Dining — 07 September 2013
Critic’s choice: The Best New Restaurants 2013

By Rebecca Cahilly

Is there a more savory time of the year? This is when City & Shore visits some of the most delicious spots in South Florida to sample everything from farm-fresh artichokes to tea-brined roasted duck at restaurants from cozy to clamorous. This year’s menu features only recently opened establishments, where you’ll find the enticing aromas and arresting ambience irresistible. So sit down, unfold your napkin, and prepare for what every gourmand lives for: the freshest, tastiest new dining experiences in town.

BROWARD COUNTY

 

Grille 401 401 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-767-0222, grille401.com

Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard has been bustling with openings over the past year, including a new presence at 401 E. Las Olas in the Bank of America Plaza. Owned by the same restaurateurs behind Piñon Grille in Boca Raton and Brimstone Woodfire Grill in Pembroke Pines, Grille 401 offers a delectable menu selection highlighted by imaginative entrées. We can’t get enough of the crispy crab fritters, grilled artichokes and the signature kale salad. The homemade pastas, grilled seafood and lunchtime sushi menu showcase the attention to high-quality ingredients. With a sophisticated ambience perfect for business luncheons or romantic dinners, Grille 401 prides itself on sourcing from local farms and businesses. When you visit, don’t forget about the homemade desserts. Better yet, combine your cocktail and dessert by ordering a chocolate-cake martini.

 

Kaluz Restaurant
3300 E. Commercial Blvd.,
Fort Lauderdale
954-772-2209

kaluzrestaurant.com

It’s hard to deny the location of this contemporary American cuisine-focused restaurant, and Kaluz makes our list for that reason. Situated on the Intracoastal Waterway next to the Commercial Boulevard bridge, Kaluz is the latest dining destination that offers upscale dining in a romantic waterfront setting. The menu ranges from salads and flatbreads to burgers and steaks and features a selection of seafood items. We enjoy Kaluz best for its outdoor patio bar, where we can slurp an old-fashioned frozen rum runner or sip on the signature Cadillac margarita as the world cruises by.

 

Lobster Bar Sea Grille 450 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-772-2675, buckheadrestaurants.com

Occupying the iconic space once claimed by Jackson’s Steakhouse, this restaurant should itself become a landmark. Not only does Lobster Bar fill a void in a city with a dearth of fine-dining seafood options, it does so with a level of service that rivals Michelin-starred resorts. I. Pano Karatassos is the visionary behind Lobster Bar. His portfolio of high-end restaurants throughout Atlanta and South Florida underscores the caliber he expects of each member of his Buckhead Life Restaurant Group. Lobster Bar was an idea five years in the making for Pano, who based the concept on the original lower-level dining room at Chops Lobster Bar in Atlanta. With a décor that features custom touches worthy of a spread in an interior design publication – including three custom-made crystal-and-steel chandeliers over the bar that weigh more than 1,300 pounds each – Lobster Bar executes a simple yet elegant menu to perfection. Purveyors from around the world are selected to provide the freshest steaks, lobsters and fish – as Pano says, “from the water to your plate within 48 hours.”

 

Ocean 2000  Pelican Grand Beach Resort, 2000 N. Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-556-7667, pelicanbeach.com

Fresh from an interior makeover and with a new menu, Ocean2000 is one reason to put the Pelican Grand Beach Resort back on your list of staycation destinations. A menu highlighted by fresh seafood now complements the beachfront setting enjoyed from the interior dining room or from the expansive outdoor terrace. Ocean2000 offers such dishes as yellowtail snapper served a la plancha and seared scallops with a sweet corn purée and vegetable escabeche. For breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, Ocean2000 offers something not found anywhere else in Fort Lauderdale: on-the-beach outdoor dining in the most romantic of settings matched by a sumptuous menu.

 

S3 Hilton Hotel 505 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale954-523-7873, s3restaurant.com

Sun, surf and sand are the three S’s of S3, the newest dining experience to grace Fort Lauderdale Beach to great acclaim. With an indoor/outdoor bar and al fresco seating overlooking A1A and the beach, S3 honors its prime location on the ground level of the Hilton Hotel with a delightful menu. From small plates such as the sophisticated smoked gouda and crispy prosciutto mac-and-cheese to the tea-brined roasted duck served with apple mustard and coconut cashew rice, S3’s menu features dishes that are casually elegant. S3 is the vision of “The Restaurant People” president Tim Petrillo, executive chef Peter Boloukus, and construction development manager Alan Hooper, the creators behind Las Olas hot spots YOLO and Vibe. In the few months since opening, S3 has already commanded a large following of “who’s who.” Some come for the signature cocktails, others for the sushi or wood-fired brisket sliders, others for the setting – and most for all three.

 

Thasos Greek Taverna 3330 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-200-6006, thasostaverna.com

If you were unable to sample the local fare on the hip island of Mykonos this summer, don’t be disappointed. There’s a new Greek restaurant in Fort Lauderdale that boasts the full effect of a Mediterranean hot spot. Thasos Greek Taverna on Oakland Park Boulevard and A1A stands out for its eye-catching design backlit by neon blue and purple hues and follows up with an attractive menu featuring classic Greek dishes served in modern simplicity. Fresh ingredients and locally sourced seafood are mainstays of the dishes, but we also recommend traditional Greek favorites such as the lavraki (grilled whole Mediterranean sea bass) and oak-grilled lamb chops.

 

The Tipsy Boar 1906 Harrison St., Hollywood, 954-920-2627, thetipsyboar.com

This gastropub opened in January and has quickly become a neighborhood hot spot, thanks to the menu crafted at the hands of chef Michael Blum. Featuring all the traditional swine-inspired dishes that have become synonymous with a gastrolounge, Tipsy Boar pairs everything from pork belly sliders and sausage burgers to pizza and cheesecake with a fine selection of craft beers on tap. Under the same management as adjacent Fulvio’s 1900 Italian restaurant and Vino, Tipsy Boar features a comfortable contemporary atmosphere of a brew pub, complete with a wood-fire pizza oven and stone patio overlooked by the interior tables through a row of floor-to-ceiling windows. Insider’s tip: If you want to try something new, we recommend the Maine lobster corn dogs and Oreo beignets.

 

PALM BEACH COUNTY

 

Bad Ragaz Hall & Biergarten 1417 S. Federal Highway, Boynton Beach, 561-336-3297, badragazbiergarten.com

Preconceptions of heavy wurst and kraut washed down with a stein of beer while prying your sticky lederhosen from a wooden bench were quickly dashed when we sat down at Bad Ragaz Hall & Biergarten. Beware: This is not your “regular, dark old biergarten,” as the restaurant itself is quick to point out. The décor is bright, modern and highlighted with tasteful Old World touches. The visionary behind Bad Ragaz, Alessandro Silvestri, is no stranger to running a successful kitchen, as he is also the executive chef of Tramonti in Delray Beach. The food-and-bier concept was inspired by Silvestri’s European heritage and travels and named after a Swiss village. As one would expect, Bad Ragaz offers a fine selection of beer – 24 varieties on tap and 50 European imported bottles. Custom ceramic beer towers keep the drafts crisp and fresh and, for those who want to sample Very Important Beers (“VIBs”), booths with table taps offer three special selections of your choice billed by the poured ounce. Sure, you can get your Hungarian wurst and traditional Viennese schnitzel, but the menu features plenty of other European-inspired dishes, including pastas, classic beef bourguignon, steak tartare and Manchego cheese-covered fries.

 

 

HMF The Breakers 1 S. County Road, Palm Beach, 561-290-0104, hmfpalmbeach.com

When you’re in the mood to harken back to another time, like the glamorous mid-20th-century cocktail-club era, look no further than HMF at The Breakers. Named after the initials of the resort’s creator, Henry Morrison Flagler, HMF blends contemporary elegance with a nod to the golden era of Palm Beach. Located in the historic Florentine Room, HMF has been given a tasteful décor makeover at the hands of designer Adam D. Tihany that highlights the resort’s architectural details with a classic retro feel. Even the wait staff looks the part, with the servers styled in mid-20th-century outfits and hairstyles. The menu is anything but old school and features items inspired by the local food movement and gourmet food-truck craze. With everything served as small plates, the menu offerings are so varied we found ourselves in a bit of a selection frenzy. Start with a divine signature cocktail (I went with the “Redhead,” comprised of Charbay Meyer lemon vodka, blood orange liqueur, a splash of cranberry and a heavenly lime foam) before diving into your Korean short ribs or Japanese robata-grilled churrasco steak chimichurri. Finish it off with a decadent butterscotch panna cotta with rum-roasted pineapple and macadamia crackle, but remember HMF’s etiquette rules, including No. 2: “Gentlemen should remove their hats. Other things best checked at the door include hubris, political argument and diets.”

 

Jazziz Nightlife 201 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, 561-300-0730, jazziznightlife.com

Finally, an entertainment venue matched by a superb menu has come to Boca Raton. Reminiscent of a New Orleans supper club, Jazziz is the vision of owner and jazz connoisseur Michael Fagien, who, along with a stellar management team, is making waves on the South Florida dining scene. Featuring nightly live jazz by top-notch acts, Jazziz offers myriad dining options, allowing patrons to customize their music and dining experience. Book a table or booth in the Live Room or get up close and personal from your table in the Stage Left Lounge. Enjoy a more intimate atmosphere in the Champagne and Caviar Bar (with its 12-foot champagne flute chandelier) or the Piano and Cigar Bar. Dine indoors at the Main Bar or al fresco on the outdoor patio, or reserve private dining in the Ella Room or the Executive Chef Private Dining Room that looks over the stage. At the hands of executive chef Justin Flit, the menu is a fine selection of the classics with a modern twist, from buffalo-style fried calamari with Maytag blue cheese to hand-rolled penne with braised beef short rib and Di Stefano burrata. Traditionalists won’t be disappointed, as the menu also features slow-smoked baby back ribs with cornbread and a fennel slaw and free-range chicken breast in an apricot glaze served with fingerling potatoes and haricots verts.

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