La Cigale

The latest relentlessly trumpeted diet plan? To stay chic and slender as any Frenchwoman, you have to eat like one. And that plate of escargots with mushrooms, garlic cream sauce, and chives, the one that promises to melt away unwanted pounds like magic, is waiting for you at 4-year-old Brasserie La Cigale. Executive Chef Farid Oualidi turns out classic retro dishes like sole meunière ($34), caesar salad, cuisses de grenouilles (frog legs, $11 -- sounds better in French, doesn't it?), and the euphoniously euphemistic "sweetbreads" ($10). These elegant dishes are balanced with subtle butter,- wine-, shallot-, and cream-laden sauces of great art and complexity. And if all this sounds a bit rich, consider that Cigale's canards are served in a setting so cozy, relaxed, and unpretentious that you could be tucking into a plate of Julia's very own moules (may that blessed lady be forever sautéeing chickens in heaven). "Life itself is the proper binge," Mrs. Child once said. Bien sur, even better if life contains plenty of foie gras with black currant sauce.

Baja Smoothie Café may not have 10 gazillion trademarked flavors like those giant-blender joints, but it's pretty damned close. Besides -- is anyone anal-retentive enough to need ten different strawberry-flavored blends to choose from? Baja has cooler names for its smoothies anyway, like the Twisted Sister or Bananas for Bono (though it might want to rename the Blue Baja Tsunami before some overly sensitive customer raises a stink). The basic nutritional info is listed for all smoothies (which range in price from $3.95 to $5.25), so you know how many calories, vitamins, carbs, and grams of fat you're ingesting -- and that you're getting more than just a cup of sherbet run through a blender. If you have any leftover room for solid food, the café has plenty of fresh salads and wraps, all made with your calorie count in mind. And check this -- the café has subscription-free wireless Internet service, meaning you don't need to sign up with T-Mobile just to browse the Web for ten minutes. All you gotta do is turn on your laptop and you're on the Web. Damn, all that and all you wanted was a Hawaiian Five OH!

Gou Lou Cheong Chinese BBQ
Courtesy of Gou Lou Cheong BBQ
Gou Lou is a fleshy spectacle unmatched elsewhere in Broward. A hole-in-the-wall with only two small tables, the carry-out restaurant devotes most of its space to a behind-glass display of roasted ducks, chickens, and pigs. You'll easily identify the species: Each animal is roasted whole, usually with heads attached. On a recent visit, ducks and chickens hung by their heads or feet, each a shimmering golden brown. A roasted pig dangled from a stainless-steel rack, its crispy head lying below it. On a nearby rack, succulent, deep-red ribs dripped with juices. Your order is chopped to your specifications as you watch. Honey-barbecue ribs or honey-roasted pork cost $6.50 a pound. Roasted ducks are $13.95, or $7.50 for a half. Chicken with head is the bargain of the bunch at $3.75 a pound.

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