Cocktails & Spirits

Eat Your Salad and Go: Food Critic Kicked Out of the Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale

Last week, I had reported a craving for rooftop dining with a side of swim that was sated by the untzy Sunday scene at the W Hotel's rooftop. In the comments, a few of you weighed in on poolside seats with a view. Commenter R.J. Petrucci suggested to "play it cool" just about anywhere and "you will be fine." He mentioned the W and the Hilton as accommodating, provided he's spending money. He suspected -- as did I --  that offseason, hotels would appreciate the business.

Not at the Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale.

In my original post, I had mentioned that I rang the Ritz-Carlton about

dining on the roof. A few days later, P.R. sent me this email:

The hotel actually has a poolside restaurant that is open to the public.

No cabana rental necessary. Take the elevator to the 7th floor, walk

out the door, and voila! dine poolside from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. --

and the pool and café are the site of the Full Moon parties every month,

which are also free with no admission, no velvet rope, $8 light bites,

$8 specialty cocktails and $5 valet parking. Contrary to popular

belief, the luxury hotel is not out of reach... in fact, we're endeavoring

to let people know that it's very accessible.

Here's how accessible it is: I was kicked out of the pool.

"You're not a guest here," said the cabana dude who intercepted me as I plunked down a towel on one of the lounge chairs and headed toward the pool.

"You have to sit over

there." He took my towel and pointed to the bar tables and upright wicker

chairs across the roof.

(Suddenly I felt self-conscious about not having enough va-voom. Maybe I should consider that boob job people keep suggesting since I've moved here.)

Despite that the post I had written is about dining and swimming

poolside, P.R. neglected to say that if you're not staying at the Ritz,

you cannot swim, nor can you sit in a chair that's not a part of the café.

Don't get me wrong: The view is terrific. But the food is standard

Sysco. And let's state the obvious here: It's hard not to be wistful

over at the bar, longing for a swim during the 90-degree heat. I was wearing a suit and everything.

Richard, my very gracious server, felt bad. "Here's some bottled water,"

he said, taking note of the three other drinks aligned on my table.

"I'm sorry you can't swim. It's hot out here."

I tore through a Key lime colada, an iced tea, two bottles of water, and a meat-free Southwestern salad pretty quickly and paid the $33 tab. After all, I was in a hurry to cool off with the riff-raff at the sandy beaches below.

Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Facebook and on Twitter. Follow me @melissamccart.

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Food Critic
Contact: Melissa McCart