You'd have to have been hiding under a rock for quite some time to not have noticed the recent surge in 'gastropubs' serving up comfort food and craft beers.
For almost a year now, American Social has been one of the busier spots to have come onto the Fort Lauderdale pub scene. With serve-yourself taps and a wide selection of craft beers, the place has gained a steady following of admirers who pack themselves in on busy Friday and Saturday nights.
And they've decided to step things up a notch, by bringing in Curt Hickens as Executive Chef. Since taking over, Hickens has revamped the menu by switching to making everything in-house, from scratch. And he's instituted some new weekly specials.
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A graduate of the Culinary Institute of American Napa, Hickens spent time working for well-known establishments like Houstons and Grand Lux. Although he lived here for a period of time about two and a half years ago, he relocated from Manhattan back in January.
Hickens describes his cuisine as global: a gastropubby, tapas style of food. "I like to find something fresh and take it from there," he said, "I like working with the best ingredients I can find."
Since coming onboard, he's already made some changes to the menu, adding dishes like new flatbreads ($11 to $15), including Thai chicken and truffle funghi portobello and shiitake; mini seafood tacos ($13); a spicy Haitian slaw called pikliz, with pulled pork tostones ($12); and more.
An extensive weekend brunch has also been added, featuring an omelet, Belgian waffle, and carving stations, fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, deserts, and more for $19.95. Bottomless mimosas and a build your own Bloody Mary bar are offered to coincide.
Hickens also introduced a number of weekly specials such as a Taco Tuesday with 4 gourmet tacos--think chipotle lime pork, pesto chicken, carne asada, and veggie, among others--for $7.50. To coincide with Wednesday's Ladies' Night, he added all you can eat sushi for $19.95 for men, $14.95 for ladies. Monday through Thursday happy hour will not include half-off all apps and Friday's happy hour will feature $5 select flatbreads.
He has also added a number of house-made traditional American favorites like the New York-style Kosher Hot Dog with potato bun and red onion, lobster roll, and warm jelly donuts with raspberry tarragon jelly.
"We reinvented the menu and them from frozen things you can find anywhere to things you can't get anywhere else," said Hicken, "Everything is different. We make everything in-house aside from the bread."
Currently, they are preparing to show off their new stuff at the Riverwalk Burger Battle on May 31.
American Social is located at 721 E. Las Olas Blvd. Call 954-764-7005.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.