The ferryboat to Cap's Place is interesting (think of a refurbished, polished, and well-covered African Queen), and it's free. It's not a long ride, just a nice jaunt across the Intracoastal, but once you get there, you're going back a long way. Meyer Lansky and other gangsters still haunt the place. In the bar you can almost still smell the unfiltered cigarette smoke and hear the dames giggling over their martinis. Cap's Place is all about South Florida history, full of rum, illicit gambling, hoodlums, and good times. Eugene Theodore "Cap" Knight, an unabashed bootlegger, opened the place in 1928. The restaurant is actually made from an old barge. Back then, it was called Club Unique, and you could visit for a fish dinner, a stiff (and illegal) drink, and a game of blackjack, roulette, or craps. But Cap had class -- drawing statesmen as easily as crooks. The list of famous patrons is too long to recount, though the fact that FDR and Winston Churchill dined together here should give you an idea. But that's enough of this story. Go out there, have a highball, and soak up some more tales. They're hanging on every wall, carved into every post, soaked into every floorboard.

At stake in the ultimate gamble, as any bungee jumper can tell you, is your life. But these days you don't have to jump off a bridge with a harness around your waist to cop that thrill. You can simply eat the wrong meat. In the current climate that means brain food -- quite literally. Mad cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), is a prion (microscopic protein particle) disease found in an animal's nervous system. Humans can acquire a form of BSE, called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), by ingesting infected brains, spinal cords, retinas, or even internal organs, which are often found in ground beef and beef byproducts. And while, unlike Europe, the United States hasn't discovered any BSE-infected cattle or reported a single case of vCJD, there's always a first time. So nix on those sweetbreads and mystery-meat sausages -- unless, of course, you don't mind a gamble.
If you've been to France, you know that the French are seriously into food. And if you've been to Croissan'Time, the French bakery, delicatessen, and fine-food emporium, you know that Bernard Casse has taken his homeland's culinary obsession to delectable extremes since 1986. From the southwest of France, Casse trained as a pastry chef and has worked many a professional kitchen. He's obsessed with natural ingredients, the "quality of the basics," particularly as they relate to bread. And well he should be, since Croissan'Time on average turns out 2000 loaves of different types of bread daily, including some 500 baguettes. Once you've purchased that long loaf, head to the charcuterie-épicerie wing for imported cheeses, pâtés, or meats such as mergez, andouillete, boudin, or confit. And don't forget the bottle of wine for your tailgate picnic or the sweets: filled croissants, cakes, tarts, candies, or chocolates (the last of which are not candy to the French, they're part of the five basic food groups). The food is delicious and luscious to look at, the one-stop shopping suits the American mentality, and if you didn't hear the swish of traffic on Federal Highway, you'd swear you were in a Paris café listening to the strains of Jacques Brel.

Just as our definition of family has changed over the years, so have our requirements for a family restaurant. Now, a single mother with twins doesn't demand just a kid's menu and a pair of highchairs, she wants the motorcycles and cars into which the young'uns can climb and pretend to drive. The divorced dad with a teenage son needs, along with a hamburger, the virtual golf game in order to pass on the most important lesson of life -- how to swing a club. The couple with a newly adopted daughter from Russia or Asia desires, even above the quintessential American dishes such as chicken fingers and grilled steaks, the pinball machines that don't require linguistic communication. And the grandparents who are baby-sitting their kid's kids require all manner of sweets to bribe the brats, along with a good old-fashioned game of Skee-Ball that can bridge any generation gap. D&B supplies all that with its extensive menu and Million-Dollar Midway, plus a bunch of TVs showing every sporting event imaginable and a good supply of alcohol at the bars for the times when all else fails. What else could any modern dysfunctional family want?
Yeah, something deep -- Dadaism, the nihilistic art movement that gave rise to surrealism -- inspired Dada, an artsy Delray Beach coffeehouse/restaurant. But if you're a washed-up ex-hippie who chose protesting the Vietnam War over art history class, Dada represents a generation's journey from dropping acid to buying stock. With bulbous ants painted on the walls, crisp velvet lamp shades, and framed Dalíesque paintings, the place looks as if its owner had a few acid trips and then got rich enough to infuse the décor with sophistication. Going to Dada is worth the trip just to explore the clever intricacies of tasteful funk. However, the food is also quite good -- especially the fondue, which makes these really killer trails...
When you say that this place is a trendy, traditional British pub, that's no bull -- and it's no oxymoron either. On the trendy side are salads -- such as the Tuscan garden with smoked turkey, comprising artichokes, roasted peppers, button mushrooms, and bacon-mustard dressing -- and main courses including fresh fish of the day with Creole rémoulade and toasted orzo pilaf. On the traditional side are appetizers -- cheese boards for two with aged cheddar and country bread -- and one-dish meals such as shepherd's pie or Saturday roasts with Yorkshire pudding. Trendy? An Undurraga Chilean merlot is the house red. Traditional? Bass, Newcastle, and Harp ales are all on tap. Trendy? The live jazz and rhythm-and-blues music. Traditional? The fireplaces (yes, in South Florida). This may not be your father's or grandfather's pub, but it will certainly be yours.

In a time when so many restaurants reluctantly provide one highchair or maybe a booster seat, Tout Sweet is a godsend. Not only does this restaurant and ice cream parlor offer succor for adolescent dietary stress with an appealing kid's menu, it mitigates parental economic stress with "Kids Eat Free" on Sundays. Tout Sweet also runs generation-gap specials such as "Mom and Me" or "Dad and Me." The place is so munchkin-minded that the National Single Parents Resource center, located in Boca Raton, holds its events here, the profits of which go to creating programs to assist single folks in dealing with everything from infants to teenagers. Even better, the eatery, which serves light sandwiches, waffles, and homemade French custard ice cream, is right next door to the Regal Delray 18 movie theater, so solo caretakers can plan an entire evening's entertainment with ease. Talk about one hand washing the other.
Ahh, the good life in Weston: Sitting at a plastic table on the Sporting Brews veranda and looking over a retention pond for a new development in a swamp. Other bonuses include a nice view of a wonderfully sterile, isolated Adelphia office building, the flowing traffic of I-75, and three guys sitting nearby puffing on fat cigars and chatting about the stock market. Does it get any better than this? OK, maybe it does. We have to admit we picked Sporting Brews in large part because it is, by our count, the only nonchain-restaurant brewery now open in Broward County. But the honor isn't all by default -- the place has some fine food and several solid brews, all of which have a homemade bite that the stuff in the stores lacks. Sporting Brews is definitely worth a visit, and keep in mind that enough of their serviceable oatmeal stout eventually makes that view from the veranda altogether tolerable, if not quite pleasing.
Restaurant breweries are about as hard to find in South Florida as wool sweaters. The dearth of handcrafted brews here isn't really that surprising, as subtropical climes tend to foster a thirst for icy, fruity drinks like rumrunners and margaritas. But we like beer, dammit, and that's where Brewzzi's comes in. Granted it doesn't have much competition (it's the only independent restaurant brewery in Palm Beach County), but it's still first-rate. Because the joint is located in western Boca Raton, you might assume it's a vile place -- snobs drinking snobby beers. You'd be wrong. The six microbrews, for one thing, are affordable, at less than $4 a glass. They are also award-winning and downright delicious, from the stout to the American pale ale to the brown to the blonde (though we aren't really partial to light microbrews). The service there is darn good, the food simple (lots of great pizzas and open-faced sandwiches) and tasty. By the time we pulled ourselves away, we'd had enough of their beer to make us a little wewzzi. Our date was so hammered, she started acting like a flewzzi. So, thanks to Brewzzi's, our night was a dewzzi.

If the definition of power is embedded in politics, look no further than Brasserie Las Olas. Located just across the bridge from the Broward County courthouse, the something-for-everyone restaurant caters to the ever-hungry -- and those are just the lawyers. Judges and perps alike share a taste for proprietor Mark Soyka's well-known brand of casual dining, ranging from burgers to pizzas to items such as pan-seared mahi-mahi or crabcakes with rémoulade. Fortunately the Brasserie appeals to a bunch of other types as well, from businessfolk planning takeover strategies over plates of meat loaf to soccer moms discussing carpool arrangements while sipping cappuccino.

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