32 East
A few months ago, executive chef Nick Morfogen placed an order for a pound of truffles. To his extreme surprise, not to mention his great pleasure, he received his order in a lump sum -- a black Perigord truffle that weighed one pound. Being the savvy cook that he is, Morfogen immediately set about devising and advertising a menu that would highlight this rare treasure to its fullest potential, rather than exchanging the truffle for smaller ones that he could parcel out pasta by pasta. The customers who were fortunate enough to sample the truffled dishes that week were indeed impressed. This type of inspired opportunity-taking is only one of the reasons why 32 East has the edge on the competition, not just on the avenue but in the county. The others? Oh, just the usual: Morfogen's outstanding technique and great imagination, stellar service, and superb wine pairs. If the East stands for all things rising, then we can expect 32 East to continue to grow in stature -- even without the benefit of a one-pound truffle.
The Dutch Pot Jamaican Restaurant
Photos courtesy of The Dutch Pot Jamaican Restaurant.
This place ain't much to look at, but try finding a joint in these parts with tastier Jamaican food. Run by two sisters from Jamaica, Dutch Pot is part of Westgate Plaza at Broward Boulevard and 441. There are only three tables in the triangle-shaped dining area, and service is negligible, but the food is great and, judging by the high percentage of island clientele, quite authentic -- and not overspiced in an overcompensating, American sorta way. You'll find all the usual suspects -- jerk and brown-stew chicken, stewed chicken, oxtail, rice and peas, escovitched fish, curry goat, jerk pork, steamed veggies, plantains, dumplings, yams, boiled bananas -- in all their succulent glory. Best to just order ahead, pick it up, take it home, and enjoy.
With the advent of this year's Oscars, the Moulin Rouge obsession may be publicly overshadowed by a fascination with Chicago. But the "gay Paree" theme survives at Satine, where the luxe atmosphere is slightly wicked and the Caribbean-French fusion fare is a trifle sinful. So live a little. What makes this restaurant surprising is not that veteran executive chef Donna Wynter's food is so darn good or that its afterhours nightclub fetes are so well-attended but that Satine is located in the lobby of the restored Diplomat Hotel. If the can-can heralds a new age in hotel dining, then do-do book us a room.
It's one of the truly wonderful things about living in South Florida: the ready availability of genuine island-quality jerk chicken. God help us, we love it so. The restaurants can be found in strip malls all over town, but our favorite happens to be in the center of the county, on the northwest corner of State Road 7 and Broward Boulevard. Donna's comes with the classic Caribbean food counter, where you watch as they take a cleaver to succulently spiced meat, lay it down on a delicious bed of red beans and rice, and smother it in delicious gravy. Then comes the standard spare salad (finely chopped lettuce, carrots, and a tomato slice) and some of the best-tasting, sweetest plantains you've ever had. For eight and a half bucks, you get a meal that is generally too much for one big man and quite enough for two 110-pound women. If you don't want jerk, go curry. And if you don't want chicken, get the oxtail, goat, or fish. There are a few tables if you'd like to dine there, but we suggest you take it home -- and make sure to save some for breakfast.

Q: Ever watch reality-TV shows?

A: I watch absolutely no TV. I work every night.

Q: Never?

A: All right, Monday. My day off. On Monday, I have to watch Fear Factor because my 10-year-old daughter, Margeaux, insists on it. It's kind of fun to watch with her. She's always comparing herself to the girls on the show. She says, "I could do that."

Q: Are there parts of the show you don't like?

A: When they eat slugs and things like that. I'm not crazy about that.

Q: Is that the restaurateur talking?

A: Not really. That whole segment of the show -- I usually walk away from it. It'll definitely kill your appetite.

Q: How about your daughter?

A: She can stomach it a little better than I can.

Q: Is the show in any way real?

A: It's interesting to see what people will do for $50,000. Is that real? I don't know.

Q: Can you learn anything from Fear Factor?

A: Jeez, I don't think so. It's kind of like a strange sports game.

Q: What does your daughter get out of it?

A: Just the sensation of it, I think. She's very competitive, very athletic. A major soccer player and a junior lifeguard. I think the competition is what she enjoys, especially when the girls are competing against the guys. That's Margeaux.

La Bonne Crepe
All you knee-jerky flag conservatives can pour out your French wines in protest if you wish. But even Toby Keith fans have to admit that the French know their desserts. What other country has done so much for (and with) flour, eggs, sugar, and chocolate? Pair that culinary tradition with a perfectly picturesque Las Olas location and you've got Caf la Bonne Crepe and its Paris-ready sidewalk tables, all packed with those who choose to linger over coffee and something sweet. Whether you're tempted by a classic crepes Suzette drizzled decadently with Grand Marnier sauce, you prefer the purity of bananas and ice cream coated in a caramel sauce, or you'd be happy just to have any of the other 16 items on Caf la Bonne Crepe's dessert menu awaiting your fork, then sit, stay, stop counting calories, and rediscover why, about 60 years ago, we thought those Frogs were worth saving -- or perhaps why, about 220 years ago, they thought it would be a good idea to help us gain our independence in the first place.
Besides having the Florida kitsch factor down with a scenic Intracoastal view, a cozy bar, and funky antique tubs and toilets, Le Tub has some damn good food too. Its decadent key lime pie is one of the finest this side of the Seven Mile Bridge. After devouring a slice, you'll be dreaming about it for weeks. That's right. You and a tub full of key lime pie -- the stuff dreams are made of.
Italian-style gelato that's handmade on the premises. Popular Latin combinations such as dulce de leche and zabajone, not to mention refreshing fruit flavors ranging from strawberry to kiwi. A host of desserts, including banana splits, profiteroles, and sundaes, along with choice of beverages that run the spectrum from ice cream sodas and milkshakes to natural juices and cappuccinos. We might expect this from any decent ice cream parlor or gelateria in South Florida. But one that also takes credit cards and delivers? Those options make i Fiori the Dairy Fairy, though we suspect she gets kickbacks from the Tooth Fairy when we're not looking.
Your shirt's clinging to your back, your tongue feels like cotton -- and it's not even summer yet. Eesh. It's times like these that we're grateful for Flip's Ice Caf, a new-'n'-cool refuge from South Florida's smothering heat and humidity. This ain't your grandma's ice cream parlor. Rather, this hip little spot -- a cheerful oasis of blue, white, and yellow -- offers just about every frozen dessert you can dream up. There's ice cream, water ice, cream ice, gelato, yogurt. Or perhaps you crave a sundae, banana split, flying saucer (ice cream sandwich), yogurt cone, ice cream cake, or pie? You get the idea. There's also a flavor for every taste: cannoli, peppermint stick, cinnamon, malted milk balls... "People die for the maple walnut ice cream," says owner Brian Manna, who, along with partner Pete Floris, opened Flip's in April. "And the coffee-flavor gelato will blow your drawers off. One spoonful and I'm buzzing around for an hour." The partners, who also own six Ice Cafs in New Jersey, make all their desserts from scratch with ingredients imported from Italy. "We moved down here," Manna says, "because we wanted to be in a market where there'd be demand for frozen desserts all year."
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
By now, we shouldn't have to tell you about those delicate Krispy Kreme donuts that melt in your mouth. Like the rest of us, you've probably stuffed three, or a dozen, glazed pieces of heaven into your drooling chops on your way home from the gym. We don't have to tell you the ol' KK has the best donuts, because you're surely already addicted and because there's simply no competition out there. A dozen local bakers we called say they don't sell donuts, knowing they can't compete with Krispy Kreme, our perennial Best Donuts winner. And let's face it, good coffee aside, Dunkin' Donuts just hasn't figured out that serving those fried rings of dough warm makes them that much better. So in honor of the king, let's go grab a few while they're hot.

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