Taking "The Dude" to Fort Lauderdale's Steak 954 | Clean Plate Charlie | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida


Taking "The Dude" to Fort Lauderdale's Steak 954

For so many years -- I'm thinking ten, at least -- I've been able to avoid the dreaded blind date. But since I haven't been finding much quality on my own, I decided to make a public announcement to my buddies: "Line 'em up. I'm fix-up-able!" Inspired by my recent reading of The Surrendered Single, I refrained from providing a checklist of qualifications. All I said was, "Just let him be single, straight, and male from birth." 

Within a matter of days, I found myself perched on a stool at the bar inside the hopelessly chic Steak 954, waiting for some guy I had never met nor seen. I was about five minutes late, but his texts warned me that perhaps he would arrive even later. I busied my nervous self looking over the unusual libations on the cocktail menu, wondering if I should order the "A1A," a combo of cachaça, grapefruit, martini bianco, and basil, or the "Las Olas," with gin, kiwi, elderflower, and aloe vera. Maybe I could just pour the latter down my blouse, I thought,

to ease the sunburn I cultivated on my chest that morning.

Before I could beckon the bartender, in strolled my date. Thankfully he was dressed simply in a striped button-down and a pair of nice jeans, a nice contrast to my loud, floral dress. I stood up, towering over him a bit in my three-inch heels, but that's what happens when a gal eliminates the "must be taller than five-foot-ten" requirement from her checklist, right? 

Soon we were escorted by a bouncy, blond hostess into the main dining room, a dimly lit space buzzing with activity and framed on one side by a 15-foot-long ultraviolet illuminated jellyfish tank. "Each one of those things cost a few G's," my date informed me as we were seated at a two-top near a window. 

I'd like to tell you how the conversation proceeded from there, but I could barely hear a word the guy said after that. It seems the servers must've brought one too many "A1As" to the long table of about a dozen 20-somethings sitting near the tank, because they were so loud that even the jellyfish were floating erratically. Anyhow, the partiers' eventually must've busied their pieholes with food, because my date and I were able to finally discuss the menu.  

Having been at Steak 954 once before to interview restaurateur Stephen Starr, I had the good fortune of tasting the Australian Tajima Kobe Porterhouse selection, undoubtedly the most amazing, flavorful piece of flesh I ever masticated. It was as tender as a massaged piece of cow could be and would've been imperfect with even the slightest addition of salt, herb, or (dare I even mention this?) steak sauce. Priced at $245, I guess it had to be that good. But since I recalled that the portion they serve is big enough to feed an entire family, my date and I instead opted to have the Tajima tartare appetizer, followed by the signature chopped salad with perfectly blanched green beans inside and an eight-ounce fillet. Medium rare, of course. 

"Dude," my date said, "this is really good steak." 

"Did you just call me 'dude'?" I asked, somewhat snottily. "I know my name can lead to confusion, but I thought maybe the cleavage and floral dress would've led you to believe I'm a woman."

"Sorry," he replied. "I call everyone 'dude.' No harm done, right?" 

With that, he dropped his fork and put his fist out, I guess, expecting me to bump it in return. I was under the impression that fist-bumping quickly dropped out of vogue after that "sexpert" on Fox News erroneously claimed the Obamas were into "fisting," but who am I to deny my date? After all, we were about to get our decadent sticky toffee pudding to split for dessert, and I had to make sure he stayed in a generous state of mind. 

The rowdy revelers at the long table managed to clear out the entire restaurant by the time we slurped up the last of the sugary goodness, and Lebowski and I decided it was time to go too. 

I thanked him for the evening as we walked through the W's covered patio and onto the breezy sidewalk outside. "No problem, dude," he responded. 

Obviously, he and I could never move past friendship if he's under the impression that I'm one of the guys. But, hey, at least I know if I see him again, I won't have to shave my legs or wear a skirt, right?

Steak 954 is located inside the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel, 401 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-414-8333, or visit steak954.com.

Freelance writer Riki Altman eats everything that won't try and eat her first (with exceptions, of course) and dates younger men, older men, and older men who act like young men, along with locals, tourists, illegal aliens, and just plain aliens. Love Bites is a compilation of what happens when her dining and dating ordeals collide. Sometimes, it just ain't pretty.

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Riki Altman

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