There once was a lass named Biddy,

Who spoke of what she could foresee:

That a pub named for her

Would have the best beer,

And therefore never be empty.

So her prediction came to pass.

The folks came to drink in great gasps

The Irish lager, stout, and ale,

And with each pint without fail

They'd toast: Thanks be to the lass!

The word bistro conjures up certain images: an elegant yet homey atmosphere, homemade fare, and a good beer to wash it all down. Darrel Broek and Oliver Saucy's newest venture, East City, makes good on all these qualifications, especially the last one. After all, there's no better way to follow mixed greens with house-made blue cheese dressing than with a swig of freshly cracked Anchor Steam. Or supple oysters with a Sierra Nevada pale ale. Or even hearty prime rib with a honey brown ale. The ideal American brews for the most noticeable American bistro to hit our shores thus far. But for those who think bistros -- and microbrews -- belong in the hands of the Europeans, there's frothy Warsteiner and solid Guinness stout, too.

Tom Jenkins' rib shack isn't open on Sundays, because it isn't nice to worship with messy hands or bibs. The menu's motto -- "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift" -- doesn't immediately call to mind good eatin', but don't let the proprietor's inarticulate speech of the heart dissuade you from trying the food. Instead heed the other phrase used to trumpet the restaurant's fare: "A taste you'll never forget." The smell emanating from the place permeates the air for blocks, and the down-home bonhomie cuts through socioeconomic strata, as businessmen mingle with construction workers, young with old, white with black, rich with poor -- in other words, anyone with an appreciation for good victuals can be found standing in line to place an order or hunched over the big communal picnic tables. Highly recommended: the ribs. There's a swell selection of other Southern specialties, too, like catfish with hushpuppies, barbecued chicken, and salty-sweet greens. Beer and barbecue is always a good combo, but TJ's doesn't cotton to swillin', so there's homemade lemonade on hand instead. And make a valiant attempt to save space for dessert: sweet potato pie and, on Fridays and Saturdays, peach cobbler and apple dumplings. Stay on the straight and narrow, follow your nose to Tom Jenkins', and reward your taste buds. Religiously.
If we could judge best new restaurant by pedigree alone, Zemi would still win. Located in Towne Center, this handsome, trendy spot is owned by executive chef John Belleme and manager Allison Barber, both of whom are veterans of a Dennis Max restaurant, Max's Grille in Boca Raton. The connection to Max is convenient, since Zemi itself used to be Nick and Max's and, before that, Maxaluna. In fact Stephen O'Leary, the former pastry chef at both Nick and Max's and Maxaluna, has stayed on at Zemi. What all this boils down to is simple: chili-crusted shrimp pizza, roasted bobwhite quail and homemade duck sausage, homemade goat-cheese ravioli with pancetta-sage butter; and day-boat scallops with braised oxtail and sweet potato-parsnip mashers. Then, to wash it all down, you can order the truffle chocolate cake, which is garnished with peppermint whipped cream and vanilla-mint syrup, an ideal way not just to end a superb meal but to freshen your breath at the same time.
Ask a dozen barbecue aficionados about their favorite barbecue, and you'll usually get a dozen different opinions. But lately all eyes have been trained on the same prize: the meaty back ribs offered at this casual, laid-back joint. It's hard to quibble with both the quantity and the quality of the fare at TSoM, especially the beef brisket, which has been simmered until tender, or the chopped boneless pork. Extras are also worthy: The side dishes include rich baked beans and roasted corn on the cob; the appetizers range from jalapeño poppers to Texas chili rife with kidney beans and ground beef. Even the grilled chicken breasts are doublewide and juicy. Of course the star of the show is the sauce, which is tangy and aromatic. Wash it all down with a Texas-size iced tea, bring your friends, and watch 'em all fall in line with your -- and Texas' -- way of thinking.
Forget the old song of the same name about a woman who shot a man for two-timing -- this place is about love and crabs (but not the kind that ticked off Frankie). It's also about addiction, which is not uncommon in South Florida but is usually less justified. For lovers of shellfish, stone crab claws rival addictive drugs as desired pleasure, when they're in season -- and unfortunately that's not summer. The best place to get them cheap is from this produce-and-fish stand. They come only hours off a boat from the Keys for less than $10 a pound. That's less than half the cost of the fresh claws sold on East Las Olas Boulevard, for example. When the owners get the claws from elsewhere, such as the Chesapeake Bay, the price drops to $6.99 per pound.

We all know Margate ain't exactly Marseilles. In fact, it's strip-mall and fast-food-chain central. But in the midst of all this urban sprawl, this charming French café brings a little country into the city. Aside from the lace curtains and cabbage rose carpet, the restaurant offers up some excellent cassoulet, bourride (Provençal fish stew), and coq au vin. Indeed the French countryside dishes, mostly one-pot meals, are so yummy and filling it's hard to hone in on the more sophisticated fare like a Brie-asparagus omelet and puff pastry stuffed with shiitake and portobello mushrooms glazed with brandy. No matter. Whatever your order, you can't dispute the quality and care that go into the food here, which makes this restaurant not only "the life in pink" but also the life in sated pleasure.
OK, so the place isn't strictly Cuban. In fact pan-Latin might be a more appropriate modifier, since dishes like honey-glazed salmon with mango coulis and a half duck marinated in citrus juices and then glazed with raspberry-sesame sauce and honey are on the menu. But it's with his Cuban fare that owner George Quesada really proves himself: flavorful black beans and rice, terrific papa rellena. Two of his best appetizers, a tamal with pork and caramelized onions and crunchy-tender ham croquetas, are equally hard to resist. With all the Elián-inspired antics of late, Cuba's getting a bad rap. But trust Quesada to make sure that the island's cuisine never does.
Making our kids happy is important. There's no doubt about that. But entertaining ourselves is equally important, whether we admit it or not. That's why we take the youngsters to GameWorks. We start with dinner, where the kids get huge portions. The food is good, too, and we found the service to be excellent (as rare as that may be in our fair county). We went during a drink special and were lucky enough to nab a few $1 drafts. (Don't worry, the kids had soda.) But we didn't really come here to sit around and eat and drink. We came to play. The place encompasses 21,000 square feet and has a tremendous game room with all the beeps and pings and computerized explosions that light up the kids' imaginations. More than 100 games fill the place, from virtual batting practice to rowing through rapids to a hell of an Alpine ski experience, all three highly recommended. None of the stuff is, like, real, but it's all a kick. If you're too adult for those games, then you can kick back at the bar. With its easy-on-the-eyes lighting and constant pop-rock music playing, the place has the feel of a cheesy nightclub, which is pretty decent for a night out with the kids. After we were done, our family of four had gone through 70 bucks, which makes it a bit expensive. But for a now-and-then treat, it's worth it.
The logo here features a guy in chef duds trotting around with a tray of steaming bagels. We'd have to say that's pretty accurate. The bagels here are worthy of a chef's efforts. In fact they're what every picky New Yorker looks for -- crusty, chewy, with an indefinable sweetness to the dough -- and that in itself is a rousing recommendation. Not hard, dense, and stale, like some bagel shops' products, or slight and puffy as rolls, like the ones you get in the supermarket. In addition the Works has, well, the works on the premises: lox, whitefish, vegetable cream cheese, chopped liver, herring, tomatoes, onions. Fix up your bagel however you like. Just be aware that -- unlike in some places, where you have to pile on the toppings to cover up the bagel's flaws -- here you want to go sparingly and let the virtues shine through.

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