for something else. The flavor is there, still, and some of the freshest I've found, but perhaps a more homogenous blend would help me forget that the main ingredient in my fish dip isn't actually the fish.

If it's fish you're after, however, go for those mahi-mahi sausages instead: Dreifuss' most inventive creation, a three-year perfecting process for stuffing fresh-ground mahi fillet into a pork casing. One per order, it arrives nestled in a potato roll with mango mustard and a green papaya slaw that marries crisp jícama and red bell peppers with the bright, fresh flavors of jalapeño, cilantro, and Datu Puti vinegar. It's difficult to choose the pair of fish tacos (available on the lunch menu), but you can do both and not feel fished-out.

Here's to hoping nothing changes — as so many good fish tacos at new restaurants almost always do — with Dreifuss' satisfying combination of fresh catch married with a piquant slaw accented with a spicy chipotle aioli, cotija cheese, and large sprigs of fresh cilantro.

House-made fish sausage
House-made fish sausage
Photo by CandaceWest.com

Served for both lunch and dinner, the Reuben egg rolls are a must — even if you're not a fan of Reuben sandwiches or traditional egg rolls. I've had such a pairing several times before, but never one this well-executed: slow-cooked corned beef chopped until it's blended into a fine mince and stuffed into crispy egg roll shells with Swiss cheese and sauerkraut. The resulting dish is nothing short of salty-cheesy­-tangy heaven, and the secret dipping sauce is a blend of Thousand Island dressing and whole-grain mustard, traditional Reuben condiments.

Dreifuss didn't want to put a burger on his menu, but be happy he did. The Mitch HedBurger is only on there because it's just that good, homage to Dreifuss' favorite comedian, often referred to as king of the one-liners. The burger certainly delivers a tasty punch with a blend of hanger steak, short rib, and sirloin created by Burger Beast founder Sef Gonzalez. Mine is cooked a perfect rare as requested, topped with arugula, house-cured bacon, horseradish cheddar cheese, onion jam, and housemade aioli, all the ingredients fitted between a simple, sesame-studded potato bun.

While the menu will change with the seasons, these dishes — including the seafood jambalaya — will be mainstays, says Dreifuss. The last arrives as a spice-packed statement piece, a bowl rife with a heaping portion of mussels, housemade mahi-mahi sausage, steamed clams, and shrimp over a red-stained bed of spicy rice.

Of course, dessert shouldn't be overlooked, and all of it is handcrafted with the same passionate enthusiasm as the main plates. Georgianna, a de facto manager and also the restaurant's in-house pastry chef, constantly bakes up a variety of fresh cakes and pies. Most recently, it was a beautiful Key lime pie. One bite of the silky, pale-yellow custard and you'll find yet another balance — that of tangy and sweet — has been struck perfectly.

You could say there was a time when Dreifuss had just enough to make ends meet. Now, with a promising new restaurant under his belt, this chef is proving he can make rock star plates from almost anything.

"I hear a lot of people give their feedback each night, and they'll say, 'That wasn't just a meal, it was an experience,'" Dreifuss says. "And that feels good. After all the hard work, I couldn't ask for more. We built everything, not just the menu, with our own two hands."

Ends Meat
1910 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to midnight Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to midnight Saturday and Sunday, and 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday. Call 954-391-7400, or visit endsmeat.com.

  • Smoked trout dip $10
  • Reuben egg rolls $8
  • Fish tacos $11
  • Housemade fish sausage $12
  • Mitch HedBurger $13
  • Pie $5-$7
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miles
Ends Meat

1910 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, FL 33020

954-391-7400

endsmeat.com


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