If Fort Lauderdale's known for anything, it's raw bars. In addition to the old guard, avant-garde clam shacks pop up all the time. That makes the competition in this category especially fierce. But sometimes it takes an old-timer to show the young'uns how it should be done. Southport doesn't have fancy bloody Marys garnished with oysters, or tequila-oyster shooters, or oysters flown in from other places around the country. It just has good, honest seafood, served raw or cooked, according to your preference. No matter how you like your clams and oysters, be sure to get the smallest ones, which are often the sweetest. Those who forgo raw fare aren't neglected, either -- they can order fried shrimp, steamed oysters, or stuffed clams, to name a few alternatives. And the prices? They haven't changed much since the place opened about 27 years ago, which can't help but soothe the saltiest patron.
The name of this upscale sushi and sake bar may sound rock-hard (or rok-hard), but the sushi itself is nothing less than supple. Not soft, because that would imply textureless. Not pliable, because that would denote elasticity. And not flexible, because that might be stringy. No, we're talking fresh raw fish, cut thick enough to give your teeth just the tiniest moment of resistance before yielding. If there's one thing you can count on here, aside from the sake cocktails (or coktails), it's the reliability of the sushi chefs. Fish, after all, is only as good as the hands that cut it, and these are caring hands. You could even call them, well, supple.
If the place first strikes you as a nightclub, that's because it is, at least on weekends. But this Jamaican-Chinese restaurant is also an unpretentious but sophisticated example of island cuisine. The curried goat is meaty, not bony. The brown stew fish is rich and flavorful, not greasy. And chicken sautéed with peanuts and coconut cream is priceless. Make that reasonably priceless. The fare here is affordable enough to allow patrons to partner everything with fried rice and finish it all off with banana bread pudding, so you can partake of the plentitude, mon, and not sweat the check. Best of all, the service makes T.G.I. Friday's look unfriendly; in fact the staff pretty much treats everyone here like… well, like a native.
Hollywood's struggling downtown is either in or out, depending on the year. This year: in, with new eateries such as Red Thai Room and Burt's on the Beach drawing customers from counties to the north and south. Last year: out, with noteworthy restaurants such as Revolution 2029, Tac "O" the Town, and Impromptu all biting the ghost town dust. Le Pastis, a quaint Provençal restaurant with owners hailing from Bordeaux and Marseilles, promised to persevere despite the sudden dearth of customers roaming the Harrison Street area. But despite such delicious dishes as frogs' legs in white wine sauce and traditional lamb chops crusted in herbes de Provence, Le Pastis couldn't hang on and took down its shingle. So much for the sunny skies of southern France in southeastern Broward County.
Here's the neighborhood part: La Brochette is located in a typical suburban strip mall in southwest Broward County. Here's the restaurant part: an interior crammed with culinary collectibles, a professional staff, and a well-chosen wine list. Now, here's the best part: conch fillet schnitzel with caper-lime sauce, roast duck with ginger-orange sauce, and homemade milk chocolate crème brûlée. Chef-proprietor Aboud Kobaitri makes everything from French onion soup to hazelnut mousse, and his dedication to his eight-year-old eatery shows. Even more apparent is Kobaitri's commitment to the area -- for the past 16 years, the Lebanese native has made his home in Davie and Pembroke Pines. If you go by the credo that only locals know what locals want, then Kobaitri has everything we need.
The absence of antelope chops notwithstanding, this cheetah-spotted steak house fulfills the hearty beef-eater's expectations: luxe décor, high-end meats, and seriously good martinis. You couldn't ask for more in an American steak house, even one that's named for a trek across the savanna. Steaks aren't the only items to stake a meal on, either. Jumbo lump crab-and-avocado cocktails, iceberg salad with homemade blue cheese rich enough to tempt a politician, and swordfish with hollandaise satisfy the beef embargoists. Otherwise it's a carnival for carnivores, with steaks and chops seared on a grill that heats up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot stuff indeed.
Yes, we know this restaurant is part of a chain with more cousins than a family from Appalachia. We're also aware that the outlet-mall setting may make some diners feel as if they're eating in a trendy airplane hangar and that the service can decay into assembly-line style. And yes, we realize that the sea fare here says very little about South Florida as a region. That's precisely why we love it. When you're bored with yellowtail snapper and conch chowder, Legal Sea Foods is the place for broiled bluefish and New England clam chowder, the latter of which is concocted in overcast Boston and shipped by air to sunny Florida. Then, of course, there's the famous stuff no one who has visited the original Legal in Boston can quite resist: mussels au gratin, steamed Ipswich clams, and baked Maine lobsters stuffed with crabmeat and cracker crumbs. Frankly we'd break the law to dine at Legal.
Chef Drew Rosen has said it before, and he'll say it again. His eatery, which serves items ranging from a soft duck taco with mango chutney to a rib steak marinated in bourbon and juniper berries, is more of a gourmet restaurant that serves natural foods and plenty of vegetables. The fact that it's Glatt kosher should only reassure diners, since, as Rosen reminds us, kosher is "the purest way of eating.... You know exactly what you're getting. There's complete truth in the menu." There's also absolute honesty in how Rosen's cuisine tastes -- good. Really good. But it's not too surprising, since he has an impressive pedigree, having worked at Mark's Place and Scoozime Trattoria and on Williams Island. So don't think of Terrace Oceanside as kosher. But if you need to label it, try this: a no-brainer for vegetarians, a relief for the lactose-intolerant, and a pleasure palace for the gastronomically minded.
It sounds like a dessert shop. It looks like an elaborate mausoleum, with marble and flowers everywhere. But Hot Chocolates eats like a gourmet's fantasy. The upscale fusion fare, rife with European influences, ranges from ragout of escargot to homemade spaetzle to confit of duck with tomatoes and mushrooms. Not bad for a supper lounge that turns into a disco after hours. Stick around if you want to see where Hot Chocolates gets its name -- couples tend to melt all over each other on the dance floor. And definitely drop in for a fine meal served with flair but thank goodness not with marshmallows.
This contemporary eatery in Towne Center makes the most of the pan-Asian fad with a menu of mixed-up ethnicities. Fortunately most of the dishes are not fusion Asian -- they remain true to the countries that inspired them, like chicken imperial rolls (Vietnam), Shanghai noodles (China), and teriyaki salmon (Japan). No matter what ethnicity you feel like noshing, you can satisfy your craving here. And if you can't find something on the menu, you can visit the "market," where a host of veggies and a dozen homemade sauces await the customer, and create your own stir-fry. The guys behind the counter will then toss your combo into a wok for you. Hard to find a restaurant that caters to the patron more or one that has a more complete handle on what exactly pan-Asian is -- or should be.

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