Sunday, June 29, 2008

Primanti Bros. - Ft. Lauderdale Beach

Well, this is just one happening little restaurant! It's located right on the beach, by Sunrise Boulevard. Cap and Guida had irresponsibly snuck off to investigate the place on their own, leaving poor Mex and I to starve alone. I won't mention how they also unthinkingly forgot to bring any cash or debit cards with them, feeling secure in the fact that they had their huge store of credit cards fitting snuggly in their wallets and it wasn't until AFTER they had ordered that they noticed a CASH ONLY sign by the register. Hee, hee, hee....that's restaurant karma right there, people!
Anywhoooo, they took care of that issue easily enough and a couple of weeks later invited Mex and I to join them for sandwiches and pizza there. The line was pretty steady, but the staff is remarkably efficient at getting people in and out in a timely, but unrushed manner. We sat down and pondered the menu to decide how we could get a sample of their offerings without going overboard. We ultimately decided to order to sandwiches to split and a large pizza.
Let me explain the sandwiches. First off, they're served on grilled bread with loads of meat. Cap and I split a roast beef and Mex and Guida got a pastrami. The powers that be also decided that it would be a good idea to offer a choice of fried egg and french fries to go in the sandwich as well. Not WITH the sandwich. ON the sandwich. You don't have to get them, but for the full affect, we ordered the whole shebang and didn't regret a bite! I especially liked the fried egg on top. I understand (from watching waaaay too much of the Food Network) that adding fried eggs on top of sandwiches and hamburgers is quite de rigueur these days. Mind you, the french fries, eggs, meat and bread do make a pretty big mouthful, but I would definitely recommend it.
The pizza too was enjoyable. Cap, Guida and Mex really loved it. I'm from New York myself, so it wasn't quite the taste I absolutely love, but I certainly wasn't going to spit it out! I ate every bit of my two slices with gusto!
So, to recap, all four of us would definitely recommend Primanti Bros. on the beach. There's another location just a couple miles inland, but we haven't tried that one yet. There's just something special about being able to walk on the beach after we're sticking to the original location!
Hope you go! Hope you enjoy!!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Japan Inn

Our latest dining evening was at the Japan Inn, located in Plantation. This restaurant offers Sushi, Sashimi, Thai and Hibachi, but we went there particularly for the latter. If you are going to visit, I would suggest calling ahead for reservations, since it is a popular spot, especially on the weekends. Without reservations, on a Friday night our wait was about a half an hour. That’s actually not too bad considering the area and the average wait for a table during the weekends around here. However, I know other people have had to wait longer for tables there, so like I said, reservations are the way to go.
We sat at one of the hibachi tables, which if you didn’t know is a large table with a huge flat cooking surface on the backside, just an arm’s length away from where you dine. The chef comes to the table and cooks the whole meal (well, not the soup and salad) right there, to order. There’s a big production with knives flashing and flames jumping up on cue. There’s often juggling and joking on the chef’s side. Unfortunately, our chef was held up at another table, so we got the abbreviated version with no fire show and few jokes. The wait and the lack of show didn’t dampen our experience, but it did make at least one of our number extremely antsy because she was practically fainting from hunger. Our chef was quick to recognize that and made it a point to serve her first.
We each ordered from the hibachi menu (obviously), and the selections included soup, salad, appetizer and main course. There are no choices for the soup, salad and appetizers, or at least, not so far as I could see. We were all served the same salad with a ginger dressing that, in my opinion tasted a lot like your typical French dressing. I like French dressing, so that worked out fine for me. I’m not really sure what type of soup they served (I'm sure Cap and Guida know!), but it was a clear broth with mushrooms, scallions and other unidentified, but yummy ingredients. Our chef first whipped up a huge batch of fried rice, which he divvied out between us and the other party who sat at the same table. If you’d like some advice, I would suggest to go easy on the rice, because I routinely do not and then I can never finish my main course because I am too stuffed with everything that comes before it. It’s tasty, so it’s hard to hold back, but remember that you can always take it home with you, or even finish it after the main course, if you are so inclined.
Our appetizers were a couple of shrimp, just to hold us off until our main course was done. My main course consisted of the shrimp and steak combo. It was delectable, but sadly, as I have already stated, I ate too much rice and had to doggy bag the rest of my shrimp and steak after just a couple of pieces.
Mex ordered the chicken and steak combo and judging from the complete lack of left overs from his main course, I would not hesitate to say he enjoyed it. Cap ordered the shrimp and filet combo, which she ordered with a topping of garlic butter. The filet melts in your mouth, she swears. Guida ordered the filet with the garlic butter as well, but she also ordered the scallops.
Everyone was very happy with the quantity and quality of the food at Japan Inn. The price wasn’t at all steep. I think the most any of us paid was around $25 for their order and we got fed until we were all fit to burst. The restaurant is right around the corner from both of our homes, so we’ll definitely put this place on the “to be revisited” list.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Rosario's II

Our second venture in our new dining pact was to a small Italian restaurant in Sunrise called Rosario’s II. The location is in the outer perimeter of the Sawgrass Mills Mall and since it was a Friday night when we went, we passed many other restaurants with lines of people spilling out the doors, waiting to get in. In fact, the adjacent parking lot was crammed with the overflow of the nearby restaurants. But when we entered the dining spot of our choice, we were the only ones there. Typically, that’s not a good sign, but we’re a committed group, so we sallied forth and accepted the hostess’s invitation to “sit wherever you want”.
An average person would assume that being the only patrons in a restaurant would guarantee you prompt service, but we all know what happens when you assume. The wait for someone to take our drink order was somewhat disheartening and more or less set the status quo. Another small group came in, complete with roaming tots, and were served significantly quicker than we were. To the point where they had left quite some time before we were able to leave ourselves.
We ordered mozzarella sticks as an appetizer. Other than having some type of fabric-fiber sticking out of the breading on the piece I grabbed, the sticks were okay. There’s not too much you can do with a cheese stick to ruin it. I hope. They brought us out some garlic rolls, which were quite yummy, though they literally had pools of butter on top. None of us could bring ourselves to pick up the butter and garlic coated rolls with our hands, so we all ate them with forks and knives.
Our salads, when they came, were similarly swimming in dressing. If you go to this restaurant, I would highly recommend ordering the dressing on the side. I couldn’t eat more than a couple of pieces of lettuce, which had miraculously escaped the overall drenching. Guida had decided on pasta fazool soup instead of the salad, but didn’t bother with more than a couple of mouthfuls since she found it dissatisfying.
When it came to our entrées, I’m afraid that the consensus was disappointing. I had ordered the eggplant parmesan, but the pieces of eggplant were sliced so thin that I was eating more breading than eggplant. There was a huge pile of spaghetti that came as a side, but I just wanted some eggplant parm, so they could have cut way back on the spaghetti side and bulked up their slices of eggplant. Seriously, eggplant isn’t an expensive item to offer, so if it’s on your menu, you really don’t need to skimp on the serving size.
Cap had ordered the Chicken Francaise, but was convinced that someone with no prior knowledge of Italian cookery had worked on her dish. Not only was the chicken off-putting, but the spaghetti was overcooked and the sauce was, in her opinion, too lemony. Which is amazing, because I didn’t even know spaghetti sauce had lemon in it. But then, I don’t have much knowledge of Italian cookery myself. Perhaps I could apply for a position as chef….
Guida had the Chicken Cacciatore, which she found to be overbreaded and fatty. They also skimped on the amount of chicken, which was not an issue since it was so unappetizing, but in a more likeable dish, she would appreciated more chicken. Too many onions and not enough peppers were her other comments.
Mex had the Chicken Scarapiello, which he was okay with, other than saying it needed more sausage.
We declined dessert.
It was actually at this dinner that we decided to start recording our dining experiences so that we would be assured to not repeat unpleasant dining experiences. And this would be one of them.
Based on the quality of the meal, the price of our dinners was definitely on the high side. We paid about $15 a person for our main courses, which as I have said before is not an exorbitant amount. But there are many other comparably priced restaurants that have a much better turn out from their kitchens. I look forward to writing of those places very soon!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Kavanagh & Morrissey's

Our first foray into the trial-dining experiment was just before the New Year. As I believe I mentioned previously, we were on our way to a chain restaurant for a predictable, cookie-cutter meal when we all simultaneously got the bit between our teeth and decided to try someplace new. It was a decision that took place as we drove past a restaurant that I had been curious about since it had opened perhaps two or so years previously. Before its reopening as Kavanagh & Morrissey, a restaurant known as Pebbles had occupied the same spot.
I liked the location, somewhat removed from the typical restaurant row, located instead in the midst of a prominent business area. It sat on the corner of two respectably trafficked roads, overlooking a pretty little pond.
So the outside looked good. Blindly guilty of judging a book by its cover, we rolled on up to take a gander at the menu posted beside the door. The restaurant proclaimed itself to be Irish inspired. That took me by surprise since the name sounded more like a law firm than a good old fashioned Irish pub. Also surprising for a place that was purportedly Irish was the presence of Pad-Thai and quesadillas on the menu.
Regardless, we were in the mood for a culinary adventure, so we ventured forth. The inside of the restaurant was attractive, with brass railings and decorative wood. The live band was talented but far too deafening to be part of an enjoyable dining experience. We were placed in a little alcove overlooking the pond and promptly forgotten for a good ten minutes. It was a good ten minutes, thankfully, because we had lots to chat about and had only just started becoming antsy when the waitress showed up, full of apologies, to take our drink orders. Sadly, it took another unrealistic amount of time for our drinks to show up and even longer for our waitress to return to take our orders.
Eventually, we were served our meals. Cap had ordered the tarragon chicken, Guida had gotten the fish and chips, Mex very daringly ordered a hamburger with American cheese and I, being of Irish descent, ordered the shepherd’s pie.
Cap was pleased with the chicken, as she informed the drunken lady who was sitting at the neighboring table, clamoring to know if the dish was any good, since she wanted to order it herself. Cap was also very pleased with the spinach that was served draped over the chicken. However, the chicken was served on a bed of mashed potatoes, which are a staple in Irish cooking. Obviously, having ordered the shepherd’s pie, I also had mashed potatoes on my plate, as a topping to the pie. We were both heartily disappointed with the potatoes. Mashed potatoes are simple to make and very hard to screw up. Sadly it seemed that the restaurant had either resorted to instant mashed potatoes or tried very, very hard and screwed up actual fresh potatoes. They lacked flavor, their texture was mealy and they were not as thick as proper mashed potatoes should be.
At least Cap had her chicken and spinach to fall back on. My shepherd’s pie was disappointing the whole way through. I make it at home myself, and while I do not in any way credit myself with being a restaurant grade chef, I can make a much better shepherd’s pie than that which was served to me. The texture of the ground meat was too course and it threw the whole dish off. That, paired with the substandard potatoes, made the dish unenjoyable. I left the bulk of it on my plate.
Both Guida and Mex were okay with their meals. Neither were enraptured by their dishes, but they both found them satisfying. I do want to add as well that the dessert we ordered, which was crème brulee, was delicious. I’m actually craving some right now.
The most disappointing aspect of the dinner, mashed potatoes aside, was the poor service we received from our server. The whole dinner went by with all of our glasses empty and we couldn’t ask for refills (not that we should have to) because we had been placed in a far corner which, while view-wise was very picturesque, was also in an area of the restaurant that our waitress was apparently studiously avoiding. We were given refills as we waited for our dessert, but after that came, we had to wait even longer for the check. The non-stop waiting during our visit there really killed the experience for us. If the food had been of a more superior quality, we could have forgiven the wait. Had the wait been a little less tedious, we could have forgiven the food…..Well, wait…I’m thinking of the travesty of mashed potatoes that I endured. No, a lesser wait wouldn’t have excused the potatoes. But if the wait was less and the band wasn’t so ear-shattering, we may have been persuaded to return in the future, simply taking care to order a selection that didn’t include potatoes as a side dish. However, the whole package was lacking. The pricing for our meals was somewhere around $15 each. Not haute cuisine prices by any means, but honestly we could have gone to Chili’s and gotten better service and food. (Except the crème brulee! Yum!)
To recap, the atmosphere was pleasant (other than the overloud, yet talented band), the food was kind of hit and miss, and the service was poor, though not rude. Our waitress was actually nice enough…those times that she actually visited us at our table. The bottom line is that we will not be returning to Kavanagh & Morrissey’s. Sorry, guys.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Start of Something

Let me start off with an explanation of why this blog is in existence. There are four of us in our little dining group. We apparently have a penchant for subterfuge, because after I initially wrote our introductions, the other three decided it would be fun to have aliases....or better yet, alter egos. Our dining alter egos, that is. So the little crowd of four consist of : Me (Irish), my boyfriend "the Metzican" (Or Mex for short), Cap (Cuban-American Princess) and Guida. Cap and Guida actually have a lot more experience in the South Florida dining ‘arena’ than Mex and I, since they have lived here longer and don’t have kids tying them down at home. Human kids, at least…they do have their fur children. But I digress! (I do that a lot, so get used to it!)
Mex and Cap used to work together in a small confined square of cubicles in a large company in Boca called ACS. Office politics were often a nasty, bitter affair, so Cap and Mex banded together and became friends. Perhaps out of a sense of self preservation…I don’t know. Anyway, after working with Mex for about two years Cap decided to move on (and I commend her for lasting so long.) When she left, it was a bittersweet parting. They were used to seeing each other for eight hours a day (at least), five days out of the week. They had even started mixing socially, inflicting their partners (Guida and Me!) on each other. So, when Cap cut and ran….errrr, I mean, located another job and departed, the loneliness got to both of them.
Cap and Mex would chat on the phone each day as they drove to and from their (now different) offices. Nonetheless they feared that they would drift apart. Such was their bond of friendship, however that they swore that that would never happen.
*cue dramatic music*

Our little foursome told each other that we would make an effort to see one another on a regular basis. We had to find a mutual interest that we could all enjoy together, one that would keep pulling us in a common direction. On a trip we all took together during the latter days of Cap’s tenure at ACS, we found that common ground. We attended Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival and discovered that we were all foodies at heart.
What it came down to is that we seem to do our socializing nowadays around a restaurant table, as opposed to a conference table, as in Cap and Mex’s days of yore. After a while, it seemed we were going to the same restaurants with not too much variation. A few weeks ago, while heading to another chain-type restaurant, we decided to strike out on our own. No more Carino’s or Red Lobster! Nope! We were going to try NEW restaurants and be adventuresome in our sampling of their menus.
And thus, the blog. As Guida said…We want to keep track of what restaurants we’ve been to and how good they are, because apparently we’re going to visit soooo many that we’ll be confused as to which ones we’ve already covered.
So here….eventually, will lie a litany of our epicurean adventures. There are four of us, so we should have a fair and balanced approach to each of our destinations. We are not food snobs, but we do appreciate a good meal. If anyone other than the four of us is reading this, please feel free to keep our opinions in mind when you’re choosing a dining destination of your own in the South Florida region.
Bon appétit!
(I’m also reeeeally corny!)