Food News

Fort Lauderdale's Open Kitchens:Theater or Noisy Narcissism?

I tend to like open kitchens since I often eat out solo and embrace the role of restaurant voyeur. In DC, open kitchens were de rigueur while here, I've noticed fewer. If they're open, it's only partially so.

A colleague suggests the reason I'm not seeing so many open kitchens here is because

they're too loud and alienate snowbirds. I'm thinking it's also

because this area picks and chooses trends. In my coupla jaunts to

design-conscious Miami, I've noticed more spots with open kitchens than

Broward, where restaurant theater I've seen is the equivalent of watching drunks at


Are open kitchens a pretentious trend? In this past week's Arts section in The New York Times, theater critic Charles Isherwood muses on the role of open kitchens in promoting dinner as theater. He asks, "Good food enhances the joy we make take in life, but can it really express a vision of life the way art can?"


exploration centers around a dinner at Aldea, a Portuguese restaurant

that features a six- seat bar, a parallel perch to the kitchen. During

dinner he observes, "Entrancing theater can derive from delicate

gestures as well as large ones," such as "the careful lowering of small

orbs of mozzarella into a creamy bowl of gazpacho," or "the delicate

scraping away of shiso marinade from a glistening sardine." He marvels access to "the creative process as it takes place," as opposed to the finished product alone.

This made me wistful for fine dining, which I've yet to explore in this

market, though I've come upon a few open kitchens. Strange enough, the

most most memorable has been Jo-Jo's,

where I described the chef as a tattoo'd ballerina because he's such a

skilled performer that he dwarfs

his theater/kitchen, a modest taco joint.

Perhaps you can point me to some open kitchens for voyeurs. On my list is Il Mulino and Cafe Martorano.

Any other suggestions for front row reservations where diners can watch a maestro

at work? And if no artist comes to mind, perhaps a seat or two with the promise

of entertainment.

Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Facebook and on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB.

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Food Critic
Contact: Melissa McCart